Friday, October 27, 2017

Misadventures With Creating a Silver Haired Beauty (Aika)


I bought the complete outfit set pictured above from Mandarake Umeda. It was much cheaper than buying the complete doll for 100,000+ JPY plus shipping and also cheaper than the incomplete outfit set available as of this writing. No manual, no wig, but I can live without them considering what I paid for the complete outfit.

So now I should explain a few things.

I normally don't buy licensed character dolls. I have some but most of what I own are one-offs I created. However, Takane is a licensed character doll I would like to buy... except the price tag in the aftermarket is prohibitive. I wasn't buying expensive dolls when Takane was up for pre-order. By the time I dived head first into the hobby, her price tag was already too rich for my blood.

Takane was available as a lottery item during Anaheim Dolpa. The asking price was much more reasonable. Of course I didn't win.

I gave up on acquisition. Since DD Takane is beyond my budget, I bought a Volks DDH-07 to create an original one-off character. While I was at it, I thought about other characters with white or silver hair I like. They are Kashima and Selvaria. I decided I would try to create my own character using Tanake, Kashima, and Selvaria as inspirations.

The important thing for me here is to not try to recreate any of the licensed characters. If I tried, I know I'll only be disappointed. I can't take a mass-market blank DDH of any model number and modify it to even come close to [insert licensed character name]. If I try to recreate Takane, anything I make won't be close to the Volks release of Takane. While Volks release DDs of Kashima and Selvaria do not exist as of this writing, I can't expect success of recreating them to my satisfaction by using a standard release DDH. I don't have the tools nor the skills to do so.

While the character I would create would be inspired by Takane, Kashima, and Selvaria, she won't be any of them or named after them. My intent was to give my "daughter" a different name and own identity and not be an unofficial knockoff.

I started with a DDH-07 head, eye holes open, normal skin.

Eyes by Blue Rose Garden.

Faceup by me, using a brush pen, Gundam Markers, Sharpie, and color pencils.

I named her "Aika" (藍華). While the way her name is written is identical to the title character of a certain panty shot fan service anime, my Aika is not named after the said character. The first doll I created, Airi (藍璃), is also a DDH-07 head. Since they have the same model head, I decided they would be sisters and have similar but not identical names.

So now I ran into a minor dilemma. I needed to provide her with a body. Before I bought DD Takane's default oufit, I thought about the Kashima/Selvaria idea and wanted to dress Aika in a military uniform. I saw something made by Code Noir I really like, and the uniform is pretty much an outfit best suited for DDdy bodies. I decided to give Aika a DDdy body at this point. This decision will come back to haunt me later.

I have one problem with Code Noir. Its web site is not secure. No way in hell I'm going to submit personal and payment information to an insecure site. What's the alternative? Since I planned to go to Japan (and did), I thought I could try buying a Code Noir military uniform from Dolk. Sadly, when I visited, none of the Dolk stores had a Code Noir military uniform in stock.

Just when I thought I was all out of options, Volks came to the rescue. Looking at the sizing chart, a DDdy body will fit into the Deep Blue Short Pants (Elegant) Set.

Aika's body has the Sexy Legs mod and the custom neck piece. Because of the shape and structure of the DDdy outer skin, the FrankenDollfie custom spine is impractical to use.

So now I'll ramble about the gloves. I bought them as loose clothing pieces from Mandarake. Since they were loose clothing pieces, they were cheap.

They originally came from this guy:


He's SDGr Minoru Kamimura. For whatever reason, the previous owner didn't keep the gloves with the uniform and got rid of them. I think I discovered that reason.

When I tugged the gloves onto Aika's hands and tried to get her fingers into them, reality reared its ugly... hands. The upper layer of the gloves tore. Each glove tore in different places. The gloves are still functional but their utility will end once the gloves are removed from Aika's hands for any reason.

The previous owner got rid of the gloves because they were showing signs of falling apart.

So now to put everything together. I combined the Volks outfit with pantyhose from Pongee and boots from DWO.

Inspired by Kashima:








Inspired by Selvaria:


 











Torn gloves aside, I completed the "Aika in a military uniform" project. If I'm anal enough, I have other gloves I can put onto her hands. I'm not too concerned about the pair in the photos above being slightly torn. I of course always have the option to equip her with robot hands.

So now back to this clothing set:


Aika can't wear it. This outfit is too small to for a DDdy body. The decision to give her a DDdy body now haunts me. Takane's Idolm@ster outfit was designed for and requires a unibody. When I started the project to build Aika's body, this outfit wasn't available so I hadn't thought about the possibility of her cosplaying Takane.

I have standard DD bodies with an L-chest but another issue comes up. Because the outfit exposes the stomach, not using a unibody results in the parts separation area between the chest and torso being clearly visible. (This also looks ugly.) I need to assemble a DD-L unibody in order to use the outfit in the intended way. These were issues I hadn't even considered when I was still in Japan. I needed to make additional purchases.

I managed to buy a unibody and the package finally arrived.



While I had a few other parts already, I still needed more. There are significant drawbacks with trying to buy them from Mandarake online. When the parts I need become available, it's usually 3~4 AM here (and 7~8 PM in Japan). While I didn't force myself to stay up until 4AM just to hunt for parts on the web site, I got into the bad habit of staying up because I always thought, "I want to do something fun before I go to bed". Of course, I have to get up at 8AM so I can go to work. Getting 4 hours of sleep a night for months on end is no way to live so I said to hell with it, placed an order with Volks USA, and then went to bed early (for me): 2:30 AM. While the sticker price is higher at Volks USA vs. buying secondhand parts from Mandarake (even after shipping), I felt getting a good night's sleep and getting into the habit of getting a good night's sleep were well worth the price difference.



There was an additional, unexpected, and unwanted consequence from my decision to make the purchase at Volks USA and then going to bed early. Having had a decent amount of sleep, I was alert and awake the following morning. I noticed more unpleasant things at work I could have easily ignored had I only gotten 4 hours of sleep. I digress.

For the unibody, I did the usual Sexy Legs mod and added the custom neck piece. Heating up the unibody piece with a hair dryer will help with taking the inner frames in and out.

All right, let's put some clothes on her. ^_~



No, I don't have a curly hair wig for her. T_T





This project took a while to complete but I'm glad I went through with it. While not winning Takane during the Anaheim Dolpa lottery was very disappointing, I wouldn't have had the pleasure of putting Aika together if I did. I might have had her do the Kashima and Selvaria cosplay but I wouldn't have had her cosplaying Takane. This was an extremely satisfying project. :D

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