I think I’ve finally reached the end of Chii content (for now). I originally planned for two parts, but decided to stretch it to three. With Chii being such a special girl in my family, it was only fitting that she would be the one to go with me to Japan to visit the Volks location in Kyoto, Japan: the Tenshi-no-Sato. This particular location is a bit special for Volks resin owners and resin dolls. It is said that all Volks resin dolls pass though this location and it is considered to be the origin point of all Volks Super Dollfies. In addition to being a store, there is also a museum featuring one of every Volks Resin dolls ever made (including one-off models), ample photo space, a cafe, and plenty of places for owners to relax with their dolls. It is also home to a Japanese-style garden and a workshop where the “doll doctors” conduct maintenance on dolls as well as the Sato-Gaeri services for new dolls. They also conduct naming and tea ceremonies for people who purchase dolls from them, including Volks FCS (Full Choice System).
In the last post, I covered a quick history of Chii, bringing her home, and what she means to me. Time to get some of the more practical stuff out of the way. Despite still being a Volks product, Chii is still old resin and made in a very different time. She’s an old SD from a time where manufacturing was less precise. Fortunately she seems to have lived in her box for over 10 years, so there was a good canvas to start from.
Warning, this will be a pretty picture heavy post with lots of images of Chii in pieces!
Going into 2014, I knew I had two dolls planned. Belldandy and Miku were due sometime during the year and my orders for both were secured in 2013. What I did not anticipate, however, was finding my ultimate unicorn: Chii. Of all of the girls I have, I would consider Chii to be one of the most special and holds a very special place in my heart. When I started planning this series, Chii was probably the one I looked the most forward to writing about, given what she represents and how I came to get her. I’m going to break her story up into a couple parts, just to keep things digestable. ^_^
When I first started in the doll hobby, I had a small list of characters that I always wanted to have made into dolls. At the tail end of 2013 one of the top characters from one of my favorite series was announced. Belldandy from Aa! Megami-sama (Oh! My Goddess) was getting her very own release. The thing I didn’t expect? She was to be made of resin instead of vinyl, meaning I was about to be thrust into a whole new world. Up until this point, I didn’t have any proper resin girls, let alone any experience with Volks resin. I had no idea what to expect as I went down this path.
After getting Reimu, I fell into a bit of a lull from a doll perspective. Nothing was announced that I really felt like getting my hands on and I came to realize that I wasn’t really doing as much as I wanted to with what I had already. It may surprise some to know that I didn’t purchase a single doll for myself during 2012. My focus went to photography, videography (for work), and a couple figures.
A couple months into 2013, Volks put up their announcements for DollPa 29. On the list was Asuna Yuuki from Sword Art Online. I really enjoyed the series and I decided to try to go for it. Volks Japan had other plans for me, thus the losing streak for International lottery continued.
I had to find a way to bring her home though, meaning it was time to hit the secondary market.
By the time I’d gotten Lily, I’d been in the doll hobby for about a year and a half. I’d been to Japan twice, done a bunch of creative stuff with photography, and had done a little blogging. I could feel things changing, though. I wasn’t as interested in writing about my hobbies as much as I used to and social media content had a significant drop. I had a new relationships and Final Fantasy XIV was taking up a decent chunk of my time.
Even looking back at my photo history, there was a drop in how much I was doing in the second half of 2011. So what did I do to try to save my relationship with my hobbies? It was time to seek out the next girl for my family.
When I started in the doll hobby, I told myself a couple of things. First, spending over $1000 on a doll was crazy (and I’d never do it). Second, I really liked Saber and I probably wouldn’t ever be able to get one. Then in the Fall of 2010, Volks announced a new Saber model, this time based on her design from the Fate/Unlimited Codes fighting game. Her US retail price: $1045. Oh boy. I guess you all can figure out what happened next.
Yup. I had to get myself a Saber Lily. After all, it’s close enough to the $1000 limit I’d set for myself (if you round down). Right…? Right…?!?!?! RIGHT?!?!?!!?!?!
A few years ago, I saw a Linus Tech Tips video talking about the Helios 44-2 58mm lens. It intrigued me a bit at the time, but I never really gave it much thought. The b-roll shots that they used to show off the lens were interesting, but not Earth shattering. I did a little research at the time on them but didn’t take the plunge. Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago and I was browsing Kai Wong’s video backlog (Kai is of DigitalRevTV fame) and he had a video titled “5 Best 50mm Lenses under $100” Once again, the Helios 44 came up and I finally decided to take a serious look at them.
So what does 20+ year old lens from the Soviet Union do that modern glass can’t? With all of the advances in optics, coatings, and electronics, why would I use something that’s older than I am?
When I first started in the doll hobby, I had very little knowledge of how to actually get dolls from Volks. Up until now, the two dolls I had purchased new came from Volks USA. Rin was from a lottery entry while Haruka was made up of off-the-shelf parts. I had no idea that Volks Japan also ran a lottery and sold dolls to the international marketplace. When Sakura was announced, I decided I would branch out and try to get her from Volks Japan!
Almost a year after I got Yoko, I decided to take a stab at doing a custom DD. I’m a pretty big fan of IdolM@ster, so when I saw the Cherry Milk doll outfit for Haruka, I decided that I wanted to have her made. Now, before anyone tries to call me out on the fact that Haruka already exists, I started down the path of my Haruka in 2010, 2 years before the Volks Haruka was released. I even wrote about my plans on July 16, 2010. Take that, Volks!
That being said, most of Haruka’s beginnings are pretty well documented with pictures, so I won’t go too much into that…
What I’ll try to cover are some stories that happened after she was made…