Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Doll-A-Day 21: A Review of Ai Ball Jointed Doll Bee Balm by Jun Planning

  Spurred on by recent posts by Vanessa at Van's Doll Treasures and Beast'sbelle at Never Grow Up I ventured out to Tuesday Morning recently.(Yes guys, I'm blaming you!) Their reports of the goodies they found there left me anxious to see what I could find. I got lucky, (or unlucky if you're looking at it like Ken.) and found several great things. I also found out that the Tuesday Morning I go to is the biggest in Ohio and one of the top 10 in the country. So why do I almost never find the good stuff other people do? I guess it sells quickly and I don't go often enough. (Ken thinks I go plenty often, I'm sure.)
  I have been wanting a Japanese ball jointed doll for ages, but the cost prevented me from getting one. I nearly got a really standard one without eyes or wig, but the addition of hair and eyes put the cheap price right back up where I couldn't reach it. Plus it would still be naked! So, when I saw some white boxes on the shelf at Tuesday Morning and opened them up to find sweet and beautiful little Japanese ball jointed dolls, I literally gasped. They were affordable too, at only $29.99 each. They were Ai dolls by Jun Planning.The theme of the series is that all the dolls are named after flowers.They only had two different dolls, and yes, I got one of each. That's my birthday taken care of! (A bit early. It's not until March.) I'll be reviewing both of the dolls I got, but today I'll start with Bee Balm.
  The boxes are really nice.

They look like books, and have really strong magnets in the right edge to keep the 'cover' closed. If you hold the base down the cover opens very easily though. The contents are clearly visible, except for a tiny box covered by the picture in the corner.Everything is easy to access though, once the clear plastic is removed. It just lifts up. It's not attached.
Here she is. She's just about 5" tall.

  Once the plastic is removed, all the contents, except the doll just lift out of the soft, padded box insert.

  Here are all her accessories removed from the box. She's a bee, so she comes with a flower,a set of antennae, and two little yellow arms cuffs that I think are supposed to be pollen. And of course, every bee needs black tights, a shirt, and a pair of bright yellow shoes.(I'll detail these in a minute.)This 'bee' also comes with 'eye putty' to hold her eyes in place. That's what was in the mysterious little box. Most of the accessories were in unsealed plastic, but the plastic on the eye putty was taped shut, so I left the store with a mystery to solve. I wasn't wearing my glasses, but I think I did find it written on the box somewhere when I got home. Most of the box writing is in Japanese, but I found it somewhere in English.

The doll has two ribbon ties, one at the neck, and one on her legs. The one at the legs comes untied easily. The one at the neck was pulled very tight though (Ug!) and I was a little afraid I was going to scratch her chin up trying to dig it out.

  Here she is right out of her box.
Her face is so smooth it feels like porcelain.

Once out of the box, she still needs the plastic removed that holds her arms behind her back. I think that made her fit in her box more easily.

  Her bee suit even has a stinger! Her wings need unfolded and rebent ,but it's easy.

   I noticed that her head is sort of a peachy skin tone, but the rest of her is sort of gray. It's not terribly noticeable, but it is noticeable.
Look at the detailed shape of her feet.

   She's wearing a net slip under her bee costume.

Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to be removable. There's no closure or elastic. It's just sewn on tightly.It can't be scooted down over her bottom, or taken up over her shoulders. It would have to be snipped at the waist.

Her hair is very curly, but very soft.I was curious.Was it a wig?

Uhh, yes. It's a wig.When I lifted the hair at the back to try to see, the whole back of her head popped off and her eyes popped out! The back of her head is only held on by a single magnet at the top, so it comes off pretty easily and is loose at the bottom. It should have at least had another magnet at the bottom. The magnet in her head is nowhere near as strong as the one in the box lid! I didn't get a chance to see how the eyes were set in since they popped out so unexpectedly, so I had a bit of a problem getting them back in. The metal ring in her head that holds her stringing together made it hard to just pop the 'eye holder' back in. Plus the eyes kept jiggling out of place before I could get them in and she would end up google eyed.It's not easy to see her eyes anyway because the opening is so tiny,but I could tell her pupils were all wonky.

