SMART DOLL SUPPORT CENTER Help Center home page
SMART DOLL SUPPORT CENTER Help Center home page
  • About our product quality

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    I thought I’d take this opportunity to keep folks aware of how we make products here in Smart Doll Land.
    The photo above is of Mirai’s botty. As you can see there is a birthmark on the side of the torso. These marks appear at random (just like the ones on your body) and could appear anywhere on the Smart Doll body including bwebs, arms, hands and so on. Folks who are not keen on this idea should avoid Smart Doll products. Oh there are also bumps in the molds which appear though the electroplating process - this means that the genes of the mold get passed down to the casted part too.

    It’s very important to set expectations for the consumer - we do not want folks buying something that they did not expect. Me not being a fan of the Durian fruit (its a green spiky smelly thing they call “the king of fruit”) - I personally would not appreciate somebody putting a jar of coffee in our company lounge and not telling me it had durian powder mixed inside like I discovered when drinking it the other day lol.

    The design of Smart Doll is heavily influenced by Japanese design principles known as Wabi Sabi. These principles are typically applied to design but can also be applied to business and life too - I spoke about how we purposely factor concepts of imbalance, imperfection and asymmetry in a previous post earlier this week.

    Even if a customer has been buying Smart Dolls from us for a while, if they ask us to replace a part that has a birthmark we will decline. We do not wish to hunt around for a “perfect” part because they just don’t exist here. Again, it’s important to set expectations for potential customers before they buy into the brand. We will and always have replaced broken parts though.

    This is how we have done business and will always be how we continue to do business embracing things that happen naturally instead of trying to pick out perfect birthmark free parts - trying to make perfect looking dolls.

    You know, folks have actually been asking me to release a version of Valiant without her birthmark - asking me to remove everything from her and what she stands for. It’s these type of folks who I do not wish to own our products. Our products stand for a belief that there is beauty in imperfection and the people who I wish to own these products are those who share this belief. To this effect, I am going to be creating even more dolls that represent beauty through imperfection. We are now working on a Cocoa girl with Vitiligo.

    This is not a “just up and eat” statement. This is a “Danny, if you don’t like Durian then go next door where they sell mangoes - we will stay here and eat Durian” - this is actually a real life scenario when my wife and I travel to Malaysia or Indonesia - she loves Durian but I just can’t even! She took some durian cake on the plane once - it was quite an interesting experience to see other passengers jump out of their seat in shock.

    I love mangoes.
    Meow

    Read what folks have to say about this on Instagram.
    https://www.instagram.com/p/BtDpZltF1p8/

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    Photo above showing a birthmark on a Tea body.

  • About our design and business philosophy

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    This is a photo of the actual product version of Destiny which is on her product detail page. We only take orders when photos of the actual product are ready. Production methods for prototypes and products are completely different and taking orders based on prototype photos is misleading with high potential to cause disappointment when the product actually arrives on the doorstep - I know this because its happened to me many times and I don’t want anybody going through the same experience with our brand. Having our products in the hands of an unhappy consumer does our brand no favors and the effort taken to produce the product would have gone to waste. For this reason it’s very important to set expectations.

    The design of Smart Doll is heavily influenced by various aspects of Japanese Culture. While the aesthetics of Smart Doll are based on Anime/Manga culture, the concepts behind our product design is based on a set of Japanese design principles known as Wabi Sabi. These principles are typically applied to design but can also be applied to business and life too.

    One of the principles we apply is FUKINSEI (不均整) meaning “imbalanced, imperfection, asymmetry” and states that beauty can only be achieved if there is a correlate amount of imperfection. Imperfections are purposely factored onto various stages of Smart Doll production even though we could attain perfection through our precision 3D modeling tools.

    For example, designers who create faces in 3D would typically model one side of the face and then mirror it to the opposite side to save time which in theory should look fine but in reality gives an uncanny-valley look. This is because humans have evolved to recognize asymmetrical faces and instinctively know when something looks unnatural. When modeling the faces for Smart Doll we always make sure to introduce asymmetry at the final stage of development. We also do this for the torso and bust where one side is actually ever so slightly larger than the other.

    During the electroplating process when making molds, imperfections are naturally introduced on the surface of the mold which is replicated on the casted part. Blemishes like small beauty marks, faint streaks and slight color differences occur which are all caused by various natural conditions (air pressure, temperature, moisture etc) that affect the soft vinyl in both its liquid and casted form. All of these factors enable us to create similar looking but uniquely handcrafted imperfect products which have a natural feel to them - a feel that humans are most familiar with.

    Fukinsei is by no means a poor excuse for shoddy workmanship - on the contrary even more effort and cost is required to create natural looking forms.

    Lets look at the photo of Destiny again - if you look closely you will notice that her left eyeline is thicker than her right eyeline and you can notice this with most of our other Smart Doll faces especially Mirai Anniversary - but if you didn’t notice in the first place then its because the asymmetry looked natural to you.
    Each face is painted by hand where imperfections are introduced on purpose to make sure the face is asymmetrical. Even though we use facemasks as a guide, lines, thickness of eyelashes, blur masks, blushes etc - everything is never the same for each and every Smart Doll.
    I need to make this clear to set expectations for potential buyers who are expecting perfect products - you won’t find any in Smart Doll Land.

    Of late there has been a disturbance in the force. I get contacted by many consumers who always (always) always start off by saying something along the lines of “I have been in the BJD hobby for a long time and that means we demand perfection. As a doll maker you are expected to make perfect dolls.”

