Great Finds On Ebay

I’ve mentioned this before, but I thought I’d bring it up again for those who missed it.  Once in a while a company comes out with a set that has just one item you really like in it, and you’re torn.  Do I buy an entire set for just that one piece?  If you are like me and you’ve been collecting for a while, you probably have a few duplicates.  Sometimes that’s not such a bad thing because you can maybe use more than one of those items for a set up or something, but other times it poses a bit of a problem.

Worry no more!  There are people out there who realize this can be an issue.  And they go and buy some of these sets and then sell them off, piece by piece at a small profit.  Some may have an issue with this, I know there are people who only like to buy full sets, but for me, it’s wonderful, I can get what I want without being bogged down with a lot of extras.  I’ve come across a number of items on Ebay sold this way and have picked up some odds and ends.

This time around, it was all fueled by Joss’s Nfinity Backpack Set.  Cute set, but first off, I didn’t want all the hair accessories.  The makeup set is cute, but I already have one I got from when I bought Mimi and really didn’t see a use for it.  And the backpack…well, not only do I have way more doll sized backpacks than I probably need, but after reading the reviews and how it tended to scratch stuff…hard pass.  BUT…I really really really wanted the hair styling tool with the interchangeable parts.  I went back and forth several times looking at it and then decided to look at Ebay.  I was in luck, someone had it!  AND, they had an offer on their Ebay store–buy three items and you’d get a discount, plus combined shipping.  Of course, I had to look!

Here’s the Curling Iron/Flat Iron.  I love that it’s interchangeable, just like a real one.  The on/off switch moves back and forth too.  Really a cute piece.

I went through the entire store and found several things I considered, but eventually narrowed it down to just three including the styling tool.  What else did I get?

The bouquet from Grace’s Meet Accessories:

I have a lot of Grace’s collection to begin with and I have bits and pieces out of the accessories set, all I’m missing now is the beret, and I’m not too worried about that.

I also got this:

This is the cutting board, knife and cucumber from the Our Generation Picnic Table Set.  A super cute set, but nearly everything in it is a repeat of stuff I already have and not really much use for the duplicates, so I was thrilled to see that this was available!  And just so you know, the cucumber slices are two sided.  Really a cool piece that I’m glad I was able to get.

All totaled, including shipping, the whole order came to just over $49.00.  Joss’s set retails for $40, the picnic table set is $30.  Grace’s accessories are no longer available except on the secondary market, so prices can vary quite a bit, when I wrote this it was selling for between $30 and $40.  So for less than half the price, I got the items I wanted and don’t have to store a bunch of things that I don’t really need.

Just another option I wanted you to know about!  I’ve seen everything from small items like these to larger pieces like furniture and even the larger sets sold individually on Ebay.  Nice if you are looking for replacements for lost or damaged items as well.  You just have to keep your eyes open and sometimes you need to be patient.  Good luck!

I’ve Learned Not To Say Never…

Back when I did my first custom that became Fiona, I wasn’t sure I wanted to do anymore custom dolls.  Then I decided to do Abby earlier this year.  They were both pretty simple customs in that I just had to remove their existing wigs and replace them.  Wig removal can be a bit of a wrestling match, and I wasn’t sure I felt like trying it again.  Then I happened to see a wig over at Beautiful Customs that I thought was really pretty and different.  Originally I thought about re-wigging Zyra, but after the wig arrived and I sort of tried it on her (as best I could) I decided I didn’t like it better than what she already had.  So I had to get a doll to redo.  To Ebay!

I kept an eye on a number of auctions for about a week, and then I came across one that wasn’t starting out at a ridiculous amount.  Plus it was going to end during the day on a week day, so chances were good I could snipe it, and snipe it I did!  With shipping I paid just over $60 for the doll.

I was a bit irritated though with the seller before this was over with.  First off, this is what she arrived in:

Yes, that’s all the packing materials that were in the box.  And yes, that’s newsprint/newspaper.  And her arms and legs were exposed to it.  Grrrr…  The only thing wrapped was her head and it was a very poor wrapping job at best.  Thank heavens she didn’t have to come from very far, or who knows what kind of shape she would have been in.

She also had two marks on her that weren’t disclosed in the listing. Luckily I got her cheap enough, but I did let the seller know that I wasn’t very happy and this was a very poor way to try and sell a doll. She gave me some excuse about it was her daughter’s doll and she let her pack it. Okay, I get that, but you are the person whose selling reputation is on the line, so perhaps it would have been a good idea to have checked before shipping it out! Whatever.

