Saturday, November 23, 2013

In Real Life ...

I apologize for the length of this blog and how long it will take for photos to upload.  It is a full review of the actual dolls I have from the Jason Wu Convention X.

Buying dolls based on promo photos is like playing the lottery.  As Forrest Gump might say, "You don't always know what you're going to get."  Sometimes the doll is better than the promo, sometimes it  isn't.

For the first time, I registered for the Integrity Convention with a proxy. If ever there was a convention to attend (and bring your spouse, your children, your parents and even in-laws), this was the one.

I have never seen secondary market prices like this.  Below is a sampling of what can be made on this collection.  (If you paid for your convention packet and took advantage of early-bird pricing, you would've spent $425.  The four centerpieces would add $530.  Purchasing the best-selling workshop Elise for an extra $65, and the Integrity-Direct Lilith for another $65 for a grand total less than $1100.)

Here is an "average" sampling of secondary market prices - (not the high end):

Gift Dolls w/Convention Price
  Nightfall Agnes $275
  Especially for You Poppy $225
  Dangerous to Know Kyori $200
  Interlude Monogram w/accessories $200
  Midnight Star Elise $400
Centerpieces (extra charge see above):
  After Tonight Eugenia $350
  Bellissima Natalia $325
  Elegant Evening Poppy $400
  Black Orchid Vanessa  $400
  Hard Metal Lilith $350
  Workshop Elise $250

Holy Guacamole!
Total:  $3375
Triple the retail price!
Any way you dip that chip, you're going to make money on this collection if you took a significant other.  And I didn't even include the Victoire dolls, In Sequins Anja, or Tricks Up Her Sleeve Poppy.  Not to mention the ridiculous prices the Color Infusion males are bringing.  And almost all of the 7 Convention Collection dolls that were purchased in the sales room are selling at least 50% above retail. WOW!

Here are "real life" photos of the dolls from the Integrity Convention that I own.  Fortunately for me, I had the offer of a proxy this year and was able to get two of the centerpiece dolls at retail.  I had to purchase three other dolls on secondary market since I wasn't there.  I do not collect Color Infusion dolls or male dolls, so those are not included. Although fourteen of them have found a way to sneak into my collection, I still claim to not collect Poppy Parker; therefore, I did not get the Centerpiece Poppy.

I have decided to list these 17 dolls in order of preference. The countdown starts now.

17.  Star In the Making Poppy Parker
Convention Collection - $125
LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this ensemble.  Wish it were longer and am wondering if I can use it with my Funny Face dolls.  Ideally, it would be for Dovima, but she is too tall.  The Let's Kiss and Make Up Veronique may be able to pull it off.  Since I got the Barefoot in the Park doll with her up-do, this seems like a duplicate effort.

16.  Paparazzi Darling Adele
Convention Collection - $125
This doll just doesn't photograph well in closeups.  She looks more like the full length photo in real life.  I'm not sure who is designing the screenings for Adele but they definitely are no "soul sister".

15.  Bewitching Veronique
Convention Collection - $125
This doll's screening reminds me of Modern Comeback.  As much as I like the doll, I am not a fan of the eye screening.  I'm not sure if I love the ensemble enough to keep it.  It looks like a black version of Vanessa and Eugenia's dresses from last year.  They were so bad last year, I can't help but wonder if the design team refused to accept defeat and thought, "Let's give this one more try - we'll get it right sooner or later."

14. Especially For You Poppy Parker
Gift Doll at Luncheon - Included with registration
IF I collected Poppy Parker dolls, this would definitely be one for my collection.  She may need to hang around a little while with some of the other girls who are loitering at my house.

13. Interlude Monogram
Build-a-Doll Registration Gift - Included with registration
Such a valiant effort and retirement presentation.  Collectors are wondering, "Why wasn't this what was being offered in the past?"  The line may have survived had the design been consistent and the quality control kept in check.  The line was never able to rebound after the fiasco of the "Basics" line of 2011.  Too bad.  This is an example of "coulda, woulda, shoulda".