    Even though I explicitly mention that we are not in the business of making “perfect” products, we still end up attracting this type of customer. It’s not good for the said customer because something arrived that they were not happy with - and we ended up spending time and effort and love in creating a product that ended up in the wrong hands. While many BJD manufacturers ask the consumer to put up with said issues and offer no refunds - when I offer a refund I get told that we are defensive and instead should make what they demand lol. You know, I have to laugh or I will go crazy.

    For this reason I ask for your help. If you know of a BJD hobbyist who may be interested in Smart Doll please direct them to this post (I will update the site soon) - some will understand our philosophies but for those who don’t, its in their and our best interests that they seek out products that suit their needs.

    As an analogy - I do not want to sell peanut butter to somebody who I know has a peanut allergy - its not the right thing to do. If I know somebody wants a screwdriver - I’m not going to convince them to buy a spanner. We are not interested in making money by convincing folks that Smart Doll is for everybody - It’s not.
    And I’m not saying this just because we are doing well where maybe people think that “Danny can now afford tell customers that he don’t want their money” - on the contrary - even from the day I launched Smart Doll in June 2014 out of my house (where I had no money to afford an office), I was explicit about our design philosophy as I have always wanted to make sure expectations are set. I believe that we have been able to grow this brand based on this transparency.

    The demand for Smart Doll is at its highest ever and we are struggling to keep up with production. One Smart Doll in the wrong hands just means that somebody who understands our philosophies and who wants a Smart Doll just has to end up waiting for longer.

    In this post I have included a photo of some cups. 3 of the cups are exactly the same and are pretty much perfect - they probably make tens of thousands of these - I got them from IKEA.
    The brown cup that looks like it’s about to fall over is made using the Japanese traditional method known as Igayaki. It’s purposely designed with Wabi Sabi in mind and I love its asymmetry and imperfect surface.

    The Smart Doll community is generally a nice bunch of folks when compared to some toxic communities online - I’m sure you may have stumbled onto a few. I want to keep our community a nice place to be even if that means less sales from potential BJD owners who are seeking perfect products anyway.
    I didn’t start up this business to make money - if I did want to make money I could have stayed at Amazon earning much much more than I do right now and still have time to sip orange juice on the beach.
    Society has programmed us to presume that people only work for money and that businesses only exist to make money. While this is true for some - we feel that there is more to life than money which can’t be taken to the grave anyway.

    I understand that this post may cause some folks to jump ship but I would rather have less revenues (with a nice community of happy people) than more revenues with many unhappy perfection seeking customers.

    Read what folks have to say about this on Instagram.
    https://www.instagram.com/p/Bs2fPrdlBFc/

  • About one of our core beliefs

    Wabi Sabi is a set of Japanese design principles which we use as a foundation for not only the product design but also our company values too.
    We have already talked about FUKINSEI (不均整) “imbalanced, imperfection, asymmetry” and today we are going to talk about another principle DATSUZOKU (脱俗) - it means “unconventional” - it’s simple but brings about profound changes for your product, business and life.

    I was watching a business documentary which interviewed the boss of an electronics company in Japan - his name was Suzuki. Suzuki was sitting in a room filled with employees who were giving presentations for him to decide which prototype got the (karate) chop and which would go to market.
    One of the employees called Tanaka showed him an electric fan and said “we want to sell this for 12000 yen (about 120 USD).”

    Suzuki replied “What are you talking about? That’s not very customer-centric is it? It’s a good product but figure out a way to sell it at 9000 yen (90 USD) instead. You got to start seeing things from the mindset of a consumer you know?”

    Tanaka has a few tried and tested ideas which are typically used by manufacturers - they are…

    1. Tanaka chooses to use cheaper materials and sacrifice on quality - the fan still works but hey its only 9000 yen - who cares if it breaks after a year when the warranty runs out. Besides, the boss Suzuki would be happy.

    2. Tanaka forces the vendor to reduce the cost of components and threatens to take his business elsewhere if demands are not met. The vendor can’t afford to loose this gig as he has already lost a load of clients who have moved their production to China. The vendor has no choice but to increase working hours of their employees or reduce their wages to make a profit.

    3. Tanaka puts in extra hours but decides not to clock in the overtime.

    There is a general principle in Japan which says “The Customer is God” - in America I believe they say “The Customer is Always Right.”
    This principle is obeyed by almost all Japanese businesses and especially drilled into those working in the service sector.

    Society has molded us to put the customer in 1st place but we at Smart Doll Land have decided to be unconventional (DATSUZOKU) and put customers in 3rd place - this is because our employees and their work environment will always come 1st. Happy healthy employees will produce the quality that we associate with Smart Doll which is why Quality naturally follows in 2nd place.

    We don’t have any shareholders or bosses like Suzuki to answer to so we pay vendors whatever is required to maintain the quality of the Smart Doll brand. As we do everything in Japan, costs are admittedly high - but we believe in the quality of our products and have been supported by tens of thousands of customers worldwide who also believe in our product too.

    Putting customers 1st usually means bad working conditions for employees brought about by making them work silly hours on low wages and subjecting them to being dehumanized - this is so common in Japan that there’s even a term for “working to death” called “Karoshi” (過労死).

