I do not make, sell, or traffic in bootleg/recast dolls or any other product.

I do not provide information on where or how to buy them.

Any recast information on this blog is for information purposes only, for identifying recast products on the second hand market.

Monday, May 9, 2016

The Dangerous Decline of the Secondhand Market- What that means for the future of the hobby.

There has been a decided decrease in the purchasing power of the average BJD hobbyist thanks to the decline of the secondhand market. We can no longer purchase a doll knowing we cannot recoup most of our costs and turn around and reinvest the money from that doll back into the market.

The large majority of doll collectors, I'd wager, do not have the financial freedom to just purchase full cost dolls willy-nilly. Sure there are some people, perhaps those with large incomes and/or no dependents to care for who can buy several full-price mid or high range dolls a month, but they're uncommon. I'm not qualifying this or saying those with more purchasing power are better or worse than someone with less.  It's simply a fact. It's a fact that most of the doll collectors I know depend on their ability to sell a doll to buy a new doll. I know only 3 doll collectors on a personal basis that do NOT have to sell to buy. They may choose to do so, but they're not required to do it. The point is they're honestly a minority. This piece is concerned with the purchasing power of the average doll collector and what the reduction of that power is doing to the market and thus the future of the hobby.

There is this sense of haggling and deal making in this hobby that has gone beyond respectable. People are wanting top of the line dolls for Walmart prices- and they're wanting them now. No one wants to pay $450 for a minifee, so they begin to search secondhand. They hope that they can snag a good deal- maybe $350 with no long wait time….. then they begin to search for one for $250 because it's not mint in it's box… because another human touched it…. because how dare the original owner hope to get $400 for that minifee?

I've seen $850 Iplehouse dolls dropping to a sad $450. And they're not selling even then. This is simply not fair, and frankly it's not sustainable. They often blame scalping but frankly- it's not scalping to expect an investment return. And scalping alone is not to blame for the decline in the market. It's people who believe that asking $285 for an Iplehouse JID or $350 for a minifee is too much. They're the reason there is no more money to reinvest.

It's getting to a point where people are less willing to take a chance with a new company and a new sculpt because they'll simply be unable to part with it and reinvest that money back into the hobby. I myself simply can't risk paying $$$ for a Lilycat doll I'd love to try owning because I know I cannot resell her. There's six on DoA for less than the Artist herself is asking right now.

One cannot get $500 for an Iplehouse EID woman doll that can only be bought via their custom system for nearly $300 more than the seller is asking. This isn't to ask for pity- it's a statement of fact. Without the ability to sell, most of us, myself included, cannot buy. I am not the only one. I am watching Latidolls barely fetching $200, Feeple 60s with expensive artist faceups like SDink are going for $400. The only things fetching higher prices are the extraordinarily rare popular sculpts like Volks Alice/Lorina and Fairyland's Juri 08 and Nanuri 10. With the over-saturation of the market, minifees, despite their popularity, are going for record low prices.

I remember back in the days when I first entered the hobby that one could, if one wanted, earn a profit on a secondhand minifee due to the then ridiculously long wait times. While I don't mourn the fact that's no longer possible, I do regret that one can't even earn back 75% of what one spent- and that's not even counting fees and shipping costs which I don't believe should ever be accounted for in a resale anyway. So I do see the other side of the argument- people who want to recoup Paypal fees and shipping costs, people who want to make a profit, people who are scalping.

There must be reasonable expectations on both sides. $550 for a blank minifee (just to keep beating a dead horse) that is not rare with no extras is unreasonable. $100 for a blank minifee is unreasonable. It has be somewhere in the middle. Without that middle, the whole system will collapse.

It's not over-saturation that is to blame either, in my opinion. Yes there are thousands of sculpts out there now. It's harder to stand out and compete both as a hobbyist and as a doll maker. But saturation is a good thing. It means there is a thriving primary market. It means people are willing to take a risk on an expensive item, support a smaller company, and contribute directly to the ability of artists to produce a wider variety of sculpts than we saw back in the first days of the hobby. Saturation is proof that the thriving secondhand market, the ability to sell to buy, resulted in this plethora of options.

But perhaps the biggest risk of an over-saturated market is that people are only buying what's popular. Right now, that's Fairyland dolls. Specifically their minifee line. This is great for Fairyland, but it's making people wary and unwilling to try something new because they want in on the trend for whatever reason. Iplehouse isn't selling because they can't top the Fairyland fad. A few years ago everyone and their dog owned a Soom. Before that it was Luts.

