Question of the Week: How do you feel about today’s customs prices?

Written on April 9, 2012 at 12:00 pm by Michelle
Filed under: Question of the Week

A while ago, there was a Twitter conversation happening regarding custom work and the current high prices that a customized Blythe fetches. Now, not all customizers actually charge this much for their work. A lot of the time, the high prices happen as a result of the work being auctioned by the customizer or through second market pricing.

I’m a firm believer that a good custom Blythe is art.

Just like how you wouldn’t just offer a few dollars for a masterpiece of an oil painting, you wouldn’t offer a few dollars for a gorgeous customized doll. That said, customs can be fairly expensive. When I first started in the Blythe hobby (in the long ago year of 2009), customized Blythes went for what I considered to be a lot of money ($300+). Now, not all customized dolls went for this much, just like how not all customized dolls today go for $600+. But a lot of them did (and do). I thought that customized dolls were pretty (I still do), but they weren’t something that I was actively looking to add to my collection.

And at eleven dolls, they still aren’t going to be something that I’m looking to add to my collection, if only because I’m feeling overwhelmed.

Not all customs are created equal, just like how not all doll clothes are created equal. What you can buy from one customizer will not be the same as from another; but many people have been pricing their work at prices similar to the “greats” or “popular” customizers. It’s a hobby, but for some people it is a job and I respect that. If they can price a customized doll at $500 and have it sell, why wouldn’t they? They’re not going to price it at-cost just because they think it’s the morally right thing to do. Not all customizers do this, of course. Some customizers of lower-priced work are still incredible customizers, but their prices haven’t risen as drastically as others have. Sometimes all it takes is one person having your custom work to make it popular.

I do think that a lot of fantastic customizers don’t get the kind of popularity that they probably do deserve. I look at the work of some people who’s work doesn’t go for $1000+ per doll and I wonder why when their work is a similar calibre as someone’s work who does. The Blythe market can be fickle at times, I think, but I think that people who do create great works of art should charge what they think is fair and what is best for them.

With that in mind, where does that leave the buyers in the community? With the economy down and up and down and up, a lot of people can’t afford customized work, regardless of who’s doing it. Then again, collectible dolls like Blythe are expensive. It’s not a hobby that’s incredibly accessible to a lot of people because of the costs involved in collecting dolls (and their clothes and shoes and the other dolls to go with your first one…).

It may be a pain to not be able to buy some gorgeous new custom, but at the same time… if you look to your own doll family you may see that money available… just in the form of dolls. A lot of people cycle through your dolls – selling dolls and doll accessories in order to afford other dolls and other clothing. I think that’s very admirable – it keeps the money cycling in a way that doesn’t make your hobby more expensive than the initial investment.

Can you afford today’s customized Blythes? How do you feel about today’s customs prices? And what, if you have one, is the ‘ceiling’ of what you’d fork out for a customized Blythe doll?


3 Responses to “Question of the Week: How do you feel about today’s customs prices?”

  1. John says:

    Great blog post! Customs and their prices is something I often find myself wondering about. Every collector is different and what they admire in the dolls, and how much they’re willing to pay, varies for each of us. I’ve also been in the hobby since 2009, and even back then I felt customs were simply too high. But as a collector I place value much more on stock dolls; they simply appeal to me more. I change their clothes and play around with hairstyles of course, but I never do any customizations. I find customized Blythes to be stunning, and I know how much work customizers put into their creations. I really admire that. But I’d be lying if I didn’t say that when I look at a a beautiful stock doll, say Eleanor the Forest Dancer, who’s been customized, I can’t help but feel a little sad, regardless of how nice the finished product is. It all comes down to what each person values in the dolls. Obviously a lot of people really love customs – it seems most collectors have at least one – and that’s ultimately what drives the prices of them. Someone who loves custom dolls and finds one by their favorite customizer in a style they particularly love probably has a very high price ceiling. We’ve seen how high Kenners and BLs can go, and it seems a good custom isn’t far behind. That seems outrageous to me, but I’m a stock collector so of course I’d think that lol

  2. Alice AKA @nuwandalice

    I pretty much agree with everything you said 😀

    I can’t really “bond” that well with other people’s customs ^^;; But I LOVE looking at them and admiring them – they really are works of art! Plus, I love the creative side Blythe brings out in me, so trying my own hand at customising here and there suits me just fine, even if I’m… you know, deeply inferior! ^__^;;

  3. Mori AKA @-

    This is tough because as an artist myself, I understand that art has significant value, but that it’s hard to put a price on it. With this in mind, some custom dolls are so expensive I wonder how they can ever sell them. But since there’s a whole range of prices for customs, the really expensive ones don’t bother me. Great post by the way!

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