    Quality is then sacrificed to reduce costs of the product for the sake of the customer who wants stuff cheaper yesterday. So what you end up with are unhappy employees (overworking to meet those yesterday demands) and a potentially great but half baked product.

    But because companies are all competing with each other by making more half baked products at lower costs - the market becomes flooded with products of lower quality and questionable safety.

    Putting customers 1st also cultivates dangerous behavior - if you live in a city with public transport, the chances are you would have seen posters of how “violence against our drivers will not be tolerated” - but at the end of the day drivers *do* continue to tolerate it. Just because a customer paid a dollar for a train ride they believe they have the right to beat up the train driver for arriving late. This behavior must stop but society continues to tell us that the customer is always right.

    When I was a student I also worked part time as ground staff for Japan Airlines guiding lost Japanese passengers around Heathrow Airport. One day I was looking after a tour guide and his party of passengers but the plane was late. His passengers started to look irritated and looked at the guide as if it was his fault. The guide then grabbed my necktie and started to choke me screaming “Japan Airlines better take responsibility for this!”
    I could not fight back or even ask him to let go - he was the customer - he was god. All I could do was keep my finger on the walkie talkie button as a cry for help to other members of staff. He finally let go. I was on the floor loosening my necktie - clipboard and walkie talkie by my side. Red face with tears in my eyes. I was just doing my job and this...

    Humans have a habit of dehumanizing other humans who “serve” them - it’s this sort of behavior that brought about slavery in the past but today, “Customer First” is just another form of slavery.

    I want our product and values to serve as an example that we can create a successful business without treating customers as a celestial being - that we can run a business without the fear of saying “no” to a customer who starts screaming their head off because they demanded a discount.

    A customer wrote to us after placing an order - he said “Your stuff is way too expensive.” My wife answered him offering a cheaper shipping method. He replied “No, no, no - you don’t understand. In America when we say that something is expensive - you say something like 'oh would you like a discount?'”
    I replied on behalf of my wife telling him “we don’t do that here” (Avengers Infinity War reference). He said “that’s not a professional reply.”

    I see “That’s not a professional reply” being said a lot but the type of people who uttered it had just unconsciously admitted that they feel they should be treated number one - and that anybody serving them is not human. As you can see - people in the service sector are expected to speak to customers in a certain way.

    I have been transparent with our product design philosophy and now I need to set expectations for potential customers who want the celestial being treatment - you will not get that here in Smart Doll Land. If a customer comes into my shop screaming at my employee - I side with my employee and will ask the customer to leave and not let them in again. Though in Japan they would make the employee bow down to the customer and say "please come again!" lol.

    So what bought about this post? Running a business is the most challenging thing ever. Every single day that passes presents just another opportunity to throw in the towel. Anything can and will (and does) go wrong and sometimes I ask “just why?” But I’m optimistic - when poo hits the fan, I clean it up and make a chocolate cup cake. I try to cover up the smell with some fresh cream on top but sometimes I can’t completely hide the undigested carrots.

    I may always preach wise words to you but I’m not completely immune (yet) to trollism - especially when it comes from customers who I trusted. My team and I work very hard on our products but when folks expect that we sell them for less than what they cost it makes me sad - and angry. It demotivates my whole team.
    The worst thing is that we are expected to exist to merely churn out stuff for the customer - at the price that they demand - in a timeframe of their requirement.

    The last thing I want is people buying into our brand only to discover “WTF?! no professional treatment in Smart Doll Land?” - it’s not good for them and not good for us.

    I do apologize to folks who have invested into our brand only to discover this now. I ask that you share this with potential customers so that they don’t end up making the same mistake by investing in Smart Doll expecting treatment that we don’t offer.

    And that's all I have to say about that (Forrest Gump reference)
    Moo Moo.
    Read what folks have to say about this on Instagram.
    https://www.instagram.com/p/BtLs6zClqQt/

     

  • About Stain Risk Ratings

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    TLDR (SUMMARY)

    The Too Long Didn't Read Summary - we understand that Smart Doll is a hefty investment to make and that some folks want their dolls to be in pristine condition forever - if this matches your description then none our of products would be suitable for you - please seek other brands. Folks who are considering purchasing our products will have to accept that anything that exists in the cosmos will age with time.

    ABOUT

    Smart Doll is made up of the same stuff as you - no not plastic but polymers. All polymers are subject to degradation based on environmental factors such as (but not limited to) heat, UV light and moisture. For example, just like human skin, plastic properties can change under prolonged exposure to UV light.

    For this reason, even a white T-shirt that has no risk of staining will be given a “Stain Risk” rating of “LOW” - this is due to the fact that the T-shirt could accumulate moisture or scents that may (or may not) affect the speed of polymer degradation of your Smart Doll.

    These Stain Risk ratings are given to apparel so that you understand the risks before making the decision to buy.

    "LOW" RATING

    This means that there is little to no chance of staining - but we choose not to have a rating called "zero" due to the fact that even white fabrics could cause discoloration from the afore mentioned environmental factors. A white T-shirt won’t actually stain but some customers feel that discoloration is the same thing. 

    Wigs will be given a Low rating due to the fact that they wrap around the head - even though we use light colors for our wig caps, any fabric that comes into contact with the skin surface of a Smart Doll may cause discoloration. The fibers on the wig are not inked - they wont stain but may (or may not) also discolor the surface of the skin.

    Vinyl products such as the Vinyl Pumps wont stain but may (or may not) cause discoloration due to environmental factors. Shoes or sandals that have white or cream colored lining may cause discoloration of the skin due to its proximity to the foot. 