Unknown stain on torso

 

Black mark on index finger

Once I got over my annoyance at the situation, I set her on the sofa in my living room. This was in the midst of all the craziness, so she sat there for a while until one day I decided it was the day for a dolly redo! Waiting had given me some time to research, ask questions and think about exactly what I wanted to do.

First thing I did was remove her head (sorry to anyone who is squeamish about this kind of stuff) and clean her torso.
And out came my cleaning kit:

Baking soda is a great cleaning tool for so many things, including dolls! The mild abrasive removes dirt and grime as well as deodorizes the doll. It’s great at removing shine too, without damaging the doll. It will only remove shine up to a point, but in this case, it worked fantastic. I poured a little bit of baking soda into a bowl, dampened a clean dish cloth, dipped it into the baking soda and started scrubbing.
  


Apologies for the bad photo there, but you get the general idea! Afterwards I rinsed the cloth out thoroughly, then used it to wipe off the residue. Then I dried the legs and arms with a clean towel. She looked so much better!

I used a Lysol disinfecting wipe on the mystery mark on her torso. I then used the dampened cloth on it to remove any soap residue left behind. Then she got to hang out in front of one of our vents, and I turned the fan on so she would dry.

Then it was time to work on her head. First I removed the wig. Because she’s an older doll, it wasn’t too bad getting it off, although I did manage to put a hole in her wig. I think I can repair it enough to reuse it. Seriously thinking that Jan Brady may become a brunette…

I then gave her a baking soda facial to remove any dirt and grime that might have been on her. I did notice a tiny mark on her nose as well. That mark, as well as the one on her hand will get the acne cream treatment someday when it’s A) sunny and B) not ridiculously hot.  Only time will tell if those marks will come out.

Be very careful when using the baking soda scrub treatment on the face, you don’t want to get any water or baking soda in the eye area!!! The cloth I used was fully wrung out before I put baking soda on it so it didn’t drip, and I did the same when I removed the baking soda as well. I’ve actually seen some people put tape over the eyes, but if you are extremely careful, you can skip that step.

Here she is, ready for the next part!

First off, I knew she needed some lip color. And this particular doll is going to be a bit of a diva, so I knew I wanted her to have a somewhat intense color that looked like lip gloss. I mixed my own color, using a bit of red, and a bit of white. Some good advice I got from someone else who has done some customizations was to be sure to mix more than what you thought you would need because if you run out, it’s very hard to match it again! My own tip is to use a foam paper plate as your palette, it makes a nice surface to work on and the paint doesn’t soak in. Plus you just toss it in the trash when you are done.

Using a very fine paintbrush, I colored in her lips. Here she is at the halfway point:

Here you can see just how fine the brush I used was. I probably could have used one that was even finer than this, but I was able to do what I needed to do. It was kind of cool after I thought about it too, this brush was one that had belonged to my mom. She used it for numerous different ceramics projects, primarily for painting eyes. She was known in her ceramics class as “the lady who really knows how to paint eyes”. So it was kind of like having mom helping me again, and I had a lot of good memories from when she painted a nativity set. That brush has seen a lot of use as you can tell from all the paint splatters on it!

After I was done with the lips, it was time to do some work around her eyes, as well as give her a “beauty mark” (mole). I first mixed black and a medium brown together to make a grayish brown tone for the first layer.

A little tip for painting moles or freckles–or anything that just needs to be a dot. Don’t use the brush end–use the handle! Most paintbrush handles are round, and you can get a nice, nearly perfectly round circle by doing it that way. Just a little trick I learned back when I did ceramics.

I then mixed more black with my grayish brown to make it even darker, and added another layer of lashes as well as the mole. I just wanted enough lashes painted to fill in the space on her outer eye when her eyes were open. I’ve seen a lot of different styles of painting lashes on dolls, and this particular style is my favorite. Once I was done painting and I was sure it was thoroughly dry, I sealed it all with some glossy mod-podge. It gave me the desired effect as well as made the paint safer for play. Mod Podge goes on white, but dries clear.

Now it was time to put her wig on. This wig was an especially tight fit in the trial run, so I decided to try a tip I’d read somewhere. Unfortunately I did have any push pins, but I did have thumb tacks! They worked just as well, but as you can see, this wig was very thick and they nearly got lost in all that hair! They were a fantastic help though, it made it possible for me to get the wig placement correct and properly stretched over her head. I left them in for a while until I was sure the glue was mostly dry.

