PUDDLE 2016!

It’s only been 3 months or so since my last post… oops.

“Real life” is at least partially to blame. I’ve been pretty busy lately, having just started my first “adult” full time job. I do have a handful of posts already planned coming up, so hopefully I’ll have those up eventually.

First I thought I’d post about the biggest doll event I’ve ever had the pleasure to attend, since it was just a couple of weekends ago and still fresh(ish) on my mind. (In reality I meant to post this the week immediately after but got sidetracked so there’s that. The first weekend in June, I had the pleasure of travelling to Chicago for this year’s PUDDLE, or (Pu)llip and (D)al (D)oll (L)over’s (E)vent. For those unfamiliar with PUDDLE, it’s an annual gathering for enthusiasts of Groove’s Pullip and associated dolls that takes place every year in Chicago, and includes all kinds of fun such as door prizes, raffles, customization contests, vendors, and more.

I’ve been interested in PUDDLE even since before I was a Pullip collector, because I loved the idea of a doll collectors’ event and found Pullips pretty even before I really got started collecting, so I was very excited when things fell into place for me to attend PUDDLE for the first time this year. I also brought along my best friend/roommate as a tagalong, because even though she does not collect dolls herself she has always been supportive of my hobby and I’m shy without someone else I know around to help me feel a bit more comfortable. We actually had a two day journey, solely because my parents live in central Illinois and wanted to do some shopping in Chicago, so we spent the night at their house Thursday and then rode up together on Friday. (It also got me out of driving in Chicago- score!)


The other dolls rode up in a box, but Marty got to sit on my lap in the car. I spoil her. 🙂

Friday afternoon we checked in and got our name badges for the event, then spent time in the lobby hanging out with other attendees and getting to know them a little before carpooling over to Mitsuwa Marketplace for dinner. I didn’t get any pictures at Mitsuwa, but honestly this was a very special part of the trip for me for a couple of reasons: for one thing, while we were there I realized that Friday was the one year anniversary of when I left the US for Japan for the summer last year, so  it was really nice to have some authentic Japanese food and experience what really felt like a little market lifted straight out of Japan when I was missing it that day, and second, I got to get to know some other PUDDLE people including a couple of folks that I knew from forums online. Plus I got bubble tea, which is always great. 🙂

After dinner, the Friday night “tea party” took place in the lobby of the hotel. People were there selling their dolls/doll related goods, and chatting and making friends. There was also a fun event where you could try your hand at making doll fashions out of paper scraps and other similar things. Marty was the only doll I brought with me Friday night, so she got to be my model:


The collar was folded by my friend, who makes origami replicas of magical girl dresses. Literally every other part of Marty’s outfit is just cleverly draped rectangles.


We didn’t stick around too late Friday evening because we were actually staying at a different hotel, so there may have been more that I missed, but we wanted to be up bright and early the next morning so we could have lots of energy!

The doors for the convention hall opened up Saturday morning after the vendors were all set up and ready to go. There were tables throughout the room for people to sit at and arrange their dolls at, so we picked a table and I unpacked my friends:


Regular readers will have met everybody here with the exception of Star (who you’ll see more about later) and possibly Warner, the Ai Doll.

Here’s where I need to let you know about my mistake of the day. I just recently purchased my first DSLR camera and had brought it with me because I was eager to see what all it can do. Unfortunately I forgot to put my SD card in it Saturday morning, and it has no internal storage, so while I thought I was taking pictures on it all morning, none of them were saved, so up until about the group photo time when I realized my mistake I have no pictures.

The theme this year for PUDDLE was “Space,” so lots of the festivities reflected this theme: Convention-goers and dolls alike were dressed in Star Trek and Doctor Who outfits, many of the custom doll entries were space-related like robots or jedi, and there were even little photo booths set up where you could take your doll’s picture with the TARDIS. There were so many dolls, too! Everybody brought their friends along, which was exciting for me because I don’t often get to see other Groove dolls in person. And there weren’t just groove dolls- I saw everything from BJD’s to Barbies and everything in between. It was really pretty incredible.

The first part of the morning was open for people to explore and get to know each other. The vendors (which ranged from Etsy shops selling doll clothes to doll retailers selling NRFB dolls) were open for business. There was also a fun icebreaker game you could play to get to know one another- one of those “find someone who” type games, but with PUDDLE/doll related questions such as “Someone who owns zero Groove dolls” or “Someone who is attending PUDDLE for the 3rd time.” Completion of the game meant you got a free raffle ticket to enter into the raffle drawings.