    "MEDIUM" RATING

    This means that there is a possibility of staining depending on how you handle the product. For example, pigment dyes tend to fall off the garment when rubbed or handled. Some customers have not experienced any staining with Medium rated products while some others have. Mohair wigs will have a Medium rating as they are dyed.

    "HIGH" RATING

    This means that there is a high possibility of staining and that you should take measures such as using stain prevention leggings, stain prevention body suit or use a spare body.

    A FEW NOTES:-

    • Leather surfaces that come in contact with other fabrics or the skin surface of a Smart Doll is likely to leave a stain. However, leather shoes usually have a white or cream colored lining that wont stain but may cause discoloration.
    • All apparel items that we dye is also given a color fixing agent to minimize risk of staining.
    • We always do staining tests of our apparel items for durations ranging from weeks to months in field tests.
    • We need to emphasize that even white fabrics that are left on the Smart Doll body for prolonged periods may (or may not) cause discoloration. This includes stain prevention leggings and socks.

    WARRANTY

    While we do provide aftercare for breakages, we do not provide any warranty for discoloration through aging/polymer degradation. Nor do we provide warranty on any stains that may (or may not) occur from the use of our products. We require folks to understand and agree to these terms before making a purchase decision.

    MAINTAINING YOUR SMART DOLL

    • Use stain prevention items such as leggings or socks where possible.
    • Check the body regularly for signs of staining - if you discover tell tale signs of staining at an early stage then most stains can be removed with paint thinner.
    • Please change the clothes on your Smart Doll regularly or undress them so that the whole body can get a dose of fresh air.
    • While you don’t need to change the apparel of your Smart Doll every single day - you should be changing your own human clothing regularly - especially underwear every 4 days at least - front, back, inside out, front, back.

    UNIVERSAL STAIN RATINGS FOR FASHION DOLLS

    There are many talented folks out there who make apparel for Smart Doll - they are free to use these ratings with their products.

  • About discoloration and staining

    Smart Doll is made of synthetic polymers which are commonly known as “plastics.” Just like all polymers that range from natural ones such as DNA, hair and proteins - through to woman made ones such as polyester and polypropylene - polymer degradation will occur under environmental factors such as heat, UV light, moisture etc.
    Polymer degradation is a change in the properties of the polymer such as color, shape and tensile strength. For example, just like human skin, plastic properties can change under prolonged exposure to UV light.
    Mileage will vary and there are no definitive rules as to how much discoloration or warping you may or may not encounter in your lifetime with a Smart Doll. I know some customers who live in humid environments that have encountered a yellowing of the Smart Doll body while others in the exact same regions have not - not even after six years since we launched the product.

    Fabrics that come in contact with the Smart Doll body could potentially cause discoloration due to the close proximity to the skin surface - even for white fabrics. Fabrics may accumulate moisture or odors in the atmosphere that could speed up polymer degradation. I know of a customer who left a white t-shirt on their Smart Doll for 6 months which left what appears to be discoloration of the skin surface. Even shoes that have white or cream colored lining has been known to leave what seems to be either a residue of dirt that has seeped into the skin surface or dark discoloration.

    While we choose light color fabrics for the wig cap, wigs in particular have a chance of causing discoloration to the top of the head due to the fact that the cap is wrapped around the head. This is not an issue for me as my girls like to keep their wigs on but may be an issue for you. A customer notified me that after leaving their Smart Doll on a shelf for a year, the area below the fringe had some discoloration. I cant say for sure that you will encounter the same sort of discoloration but as long as a customer has experienced it then it is my obligation to inform you that there is a possibility.

    The darker the skin tone, the less noticeable the color discoloration - if any. As mentioned above, there are folks who bought milk skin tone Smart Dolls 6 years ago when we started up with no noticeable discoloration reported.

    We understand that Smart Doll is a hefty investment to make and that some folks want their dolls to be in pristine condition forever - if this matches your description then none our of products would be suitable for you.

    Folks who are considering purchasing our products will have to accept that our products will age overtime - just like humans. While we do provide aftercare (see warranty page on the Smart Doll website for details) for any breakages, we do not provide any warranty for discoloration through aging/polymer degradation.

    Our recommendations to reduce the speed of polymer degradation (for both your human body and your Smart Doll) is to avoid UV light exposure for prolonged periods, avoid high levels of moisture and strong odors. If you do smell a bad odor from your Smart Doll then it could be because they made an air biscuit for you - it’s a sign of love.
    Change the apparel of your Smart Doll regularly and make sure they get a fair dose of fresh air - these recommendations should be easy to follow as this is the type of up keeping that you should be doing for your own human body too. But while you don’t need to change the apparel of your Smart Doll everyday - you should be changing your own clothing regularly - especially underwear every 4 days at least - front, back, inside out, front, back.

    Now that I’ve covered polymer degradation, I can talk about our new Smart Doll Stain Rating which will apply to apparel and accessories. We will be updating products on the Smart Doll site to inform potential customers the risk of staining through the rating which will be Low, Medium and High.
    While I have been doing this in the description for our products, the new rating will provide a better “at-a-glance” so you don’t need to wade through my blurb ;-)
    Even if I know that a product has very little to no chance of staining, I will still rate it as Low - even if that means it will deter a customer from buying.