12.  Breathless Veronique
Convention Collection - $125
I can't believe how crazy I am about this doll.  I don't know why, but she reminds me of dark haired version of Sharon Stone from Basic Instinct.   She is so classy.  Unfortunately, someone with this level of taste would never buy lipstick in such a garish color.  I will probably have to get the lips repainted to live with her.  Although the center parted hair is severe, it seems to work with the eyes and character of the doll.  Had she had better lips, she'd been easily in my top ten.

11.  Brazen Beauty Natalia
Convention Collection - $125
There have only been two Natalia editions that I have been able to love.  I really struggle with dolls that have "stray" hairs.  I hope this won't be an issue with Brazen Beauty.   I think she'll be on the island for a while!
This doll immediately suffered from being compared to the FAO Shapeshifter from 2008.  Although they are similar, I am still very partial to Shapeshifter.

10. Bittersweet Eugenia
Convention Collection - $125
My favorite Integrity Mold is Eugenia.   I have more Eugenia than any other character and continue to add to my army.  I believe Bittersweet is going to be the "sleeper hit" of the mainline collection.   She is not recognized for her potential and is being overlooked due to there being so many other phenomenal dolls in the collection.  Give it time, and she will definitely come into her own.

9. Workshop Elise
$65 Workshop Fee
This is the doll that I've been "playing" with.  She is getting the most redress time and the most time in front of the camera.  Unfortunately, I am still trying to find the right light and angles.  Engaging Elise has been on my "grail list" for years, and I have never found one that I can afford.  Scratch off "Engaging" - I've found my raven Elise.

8. Black Orchid Vanessa
Table Centerpiece at Closing Banquet -
Limited to Lottery Draw - $140
I have not "warmed" up to the Vanessa 3.0 face mold.  I am not a collector who likes some of the modern runway couture.   Somehow Integrity got this doll right in so many ways.   I love the hairstyle.  The balance in this presentation is perfection.  I am so happy that I was able to get her at retail.  An all-around amazing doll.

7. Bellissima Natalia
Table Centerpiece at Friday's Banquet
Limited to Lottery Draw - $130
Okay, you had me at "Rita Hayworth".  This doll is a nod to the movie Gilda.  Although I have Red Desire Mini Gene - which is also a version of this presentation - this doll truly moves me.  What a difference from Power Game.  It's been a long time since I've seen a red-haired doll with such a perfect face!  LOVE this doll.

6. Nightfall Anges
Gift Doll at opening ceremonies banquet
Included with registration
One of my very favorite dolls ever produced by Integrity Toys is Firefly Agnes.  I love her so much that I have twins.  It's only natural that this doll comes in so high on my list of favorites from the convention.  You can't go wrong with Agnes.

5. Dangerous to Know Kyori
Gift Doll at Friday's banquet
Included with  registration
Another huge surprise for me.  I love Kyori.  I especially love a Kyori with an Asian screening.   This doll is everything anyone could ask for in a Kyori.  Just breath-taking.

4. Hard Metal Lilith
Integrity Direct in Sales Room - ITBE $65
This is one of the dolls I couldn't resist from secondary market.  Her price seems to be sky rocketing as she sold out at the convention.   Sweet Nothings Gretel is one of my very favorite NuFace dolls.  This Lilith is the perfect yang to her yin.  This doll is definitely a classic that I expect to become equal to Style Mantra in desirability.

3.  October Issue Agnes
Convention Collection - $125
I've come to accept the fact that there is one Integrity doll I'll never own - Saks Fifth Avenue Agnes.  I needn't stress about that anymore; I believe October Issue is a very close second.  I am excited about the possible redress opportunities in this doll's future.  It may be sacrilege, but this doll may get put on the old FR body.  I believe if I put her in the Dressing the Part bodysuit and pencil skirt, she will have an amazing resemblance to Saks.  This doll is a definite stunner and the only FR2 from the "Convention Collection" that sold out.  You don't have to look closely to see why.

2.  Midnight Star Elise
Convention Doll - Included with Registration
I went back and forth several times with numbers 1 and 2 in this list.  This doll is truly perfection.   This is the best Convention Doll ever.   I don't think any convention doll has ever been so popular or so coveted.   It's hard to go wrong with a raven-hair, red-lipped, blue eyed doll with smoky eyeshadow.  But then add to it an impeccably elaborate hairstyle and a outfit actually designed by Jason Wu, I can just hear Emeril Lagasse screaming, "BAM!"

