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…
Way back in 2008, I was just starting to Follow Danny Choo’s personal blog, where he largely posted pictures of figures and wrote about Japan. One day, he started posting pictures and stories about something radically different and unique: a curious object made by a company called Volks. It was bigger than any figure I had ever seen, was fully poseable, and featured various clothes and accessories. I’m talking, of course, about Dollfie Dreams: Volks’s line of 1/3 scale vinyl dolls created to bring in a new audience. Danny’s first DD was an original Saber (Artoria Pendrangon), complete with armor and sword. He published all of the details about her, including how he got her and how much she cost. At the time, the conversion rates had her value at just over $1000 and I laughed that I’d never spend that much on a single item. After all, the figures I was buying at the time were barely cracking $100!
Here we go! The UPS carrier dropped off a box on my doorstep today, I wonder where it’s from and what’s inside?
A close up on the shipping label should reveal some clues…
This could only mean one thing. Haruka’s head, body, and eyes have arrived! After getting my work done for the day, it was time to break the box open and check out the contents.
Today the first pieces of Haruka’s ensemble arrived on my doorstep. What does all this stuff look like? Read on!
After some success at creating a Photosynth of upstairs area, I decided to try my hand and doing figures again. With the newly installed flooring downstairs, I think I’d created the perfect backdrop for good synthing potential. First up, a quick reminder of what Photosynth is. It was created out of the research done at Microsoft Research as a method to use information from photos to generate a virtual environment. In essence, it is a tool to facilitate “photo tourism.” From photosynth.net:
What is Photosynth?
Photosynth creates an amazing new experience with nothing more than a bunch of photos. Creating a synth allows you to share the places and things you love using the cinematic quality of a movie, the control of a video game, and the mind-blowing detail of the real world.
How Does it Work?
In simple terms, Photosynth allows you to take a bunch of photos of the same scene or object and automagically stitch them all together into one big interactive 3D viewing experience that you can share with anyone on the web.
Photosynth is a potent mixture of two independent breakthroughs: the ability to reconstruct the scene or object from a bunch of flat photographs, and the technology to bring that experience to virtually anyone over the Internet.
Using techniques from the field of computer vision, Photosynth examines images for similarities to each other and uses that information to estimate the shape of the subject and the vantage point each photo was taken from. With this information, we recreate the space and use it as a canvas to display and navigate through the photos.
Providing that experience requires viewing a LOT of data though—much more than you generally get at any one time by surfing someone’s photo album on the web. That’s where our Seadragon™ technology comes in: delivering just the pixels you need, exactly when you need them. It allows you to browse through dozens of 5, 10, or 100(!) megapixel photos effortlessly, without fiddling with a bunch of thumbnails and waiting around for everything to load.
We deliver this immersive viewing experience to users on multiple operating systems by tapping into the power of Silverlight, Microsoft’s rich web application technology.
Without further ado, a few synths I’d recently created. First up, the synth I’d done last week showing off my upstairs area. There’s quite a bit to explore here, from the keyboard on my desk to the shelf of manga and DVDs. Unfortunately, I didn’t do too much in terms of closeups with the figure displays, something I may revisit in the future. Click the image to view the synth!
My first attempt tonight featured working with a recent acquisition, 1/6 scale Yoko Littner by Kotobukiya. This is the first time I tried using the floor as a background and am very encouraged by the results. In addition to the floor, I also grabbed a wood cutting board to provide more background complexity…
My second attempt tonight featured Dollfie Rin. I achieved slightly better results with this synth (100% synthy) since I didn’t try to do any odd-angled close ups. I will probably revisit this one later to do some more close up detail shots for a better “tour.”
In addition to these, I had done quite a few others in the past (with varying success). Check the rest of them out here. I’ll continue to do other figures and may expand on to doing some scenes. Such a cool little tool, isn’t it?
Got my second package from VolksUSA in today. The stand and head cap that I’d ordered came in! The Japanese really do love their packaging, as the stand came in quite the large box…
I assembled the stand first, just so I’d have a way to work with Rin while trying to get the wig and cap on. Immediately, there was a bit of a problem. The cap itself seemed a bit too large for her head and didn’t look like it fit.
If that were supposed to be the only thing she wore, it’d probably be fine. It looks pretty warm and would keep her ears safe from cold winter temperatures or give her nicer hydrodynamics if she were swimming. Sadly, neither of those scenarios fit, so I needed to figure out how to make it work. I tried a couple ideas, from folding it to rolling it up and tucking underneath, but nothing seemed to work. I finally gave in and shot an email to the VolksUSA folks with the picture attached and waited for a response.
Keen to keep trying, I started searching and found an entry on the VolksUSA blog. While it didn’t directly talk about how the head cap went on, it did inspire me to remove the top piece of her head and try the fit that way. That seemed to work and gave me a chance to peek inside Rin’s head…
Once the top was put back on, I set to work in fitting the wig. it’s a bit tighter than before, but results came out well. Rin seems to be happy with it too!
Before and after:
Shortly after I’d finished, I received a reply from Volks. Seems the method I used isn’t the “right” way, and they included directions. I’ll include them here for other owners who may struggle with the same problem…
1&2: Place the headcap on the head. It will be slightly loose up at the top. Make sure that it rests behind the ears.
3: When you put on the wig, hold it down in the front with your thumb, and pull down on the back with your other hand, slipping it down over the headcap and head. After you do this the headcap will show a little bit outside the wig.
4: You can use you fingers to gently push the headcap inside the hairline. But be careful. Don’t push it up too high or the wig will touch her head. The line of the headcap, and wig cap should match up as perfectly as possible.
UPDATE: Just redid the cap as per the Volks instructions. Works great!
UPDATE2: Volks had asked that I remove the pictures. They didn’t say anything about the text though. 🙂