Filed under: Article with tags: clone dolls, factory dolls, fakes, TBLs
Fakes have been plaguing the Blythe community for quite a while now, and since I first blogged about them back in early 2011 there hasn’t been any end in site. There’s been quite a few names thrown around for them. Factory dolls, clones, fakes and, the ever so popular, “TBL”. Whatever you want to call them, they are all fakes in comparison to Blythe. Let’s examine each of these ‘names’, as there’s subtle differences between them – and yet none of them are legitimate Blythe dolls.
Factory doll, photo by Meg/irulethegalaxy.
Factory dolls are allegedly dolls made of rejected parts from the official factories that produce Blythe. Rumour was that these parts were rejected or parts that were smuggled out of the factories by workers and then cobble together to make a Blythe. People ended up with dolls that had the same special chips as certain dolls, but then the face-up of another recent release. Since factories have been moved, there’s been less and less ‘factory’ dolls seen in the market. Security must have been tightened up a bit there!
Clones, to me, are dolls that mimic Blythe but aren’t necessarily marketed as being Blythe dolls. These include Icy, Blybe, CCE (Color Changing Eyes) and Basaak dolls. These dolls tend to be much cheaper than Blythe, but lower quality in construction (a possible exception could be made for Icy dolls). Blyth is also a ‘clone’, but are smaller in size (closer to a Middie size) and have a poorer body quality in comparison to Blythe or Middie. Clones are the ones I consider the easiest to tell apart from real Blythes due to obvious facial differences or the obvious differences in body quality.
Customized TBL with Saffy scalp, photo by Jen/Blythe Spa.
TBL = Taobao ‘Blythe’, after their website of origin. TBL was a quaint term coined originally by Dr. Blythenstein back in 2012 when these dolls first appeared on the market. As far as fakes go, they’ve probably been the most imaginative. At the beginning, a lot of them looked like standard stock Blythes – similar make-up, very similar hair colours and styles – but since then, whoever makes TBLs have been churning out far more creative hair colours and even eyechips. From rainbow to glow-in-the-dark, TBLs have been pushing the envelope on what they’ve been producing and the community has responded in kind. A lot of people have said that TBL parts are interchangable with Takara, while I recently read that the special TBL eyechips were the wrong size for a stock FBL eye mechanism. So mix-and-match dolls at your own risk.
Uncustomized TBL, photo by Meg/irulethegalaxy.
In a way, it seems like a ‘good idea’ of these TBLs and other fakes to be out there. They pushed the issue of more creative doll designing and Takara has seemed to respond in kind (have you seen the promotional illustrations for Mandy Cotton Candy and Yellow Marshmallow?). At the same time, having fakes of any kind flood any market cheapens the hobby as a whole. Dolls of any kind, especially Blythe, is a luxury. Nobody needs an anniversary doll to survive. And as luxuries go, it’s an expensive hobby. Customizers, new and old, may find the TBLs to be a welcome addition to the hobby because it makes for a potentially cheaper source of base dolls instead of needing to purchase legitimate dolls. And at the same time, if there’s a dip in sales, Takara may continue to create ‘safer’ designs that they know will sell, which would ultimately push more collectors to the wacky and creative world of TBLs. There seems to be a division, as it were, when it comes to the fakes. Those who have no issues owning a fake or customizing one, and those who think that there shouldn’t be any. Regardless of what you may think, fakes seem to be here to stay.
An important question still remains:
Is a Blythe still a Blythe if it wasn’t made by Takara?