1. After Tonight Eugenia
Table Centerpiece at opening ceremonies banquet
Limited to Lottery Draw - $130
This doll is another doll that completely takes my breath away.   As I mentioned earlier, Eugenia is my favorite character; she earned the coveted #1 spot.  What a doll!

This list was very difficult to put together.  There has never been so many gorgeous dolls presented at one time.  I cannot imagine in what order to open and enjoy them.  I can only compare this to eating too much at Thanksgiving, so this blog post is season-appropriate.   Which doll does one open first?

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Refining ...

I often see my collection as something organic. It seems to always be growing, changing, and, hopefully, improving. I have sold MANY dolls as a collector. I like to believe they are bringing joy to others.

I tend to be very careful when making changes to my collection. Releasing a doll is a difficult decision for me; one that I try to make with a great deal of reasoning. Because I take so much time and put so much thought into my collection, I rarely sell a doll that I regret letting go.

There have been a few times I've had to "re-purchase" a doll that leaves -  I guess we all make mistakes. I needed money a few years ago and sold a desirable NRFB doll. Fortunately, I was able to get her back and, by watching the secondary market, spent less than I sold her for. She was Glow Vanessa.
She is an amazing doll whose dress is as coveted as the doll herself. This doll unfortunately suffers from the Tyra Banks' curse of "Five-head".   I actually found a doll with a better hairline than the one I sold.
The most important lesson I've learned as a collector is that everything comes around sooner or later. Since I've been collecting dolls most of my life, I've learned the trends. The best time to buy older dolls for your collection is right before or right after a convention. Other collectors are eager to get newer dolls, so they let go of some of their favorites. Some travelers need money for airfare and hotel expenses. Some really great dolls show up at really good prices.  Many other collectors are in the same boat of needing money, so they choose to not participate in the regular feeding frenzy.

A couple weeks before the Integrity Convention, I found a doll that had been on my radar for some time, a doll I had given up on adding to my collection; I hadn't even bothered adding her to my list of grails.  She is Venus Secret Eugenia.
There were many exceptional dolls listed on e-bay prior to the convention.  I believe Integrity had cleaned out their storage area, and staff and family put these dolls out to the public. Many of these dolls were listed by the same four e-bay sellers.  I couldn't believe my luck to add this doll to my collection.
Due to restrictions of teaching in a public school, I was unable to attend the Integrity Convention.  My good friend, Reese, was going this year and had a friend who wanted to go with her.  This friend does not collect dolls but wanted to attend a convention for the experience.  She offered to be my proxy.  I was so happy!  I was able to purchase the mainline collection at cost, receive all the free dolls and swag, and purchase any centerpiece dolls my friend didn't want to keep.  I saved on airfare and hotel expenses.  What a great friend!!  By selling many dolls this summer, I was able to pay for the convention and collection ahead of time.  This freed up some money this fall, so I got to add a NRFB Shapeshifter Natalia to my collection.
The seller had decided she needed money to purchase the Poppy dolls from the convention and decided to let this beauty move on to a new home.   I was going to wait and photograph Shapeshifter when I received the Convention doll Brazen Beauty.  They are being compared quite a bit.  However, I do love this face and hair!!

Shapeshifter is only the second Natalia I've purchased that will remain in my collection.  I had been watching this black dress and gown for years - they often sell for $100 each.  So, you cannot imagine how excited I was to get the NRFB gift set.

As everyone knows, I am not a doll "hair dresser".  One poor doll that suffered at my scissors was Red Zinger Dania.  She has been hiding in a box bald-headed.   I keep meaning to have her re-rooted but just haven't had the time.   Imagine my joy at finding her last week at an incredible price!
Her hair was in its original set and hairnet.  She was so sold nude (which was great since I had everything else anyway).

So, my collection has grown quite a bit this fall.  In my next blog entry, I hope to show actual photos from the convention collection.  

But now it's time to refine and let some girls move on to new homes.   I wonder who will go?  When the furor of the convention dolls dies down a little, I'll probably list some girls after Thanksgiving.  As I follow trends, the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas tend to be some of the better weeks to sell dolls.   It seems they make great holiday presents!