I couldn't tell until they popped out that her eyes are green.
  I had a terrible time figuring out how to use the eye putty. I may have to find a tutorial or instructions or something! When I tried using the putty in the eye holding device I couldn't fit the back of her head on because the stem on the eye holder was standing out too far.When I tried just straight putty around the eye sockets first I still couldn't fit the holder either around the eyes,or get the back of the head on. When I tried putting the eye in the holder with putty and then putting them in, they were never in the right position. But I couldn't tell that until I got them in. I finally resorted to just putty, but I still had to use a tool, (in this case a wooden stick), to position the eyes once they were in.

  Back to the wig. It is held on her head by strips of velcro on the skull and the inside of the wig. I find that every time I try to remove the wig, hairs in the back get caught on the velcro and pull the hair loose in the curls. This wig is going to look wonderful after a while.
  She isn't as poseable as I thought she'd be. Maybe it's because her limbs are so short, or because she's new and her strings are so tight,but her limbs are hard to get to hold a pose where they're very bent.She can stand on her own pretty well.
This is as far as she can look up.
But she can look down a bit better.

It was hard getting her legs to stay crossed.
She is a cute little thing though.
Here she is modelling her whole outfit.I don't want to use the antennae very often though because I know I'll ruin her hairdo!
    There's some nice detailing. She even has toe and finger nails!
Are those stress marks on her fingers?

Look at her little feet.

She has breast and belly button detailing too, plus other details that are hidden by her slip. She's definitely a girl..
Her clothes are well made, even if her tights don't stay up very well.Her shirt closes in the back with velcro.

The shoes have very detailed tread on the bottoms.

I don't want her to have to be a bee all the time, but I wondered what other clothes will fit her. The kind made for these dolls are kind of expensive. Somebody had posted a picture of one of these Ai dolls wearing a modern 6" Strawberry Shortcake raincoat, which fit beautifully. Hey, I have that same raincoat! I knew Kelly  dresses and pants wouldn't fit her because she has a pudgy little belly.But I tried some Kelly coats on  her, the kind that are made bigger in order to fit them over the clothes.
This coat even has bees on it. Ok, they're ladybugs really, but can't you just pretend?!

Watch that attitude Little Missy!

Looks pretty good!The sleeves are a bit short. You have to pretend they're 3/4 sleeves.

  In all I really like her.I wish her eyes had some instruction in English.And I wish the back of her head stayed on better.As I said, I'm hoping her stringing loosens up a bit...

All this posing is giving me a head ache!

Oh all right. I'm finished. You can go to sleep now.

...but not too much!You have the option of changing her hair and her eyes.That's something I'll discuss more in my review of the other Ai doll I bought the same day.
  For more Ai doll reviews click these links: Coreopsis  Leptospurmum   Phlox   Hyacinth  Lagrus 


  1. I recently got an AI doll too... English Ivy. I had the same problem with the eyes and the wig. The velcro on the wig just messes up everything. Although the head magnet in mine was really strong... it just snapped shut so strongly and quickly and would'nt move or give time to adjust the head close.

  2. Hi Mruna. Thanks for becoming a follower! Hmmm...Maybe I just got defective heads. Do you have any secrets for positioning the yes?

  3. Thanks for the photos and info. I recently purchased my first Ai doll, Freesia. I was wondering what that clay was for!

  4. PS. The head magnet on mine is very weak, also. The back of her head just fell off in my hands - scared the heck out of me since I didn't know the heads open up!

  5. I have several Ai dolls. I have also restrung one. It's not too bad. I used a big hole eye needle. I also changed eyes using a needle to position and holding down the ring to replace. You can use 10mm safety eyes. :)

    1. Did you find the stringing was too tight as they came? All mine seem to be that way.Some of mine didn't have the eye holder part

  6. I know this is an old post but I bought a used Bee Balm off of ebay for like 18 dollars. She looked gorgeous until I saw her wig... Its a mess of curls with flyaways everywhere. So I did a stupid thing and brushed it... Now her wig is a mess and looks horrible. Any ideas on how to fix it? I don't care if the curls are gone by the end. I just don't want to buy a 12 dollar wig for a doll I paid 6 more dollars for.

