CUSTOM: Why we re-body dolls

The post is about WHY we rebody dolls, if you are looking for a post about HOW we rebody dolls, we have that information in a different post.

I remember, in 1978, being frustrated by barbie arms that did not bend to my will.  Legs that made the clicking sound and bent only about 15 degrees.

There have been some barbie bodies however, over the years, and currently – that have much more moveable joints,   Adult barbie enthusiasts refer to these dolls as “articulated”. As of this writing, in 2011 there have recently been the Fashionistas – which were a big hit for body swapping.

Fashionistas of 2010 – No swapping heads

I used Artsy Fashionista bodies to re-body SIS dolls Trichelle and Grace as well as a few others – mostly dolls that were supposed to be “ethnically ambiguous” like a Cali Girl Lea and other “Latinas” as well as Pocohontas.

Every other Fashionista had the same white-girl skintone so I used a few of those to rebody some interesting heads I got through garage sales. Mostly brunettes and redheads from the 90s when the heads were not so large on the non-Collector dolls (Mattel calls these the “Playline” dolls).

Leah and I don’t want to bother with any dolls that can’t move their elbows and knees and we don’t like the giant heads. There are times when we have to play with dolls who don’t have truly bendable knees. But if we have a face we like and a body we don’t, I try to do a re-body as soon as I find a usable body. I have low standards, too. If I can just approximate a skin color I am willing to make the switch.

Re-bodying is so important to me that Leah actually things one of the reasons I love her is because her knees bend. She has heard me rave about the Alvin Ailey collector doll to other mothers for it’s natural hair, brown skin, ebony eyes and full articulation. One day I was telling my daughter how beautiful she is to me and I said “Leah, I love your Cinnamon skin, your Rotini hair, your Ebony Eyes…” and she interrupted me and said “Yeah! And I can bend my knees too!”

This SIS Pastry Kara is about to get the body of this Olympic Gymnast Poseable from the 90’s

For darker skinned dolls like SIS Kara, I use dolls from the 90’s that have a body called the “Poseable” body. The upside of this body is the jointed knees and elbows, the downside is the giant boobies from the pre-Bratz-Phenomenon redesign. My SIS Pastry Kara came with click legs so they bend only about 15 degrees and her arms don’t bend at all. She’s not fun to play with because of this.

You can find lots of the Poseable bodies on eBay – just type in Barbie Gymnast, Barbie Hot Skatin Fun – anything about Skating, Ballet, Gymnastics and Olympics can yield good results. They run $10 to $15 each. You can add “AA” or “Black” or “African American” but sometimes it’s just easier not to add that and eyeball the search results.

There are lots of tutorials online regarding methods for re-bodying dolls. I have created my own as well because my method is an amalgamation of the methods of others – the way things seem to work best for me.

Kara with her new body!!

Once this doll has the Poseable body, there will be modern clothes that will not fit across her bustline. She will be able to wear stretchy fabrics but other items will be too small.

Casualties of the Re-body – Hair is mussed, earrings broke, sunglasses have to be re-positioned and shoes no longer fit.

Another difference is the feet. Poseable has big flat feet, which I don’t mind since I personally hate wearing high heels, but the cute high tops that came with Kara’s Pastry outfit won’t fit the Poseable body so I will have to substitute some LIV shoes.

So when all is said and done Kara is a little raggedy from the re-body experience but we are glad we did the rebody work anyway because it makes her so much more fun to play with.

That, in a nutshell, is why we re-body – because articulated dolls are much more fun to play with!!

15 Comments Add yours

  1. Vanessa says:

    I still have to rebody my Kara. I have both of these dolls, too. I had vowed not to buy anymore S.I.S. dolls since they were no longer poseable. But I loved Kara’s haircut! Too bad the earrings broke. They are really cute. I haven’t decided which body my Kara will get. I think my gymnast body is too floppy to stand on its own. If the doll is going to have flat feet, then she needs to be able to stand on her own. LOL! Kara looks very happy with her new body.

    1. I totally agree Vanessa – that’s one problem with articulation – sometimes it is too loose. The gymnast body bends at the waist but it doesn’t stay in whatever position I put it in. I hate that. That’s more imporant for storytellers like you- for us, it’s more of a minor inconvenience.

      The Fashionista body is really nice – just wish we had a brown one (real brown).

      I loved this Kara’s hair too!! Hopefully I can push it back into it’s original shape. Love to see variation and support for the idea that realistically styled hair is beautiful.

      We have one rebodied Chandra – had to use an Alvin Ailey. Put he Alvin head on the Chandra body and gave it to a friends neice who didn’t have any dolls at all (she’s a rookie – she won’t care, right?)