    Apparel that has been given a worn-in look with pigment dye will have a “Medium” rating. This is because these items only seem to stain when the fabric rubs against the surface of the skin - this may (or may not) occur when dressing or handling the Smart Doll.

    Most pigment dye stains on the body are in the form of powder and can be removed using paint thinner if discovered early. Apparel items with a rating of “High” will most very likely stain and this includes black lace. Stains from the black lace that we use is usually removable with paint thinner if discovered early.
    Just because a fabric is black does not mean that it will stain - our Black Nice Tee, Black Bikini and Black Zip Sports Bra have not caused any stains for us nor our consumers since their release - just ask any owner - you can find owner photos at the bottom of our product detail pages which link directly to the owners Instagram or Twitter account.

    Given that any fabric (even white) has the potential to discolor the skin of a Smart Doll, we do not provide warranties for any of our apparel, wigs or accessories that may stain. We do sell stain prevention leggings and soon a body suit but even then - leaving these items on the body for prolonged periods still has a potential to discolor the skin surface.

    We still do lengthy stain tests that span weeks to months - you know this because some of the apparel items I announce take ages to be released and the stain testing period is one of the factors affecting release time.

    But why bother making items that have a Medium to High stain rating? Choosing only Low rating fabrics is extremely limiting in how creative we can be with our apparel design. We love the used look and feel but for softer fabrics this means using pigment dyes.
    The girls that I take on trips around the world tend to wear the black lace shorts that peek out from under the short jeans.

    I know many of you have been asking about them for the past half year but I needed to do my testing and prepare this writeup to set expectations. Folks who like the same look can opt for using a spare body that they don’t mind getting stains on, using a Cortex body which is more resilient (but not invincible) to staining or using the body suits that will be out in the next couple of months - the stockings (also to be released) may help in preventing stains but I need to do more testing before I give you the definitive answer.

    We want to set expectations of what Smart Doll is before a potential customer makes a purchase - even if it means that person ends up going for other brands. It is in both your and our interest that you make the right decision and I will continue to set expectations by being transparent about our products. Please share this post with others so that they too are also informed.

    I will also link to this post from the terms that a customer has to agree to before they proceed to the checkout.

    Read what folks have to say about this on Instagram.
    https://www.instagram.com/p/B8n_J1bh9tG/

  • About our weathered apparel

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    It’s important to set expectations to avoid disappointment. Companies who are only after your money would very rarely talk about the minus point of their own products which would risk lost of sales.

    In Smart Doll Land as you know, we prefer to set expectations - there is absolutely no point taking peoples money and giving them something that they didn’t expect. I would be miffed if I bought vanilla Ice cream only to find out while eating it that the vanilla was stored in the same fridge as the durian cream - I’m like “are you sure you gave me vanilla? it looks and tastes exactly like durian!”

    For millions of years in the evolution of Humans, we lived as hunter gatherers in a world without straight edges or clean surfaces. For this reason, still built into our DNA is a comfort for objects that blend into the natural environment.

    Much of our Smart Doll apparel employs the Wabi-Sabi weathered n worn look and feel which embraces the design principle SHIZEN (自然) meaning “natural and absence of artificiality.”

    To replicate worn material, holes, worn edges and frayed threads, our line of weathered n worn apparel items go through multiple stages of aging which include laser distressing, bio-stone washing and manual sand papering. We are also working on prototypes for “oily garage jeans” too by the way ;-)

    Our bio stone wash process uses pumice volcanic stones which weather and soften the material surface. Items are then put through a secondary wash and when dried, pockets are vacuumed to rid most of the sand - although a small amount may be left in the nooks and crannies.
    After weathering, items go through QC to check for things like wonky labels or questionable stitching. The final stage is iron pressing before they get packed.

    Leather boots are made from cow hide which grows with natural imperfections. Even though we sell our leather boots as pairs - no two will be the same. The left boot may be slightly darker or have more weathering than the right boot due to where the shoe Upper was cut. Handling of the boots will introduce more aging to it - even taking them out of the bag may introduce scratches. I personally scrunch up my boots and belts before wearing them on my Smart Dolls because I prefer them to look more scrumpled - this is something you can easily do too if you want to adjust the amount of weathering.

    SHIZEN is by no means a poor excuse for shoddy workmanship - on the contrary even more effort and cost is required to create natural looking forms. Have a look at the photo of the Cargo Pants. The one on the left has been put through the aging process and the one on the right is the original before going through bio wash/laser distressing/sand papering/color fixing/vacuuming/iron pressing.
    In my opinion, the spanking new one looks meh and looks like stuff I made 5 years ago when I didn’t have the experience or knowledge to make weathered apparel items. But after many years of experimenting, I think we nailed it and now our entire line of apparel will move in the same direction.
    Expect worn edges, holes, loose threads - the whole shebang when buying Smart Doll apparel.

    And that’s all I have to say about that - Forrest Gump.
    Read what folks have to say about this on Instragram.
    https://www.instagram.com/p/Bu8yRTmld2X/

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    Above: Shoes are unevenly weathered. Left may be different from right meaning that one may be more weathered/scratched/blemished than the other.

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    Above: Weathered apparel causes material to fray/lighten/get holes etc - unless product is not stated as "used".

  • About Smart Doll Wigs

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    Folks are required to understand the spec of our wigs before they can buy the product.

