My first custom Dollfie Dream: Amami Haruka (Doll Profile #3)

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…

Part 1

Part 2

Finished!

What I’ll try to cover are some stories that happened after she was made…

Being my first custom doll, I was pretty excited to share her with the world! At the time, Volks USA was taking submissions for a regular blog feature showcasing owner-submitted pictures of their SDs and DDs. Rin had already been published and I wanted to get Haruka in also! I zipped up several pictures and sent them off to the kind folks at Volks USA. Unfortunately, I got a rejection letter back from them…

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That’s right, Volks USA couldn’t publish my photos of Haruka due to the copyrighted content. I guess at this point, they hadn’t completed their negotiations with Namco Bandai for the IdolM@ster property yet… Several months later, they did take my submission of Haruka without any backgrounds, however!

In addition to the Cherry Milk outfit, I also had another outfit commissioned. Fans of the franchise may remember the strange alternative universe mecha anime that was released in 2007 called Idolmaster: Xenoglossia. It featured all of the same characters, none of the same voice actresses, and had the girls piloting giant robots called “IDOLs.” Thus, the pilots were Idolmasters. As is typical for shows like this, all the pilots must be girls, because only cute girls can form bonds with giant robots and understand them. In the show, the girls were enrolled in a school specifically for the pilots as sort of a cover for what they were actually doing. Of course, a cute school outfit was in order!

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Haruka with a Mondenkind school outfit

A couple of years passed and Volks got into the IdolM@ster game. First came Miki (which I missed out on!) and then followed it up with Haruka. I was extremely torn by the announcement, do I go for the official Volks Haruka and repurpose my custom girl for something else? Do I ignore the official one? Do they both have a place in my home? Fortunately, the sculpt itself didn’t speak to me and the decision was easy. Unfortunately, she got nicknamed “the flycatcher.”

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Poor Haruka. I felt bad ignoring you, but that mouth is just so…. bleh. I liked the rest of her, but it didn’t make sense to go for a doll that I would ultimately not like…

…until January of 2013. I was browsing the Dollfie Dream forum when I stumbled upon someone who was selling a complete full-set Haruka for a decent price. Given that all of the IdolM@ster girls came with the unique single-piece torso bodies, I wanted to swap out the standard DDS body I’d put my custom girl on with a proper one. Several emails and a PayPal transaction later, I was on my way to getting some official components for my Haruka!

Of the complete set, I only kept the body and wig. In retrospect, I probably should have kept the eyes and outfit, but I was young and less forward thinking at the time. That left me with a standard DDS body, eyes, outfit, and head to sell. Fortunately, I was able to get out the amount I put in, leaving Haruka much better off than when she started! I’m still surprised that I was able to sell the head to someone…

In addition to being the first custom DD in my family, Haruka also holds the distinction of being one of the few dolls I photographed using film. Yes, real 35mm film. Early on in my doll collecting, I had decided I wanted to make a concerted effort to get better with photography. The only real way to do that is to break out some older film gear, limit myself to 36 exposures, and truly practice the art of photography. No peeking at the results, no fully automatic metering, no autofocus, and definitely no shooting without thinking. The shoot that day consisted of a Canon AE-1 with 50mm f1.8 lens and a single roll of standard film. Surprisingly, a lot of the shots came out decent!

For anyone who wants to really challenge themselves in photography and really learn, nothing forces you to stop and think about a shot like shooting with film. Not only do you not have instant results, but you also have to pay for film and processing. If you make a ton of mistakes or try to experiment with several different types of settings for one shot, then a lot of your developed pictures will go in the trash. Let alone paying for the cost of developing a roll of film…

Today, Haruka still gets love and attention every so often. Most recently, I purchased a set of outfits that included her original default outfit from the initial release. Hindsight is always 20/20, so I wish I had kept her original outfit during the first time I had it…

-Doll Profile-
Name: Amami Haruka
Make: Custom Volks Dollfie Dream, DDH-03 Head, DDS Single-piece torso body
Arrival Date: August 13, 2010
From: Mostly Volks USA (original body & head), Dollfie Dream forum (body upgrade, wig)

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