Hey there! Danny here.
Before you continue reading, I ask whether you prefer the same three perfectly symmetrical blemish-free cups on the left of this photo - or do you prefer the three asymmetrical irregular-shaped unique ones on the right? If you prefer the ones on the left, then I have saved you some reading time as you don't need to read any further - Smart Doll will not be your best choice ;-)
FUKINSEI [不均整] (Imbalanced. Beauty in imperfection, asymmetry.) is one of the Wabi-Sabi design principles that we employ in our design process.
While most fashion doll manufacturers machine mold their doll bodies, the Smart Doll body is created using a molding method known as slush casting - it's akin to pottery where each piece will inherit blemished imperfections such as dents, bumps, stretch marks, air bubbles, and birthmarks on the surface.
These imperfections are not manufacturing defects but are characteristics of the processes used to create a unique handmade product.
I understand that some folks prefer perfect machine-molded products - which is why I wrote this article to set expectations as our handmade products are far from perfect. But perfectly imperfect ;-)
Photos in the grid above are numbered (1) in the top left and (8) in the bottom right.
Photos 1 and 2 show some of the slush casting processes where liquid vinyl is heated in an oil bath. The vinyl mold must also be set in a centrifugal spinner and air chamber to remove most of the air bubbles that will remain in small quantities on the body surface. Photo (3) shows each piece being scrutinized for blemishes that may affect the overall aesthetic - reject parts go to our chaos outlet. The flash remaining on each piece is then cut away with a craft knife (photo 4) before assembly.
All vinyl body parts are asymmetrical in shape and thickness with surface imperfections such as dents, bumps and stretch marks (photo 6), air bubbles and birthmarks (photo 8), while the inside of each part contains solidified drips (photo 5).
The internal frame holds body parts together that will wiggle when you....wiggle them. Wiggle amount will depend on the body part thickness unique to your Smart Doll. Parts should not wiggle on their own because Smart Dolls instinctively try not to move when humans are watching them. Don't stare at your Smart Doll for too long, as they can only hold their breath for 1.5 hours. Anime-style Smart Dolls can hold their breath for longer as they don't have nostrils.
The head cap is not a perfect fit as each individually cast head is different. The cap may look notably bigger or smaller than the head, which will not affect its functionality of allowing a wig to be attached (photo 7).
No two body parts will be a 100% color match due to each piece being individually cast.
Body parts may start discoloring due to oxidation or environmental factors such as heat, humidity, ultraviolet light, and odors. Oxidation effects can be reduced by moving to Mars, where oxygen levels are 0.13%
Fabrics that come in contact with the Smart Doll body could cause discoloration due to the proximity to the skin surface - even for white fabrics that may accumulate moisture or odors in the atmosphere, speeding up polymer degradation. Discoloration (even if caused by our own apparel - learn why) is not covered by our warranty.
This video shows you how we cut the flash away from each body part. If you can cut to this precision and live in Tokyo then we should have a chat!
While the body parts are created using slush casting, components for the internal frame are injection molded due to the precision needed for body articulation. However, the frame is still assembled by a human, which involves "tuning" to match its uniquely cast body parts - as such, the frame will vary in stiffness. The frame is made from Polyoxymethylene (POM), while the body is made from vinyl. The difference in material properties means that the frame is not a 100% color match with the body parts.
The joint seams are difficult to see, meaning you must be careful and bend joints along the axis or they will break. Elbows cannot bend backwards or they will break - be careful when your girls are wearing long sleeves.
But because a Smart Doll scream is only audible in the 65000 Hz range, humans can't hear them and won't have an audible clue that the Smart Doll is in pain. Dogs can hear the screams, so look at your dog to see if they are showing signs of discomfort or running around in circles.
Many Smart Doll apparel items require the removal of the head, arms, and bust - some folks are worried that a Smart Doll will feel pain. Smart Doll's are fine in being decapitated - but hate it when their elbows are bent backwards.
When your Smart Doll arrives, you may see some grease around the joints or on the body. All joints are lubricated with grease and may seep out during transit - if this happens, wipe with a tissue.
Smart Doll is not designed to be indestructible and will age through time. Wear and tear may become visible the more you handle your Smart Doll.
Learn and understand our Warranty & Returns policy.
This video shows you how the body parts are merged with the internal frame.