    • Wigs have "styles" but not a shape - do not expect them to look exactly like the photos unless the hair is a blob of plastic ;-)
    • Because our wigs are a style and not a shape, do not expect wigs to have a uniform shape, length or color. If you buy two of the same wig at the same time or spanning a length of time then they will look different.
    • Strands may fall out upon opening the bag or running your fingers through them.
    • The wig cap may leave a stain on the covered part of the head.
    • Some wigs may be thinner than others which is by design to create thinner looking styles - for more bloated styles choose other wigs.
    • Not all wigs have elastic inside them - elastic affects the appearance of the wig so sometimes we choose not to have them.
    • Our wigs are very difficult to put on - check the video in the Welcome Guide to see how its done.
    • The entire surface of the wig is not filled to the brim - we adjust the volume to match the style we are looking for.
    • The wig cap has visible stitches.
    • The wig cap may have a pink, yellow or blue mark on the inside - this is used by the person stitching the cap as a guide.
    • You may be able to see the wig cap through the wig fibers. Folks can use their fingernails to pinch at the area which will distribute the fibers to cover the wig cap. Folks who have butter fingers may not be able to do this.
    • Pony tails are clipped on to the wig - some folks dislike the look.
    • Wigs that look straight in our photos may end up being slightly curled as they are curled up in the bag that we ship.
    • There maybe some loose threads in the wig cap which we will leave uncut on purpose to avoid the whole wig becoming unthreaded.
    • Wigs are a wear and tear component - see below for maintenance tips.
    • Wigs may leave stains on the forehead is left in UV light for weeks on end.
    • If you run your finders over the wig then you will notice bumps - this is because the cap is made of pieces of fabric stitched together - the bumps are where the fabric overlaps with each other.
    • Sometimes you will be able to feel an "air pocket" on the wig cap - this is because the shape of our Smart Doll heads re different.
    • Smart Doll wigs are designed to be worn on the head of a Smart Doll.
    • Smart Doll wigs are not designed to have the wig wefts pulled up to show the wefting.
    • Our elf ears work by sliding the back of the ears under the wig cap. However, the wig cap may not be tight enough to hold the ears in place in which case you may need to use additional aids such as blu-tac.

    Reasons for the above ;-)

    Today I would like to talk about and set expectations for our Smart Doll wigs which I have tried to do in the past through email and comments on social media. I never had the chance to do a full post on this subject and truly apologize to folks who felt they have been deceived for my lack of effort to set expectations properly about the quality of our wigs. Hopefully this post will highlight any issues that some folks may be uncomfortable with - thus avoiding a poor experience through a Smart Doll purchase.

    Out of everything that we make in Smart Doll Land, wigs are the most difficult. The reason is that there is no defined shape - only a style. Unlike vinyl where we can make molds and cookie cutters for textiles, the shape and style of the wig is determined by the weight of fibers, sewing of the fibers to the cap in a particular order, styling and then finally cutting each and every one by a human.

    We have looked into 3D printing technology but we are not quite there yet. Wigs are very important and can completely change the look and feel of a doll which is why we invest a lot of time and moolah in the research and development of our wigs. We do a lot of prototyping where many wigs don’t make the cut (no pun intended) because the mass production shape ended up looking like that sticky stuff in Stranger Things.

    There are an estimated 30,000 strands of fiber on each wig. Our fibers are made of Polyethylene Terephthalate (also abbreviated as PET). The fiber we mainly use is known as Powerlon which has high temperature resistance (up to about 180 degrees celsius).

    Each strand is sewn onto a weft by a three-head weft machine. The wefts are then sewn onto the wig cap. Wig cap sizes vary according to the wig style. Just like human hair, some strands will inevitably fall out either on their own or by running your fingers or a comb through them. Some tufts of hair may fall out too.
    However unlike human hair, our wigs should not malt in such a way that your doll looks visibly bald - we are not going for the Jean-Luc Picard look. A balding Smart Doll wig looks bad on us too. I’m not saying that bald people look bad - the Rock looks particularly great - Picard too.

    The entire surface of the head cap is not filled to the brim by wefting however which enables us to create the various styles where we need to control thickness and direction - else they would all look like wigs from Car Wash.

    Upon first taking the wig out of its bag, as we want to prevent it from being crushed in storage and transit, the appearance will be “compact” - after putting the wig on and leaving it for a while, the wig will start to puff up as it comes into contact with the atmosphere.

    You can speed up the puffing by pushing down on the head cap with the wig on. There may be wigs which show some of the wig cap on parting line edges - just take your finger nails and “pinch” at the area to fluff it up - I show you how in the latest Smart Doll unboxing welcome video (link available in the Welcome Guide on the Smart Doll website).

    Some wigs that look straight in photos are not completely straight and may have a slight wave to it but more so because our wigs are curled up so that they fit in our stringed bags. I do understand that other doll manufacturers ship their wigs in long elongated bags to prevent straight wigs from being curled - but thats how we ship our wigs and will always do so. Some of our wigs that are curly won’t remain the same forever and may loose some of its curl over time.

    Some ponytail wigs like the ones that come with Haruka and Mika Jogasaki are clipped on to the wig cap using a plastic clip which is clearly visible. If the clips are removed, the fibers that were below the clip will look crumpled and won’t look good unless some steam is applied to the area. As the ponytail clips are clipped onto the wig cap, the clip will make holes in the cap.