  2. dollmomma says:

    I love this! It is great you make the dolls what you want them to be… THis is a really creative way to play with dolls you….are teaching your daughter to be a mechanic, as well as a doctor, as well as a Barbie friend.

    1. Thanks so much Doll Momma. I really want her to think of her Barbieland as the place where she is the CEO and she makes all kinds of decisions, starts all kinds of projects and develops all kinds of skills.

  3. Katt says:

    I have a doll that I’m… refurbishing, for lack of words. (giving her tattoos, piercings, a modern, grungy hairstyle, etc.) And I hate her arms. They’re both the ones that are permanently bent at the elbow, which means they’re attached in a way that makes them very hard to replace without destroying the torso.

    I have a barbie body whose neck I accidentally ruined in my first attempt to pull the head off, but her arms are still good – can I transplant? If so, how?

    1. I have never been able to figure out how to change out arms. The best I can figure out is that the torso is glued together and you have to use a solvent to loosen the glue. Then you can pry apart the torso. I’d start with the body with the broken neck and just see what it takes to release the arms. At least then you’ll know how they are configured.

  4. mscatamaran says:

    do you have any tips for putting this head

    http://www.amazon.com/Barbie-28882-Hollywood-Nails-Doll/dp/B000HZ9LNK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1339200558&sr=8-1&keywords=hollywood+nails+barbie

    on Rosie? I tried earlier and failed miserably. Had to throw Barbie head out and buy it to try again. Hopefully second try will be better.

    1. I don’t have any tips…but my barbie-friend Lola does. Check out here post here:
      http://crazybarbielady.blogspot.com/2012/01/details-of-rosie-head-surgery.html

  5. GetMeStarted says:

    I created a survey and I am hoping to send the results to Mattel, in a plea for them to begin producing body-only dolls (no clothes, no accessories, no heads, no fancy packaging), in a variety of skin tones, for adults who rebody our Barbie dolls. (I even linked to this page for those who don’t know what it means to rebody.)

    Would you please participate in my survey and tell as many others as possible? (Thanks so much!)

    http://mymisc.net/gms_survey.htm

    1. I will check out your survey. It actually made me think we should have a petition – open to any company – to give us what we want. I don’t know how many people agree with me though. That’s why your survey is such a great idea. I will go there now.

      1. Thank you so much! I really hope Mattel will consider this idea. I am hoping that by giving them the feedback info I can collect with this survey, I can show them just how many people want this and that it would be a profitable line for them to add.

        Please share this link with as many other doll enthusiasts as possible! http://mymisc.net/gms_survey.htm

    2. I did the survey and it was fun.

  6. Amanda says:

    It started with loving new Skipper face but being annoyed at the hair. I swapped Barbie head from Barbie I didn’t need on to Skipper as the face wasn’t nad but picture waz cuter and new Skipper I have has posable arms so I couldn’t just ditch that posable and semi posable Skippers are rare. She when I was still child only ever had one posable doll the 2nd baby sitting doll so ya know I sharked the hula Skipper bonus is Chelsea. Who I noted had problem not counting fact her legs don’t move. I think the joimted shoulder is awesome but I have noted for old school base Stacie(new face is ugly), Chelsea and Kelly their arms are to short for the dolls. And you think especially for Chelsea with articulated shoulders her arms would reach above her head. Their is no exuse for 7.5 inch Stacie’s arms to not reach above her head. And Kelly has posable legs neither that or her base have lomg enough arms ok I buy peekabo arms on Kelly who looks like she is 2 but by time child is 3yrs old their hands generally reach above their head and Kelly doll I have with posable legs looks about 4. Because of this issue I want to swap Chelsea’s arms on to Kelly and Stacie’s arms on Chelsea and not sure how I should fix Stacie. Skipper is to big for arms to work for Stacie and I am extremely restaint to new Stacie but I may habe to give in just for the arms.

  7. The issue I have with Barbie isn’t Barbie herself but her sisters Stacie,Chelsea and Kelly all have arms that are to short for their age. 3-4 yr old Kelly even 2009 ones had peekaboo arms which most children have out grown by time two in half. However I think her sisters Chelsea and old style non bendable Stacie are more offensive because seriously like their finger tips just reach above their head. Like quater to half inch maybe a little more would fix the issue. I know it is weird issue but trying to figure out if their is way I can fix it. I know I am crazy. Sure I wish arms moved more or that they had more bendable leg Chelsea but my number 1 problem is lack of arm lengths.

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