People are much more wary to purchase secondhand now because of the risk of recasts. Older doll with no headplate or paper work? Too bad. Not going to sell for a legit price. Newer doll that's commonly recasted? Too bad. Not going to sell. Fake boxes and paperwork and headplates are simply NOT helping the situation, and thank heavens for the Master List. People dog it, but lets be honest here- without it we would have no up to date list of what sculpts to even be wary of. So my personal feelings aside- thanks to whoever is still maintaining it. No, we shouldn't have to have it, but in my opinion, they're here so we might as well treat it like a resource. Without digressing further…..

All of that aside, essentially what is happening is that money is not being reinvested back into the market. Fewer dolls will be purchased. More recasts will be purchased. After all, if you're going to be stuck with a doll and unable to sell it you might as well buy the fake right?

A thriving secondhand economy ensures a constant ability to buy and sell. It ensures there will be a certain amount of investment, risk taking, and compensation. I read several college papers on secondhand shops in regards to the retail world. One of the things discussed was that these shops helped with environmental sustainability. The ability to purchase something secondhand means no more resources need to be spent, no more pollutants produced, to create a new one. Let's not kid ourselves- most resin is hardly environmentally friendly.

Just like you want a healthy middle class in any economy, you MUST have a healthy secondhand market in niche hobbies if you want to keep it alive. I mean hell, Italy had a secondhand shop guild as early 1230! They understood the importance of this middle market 300 years ago.  While it's true that niche hobbies like dolls or antique watch collecting cannot be directly compared to consignment shops, the idea is still the same. The ability to resell what is of no use to you any longer allows the person more financial freedom and extra funds to reinvest into something new or different.

With no money to invest, no new dolls can be bought.

The average hobbyist will not be able to continue. They'll have to sell their collection for 10% of the dolls' value to even leave the hobby, or else keep what they have and purchase fewer or no more dolls. One might say they could purchase cheaper dolls but even that can be a challenge for some people. The real cost of dolls is not the issue here. The real issue is reinvestment of funds, whether that's the small cost of a Bobobie or the high cost of a Soom.

The hobby will be left to the recast buyers and those wealthy enough to continue to buy with no need for reinvestment.

Granted, I am no economist. I'm an anthropologist. Most of my time was spent in museums with dead things and occasionally talking to other people about dead things. I hope this piece at least triggers some conversation and reexamination of the expectations on part of both buyers and sellers in this hobby.

You won't find a Gucci purse at Walmart, but  you might find it on eBay. 

Thank you for reading my ramblings, and happy continued collecting. <3


  1. This was a really interesting piece to read. I'm not a BJD owner at the moment (I do have a vinyl Smart Doll and a lonesome Dollie Dream head) but I've kinda fallen for Ada-Dan's Nightingale sculpt and several Shinydoll sculpts too, so I've been reading as much as I can about ABJDs.
    I'm still such a noob to even Dollie Dreams though, but I know there are a few sculpts which aren't at all expected to keep their value--including the one I have. Especially because she's in a vinyl color that has been discontinued. Knowing I couldn't get back what I spent for her I wiped her company faceup tonight in a useless attempt to make a new one and blush her to a color to match available bodies,w which was dumb and killed her value further but...
    The feeling of frustration when you know someone would ask for $50 on a head you'd paid $200 really sucks the enjoyment out of even thinking about getting new dolls. To be fair most Dollie Dream sculpts seem to hold or increase in value so it doesn't seem as bad, on average, as what you've described here. I'm glad I know about this in advance though, if I do go ahead with this whole Nightingale BJD idea.

    (ps I work in an archive with early modern artefacts. Hurrah for spending time with old dead things!)

    1. Sorry for the delayed reply! Life sort of got in the way of my doll hobby there for awhile. I think with BJDs the rarer, artist sculpts like Nightengale will hold their value better than something more readily available like a standard issue minifee.

      I'm waiting on a dollfie dream myself actually, and it's taken me a long time to finally take the plunge and try owning one because of the second hand market. I figured with the DD I should be able to get somewhat comparable pricing as long as I keep her in good condition, but it is still sad that I had to save up and prepare for a very long time to get her to make sure it wasn't going to leave me in a place where I'd be up a creek without being able to sell her you know?


Thanks for reading! <3 I try to follow up on every comment my readers make.