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. ^_^
First, a bit of a history lesson. Chii was released by Volks in 2003 at DollPa 9 in Kyoto. Only people who attended the event were allowed to put in for purchase and wasn’t available at the After Event or any other retail location. Only 200 were sold, so if you weren’t at the event and weren’t one of the lucky ones chosen, then finding one would be extremely difficult.
Chii was made in collaboration with CLAMP and is based on the female lead from the Chobits manga and anime. This makes her one of the rare Volks resin dolls that were based on characters from a media property, instead of an original design. She also has the unique property of not having real ears, but rather having functional and movable Persocom ears like in the manga and anime!
Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find much information on her history, much of it seems to be lost to digital oblivion. Even the Internet Archive Wayback Machine wasn’t able to pull up much from the original product pages, so I’ve largely relied on the profile page on Angelden.net.
After I got into the hobby, I had a wish list of characters that I’d like to have as a doll, official or otherwise. With Chii being on that list, I was surprised to learn that one actually existed! When I learned about the extremely limited quantity made, I had effectively written off ever owning one, let alone seeing one. I’d seen her head pop up on Den of Angels once or twice on Den of Angels, and also seen one full come up for sale. The rarity meant prices for just the head alone were extremely high and a full set commanded sky high amounts. Even if parts were missing or in less than stellar condition, she demanded a very high price. Further, the few Chiis I’d seen in the wild were no longer complete or had been modified from her original character, making them much less desirable to me.
So how did I manage to find one of these unicorns? It was Mandarake to the rescue! A friend had given me a tip that she’d seen a Chii on the site about a month earlier (but failed to mention this at time of discovery!), so I jumped into action to make this one happen. Since the site was a little vague on details, I sent an email to them for more information. It turned out she was at the store in Sapporo and had some slight damage to her box and a few small marks on her body. The rest of her default items were included… AND UNOPENED! This meant that this particular example had likely spent the previous 11 years in the box! I was ecstatic! They even sent me some more pictures of the box and accessories:
This also meant that I had gotten two Volks SD-sized resin dolls back to back, just a month after Belldandy arrived. Something must have been wrong with me, I hadn’t bought a single vinyl that year! When she arrived, I was extremely nervous and excited to open her up. So much so that I pretty much didn’t take any pictures, unfortunately. It was quite surreal though, opening her up and laying my hands on her for the first time. I could definitely tell she was from a different era, all of her joints were extremely simple and she was definitely the older type of resin. She also had a bit of a sheen since she hadn’t been sealed with any sort of protective spray. Her old SD10 body didn’t have a lot of detail and all of her parts were covered in seam lines from manufacturing. It was a different time!
The other thing that struck me about her was how difficult it was to keep her wig tame. It was so incredibly long and prone to tangles. It probably took me an hour to get that mostly under control. Even today, she needs a pretty extreme brushing every time she goes into a bag and comes out….
Compared to Bell, I could definitely tell the difference in age. Bell’s joints were full of mechanisms to lock limbs in place for posing. She also had a multi-piece torso for better posing and easily interchangeable hands and feet. Everything was extremely easy to change, thanks to S-hooks that could lock into place for the hands. Chii, in contrast, had hands and feet that were strung to the main elastic and her head cap was held on using the rubber band responsible for the ear open/close action! It really was a different time… I hadn’t anticipated it, but I had suddenly adopted a doll that I started thinking more of a project, rather than a showpiece.
Of course, the question that was on my mind ever finding out about Chii was “how did her ears work?” If you ever wondered the same thing, I made a short video showing off the inner workings…
When I think about Chii and talk to her with other people, I try to compare her to cars. To me, she’s not just any exotic car, but an example of something extremely rare that you only saw at certain car shows. You’d almost never see one in the wild or on the road, because they were all garage-kept and immaculate. Recently, this story of an ultra rare McLaren F1 broke. It was an example of an already rare car that was in mint condition (all of the accessories were still unwrapped) and only 149 miles were on the odometer. Granted, Chii doesn’t have the price tag of a rare supercar, but it makes me feel like I belong to a very exclusive club in having one.
The other analogy I’ve applied to Chii is that of a classic car. Even though she’d spent most of her life in the box, there were still a lot of things I wanted to do to her. She needed new elastic, a couple updates to make her more modern, and some UV spray to help fend off yellowing since she would now be taken out, played with, and enjoyed.
Stay tuned for more!
Make: Volks SD10
Arrival Date: June 13, 2014
From: Mandarake Online, Sapporo store