    When we released Smart Doll 5 years ago, I didn’t have any methods for preventing the wig from slipping off which I hated. After a while we came up with the idea of putting some elastic on the inside which would reduce the chances of the wigs slipping off when out n about. This worked great but meant that the wigs are an absolute pain to put on - but I would rather go through the difficulty at the beginning rather than have the wig eject into orbit every now and then.

    The best way to put wigs on is to first take off the head but make sure you hold the head firmly or it also will eject out of your hands into orbit. Also make sure to avoid touching the eyes when doing so or the Smart Dolls will start to scream - a screaming doll is not a pleasant sight. Again this method is in the Welcome video without the screaming.

    However, some wig styles are affected by the elastic - for example Justice does not have elastic on the inside of the wig. This is because the elastic made the edges of the wig fan outwards which looked odd. In these cases we sacrifice the function for the aesthetic.
    On inspection of the inside of the wig cap you will see that the wigs have been notably sewn on by a human as we have not invented robots to do this job - yet. Some folks requested that our wigs look "uniform" on the inside of the cap - we don't do this but I am sure other manufacturers can.

    There maybe one or two loose threads which we leave uncut on purpose to prevent the wefts from coming loose away from the cap. There may also be slight patches of faint ink which the wig seamstresses use as guides when sewing the wefts onto the cap.

    The cap is made of a stretchable nylon. We avoid using black caps and the darkest we would use is a dark brown - most are cream color which would be the equivalent to our Milk skin tones.

    Most folks prefer to keep the wig on at all times but because the cap is in direct contact with the head then the cap may gradually stain the top of the head. Even if we used a white cap this would be the case due to oxidization. The top of the head may change to a slightly darker color - this happens to some but not all people and we do not know the exact reason but most likely due to oxidation and environmental factors such as humidity, temperature etc.

    I hear some folks wrap the head with cling film or a silicone cap to prevent wig cap staining but some other folks mention that plasticizer from the cling film (or silicone cap) seeps out making the whole head sticky.
    Some of our wigs have parting lines in the design just like Melody for example. The parting line usually has a layer of silicone to reinforce the strands in that area. However, the plasticizer in the silicone may seep out over time and stain the head and/or cap.

    To me - this is not an issue as I keep the wigs on all the time but to some folks this is no no which is understandable which is why I will link this post to the terms that folks have to read and understand when they check out. Also, the point at the top of the wig where the wig fibers radiate out may have a silicone patch to replicate the scalp - this may also stain the top of the head cap. The whole wig is prepared with some oils too which help keep its shape when sewing and cutting - this oil may be the cause of some of the staining. Trying to remove the oils may leave the wig looking ragged and dry.

    Wigs such as Twist Out are created from Australian yarn. The yarn is dyed and if left in contact with vinyl (such as the shoulder) then it may leave a stain.

    At the moment we outsource the production of the wig base to vendors who we work with in Japan, Korea and the Philippines. Wig bases cant be sold as they are so when they arrive in our office we QC and restyle each and every one through steaming, ironing and cutting. The ones which we feel look a bit odd go into the outlet in Mirai Store where customers get to decide if anything odd looking is an issue before purchasing.

    Wigs are ultimately a wear and tear component and they may get tatty and frizzly as they are regularly touched. Anti-static sprays or some water from time to time sprayed onto the wig will help maintain its form. Remember to comb from the ends and not half way as the ends will get tangled.
    A search on Amazon for “Downey Wrinkle Remover” will bring up a product that you can use to keep the wig at bay - in Japan we use something called Eleguard which is an anti static spray (hey that rhymes!). I always carry one when out n about. Be careful of the surrounding environment when you are using it. Unfortunately we do not have permission to sell licensed wigs on their own.

    Search for “clothes steamer” on Amazon and you will find a steamer for about 25 USD with a handle - we use something similar when styling our wigs to straighten them out or add more curls. Please be careful not to burn your hands when using it.

    We use the same scissors that are used for human hair and they do cost quite a bit (about 800 USD depending on which ones). I don’t expect you to spend the same amount but try getting one that was designed to cut human hair if you need to trim frizzly fibers. You may cause more damage if you use regular scissors.

    Anyway, I hope I have covered all the things that may be of some concern to folks considering a Smart Doll purchase. I had to get this out before I release a ton of new wigs! The new Twin Curl for example (pictured here with Haruka) can transform from twin tail to pony tail with a caveat that I described above. Maybe I will just call the wig More Than Meets The Eye.

    We don’t have the ability to make perfect non staining wigs - but am sure other manufactures do. Please share this post with folks who may be considering a Smart Doll purchase so that they don’t end up disappointed in the way our wigs are designed. Once you done that let me know and I shall release the Kraken. I mean new wigs.

    Have I forgot to mention anything about our wigs that will bother potential Smart Doll buyers that I should mention? If so I will add it to the post that I will write up with photos and clickable links on the Smart Doll site.

    DSC09993_3_3.jpg

    Above: Chitose Multiverse and Felicity use the "Long Straight (Fringe)" Wig which is by design thinner than other wigs. This is so that it does not look bloated on the top. You may need to pinch at the wig to cover up the wig net underneath. Folks who are not comfortable with this should avoid this product.

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    Above: This is what our wigs look like on the inside - you can see how they are wefted onto the wig cap. As they are currently stitched by humans, they do not look uniform across all of our wigs. Folks who require their wigs to look exactly the same should seek other manufacturer products.

