Blythe Doll Beginner's FAQ
This is a collection of knowledge for those who are new to collecting or learning about Blythe Dolls.
Although I have been involved in the Blythe collecting / customizing community for over 7 years, please understand that I may make a mistake here and there. If you see something that doesn't sound right, or have a question that isn't answered here, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What are Blythe Dolls?
Blythe Dolls are a big eyed collector's doll. Originally designed by Allison Katzman when she was at Marvin Glass and Associates, Blythe was produced for the first time in 1972 by Kenner. The initial release flopped. Years later, New York Photographer Gina Garan was given an Original Kenner Blythe Doll by a friend. Gina fell in love with the big eyed beauty, taking photos of her in various different outfits and scenes. Artist and Illustrator Jeffrey Fulvimari introduced Gina Garan to Junko Wong of CWC International Group. In 2000, with the help of these friends who also saw the beauty of Blythe, Gina published her first "coffee book" of Blythe photography, "This Is Blythe", with Chronical Books. Upon receiving attention from Parco and the fashion branch of Seibu Department Stores in Japan, Blythe gained traction and was reproduced in 2001. Although the rights are owned by Hasbro (they acquired Kenner in 1991 from Tonka), Blythe is produced by license holder Takara Tomy, headquartered in Japan.
Wait, so you didn't make them?
Correct. I do, however, customize them. I take an existing doll that starts the same as every other doll of that release, all identical in their boxes.. and transform her into a one-of-a-kind art doll. The dolls I have here on my site each have listed the work that was done, so feel free to take a peek and read about what goes into the transformation!
What is RBL, EBL, SBL etc? What are these different face molds?
The face molds that currently exist are:
- RBL Renew
When Blythe Dolls are manufactured, the face and backplate are made using a mold so each one is as similar as possible. The first Blythe mold was Kenner, in 1972. Then the first reproduction mold was BL (Blythe), then EBL (Excellent Blythe), SBL (Superior Blythe), RBL (Radiant Blythe), FBL(Fairest Blythe), RBL+ (Radiant Blythe Plus - almost identical to the RBL mold by design), and RBL Renew (Radiant Blythe Renew- added plastic near the eye holes to make eyes look less sunken, and rounded off the pointy nose to be more identical to RBL).
The BL, EBL, SBL, and RBL molds have all been officially retired. While the FBL mold has not been officially retired, the last release was in January 2016 (Cherie Babette), so it appears is unsure whether there will be future FBL new releases. You may also see the term TBL, which is a little misleading. Click here to jump down and read about "TBL's"/ Fakes.
I'd like to add a photo guide on the different face molds soon- stay tuned!
What's the difference between Neo, Middie, and Petite?
Neo Blythes are the standard 12" size! They are the largest of the various sizes Takara produces. Middies stand just short of 8" tall, while Petites, the tiniest of the three, are almost 4.5" tall. How cute!
Where can I purchase Blythe Dolls?
SO MANY PLACES!! If you're seeking a stock Blythe, the official shop for Blythe Dolls is Junie Moon, but they often don't have the doll I'm seeking in stock. My personal recommendation if that's the case would be CCToys, I have always had professional, easy transactions with them. There are also some well established Ebay sellers, just make sure to check their rating and reviews before purchasing on Ebay. There are multiple Buy/Sell groups on Facebook as well, be sure to handle transactions with strangers at your own discretion. As for Custom Blythes, Facebook groups, Instagram and Etsy are the hotspots worth checking out. Again, be careful when dealing with strangers online, and be sure to try and seek feedback on sellers you don't know.
What are the different body types?
While almost every release so far comes on the same type of body (referred to as a Takara body), the first few Blythe releases (Every BL release besides Miss Anniversary) came on the same body that Licca dolls come on. It's the same height as Takara bodies, but Licca bodies have bendy arms and legs that don't click into place.
Some collectors opt for a different look, and with bodies like Pure Neemo or Licca that are roughly the same height / proportions to Takara bodies, you can easily achieve the look you desire for your doll! In my experience, Pure Neemo bodies mimic ball jointed dolls and are fun to pose in photos. Licca bodies are a little more childlike and reserved looking, while the standard Takara bodies are classy and stylish. It all comes down to personal preference!
What's a "reroot"?
A reroot is a scalp that has been, well, re-rooted with hair that wasn't originally there. By removing all of the existing hair plugs, the series of holes revealed on a Blythe scalp can be re-plugged with either new Saran / Nylon doll hair, or a natural fiber. The most popular choices seem to be Mohair and Alpaca hair, both of which can be dyed, and styled using curlers/straighteners like human hair. They require a little bit of care and maintenance to keep nice, and BOY are they laborious to make. However, reroots can breathe new life into a doll and give her a totally unique and special look.
What is a factory Blythe?
*DISCLAIMER* - This is a kind of a controversial ongoing argument in the Blythe Collector's community, so please take my word with a grain of salt. I am not trying to start any arguments, I am simply seeking to provide knowledge for those who seek it.
"Factory" Dolls ORIGINALLY popped up on Ebay in 2012. These dolls were pretty obviously a mish mash of stolen parts from the factory where Blythe was being manufactured, you could kind of recognize the faceplates or scalps as prototypes or rejected pieces of various releases. These stolen parts dolls floated around for a time, but started to be replaced by what are often referred to as TBL's, which are fake Blythe dolls. TBL is an imitation mold name that collectors gave the fakes, but because of the misleading nature of using a fake mold name, a lot of online venues / groups request you use the term "fake" and not TBL. Junko Wong has publicly spoken out against fakes numerous times, and the community has had countless debates over the morality of these dolls being in the mix. I am doing my best to leave my opinion out of this FAQ- it is up to each collector to decide for themselves if they will include fakes in their collection or not.
I think I saw something about Blythe in Target. I thought they weren't distributed widely in the United States?
Blythe Loves Littlest Pet Shop toys are produced by Hasbro here in the United States. While it is "Blythe", the blythe put forth in the United States is handled very differently than the "Blythe" collectors expect to see from Takara in Japan. Additionally, in 2004, Ashton-Drake Galleries were given a license to produce and distribute Blythe in the United States, where Blythe had become a niche collectors doll.
HUGE THANK YOU to Erin Deir / Samantha Novosedlik for her contributions and corrections. Visit her site HERE to see her incredible work, and follow her Instagram HERE!