Friday, April 22, 2016

Adventures in Head Swapping

It's been a while since I've attempted any major doll projects. Between my writing, my schedule, and my finances, I've spent more time focusing on slowly adding to my collection or enjoying the dolls I already have. However, things are not quite as tight financially since Hubby's change in job positions, and I was feeling adventurous this week. ;) 

Some of you may remember my mention of the beautiful Barbie Candy Princess doll (I think that's her name...she's not labeled on her box, and the title varies depending on the website). I saw her on the girls' birthday trip, and decided I'd love to get her sometime and swap her to a "Made to Move" Barbie body. 

Well, that idea stuck with me, but even though I'd found several of the Candy Princess dolls around, I was never 100% pleased with their faces. They were either too severe-looking, or the eyes were get the idea. I wanted my doll to be just right, especially if I was going to purchase her new.

(Before I proceed, I feel I should mention that there will be photos of naked Barbies in this post. It's hard enough doing a head swap without worrying about keeping them clothed. You've been warned.) ;)

Then, this past week at Target, I finally found a princess doll with a face that met my approval. I decided to bite the bullet and buy both dolls so I could perform a swap. :)

Here's a look at "Candy Princess" in her box.

Such a sweet face! :D

The back of her box. This fairytale line has three sets of three dolls, each set containing a mermaid, a princess, and a fairy. The three themes are candy, jewels, and rainbows. It fits right in with my 80s childhood. ;)

Here is Made to Move Lea. As I took the photos for this post, it reminded me that I have a ton of photos for a detailed Made to Move review in my draft posts somewhere. In fact, I've got several "in progress" reviews that will hopefully make an appearance this summer when the girls and I have more free time together. ;)

Lea's pretty face. 

The back of the box. (I didn't go into as much detail here because I'll share more info in my later review.)

Here is the Candy Princess out of her box. (Sorry this one's a bit blurry. I didn't realize it until I'd already decapitated her.) :}

I love the coloring on this doll. :)

Candy Princess has minimal articulation (just at the head, shoulders, and hips) and a plastic, molded-on bodice.

Her cloth, glitter-encrusted skirt is removable.

A closer look at her bodice. While I don't care for molded-on clothing as a collector, I do think the candy motifs on this one are kind of cute. And these dolls are definitely a great solution for moms who are opposed to naked Barbies. They're always dressed. ;)

Lea out of the box.

A closer look at her sweet face.

I already have a Made to Move Lea, and actually considered swapping her head instead, especially since I accidentally cut a small tuft of hair at the back of her head when I was trying to remove those irritating plastic ties Mattel loves.  

However, when I compared their faces, I decided I preferred the face of my older doll (pictured on the right). It's slightly rounder and has a softer look.
So, Candy Princess and New Lea agreed to swap. 

It's been a while since I've done a head swap, and usually I work with used three-dollar dolls from Goodwill for such projects. As you can imagine, I was a little nervous. Head swapping can have disastrous results. And I was having trouble getting Lea's head off. 

Because of this, I took a little break and did some research. I found THIS online article to be incredibly helpful. 

Sometime, I'd love to try the heating pad method they suggested, but this time, all I had was a hair dryer.

Convinced that I was on the right track, I continued my hair dryer method.

This did not do great things for Lea's hair, but it got rid of the lines from her ponytail. ;)

After about ten minutes of using the dryer, working with the head, and using the dryer again, I was finally able to remove it. 

The biggest challenge of this sort of project is removing the head without damaging the knob that holds it or cracking the neck. The neck glue started to turn shiny as I used the hair dryer, which made me nervous, but thankfully the neck didn't break. It's hard to see from this photo, but I did definitely strain the head knob inside the neck. It's really hard to get the head off without twisting the knob inside too far, which can lead to breakage. The fact that I was working with a brand new doll made it a lot more stressful.

Another thing I noticed this time was that the hair dryer must have melted some of the glue inside the head (used to hold the hair in place). The knob inside the head was sticky when I finally got the head removed.

And here it is:

Now it was time to move on to the Candy Princess head. 

I tried wrapping her head in a hand towel to give it better protection from the heat of the dryer (as suggested in the above article).

I made better time getting this head off, but I twisted the knob a little too much.

You can especially see it here. It didn't break, but I definitely weakened it.

And here's Candy Princess' head: 

The hard part was over now. It was much easier to get the heads ON to their new bodies than it had been to get them OFF.

And here they are, all swapped! :)

Poor Lea's hair was still pretty crazy from the blow dryer... I decided to put it back in a low side ponytail. Much better! :) 

Here she is in her pink tiara.