One of the other fun perks of PUDDLE was gift bags- anyone who was a paid attendee who registered online ahead of time (which was all paid attendees this time, since PUDDLE actually sold out in advance!) received a free gift bag. There were standard and premium gift bags depending on how early you registered- I got the standard one this year because it had been iffy whether or not I was going to get to come, but next year I’ll be signing up early to get the premium bag. The gift bags included goodies such as alien headbands and necklaces for dolls, dolly socks and tights, doll-sized hangers, eyechips, and even some sweet treats for the human-sized attendees!

The first “official” PUDDLE event was the “Dress like your doll” contest. Anyone who wanted to could wear a matching outfit with one of their dolls and join in on the fun, and this was the one contest that accepted non-Groove doll entries as well. I ended up arranging a last minute entry for myself the week before PUDDLE when I ended up with extra red and black spotted fabric from another project and decided to make Nevada a “ladybug” dress to match my own. There were lots of creative entries for this contest! Entrants had outfits based on Kill la Kill, Once Upon a Time, Star Trek, Star Wars, Kiki’s Delivery Service, and more! The winning contestant had dressed herself and her doll in matching “Sally Ride” astronaut costumes, and did a fantastic “zero gravity” strut across stage. Again, as I said before, I did not get pictures of this part of the day, but allow me to link to Cornflower Blue’s photo on flickr here. (Definitely check out some of her other photos from the day- she got lots of good ones!)

After this contest, we took time to do a group photo with all the guests in attendance. We had hoped to do this outside but it decided to start raining right as we headed that way, so we ended up doing it inside instead. People also set up some of their favorite dolls (especially space-themed ones) for a group dolly photo.

In the morning we also had a doll design event, where we were divided up into groups of eight based on our door prize numbers (also from our gift bags) and joined with our groups to design a Pullip or Dal together. This was a lot of fun, and even though I wasn’t super actively involved in the design for our group it was a great chance to meet new people. The final “activity” before lunch was picking out door prizes in order of our numbers. I got a really cute pair of purple Pullip shoes from Mimiwoo, since shoes are always in short supply around here.

After lunch was somewhat of a calmer time and was all about customization. People began setting up their dolls for the customization contests, and there were also several people throughout the room who were able to answer questions and provide assistance on customization-related things such as rebodying or opening up heads and the like. This was also the last chance to buy raffle tickets for the raffles or put in bids for the silent auctions.

There were two different categories of raffle items you could enter to win- regular or special (which obviously cost a little more for the tickets). Regular raffle items included handmade doll clothes donated by PUDDLE guests and sponsors, PUDDLE photobooks, an Ai doll, and even a MIO kit with a wig and eyechips for customizing. The special raffles included more “big ticket” items- Pullips donated by Groove, custom dolls, and the most gorgeous space-themed custom doll dress I have ever seen. There were only two silent auction items this year, both dolls, so those didn’t tempt me too badly.

The customization contest had four categories- Full Custom for dolls that contained no factory elements (Faceup, hair, eyechips, etc.) Modified for partially customized dolls that did still retain a bit of their factory look, Custom Outfits for entries that were only customized in clothing, and Minis for any mini dolls like Ai Dolls or Mini Pullips that had been customized in some way. All of the categories had first through third place prizes as well as a “fan favorite” voted on by guests, with the exception of the Full Custom category, which presented awards to one winner in Pullip, Dal/Byul, and Boys subcategories along with the fan favorite.

I used the afternoon to do some vendor shopping while the judges were making their decisions and vendors were winding down. I had noticed Friday night that Marty’s joints were getting really creaky, so I decided it was time to finally get around to rebodying her. Since one of the vendors was selling Obitsu bodies and happened to have the small-bust 25cm body I wanted for Marty, I went ahead and picked it up for her. I was actually really amazed at how nice and poseable the new body is. Now I kinda want obitsu’s for all my girls! I had a little bit too much fun posing the new body with the dolls while I was killing time:

I can lift myself!
Does Jace only like her for her body?!