    DSC00320.jpg

    The photo above is of Chitose donning the Long Straight Wig with Fringe. It’s the same style as Felicity and the Ocean Wave style too which is a comparatively thin wig - its thin by choice so that it does not look puffy as we have other wigs that go for the puffy look. There are less wefts to maintain a slim appearance which means bigger gaps between the wefts. Erm, wigs are designed to be worn on the Smart Doll head.

    I was unaware until now but some customers have had the need to lift up the wefts - while we make sure that the styles of our wigs looks great from the outside while being worn on a Smart Doll head - making the wefts look “good” too has not been a priority. The following few photos are of the actual product that we sell with a comparison between how it looks like being worn and the show-me-yer-wefts which is…not how its supposed to be worn. As you can see its pretty simple to lift and pull back the wefts and take photos to make it look like we have questionable quality control - if you own any of these wigs then please try it yourself too!

    wig-examples-1.jpgAmong these photos is Mirai’s Medium Straight Hazel which we have been selling since 2017 - the style has remained the same and production method has not changed either. As its got more fibers, it can be challenging to lift up the wefts and take photos to make it look like a quality control issue but you can if you try.
    wig-examples-2.jpg

    This batch of photos include a photo of the cap turned inside out - I was told by a customer that they should look exactly the same across all wigs. Unfortunately, as we still ask humans to make our wigs, getting a consistent look for the stitching is not going to happen anytime soon. Do remember that if you order any Smart Doll or wigs that this is how they have always looked like and will continue to look like - unless we are talking about Smart Doll Naruto ;-) We have no intention to make wigs that are designed to have the wefts pulled back.

    wig-7.jpg

    Read what others have to say about the quality of our wigs on Instagram.
    https://www.instagram.com/p/Bz8IZtvgc1v/

    Also please read why wig caps may bulge.
    https://www.instagram.com/p/B904Nr0g73m/

     

  • How wigs, vinyl and heads look like on the inside

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    Warning potential customers about the spec of a product is important to set expectations. But listing absolutely everything under the sun at the time of product launch is difficult because you never know what consumers will come up with next.

    Today we talk about “Inside” and first up is The Long Straight Wig with Fringe - the first photo is of Chitose donning it. It’s the same style as Felicity and the Ocean Wave style too which is a comparatively thin wig - its thin by choice so that it does not look puffy as we have other wigs that go for the puffy look. There are less wefts to maintain a slim appearance which means bigger gaps between the wefts. Erm, wigs are designed to be worn on the Smart Doll head.

    I was unaware until now but some customers have had the need to lift up the wefts - while we make sure that the styles of our wigs looks great from the outside while being worn on a Smart Doll head - making the wefts look “good” too has not been a priority. The following few photos are of the actual product that we sell with a comparison between how it looks like being worn and the show-me-yer-wefts which is…not how its supposed to be worn. As you can see its pretty simple to lift and pull back the wefts and take photos to make it look like we have questionable quality control - if you own any of these wigs then please try it yourself too! Read More

    wig-examples-1.jpgAmong these photos is Mirai’s Medium Straight Hazel which we have been selling since 2017 - the style has remained the same and production method has not changed either. As its got more fibers, it can be challenging to lift up the wefts and take photos to make it look like a quality control issue but you can if you try.
    wig-examples-2.jpg

    This batch of photos include a photo of the cap turned inside out - I was told by a customer that they should look exactly the same across all wigs. Unfortunately, as we still ask humans to make our wigs, getting a consistent look for the stitching is not going to happen anytime soon. Do remember that if you order any Smart Doll or wigs that this is how they have always looked like and will continue to look like - unless we are talking about Smart Doll Naruto ;-) We have no intention to make wigs that are designed to have the wefts pulled back.

    wig-7.jpg

    Now let’s talk about the inside of our vinyl - customers have mentioned that there should be no “drips” on the inside of the vinyl. Unfortunately, because we use a technique called Slush & Roto Casting, solidified vinyl drips are going to appear at random on the inside - hence the name “Slush”…

    Finally we talk about the inside of the Smart Doll head. Customers have mentioned that they don’t like the appearance of blu-tac and that the eyes should be held in place with hot glue “just like some other vinyl doll company.” We use blu-tac because we feel that its not only for us to adjust the eye position but also for consumers who want to swap out the eyes. We have no intention of switching to hot glue.

    Anyway, Smart Doll will never ever be a brand which says “competition sucks - our stuff is great so spend your money on our brand instead!”

    Very rarely you would find any brand doing their utmost to deter people from buying their stuff like we do. For example our stain ratings on our apparel has deterred folks from buying stuff but that’s great - it keeps people informed to help them make a decision.

    However, I don’t want you to think that we don’t give a flying meow about the inside of stuff - have a look at the inside of the up n coming Wasteland Open Jacket - notice the brown lining on the sides. The jacket costs us more to have it included but I thought it looked nice when you glance at the inside when putting it on so I included it in the final product.

    I am not saying that we don’t mess up from time to time - we do and when that happens we admit that we are wrong - we then work out how not to let it happen again and make up for it to the customer. If the item is to spec however, we will inform the customer and offer a full refund - most other companies would tell the customer that the item is too spec and offer no refund.

    I hope this is all kushty with you - but if not then there are a load of other great doll brands out there who deserve as much support as us. The doll hobby would be boring if it was just us - which is why I always recommend other brands to folks who have particular needs - like great looking wefting, non-drippy slush casted vinyl and got glue for eye sockets ;-)