And here is my beautiful new custom Made to Move Barbie! :D For some reason, the name Teagan seemed to fit her. I think I'll stick with that name. :)

If you look closely at some of the photos, you'll notice that her head and her body are not quite a match in skin tone. It's a little more noticeable in real life than in photos. Still, I think it's close enough that it's not going to bug me. Oldest Gal suggested that Teagan just put on some pale face makeup. ;)

I had a lot of fun posing her for an impromptu photo shoot:

This face mold is quickly becoming my new favorite. :) I've decided that these three are going to be sisters. It's my pleasure to introduce the Peony sisters: (Left to right) Tori (Curvy Fashionista "Sweetheart Stripes"), Teal (Tall Fashionista "Terrific Teal"), and Teagan (Made to Move Lea with Candy Princess Barbie's head).

Sisters :)

I especially love these two together.

And I also wanted to get a picture of Teagan with my Made to Move Barbie with the same face mold. I'm thinking they might be cousins. :)

I already linked these, but I figured I'd do it a little more obviously down here. You can get your own Barbie Candy Princess/Barbie Princess Candy Fashion doll/whatever they want to call her HERE, and you can purchase your own Made to Move Barbie like mine HERE.

So, final thoughts on head swaps? I don't think I want to make a habit of them. (Of course, if I did them more often, I'd probably get better at them.) ;) I definitely wouldn't want to do them for someone else. The possibility of breakage is just too high for me to risk it. I also confirmed that I prefer swapping head of dolls I've found at Goodwill. It's a lot less stressful! And I think the next time I do this, I'd like to try the heating pad method to see if it's any more effective, as I mentioned earlier.

Still, I don't regret this swap. I love Teagan's sweet face and unique coloring and am glad to have her on a fun, posable body instead of that stiff, glittery one. :) I'm thinking Teagan may have a thing for travel. Maybe she can come along on my next vacation. ;)

I hope you all enjoyed this post. Have any of you tried a head swap? Do you have any favorite tips or tricks? I'd love to see some of your swap or other customization successes. Feel free to leave a link in the comments to your own dolly projects. :)

More posts to come next week! :)


tofanpw said...

I recently rebodied 2015 DS Rapunzel to MTM Purple Top too, the body's a bit too pink for her, but it's better than her more tanned original body. Kinda felt bad for Lea though, I like her a lot in person, but I prefer to have Rapunzel that can sit upright with closed bent legs.

Hannah Prewett (beastsbelle) said...

I know what you mean. :) Lea is so beautiful. I felt a little better about swapping her head since I already had a Lea to enjoy. ;)

The MTM bodies would be wonderful for Disney Store dolls! :D I'm sure your Rapunzel looks amazing. :)

Nikki Fielder said...

Great job! I love Teagan! Her makeup and facial expression remind me of Sierra Boggess.;)

Phyllis said...

I have now swapped heads on at least 100 dolls now and have learned a lot from doing it. I used to always soften the heads, but if there is not a lot of glue in the head, I have become quite adept at removing the heads (this is true for Barbie dolls). I work carefully and slowly. On other brands of dolls (like Fashion Royalty, LIV, Disney), I always soften the heads first.

On vintage dolls, I always soften the head first too because the bodies can be very brittle and break more easily. I use the hair dryer method. I am not a fan of dolls with glue in their hair. The Made to Move Lea and Barbie dolls have some of the worst glue head I have ever seen, but I love the body so I often use them for body swaps. I have even seen the MTM dolls with so much glue, that it is seeping down the neck!

BTW, your "Candy Princess", looks great on the Lea body. You did a great job!

SwanburneGirl said...

Nice job! Teagan is really cute, and your Lea looks great in red! I might actually try that Project MC2/MTM Barbie headswap I was thinking about (to make a Rey doll) since I have a few Amazon gift cards... (My McKeyla really does remind me of Daisy Ridley, though. Not that I mind.)

Jen said...

I love using the MTM bodies for swapping! I gave a MTM Barbie body to the "LA Girl" Fashionista (the blond with the undercut), and a MTM Lea body for Pullip Belle. Being able to put Pullip heads on MTM bodies is a lifesaver - no more ordering Obitsu from halfway across the country - and the neck peg isn't nearly as awful to cut and sand. The only downside is the lack of swappable hands!

Hannah Prewett (beastsbelle) said...

Thanks, Nikki! :) I'm so pleased with how she turned out. Huh, I hadn't connected her to Sierra, but I can see what you mean. :)

Hi Phyllis! Thanks for sharing your tips. :)

I've heard about glue in the heads, but I never understood the fuss until this swap. It's pretty crazy how much is in there.

