Monday, September 26, 2016

Dr. Frankendollfie

I decided to build my own 60cm/2-foot-class doll using off-the-shelf parts because I thought doing so might be fun.

I made some rules for building this doll. Those rules are: All the parts and tools used must be off the shelf. They must be parts and tools which can be purchased online, from a national (or international) retailer, or common enough so they can be purchased just about anywhere. No "limited edition" parts or tools are to be used. (Specialized or proprietary tools are OK as long as they can be purchased easily.)

You can ignore the yen price tags in the photos below. I paid much less than what's written on them. The following parts are for Dollfie Dream II. (That should be obvious from the "DD2" in the product codes shown on the boxes.)

What you see above are the upper body, lower body, thighs, arms, and shins. I bought them from Mandarake.

Volks doesn't sell most inner frame parts by themselves. In fact, at this point in time, I can't find any inner frame parts for DD2 doll bodies. I can buy inner frames for the (DD3/DDS) chest and wrists by themselves but I can't buy most other parts. With other parts, especially with the DD3, most outer skin pieces and inner frames come as sets. I have even fewer options with the DD2. No problem. Enter: Obitsu brand inner frame parts. The frame parts are for "60cm class" dolls with the exception of one part.

Shoulder joints, thigh joints, ankle joints, and hip.

Elbows and chest. The one thing of note here is, the chest is for 50cm dolls. I purposely bought a chest piece for a doll class one size smaller because the chest piece for 60cm dolls has fewer points of articulation. I wanted to increase range of movement.

Knee parts.

The techniques for installing Obitsu frame parts into DD outer skin parts were originally described in Japanese. I don't deviate from those techniques.

I started the doll assembly with the legs. The first thing I did was to remove the caps from the knees. After the caps are removed, the top and bottom shafts should get swapped.

In order to swap the shafts, the pins should be taken out. The pins should be put back in after the shafts are swapped.

Once the shafts are swapped, the knee internal frame can be put into the Dollfie shin.
The caps will not be used after they're removed.

Fitting a thigh joint part into a thigh. The thigh should be warmed up with a hair dryer. Once the thigh is heated, it will become soft and the joint will easily slip in.

Next, I adjusted the legs' length.

Taking the hobby hacksaw to the (now) lower leg shaft.

I said "(now)" because as you saw earlier, I switched the lower and upper shafts to what you see here now.

The purpose of taking the hacksaw to the leg shafts is to make the outer leg skin pieces fit better with each other overall. The shin shafts were cut about 7mm, while the thigh shafts were cut about 8mm. I actually marked the shin shafts at 5mm and the thighs at 6mm but after cutting with the hacksaw and leveling where I cut the pieces with a metal file, I took off an extra 2mm. If you intend to cut something at a given length, give it about a 2mm leeway.

Left: The leg with the cut shin shaft.
Right: Shin shaft uncut.

Thigh shaft before cutting.

After cutting. It's also upside down vs. the previous photo. ^^;

 Left: Uncut thigh shaft.
Right: Thigh shaft cut.

While I did buy Obitsu 60 feet and ankle parts, the DD3 feet are prettier (LOL) and the character who would be using these parts will be wearing boots. I got lazy and skipped over the feet. ^^;

The ideas for modifying the Obitsu 50 chest part to mix it with Obitsu 60 parts came from another Japanese web site. What I did is a variation of the techniques described there.

The 50cm doll chest piece has shoulder joint holes which aren't exactly round.
They need to be rounded out in order for the shoulder joint parts to fit into these holes.

Next is to increase the neck's movement range. The idea for increasing the movement range was originally discussed at another Japanese web site. There are various techniques mentioned there but I only followed the ones specifically aimed at increasing the range of the neck's movement. I didn't implement other techniques.

The following photos should be self-explanatory. I used a combination of a hobby hacksaw, a hobby knife, and a metal file to accomplish shaving down the indicated areas..

Let's see how much the range of movement increased.
Quite a bit, actually. :D

Now for the arms.
The hole at the bottom part of the upper arm.
I made this hole larger so the elbow joint would fit.

Assembling the arm. The upper arm was heated with a blow dryer so the shoulder joint piece can slide in. The elbow joint was fitted as well. Also pictured is a Volks brand wrist joint part. Interestingly, it was much easier to acquire the Volks wrist joint by mail order than trying to acquire an Obitsu brand wrist joint.

Volks parts are notorious for having weak or loose joints. With the pair of wrist joint parts I purchased, one of the joints was actually stiff but the other was loose. With the one which was loose and weak, I disassembled the joint as seen above and applied masking tape. This increased the resistance inside the joint and strengthened it.

After reassembling the wrist joint, I applied super glue at the end of the joint and then let it dry. (Under no circumstance should the wrist joint be inserted into the arm before the glue dries completely.)  I did this because the shaft is too thin to fit properly into the corresponding Obitsu elbow joint shaft. I fattened up the Volks wrist joint shaft so it wouldn't be loose anymore.

Remove the piece which represents the hand skeleton from the "ball" section of the wrist joint. Apply super glue on the areas where the piece above touches the connecting piece. Let the glue dry completely before reassembling. The purpose of this is to tighten up and strengthen the rotation part of the wrist joint.

This step would have been so much easier with the Obitsu 60cm doll wrist joint parts if they were available at the time of this writing. XD

Assembling the lower arm and reassembling the wrist joint are easy so there are no photos for them. However, the hands are another story.

These are Obitsu brand hands for 60cm dolls. For the purposes of this project or projects like it, the hands being Obitsu or Volks brand functionally doesn't matter. Pick whichever you want based on price, availability, skin tone, or some other criteria.

