Another near miss, my brother alerted me to Make Magazine 13, which has a great piece by Gareth Branwyn on the rocketry of scientist/magickian Jack Parsons. As Keith knows, i'm kind of obsessed with Parsons, and this is a great introduction to the geeky side of Jack. Much of the research came from George Pendle's Strange Angel: The Otherworldly Life of Rocket Scientist John Whiteside Parsons, which is one of two Parsons bios. Like Aleister Crowley, he really needs to be viewed by more than one biographical perspective, so i'd also recommend the pseudonymous Sex and Rockets: The Occult World of Jack Parsons, for the big picture. Parson's own writings, Freedom Is A Two Edged Sword, is currently out of print, but you can read good samples around the web, like right here.
The coolest thing for me about Branwyn's article is the fantastic "Rocket Scientist of Satan!" comic book cover by friend of Clea's Cave and Dr. Strange superfan Howard Hallis. You can see this 2003 lenticular digital collage amusingly animated here. Prepare to wander his website for a while... and do not miss The Picture Of Everything.
Since i'm unemployed, i really should be getting up in the morning and watching Regis and Kelly. Years ago it was a goofy guilty pleasure, and i miss stuff like this, courtesy of the New York Basque Club, the oldest Basque club in the U.S..
Our fifth profile is an artist's doll made in North America, the Liebchen. The sculptress and designer, Diep aka Fancyboots, has an extensive background in fashion design. Liebchen was her first BJD, inspired by the Asian jointed doll boom in general, and Gentaro Araki's Unoa in particular. There is a pretty great interview with Diep at the discontinued Dollicieux ezine here. After a few months labor Diep had a prototype for a petite 38cm doll, sized to wear Unoa or some Tonner Tyler outfits. The complete run of 75 Liebchens was plagued with production delays, from initial problems with the castings to gorgeous but overly labor intensive outfits on the dressed dolls.
My Lieb, Enara, was one of the 'basic', dolls, originally sold nude for $395. There was also a dressed edition, and an elegant Haute Doll exclusive with a corseted costume and extra paper wig. Her tats were done by the very talented mizbelle on Den of Angels, who also tattooed Francine's Liebchen, shown below. Even without the charming dress and boots, Liebchens arrive beautifully finished - sanded, sueded, airbrushed and painted with quality glass eyes and faux fur wig harmonizing with her complexion, in a pretty and secure storage box. In most of these photos Enara is wearing 11mm masterpiece eyes, You would never guess that early bad castings had to be redone, every Lieb i've seen has had lovely resin and a flawless finish, obviously carefully inspected and detailed by the maker.
Enara and Rosalba are wearing a Mattel Teen Trends outfit for Kianna - it seems everyone i know with a Liebchen has this ensemble. They also fit in quite a few 'slim mini' fashions that Sharmin can wear. Regular MSD clothing is right out. If one of these dolls is wearing a short skirt, leggings or heavy stockings are advisable, because she has some jointing issues.
When Diep designed this doll, she was trying to avoid the little slots or dimples at the wrists, ankles, elbows, and knees of most BJD. The forearms have a cool, gauntlet type form, but the elastic channels aren't enclosed enough to restrain the elastic's tension in a pose. So, she tends to crank her arms up in a reflexive salute, a la Dr. Strangelove. Unlike many BJD sculpts, Liebchens can touch their faces, but their wrists and ankles are not very flexible. The knees, when bent, tend to dislocate and look unsightly. On the plus side, she is very sturdy and above average in standing poseability.
Fancyboots is hard at work designing an improved, slightly taller and more curvaceous body for her new doll, Shuqi. The heads and bodies of the two dolls will be swappable. Finding a Liebchen on the secondary market requires patience. The heads in particular require some hunting, since many owners have moved the heads to more articulated frames. The Shuqi heads are already available on her site, and the new improved body is in the final stages of production.
Liebchen exemplifies the pros and cons of what's referred to in the BJD community as an artist's doll. These are not necessarily one-of-a-kind dolls, but usually products of micro home operations, with one person doing all the work except, as in Fancyboots case, the casting. For this reason, there can be unexpected delays in production, as any personal crisis can completely shut down operations.
Having one artist start to finish on a new endeavor can result in design weaknesses, but also works of unique emotional and esthetic impact. Diep's sculpts have a stylized, almost alien appearance. But somewhat surprisingly, like a Blythe, these girls can wear a wide range of styles and have a very unique and haunting presence. This may be due to Diep's training in fashion and costume.
With a production run of only 75, we have at least three Liebchens here in Michigan. Size and style wise, i haven't seen them mingle much with other kinds of dolls, but they're quite companionable with Serendipity BJD and vintage or vintage inspired vinyl dolls like Rini, Cissy, or Madame Alexander. Her face and posture implies the mysterious combination of innocence and sophistication seen on dolls nearly a century ago. Instead of hanging with my other resin peeps, Enara has her little chaise under a lamp in my bedroom, like an early twentieth century boudoir doll.
Last week i was wandering American Pop!, and came across one of my favorite things, a tub o' LJN WWF (in)action figures. Definitely not mint-on-card, rubbed and roughed up, magic markered, some with digits chewed off by animal or infant... just the way i like 'em! The person selling them in this fabulous resale and consignment shop didn't know from 80's wrestling icons, so they were tagged with descriptions like "beat up grandpa" or "big daddy". The tags were funnier than that, and i should have purchased at least one i don't have and saved the tag. But i digress... these toys are made of win, even though they have zero articulation and half the wrestlers are sadly forgotten or unknown by today's fans. They might only have one pose, but pack a wallop when pitched at another toy or playmate.
Today on Wil Wheaton's blog, he shares this wonderful WWF Superstars Quiz, where you can try to identify the wrestler from hefty 8 inch solid rubber doppelganger. i got 13 out of 14, because i couldn't for the life of me remember Ted Arcidi... which doesn't fully explain why i didn't exploit the ease of multiple choice.
Here is a nice appreciation of the LJN WWF series.