Thanks! I think she turned out pretty nice, too. I'm so relieved I didn't botch things up. ;)

Thanks, SwanburneGirl! :) I'd love to hear how your head swap goes if you do go through with it. As you know, I loved the faces on the Project MC2 dolls, but was disappointed by their bodies. Being able to swap them with the MTM bodies would be a perfect solution. :)

Hi Jen! It's so nice to hear from you again. :) It's nice to know that the MTM bodies work for Pullips, too. :) I'll have to keep that in mind.

Hope you're doing well!

Meritre said...

You did a great job, both dolls are so pretty!
I'm afraid of damaging the doll while removing the head, thats why my two custon ladies, Fiona and Lydia are still without hair. I've never removed a dollhead before and I don't want to damage them since they were made especieally for me by my sister.

Barb the Evil Genius said...

I'm actually in the middle of doing a head swap. I bought a Mirror Beach Ashlynn Ella with a terrible case of glue hair, so I'm swapping her head out with one of the budget Ashlynn's. Budget Ashlynn also has a molded-on swimsuit. :)

What I did to help get the heads off was soak each head in hot water, just hot-from-the-faucet water. You can put the head in a plastic bag if you want to keep the hair dry. I didn't bother with the head that already has nasty hair. Now I have to get the good Ashlynn head re-bodied. I might experiment with re-rooting the other head. It's kind of fun!

Hannah Prewett (beastsbelle) said...

Thanks, Meritre! :) I feel your pain on your custom dolls. Removing the head of an irreplaceable doll is scary! :( I hope you're able to figure it out.

Congrats on your successful head swap, Barb! :) Thanks for the hot water tip, too. I might have to try that if I do another swap. :)

I'd love to hear how the re-rooting goes if you try it. I'm not brave enough to re-root quite yet, but maybe someday! ;)

Am I cute or what? said...

Teagan looks gorgeous!! I really love her face mold! <3 <3 I have done head swaps on dolls and most of the time the doll looks %100 better and the doll moves a lot better! ;) Thanks for sharing the information with us!

Kathleen said...

Hey Hannah,

I have a bit of an odd question. I'm thinking about making a custom H4H, but I don't know what size wig and I don't have access to my dolls right now and won't for a while. Is it possible for you to check?
If you're too busy it's no problem, I can probably figure it out.


Am I cute or what? said...

You have been nominated! For the Great Doll Blog Award!

MyLittleMegara said...

She's so pretty! I think she looks like Lily James. I once headswapped a Mattel Cinderella doll's head onto a Fashionista Barbie body. It went pretty well, but I haven't done any swapping since.

Farrah Lily said...

Hi Hannah, perfect timing! I have a few MTM dolls that I've been slowly collecting and some Fashionistas waiting, but have been reluctant to try. I know what you mean about being nervous about using a new doll as a Guinea pig, lol. Your post has given me confidence to try. Your new Teagan is stunning...I love her face mold and coloring. The new sisters look amazing!

Hannah Prewett (beastsbelle) said...

Thanks, Am I cute or what. :) I love her face mold and coloring, too. :) Glad you enjoyed the post. Thanks for the nomination, too! I'll see if I can work on that this week. :)

Hi Kathleen! I'll do my best to get that measurement for you. I'm not always the greatest at remembering things like that, especially this time of year with all of the extra activities, so you might have to remind me again. ;)

Thanks, MyLittleMegara. She is definitely similar in coloring and looks to Lily James. I hadn't thought of that. ;) Congrats on your successful swap. It's so rewarding when they turn out. :)

Hi Farrah Lily! I'm so glad this post was helpful to you. I wish you the best on your own swapping projects. The best advice I can give you is to take it slow and be as gentle as you can with removing the head. Can't wait to see how your swaps turn out! :)

Kathleen said...

Thank you very much!
And if you do it's no problem, I understand. :)

MyLittleMegara said...

Oh, look at that, I just cam over here to nominate you for the same award! Funny how we both were nominated by the same person and I somehow missed that... anyway, if you want to check it out, here's the link:

Hannah Prewett (beastsbelle) said...

Aww, thanks! I feel doubly blessed! :) I'm hoping to get my post up in the next couple of days, so I'll answer your questions, too. :)

MyLittleMegara said...

No problem! As you know I love your blog! I can't wait to see your answers. :)

Doll Dimensions said...

Hi Hannah! :D
I'm a huge fan of your blog, and I just nominated you!

Hannah Prewett (beastsbelle) said...

Thanks, Doll Dimensions. I'll see what I can do. ;)

Mark Patraw said...