    1. I know what you mean about that wig. Those curls are a disaster waiting to happen, especially if you have my hair doing skills. You could always try to flatten her wig as much as possible and re-curl it, (There are lots of tutorials on curling doll hair using those little coffee stir things that look like flat straws, or you could use rag strips or do pin curls with bobby pins.), or give her a nice pixie cut. There are also loads of tutorials on making doll wigs on Youtube, blogs, and doll sites. Apart from that, you could always buy her a hat!

    2. Thank you for your reply! My hair styling skills are abysmal but well there is no way I can ruin the wig more! I think I'll try flattening and recurling it... If that doesn't work I'll break out the scissors! Thank you so much for replying!

    3. I have no hair styling skills either! If I mess up my Bee Balm's wig, it's history! But what have you got to lose if it's already bad? If you mess it up curling it again you can always wet it and redo it. Just be careful if you have to cut it. Remember, start in small increments. You can always cut more off, but if you cut too much 'that's all she wrote'! Since she's so tiny try trimming it with nail scissors, so you can get in where you want without cutting too much.

  7. I wish I hadn't bought her used! I saw pictures of the wig in the auction photos, it's just that I was trying to remain optimistic that it would be okay (I really shouldn't have chosen a curly haired ai doll to be My second! I got spoiled with Lagrus' straight hair and mild flyaways) Cutting will be My last resort but I'll do it if I need to. Worst comes to worst and I'll buy a cheap fur wig off of ebay XP I really just want to thank you for taking the time to respond. Its made me feel better about attacking that wig!

    1. I am much more comfortable handling my Lagrus. I feel like I'll ruin Bee Balm's hair if I do much with her.She's the only Ai I have with hair that curly. I really love some of the other Ai's clothes, but I know I'd destroy the curly hair.

  8. Aster and Nerine are two of my favorites but after the disaster that is Bee Balm I'll just admire from afar. Pretty much all of the ai clothes kill me! They're so adorable! My used Bee Balm came wearing only her little black shirt, but that was fine with me as Lagrus usually lounges around in clothes I've made.

    1. I wish I could make clothes, but that's really not my area! At Tuesday Morning I had the choice of buying one of the Ai dolls with the extravagant ruffly old fashioned dresses, which I loved, but the hair was gray and in ringlets I knew I'd destroy, so i bought another one instead!

    2. My clothes that I make are very rudimentary and consist mainly of socks (rompers and footie pajamas are about the best things I can make) Oh! Is that Thyme? Or English Ivy? Thyme was the first ai doll I saw a couple of years back in Tuesday Morning. I thought she was adorable with her little cow motif, but when I looked at her price I was shocked to see she was 30 dollars (this was before I ever heard of bjds) I was kind of waffling between buying her, when my mother sealed the deal and said that she looked "odd" and that I was far too old to be looking at dolls (I was maybe 16 or 17 then?) So I put her back down and I have regretted it since. With Bee Balm's wig I think I've solved my problem, I put her little frizzy hair up into low pigtails and I think she looks darling (reminds me of my own wild hair!) I also bought Rhodanthe off of ebay because of course I needed the smiling face sculpt! I can't wait until she arrives.

      By the way, thank you for putting up with me, as a 19 year old doll collector I don't have many people I can talk about dolls with and I'm afraid of forums XD

    3. Sock clothes are a start. I am wondering if any of the huge Barbie babies/Heart Family Babies clothes would fit the Ai dolls.I'm going to have to check that out and get back to you on it. As for your age, we all have to start somewhere! What matters is that you have found something you enjoy, a totally harmless, (Except for the cost!) hobby that brings you pleasure. have fun!

  9. I have an old Kelly doll dress that I put Lagrus in often. It's a little short on her but looks fine with her little bloomers peeking out. Well I make sure that I put aside money for dolls. I usually reserve half of my babysitting money for dolls (I often don't fully spend all that half but it's nice to have a reserve). Thank you for the encouragement! I think my mom understands that I enjoy them and doesn't fuss too much.


Thanks in advance for your comments.