Jace’s hat and pants in the above picture are also from my vendor exploration. The hat came from a vendor who had crocheted doll hats for all of the Sailor Moon senshi. I have a “rule” for myself that I’ll only buy Sailor Moon merch if it has Tuxedo Mask on/in it somehow (mainly as a way to keep myself from buying all the merch!) because he’s my favorite, so Jace got the Tuxedo Mask hat (although it may get stolen from him now- more on that later). The pants came from the “take something, leave something” table, a table where people could bring unwanted doll items such as clothing, partial/broken bodies, miniatures, and the like. I’m pretty sure they’re girl-doll pants, but Jace will take anything that will fit him since he has so much less clothing than the girls, so we rolled with it. I also picked up a few other little things from the “Take something, leave something” table like a skirt and a picnic basket.

The silent auctions were the first to close, followed by the raffles. It was really fun getting to watch people win the items they’d entered for, especially with the special raffle items. I actually won one of the raffles I entered, for a set of two pairs of handmade Isul pants as well as a pair of shoes. So now Jace is probably doing pretty good on pants- he just needs some more shirts!!


Next they awarded the “best in theme” prize, open to dolls, outfits, or other displays that exemplified the “space” theme. This year’s winner was a fantastic Star Trek dolly diorama filled with pom-pom “Tribbles” which was truly adorable and well-deserving of the win.

The announcement and awarding of the customization prizes was the final “big” event of the day. There were so many great entries, that I’m realizing now I didn’t get nearly enough pictures of (again, go see Cornflower Blue’s flickr!) I had entered a couple of my own dolls into the contest. You’ve met Nico the Screwless Wonder, my first custom Pullip and second Pullip overall. I kind of just entered her for the heck of it last-minute despite her not being particularly involved. The doll I made specifically for the contests, however, was Star Butterfly:


Star was made from a Dal MIO kit, and is based on the character from “Star Vs. The Forces of Evil,” a cartoon I really love about a princess visiting earth from a planet in another dimension (so a little bit space-themed, right?) I made all her clothing and accessories with the exception of her tights, which I bout from JLHSisterDesigns on Etsy (in the Pullip size since I wasn’t paying attention- you can kinda see how they’re bunched at her knees here). I’m planning on giving Star a post of her own soon, so you can see more details about her, but I’m really proud of her.

And apparently, I’m not the only person who liked her, because she won the Dal/Byul category for Full Customs! I feel so honored to have had my work chosen! Here’s star with the winners for the other categories:

From left to right- Boys (actually a Dal with some facial sculpting), Pullip, Dal/Byul, and fan favorite. Considering Star was the only winner with no sculpting or skin-tone changing involved I’m pretty lucky to see her stand with such great entries!

I also was smart enough to snap a picture of the winning mini, because look at this thing:

She’s a Little Sister from “Bioshock.” I’ve never had any interest in playing Bioshock but this doll is just amazing.

Glowing eyes! How cool is that?

The prizes for the Full Custom category were a MIO kit in the subcategory-appropriate type, a pair of eyechips, and a cute little dolly emergency kit stuffed full of things like a mini-screwdriver, screws, velcro dots, snaps, and the tiniest little scissors I have ever seen. This means I get to do another custom Dal, which I’ll be starting on very soon! I didn’t really “snoop” at what the other prizes were, but I’m sure they were great also.

With the main festivities over it was time to pack up. My roommate and I had to skip out after the main events, since we needed to head back to my parents’ house that night in order to do our long drive on Sunday. There were more informal events like a group dinner and another lobby hangout party after the convention proper on Saturday night, but we missed out on those as well. We might see about staying around later next year; it’ll just depend.

All in all I had a ton of fun at PUDDLE, and fully intend to attend next year! Next year will be the tenth annual PUDDLE, and the theme has been announced as “Tea Party,” so I’m already plotting and planning to prepare! I think since next year I’ll have a little more of an idea what I’m doing it’ll be more fun too.

Here’s some PUDDLE-related pictures I took that didn’t really fit in anywhere else:

The creator of the tribble diorama shared the fuzzy love afterward, so Warner found herself a new pet. Uh-oh!
Marty on her new body! That alien headband from the gift bag works really well at holding wigs in place while the glue dries. 🙂
Jace tries on raffle pants!
And the other pair! Now he just needs a second shirt!

See you next time! (Hopefully it won’t take me three months again!)


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