If you're using Volks brand DD wrist joint parts with Obitsu brand hands, the hands' holes will be too small to directly slip onto the wrist frame. What you should do is to use a blow dryer to warm up the hands. The hands are made of vinyl so they will soften up when heated. Heat one of the hands and it will slip onto the DD wrist frame easily. Repeat for the other hand.

The arms are now assembled.

The "Whitey" skin tone of Obitsu joint parts generally match the "Normal" skin tone of  Volks skin parts but when it came to the hands, the Obitsu parts have a lighter tone. :/

The pins for the shoulder joint are a little too long for the 50cm doll internal frame. They should be sanded down or cut. However, I couldn't shave this down as much as I wanted fast enough with a metal file so I took a hobby hacksaw and hacked about 4 to 5 mm.

The headlights length of the pins now seem to be perfect.

While the arms' assembly seemed to go well, I was still unhappy with them. The problem is, the elbows don't bend too well. The joint bends about 150 degrees without the outer skin but with it...

...that's as far as either arm will bend. :/

If I used Obitsu outer skin parts specifically designed for these elbow joints, the arms would bend about 150 degrees. That's not the situation here.

Before I purchased the "ball jointed" elbows and knees in the photos above, I purchased "double jointed" elbows and knee parts. I discovered I couldn't use them as-is without heavy modifications to the outer skin parts. As an added bonus, using the shins with the double jointed knee parts was out of the question no matter how I try to modify them.

I didn't want to cut the skin parts so I bought the ball jointed elbows and knees. The ball jointed knees turned out very well. The ball jointed elbows, not so much. In order to get the arm articulation to my satisfaction, I decided to cut the arm skin parts and use the double jointed elbows.

I marked where I was going to cut with masking tape, then used a brand new hobby knife blade. (When cutting the vinyl skin, a new blade is always recommended.)

*NOW* the arms are done.

There's the issue of connecting the upper and lower half bodies with a spine. I didn't buy any Obitsu brand internal "stomach" parts because the range of movement is very limited when those parts are used. I decided to custom build those parts using tubing and "Toy Skeleton" parts.

Now is the time for a unique part manufactured and sold by Parabox. The 1/4 scale (16mm) Toy Skeleton parts and pliers are necessary.

While there's a hold here already, it doesn't go all the way through.

Drilling a hole all the way through was necessary... do this. The type of brass rod is shown below.

The rod was cut here.
While this fit, the Toy Skeleton piece and the Obitsu 50 chest piece were attached with epoxy glue.

For the spine, five pieces of the 16mm Toy Skeleton parts were used. Another rod piece was cut to put into the hole but unlike with the neck, there was no need to drill a hole through the piece. However, additional work was necessary to make the rod connect to the Obitsu 50 chest part.

I bought these plastic tubes from Brookhurst Hobbies. Hey! Why is it cheaper online?!? XD XD XD
Also available at eBay. If you don't like the available options, you can try your local hobby store or search online for the UPC code: 787026002309

The tube is a bit tight but it does fit.

This piece was created using the plastic tube and cutting a 1/4-inch pipe left over from my clock themed doll chair project. Epoxy glue was used to hold these pieces together. The plastic tube end fits into the Obitsu 50 chest part. The pipe parts slides into the brass rod part I put into the Toy Skeleton and... I should have taken a photo of that. :/ Epoxy glue was used to keep the part and the brass rod together. If I ever need to disassemble the doll, I would remove the plastic tube end from the Obitsu 50 chest part.

This brass pipe was used to connect the bottom of the Toy Skeleton part to the hip piece.

Comparison with a Dollfie Dream III skeleton to match the size.

Another thing I didn't take a picture of was showing how I had to file down the bottom of the toy skeleton part to make it fit into the brass pipe. :/

As for attaching the Toy Skeleton piece to the hip part...

The hip part as-is comes with a ring piece. This should be removed to allow the brass pipe to fit.

After sliding the brass pipe onto the hip piece, a hole was made using a drill bit and pin vise. A screw was inserted and a corresponding nut was used to hold the pipe securely onto the hip piece.

This rod by itself is too thin to hold a Dollfie Dream head.
The rod was wrapped in masking tape, and then...

...wrapped in heat shrink tube.

The specific brand and type of heat shrink tube used.

This doll is almost assembled and finished!

Since I've been working on this post for longer than a month, I want to be done with it already. XD

I assembled the doll and then put "Sheryl's Military Outfit" on the body.

While her head will bend quite a ways back if held in place...

...the outer skin of the Dollfie chest part will bring the head back forward. :/

While I wish the head would stay in its position instead of bending forward again due to the Dollfie skin, overall, I'm happy with this assembly. I will definitely build a few more daughters dolls in this manner but for subsequent ones, I think I'll try different techniques in assembling the spine.

Parabox (English): [60cm doll parts] | [50cm doll parts] | [Toy Skeleton]

Volks USA: [DD option parts]

Hobby Search (English): [60 cm parts] | [50cm doll chest]

Tools used:

Hobby hacksaw (common tool)
Hobby clamp (common)
Hobby knife (common) - You can also look for "X-acto knife".
Hobby knife replacement blades (common) - Ditto.
Epoxy glue (common)
Metal file (common)
Pipe cutter (common)
Toy Skeleton pliers (proprietary) - Click on the "Toy Skeleton" link above.
Masking tape (common) - [Volks USA Dollfie Store] | [Volks USA Scale Model Store] | [Amiami: Square | ABC Hobby]

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