Isn’t this a fun wig? I am not a big fan of the ones that are wild colors throughout, but since this one started out with blonde and light brown with pink mixed in, it was much more realistic looking. Hey, I’m a bit jealous, I’ve always wanted to do something like this with my hair!

And now it’s time for the big reveal!!!

Meet Allison Renee Rhodes. Her friends and family call her Allie!

Here are side by side shots of her without a flash and with flash:
 

Allie and her family have recently moved here from Arizona. Look at all that hair!

She can be a bit of a diva sometimes, she does love her fashion! But she’s a sweetheart who loves animals, especially her dog Aspen.  She also is a bit of a musician so we may see her performing with The Beacons at some point.  She’s a huge fan of 90’s alternative.  And on her birthday, she insists on cheesecake, it’s her favorite.  No chocolate cake!

I’m really pleased with how she turned out. Hard to believe it’s the same doll! Even my husband was shocked.
 

Allie will be hanging out with the gang a good bit. She is especially fond of Sophia because of her fashion sense, and I have a feeling she and Evil Twin’s Trudy will hit it off too.

Now for the big question–can anyone figure out where Allie’s name comes from? First person who figures it out and answers correctly in the comments section will get a little prize from me!  There are a few hints throughout the post that might help.  You just have to figure out what they are.  I will give the answer on July 31st if no one has figured it out by then.

A big thanks to Ginny from Faking it Mostly and Jen from Mini Mad for all of their advice, information and encouragement in trying this customization.  Allie’s wig came from Beautifully Custom.  Her top from Beky’s Doll Clothes, her skirt from If Dolls Could Dream and her boots from American Girl.  Aspen is from Nat and Jules.  Allie’s base is an older American Girl #28.

The $1.25 Experiment

I’ve mentioned in the past that I regularly check Ebay for doll stuff.  I’ve picked up a few bargains here and there, and for a time, some of the crazier listings provided me with some fun photos for my “Bad Ebay” posts.  Over the past year though, I’ve noticed a marked change in Ebay listings for 18 inch doll items, and not necessarily for the better.  Not only has the number of auctions dropped significantly, but there has been an influx of stuff that comes up when you search “American Girl” that is coming out of China.  Much of it at almost ridiculously low prices.

I’ve also noticed that most of this stuff seems to come up first thing in the morning when I am checking.  I’m assuming it has something to do with the time difference between here and there.  As the day progresses, it doesn’t seem to be as prevalent, but it’s still there.  It is annoying though when you just want to search for stuff while drinking your morning coffee.  I get tired of weeding through junk to find a good deal.  However, one morning, my curiosity got the best of me.  One of the auctions was for a doll sized backpack.  And it had a minimum bid of $1.25 with no bidders, and free shipping as well.  I decided to give it a try and see what happened.  Worst case scenario was I never received the item and I’d be out $1.25.  Or I’d get it months later, or even perhaps receive it, but it would be poorly made and not worth the time it took to open the package.  Well, it arrived, and here are the results!

First off, my package arrived in 16 days!  I was very surprised as it arrived before the earliest date that it said I would receive it.  So far so good.  It was packed in a heavy duty envelope that took a bit of work to get open.  Backpack was also in a cellophane bag within that bag too, so it was nice and clean.  Once the backpack was removed from that, I examined it closely.  I was surprised and impressed!  I’ve purchased doll sized backpacks from name brand companies that aren’t as nice as this one.

The stitching was straight and nicely done, and it seemed to be well made. There are some strings that need trimming, but overall it is a nice piece.

A pic of the back and straps:

The final test was if it actually fit a doll and correctly. I grabbed Ryan for this because not only does it look more like a boys backpack, but with his short hair, you’d be able to see better how it fit.

As you can see from those photos, it fit just fine! I would say this $1.25 was well spent and the experiment was a success.

Now, I do want to warn everyone to take this review with a grain of salt. There are some truly crap items being sold out on Ebay by Chinese sellers. I lucked out, but I did a little bit of homework too by checking the sellers feedback. This seller did have some negative feedback, but for the most part, it was not for any of the doll clothing items they sold and the majority of them at the time I checked were over items not received. That is always going to be a risk when you purchase items from out of the country, particularly items drop shipped from China. Would I buy from this seller again? Probably, as long as it was something I liked. Again though, I would proceed with caution and not get a lot of money tied up in anything just to be on the safe side. But for me, it was a fun test just to see what I would get for my $1.25. I’ve wasted that much money on a candy bar, and at least this didn’t have any calories! 😉