I customized six Barbies a little over a decade ago, but I never did any head swaps on any of them (I mostly just made them new outfits/accessories and altered or removed their hair). I did cut one's legs off at the shins and replaced the feet/ankles with hot glue plant roots (I turned her into a Nymph from the Final Fantasy IX Playstation video game). I can't bring myself to alter toys anymore though, even when I have duplicates; I like to keep them "as-is" these days. The only "customizing" I do now are repairs, to try to bring damaged/broken toys back to something approximating their original condition if I can.

It's too bad that Mattel, and other doll manufacturers, don't use a simple ball-and-socket type neck joint for their dolls, like many action figures do, as that'd make them much easier to remove/swap. But, then again, with the hollow noggin rooted doll hair requires, I suppose that might not be a feasible option.

The old "boil-and-pop" trick is frequently used by customizers to removed limbs/heads on action figures. Provided there isn't a reason you don't want the doll's neck/head/hair to get wet (one with an electronic action feature for example), I don't see why boiling water wouldn't work just as well as a hair dryer to heat up and soften the plastic. Of course, boiling water is potentially dangerous, so younger would-be customizers definitely shouldn't be doing it without adult supervision. While I don't swap heads, when I get a doll from a thrift store with a rat's nest for hair, her head always gets a dunk (or multiple dunks, as needed) in boiling water so I can comb/brush it back out and make it presentable again.

Hannah Prewett (beastsbelle) said...

Great tips, Mark. Thanks! :) I didn't do the boiling water method this time around because I didn't want it to affect Teagan's hair, but I have used it in the past for hair restyling/setting. :)

I agree that it would be lovely if there was a simple ball-and-socket head joint for these dolls, but I do think it would be tricky with the rooted hair.

Thanks for stopping by! :)

Hannah Prewett (beastsbelle) said...

P.S. Your custom nymph sounds really interesting. I don't think I could handle cutting a doll's legs off at the shins, though. I anthropomorphize them a little too much for that. ;)

Mark Patraw said...

You can see the Nymph Barbie here if you like:

I had a very poor digital camera at the time, so the photos are pretty tiny and not very good. And, alas, she eventually ended up in the garbage, so, I don't have her anymore to shoot better ones.

I generally don't anthropomorphize toys, but, at the same time, I would never intentionally deface or "injure" one, unless I was doing something like a custom. And, she was getting replacement root feet, so it's not like I was leaving her crippled or anything. That said, in retrospect, I suppose I could have made her removable root feet, something like a pair of boots, and then she could have retained her original feet/ankles underneath them.

Hannah Prewett (beastsbelle) said...

Wow, Mark, that looks like an incredible project. Great job!

I hope you know I wasn't saying you shouldn't have done the custom. Sorry if it came across that way. I know they're just plastic, and I know you would never intentionally wreck a doll just for the sake of doing it. Anyone who has the patience and creativity to customize dolls has my respect. :) And her feet did look pretty awesome. ;)

olla123 said...

Witaj Hannah! Twoja lalka z blond włoskami tak mi się spodobała, że postanowiłam stworzyć sobie taką samą :-) Jestem bardzo zadowolona!
Dziękuję za rady i pozdrawiam Cię serdecznie z Polski!
Jeśli masz ochotę ją zobaczyć, zapraszam na mój blog:

Hannah Prewett (beastsbelle) said...

Hi olla123! Thanks for stopping by. Great job on your headswap. :) Your doll looks lovely. I love her dress, too. Glad I was able to inspire you to make your own version of this doll. :)

Have a great day!

P.S. Love your blog. :)

olla123 said...

Bardzo się cieszę, Twój blog również jest bardzo ciekawy i z pewnością będę do Ciebie zaglądać :-)
Serdecznie pozdrawiam!

Hannah Prewett (beastsbelle) said...

Same to you, olla123. :)

kathleen said...

I entirely forgot I asked this! I'm sorry. :( Anyways, I thought I'd see if you had had time to measure. No problem if you haven't had time!

Hannah Prewett (beastsbelle) said...

Oh man, I completely forgot too! Let me go measure them, and I'll get back to you tonight. :)

Hannah Prewett (beastsbelle) said...

The measurement of the head at the hairline is approximately 9.5 inches, so I would think a 10 inch wig would work...possibly a 9 inch. I'd probably go with 10 myself just to play it safe. Hope this helps! :)

Kathleen said...

Yes, completely! Thank you so much! One doll had a bit of an accident -- I'm trying to figure out how to fix it and haven't found an answer anywhere, so this is great!

Hannah Prewett (beastsbelle) said...

All the best on your project! :)