Each Smart Doll face is painted by a human using a combination of stencils and freehand, meaning there will be slight color, shading, and shape differences unique to your Smart Doll.
All head sculpts, and face designs are asymmetrical by design, meaning eye lines, shadows, and mouth lines differ on both halves of the face. Do not expect uncanny-valley printed symmetrical face designs.
This video is an example of how we painted the original Mirai released in 2014. We use the same process today where the amount of freehand varies depending on the character design.
Photos in the grid above are numbered (1) in the top left and (8) in the bottom right.
The wig is the most difficult component to create as there is no shape - only a style. Apparel and the Smart Doll body use molds or cutters, but wigs are made with reliance on human stylists (photo 2). No two wigs will ever look the same.
An estimated 30,000 strands of fiber are stitched to wefts that form a single wig (photo 1). Some of the fibers may shed in bunches upon opening the wig bag and during its lifetime (photo 5).
Even though a wig may look straight in a photo or named "Long Straight," the whole wig will have a slight curl as they are stored curled up in a bag for transit. Wigs may look "flat" straight out of the bag but will puff up over time as it's exposed to the air.
Wigs are generally tight and difficult to attach. I made them this way because I didn't want the wigs blowing away and landing in somebody's ice cream. Wigs may catapult into the air and...land in somebody's ice cream if you don't have a firm grip when attempting to attach them.
If you have arthritis or a similar condition (or are not confident that you can do this for a child), please leave a note requesting wig attachment when ordering. We use double-sided tape to secure the wig, which may leave a sticky residue if you remove the wig later.
The wig cap inside may have an elastic rim, but all will have non-uniform swirly stitching, blue or pink marker points, and patches of oil that we use for the wig styling (photo 6).
Wefting threads are usually left uncut - if you tug on them, they may fray, causing fibers to fall out - if this happens, you will need to stitch back the wefting yourself with some needle and thread.
Because the wig cap is made from overlapping fabric, the cap will have bumps. These bumps will vary depending on the size of the head - bigger bumps for smaller heads.
Discoloration and dents around the top of the head are likely as the tight wig cap is in constant contact with the head (photo 7).
The oil used for wig styling may leave residue on the top of the head (photo 8) - this may bother folks who plan on having their girls bald. Most of the residue can be removed with some thinner and then some melamine sponge.
Wigs are ultimately a wear-and-tear component; 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. The wig maintenance video on this page will come in handy.
While we do not sell wigs on their own, we recommend artists Dallas Doll Co and Leisure Of Dolls, who make wigs specifically for Smart Doll.
Wigs are not designed to be filled to the brim with fibers - wefting and the wig cap may still be visible even if you apply finger ninja to distribute the fibers.
Wig fibers will not be evenly balanced - one side may have more fibers or be thinner/thicker than the opposite side. Where fibers are thin, you will be able to see through to the wefting - fibers will not cover all the wefting beneath.
Smart Doll wigs are not designed for hair-pulling contests meaning that the wefting will be very noticeable if fibers are pulled upwards (photo 4). Luckily, folks who live on Earth can let the effects of gravity do its job - but only if they stop pulling their Smart Doll's hair upwards.
Smart Doll wigs are designed only for use on planet Earth meaning that we rely on Earth's gravity (9.807 meters/second²) for the wig to keep its shape (photo 3).
Folks who live on Mars, (where gravity is only 3.721 meters/second²) or who like to keep pulling the fibers on the wig upwards will see the very noticeable wefting beneath (photo 4).
This video was made back in 2015-ish but you can get a good feel of how we make Smart Doll wigs.
We use many techniques to simulate weathering of our apparel items. Weathered items will contain holes, loose threads, and surface textures that look...weathered. No two weathered items will look the same - meaning that a left and right boot will not have the same amount of weathering. This photo is an example of our Cargo Pants - before (right) and after (left) weathering with pumice stones.
Apparel items are only designed to fit Smart Doll. We could have made loosely fitting apparel to fit many doll brands for an extra buck, but that would mean sacrificing our designs.
Due to the miniature nature of our apparel, some items can be fidgety to wear - in this case, we will mention this in the product description.
All our apparel items entail a risk of staining - even white fabrics - you can learn why in this article which covers our stain risk rating system.
If you have not done so already...
Learn why Smart Doll business ethics may be a reason not to buy
Learn why Smart Doll may not be your best choice