The Shibajuku girls line came out earlier this year in the UK. We’ve now had them long enough for some price reductions to be going on at Smyths. I’d assumed that they must already be out in the USA, and the reason Id not heard much of them was because they weren’t massively successful, but recently Ive seen some american doll collectors talking about how they’ve just arrived in stores, so I guess england was first for once!
There was a newspaper article I read claiming that this was a doll line ‘to beat Barbie’ or some sort of hype, which I didn’t take particularly seriously, but I did like the promo images, so when they arrived I went to take a look.
Initially, I was disappointed
They look a tad bug-eyed, to say the least. The inset eyes are, I’d say, a little big. They remind me of pullip, but without the ability to move or blink its a bit much. And the paint is blocky and clumsy
These photos dont really show it due to my cameras terrible zoom, but the brunette, Namika, has particularly bad lips which are misaligned with the sculpt.
I think that because they remind me so much of Pullip, I might be being a little bit harsh about the paint because it does contrast so strongly with the beautiful custom faceups you see on Pullips.
Despite my initial disappointment, I decided to buy one, and have a go at doing her a new face, with inspiration drawn from images of Pullip dolls. I chose the character Suki, because she has the most colourful hair. Her body looked to be a similar size to dolls I already had, so I figured that I could dress her in something else easily. Given my huge backlog of sewing projects, thats pretty helpful! After having Suki for a few months, I reutrned to buy the brunette, Namika, to have another go.
The size looked to be quite close to Brbies, although the shape of her body kind of reminds me more of my LaDeeDa girls. Although the wrists, elbows and knees bend, the ankles are fixed, and this combined with extremely small feet means that I think she’s gonna be stuck in the shoes she came with
This Barbie dress has a very stretchy top, and so it fits her well, but most of them are a bit loose. I picked a dress to match the look I gave her in the end, and when she doesnt wear a jacket over it she’s a bit at risk of flashing. And, just for reference, her hair is reasonable quality.
So, heres the face she ended up with. I put tape over her eyes to spray the sealant, but she did end up with some in her rooted eyelashes, which you can kind of see. I dont really know how I can fix that one. On camera, the yellow in her eye makeup stands out much more than the pink or blue, but in real life it blends better than that. The camera flash also made every flaw in her sealant very clear, to me at least. I did Suki months ago, before buying my Mr SuperClear, so Ill see if it works out better when I try to do the second doll I bought.
I dressed her in a Barbie dress from a set of three outfits with a very sweet theme. On Barbies more mature body, and fititng more closely, the dress looks more mature, but on Suki it has the cutesy look I was going for. The jacket over the top is also Barbie, and helps to hide the loose fit on the bust. Luckily, Sukis original socks and shoes work with it, because I dont think she’s a great fit for anything else I have. Maybe if I went through every shoe in my bag of miscellaneous stuff from random brands I might find something, but I havent bothered to do that. Even the shoes she came with arent a fantastic fit, and they fall off very easily.
Next, I had a go at taking some posed pictures of Suki
Again, I think Im being harsh because Im mentally contrasting her with a Pullip, but she doesnt pose great. She’s very top-heavy, and didnt come with a stand, so all poses have to be leaning on something, and even then she tends to list to the side, as in the first picture. Still, she is a much more affordable option than Pullip. Suki cost me £25, and as I bought Namika for a discount, she was only £20. Given that Im not very experienced or confident with repains yet, I feel much less frightened to alter these dolls than I would if Id bought a Pullip doll. Even the blank ones are expensive, and Id have to pay postage as well. Eventually, Id like to make a dress for Suki thats a bit more over the top, although I have a lot of sewing plans to do, so I dont know when Ill fit that in.
Now that these dolls are available in America, Im looking forward to hopefully seeing what other doll customisers do with them. I love seeing what someone else does with a doll,m and so far Ive not managed to find any images of customs online. Anyway, hope you like!