After a little more than a month, I finally got brave enough to record a video review of my lovely custom Pidgin doll. For those who would rather just read it, my written ramblings are below the video. :D
Pidgin Doll was created by Joshua David McKenney. Each Pidgin doll is hand made by him in his Brooklyn, NY studio. This includes the mold, casting, carving, and painting of each doll. Truly 100% made in America!
I received my doll Sept 20, 2015. She took approximately four months to be created from order to delivery, which included having a custom dress made, and an outfit ordered to fit her.
The ordering process is straight forward. You contact Joshua David McKenney via the Pidgin Doll website to request a custom doll. You will receive an order form to fill out. You will specify several details, including eye color, makeup preferences, skin tone, hair color and style. If you have an outfit in mind, you request it here, as well. Custom outfits will cost you extra, and will depend on what you want. The more detail you can give, the better, including what kind of makeup you want for your doll. The artist encourages you to send pictures to give him a better idea of what you are hoping for.
In my case, I wanted a subdued makeup palette, with the only dramatic touch being her winged eyeliner. I also wanted two custom outfits, instead of the standard one she normally would arrive in. I wanted a dress reminiscent of Grace Kelly’s picnic outfit in To Catch A Thief, and a more modern denim outfit.
Joshua has a seamstress who could make the dress I wanted, but for the denim jacket and jeans he instead acted as a “personal shopper” to find the right items to fit Pidgin Doll’s unique measurements.
You receive a drawing based on your specs to preview and approve before the doll is started.
From there, it’s a matter of waiting patiently! When she is ready to be shipped, Joshua will take some high quality photos of her as a final preview for your approval.
Payment can be made over a few months, basically a layaway. Pricing is definitely not cheap, but a quality doll won’t be. A basic Pidgin doll is roughly the same price as any other BJD her size, but definitely in the higher price range. Think Luts or Fairyland doll pricing to get an idea.
When she arrived she was dressed in her denim outfit. However, her head was not attached to her body, so it took me and my best friend a little work to figure out how we could get that attached. Her wig was originally on very securely, so I needed to work it free in order to reveal the head cap. From there it was a matter of getting the S hook in her neck to cooperate so we could put her head on.
While her head cap was off I could see how her eyes are installed. They are definitely in there to stay, secured with hot glue. If I ever decide to change her eyes, I will use Leeke World eye putty, however.
Her wig is impressive. I think it must be hand made. First, there’s no manufacturer tag in it. Second, it fits her unique head shape perfectly. Finally, it’s the quality. I’m a fan of Leeke World doll wigs, but this wig is even better. It’s extremely soft, and looks realistic. I can comb it gently, and it doesn’t come apart. I would not be surprised to learn this wig is actually human hair, it’s so soft and easy to work with.
Initially she is really floppy to work with. Her resin is very heavy, so her head tended to flop around a lot. Bear in mind each doll is custom made, by hand, by the artist, so she is not going to feel like a BJD from a mass produced company. She feels more like a porcelain doll, with the good and bad that goes with that.
After a couple of days of getting used to her, I decided to do some customization to make her work better for me. I definitely don’t think I’m the typical buyer for this doll, as I plan to interact with her instead of pose her on her stand and leave her in one outfit forever. With that in mind, I did some tricks that work with other BJDs.
First, I added a drop of super glue to each of the rare earth magnets in her head cap. They were a little loose, which is common. I also added a couple pieces of clear tape to the seams of the head cap for added security.
Then I added sueded moleskin pieces to her joints. I can find this easily in my local department stores here in the U.S. It has a suede feel to one side, and is sticky on the other. I get the kind that comes in rectangular sheets, and then cut out small pieces. I put pieces all around the neck, thigh cups, elbow joints, and knee joints. It made a big improvement right away. Her head doesn’t flop backwards as easily, and she is less “kicky” than before. I also added several pieces around her torso, because she was flopping backwards in a spine breaking maneuver otherwise. I finally added a couple of pieces to her head cap to keep her wig in place again. I also used the pieces to help me tell the top from the bottom of the head cap.
The makeshift “sueding” still doesn’t allow her to stand on her own, however. Again, she is very heavy. That, plus her high arched foot means she simply cannot stand on her own like you may be used to with other BJDs with flat soled feet. However, you can lean her against things, and use her stand for support. I find her loose limbs lets me put her into more life like poses. I can’t pose her outside standing next to a tree like I originally envisioned, but I can always work around that by using the very sturdy stand she comes with, and then editing it out in post.
Overall, I am thrilled to pieces with my Pidgin doll. She is 100% one of a kind, hand made in America by a talented and very easy to work with artist. I saw a Pidin doll two years ago in Fashion Doll Quarterly, and knew right then she was “the one”. I started planning how I could make it happen at that point. I started seeing her in more magazines, including my personal favorite, Haute Doll, and it cinched my resolve. Finally I reached a point where I could put a down payment on one, and the rest is history. Getting this doll represents something for me I can’t really express beyond the cliché “dream come true.” Being able to deal directly with the artist in the creation of my Pidgin doll made it a very special experience.
A Pidgin doll is not going to be for everyone. The price is going to be one factor. Her mobility and stability without a stand will be another, especially for more traditional BJD collectors. But your doll will be unique, and for the price you definitely get quality.
Be sure to check out Dollheimr’s Etsy store if you like the custom t shirts you see in my Pidgin doll’s wardrobe.