JIAOU DOLL REVIEW
A BIT OF A PREAMBLE
After a few years on the market, I finally decided to try a Jiaou Doll. My reticence in trying their product up to now has been largely because the body sculpts didn't appeal to me.
Their first bodies looked skinny and rather featureless, and the integral feet had ankles that looked awkward. Not only that, they used plastic frames and joints. Despite the claims in product descriptions and even user reviews, I had already been down that road before with Phicen. No thanks!
As time passed and people used their figures, reports surfaced about skin degradation, and inconsistent quality. As if that weren't enough, people reported receiving figures that were different from what they had ordered due to inaccurate product codes on the package. Even with accurate labeling, it's difficult to figure out exactly what's in the package: JD makes at least two different bust sizes, something like seven different skin tones (!), and I still don't know how many different body sculpts. Along the way they dropped the plastic joints and went with stainless steel joints, but they retained the plastic skeleton.
I experienced some of this confusion with my figure. Aside from the eBay listing, the only place where the product identification appears is on the shipping package that contains the box that actually has the figure in it. If I had purchased the figure from an on-line retailer, I probably wouldn't have received the shipping box.
Then there's the product code. My figure's description is "European Shape, Detachable Feet, Natural Skin, Big Bust". That translates into: JO-Q10E-YS. Okay...
My economics professors in college hammered into me that competition benefits consumers (an idea that seems to be a bit out of vogue now). Up to now, JD is the only serious contender to TBLeague in the area of fully seamless figures. They do offer a slight price advantage. Given what I said above, it's never been enough to sway me from TBL, though.
AND NOW THIS FIGURE
Then JD brought out this new figure... The promotional graphics showed a voluptuous body with beautiful curves- I had to try one, if I could figure out which of the four skin tones to get, and what the product code for it is.
I have thought up a character that would be a blond with fair skin, and busty. JD handled the busty part extremely well. Note that none of their bodies include heads, and so far JD does not make any dressed figure sets. Unfortunately it turns out that none of my blond head sculpts are actually "pale". Not only that, there don't seem to be that many on the market, even though both companies include pale bodies in their line-ups. I thought I would be better off with the "Natural" skin tone. I have to say, this is the best looking Caucasian skin tone I have seen in years.
Normally I write my impressions starting with the basic (nude) body, and show what is included. This time, for some reason, I wanted to start with the figure assembled. Ironically, the closest match with the sculpts I currently have is the one from TBL's Cowgirl figure. Not my first choice, but she now belongs to this body.
Here she is:
JD didn't just give her enormous breasts, they created a figure with a very balanced look. She fills out these clothes in a way that none of my other figures can. I love the sculpt of her arms; it would have been so easy to have simply made them skinny. Other companies have taken the quick and easy route: simply add a large bust line, but the rest of the body is the same as their regular ones. TBL and now JD have shown the right way to do this. Her upper arms have definition, they convey tissue under the skin.
While I'm talking about her arms, I would like to point out something that JD does very well; better than TBL in fact. Her hands integrate with her arms MUCH better than TBL has done with their design. Yes, these hands may be a generation behind TBL's in terms of detail in the sculpt, but the overall look is smoother.
You have to admit that's quite a profile. I know it's kind of a balancing act for designers: design a figure that looks great nude or dressed. Most people are going to dress their figures. She obviously must wear a well engineered bra to support the weight of her large breasts. Personally, I still would have liked a little bit of sag, just to convey gravity. It would help when she is shown topless or even in a bathing suit.
JD carried the curves to her lower body as well. Her thighs and rear end are a bit larger than most of the figures I have. Clothing made of stretchy fabric will fit her, but items like jeans might be a challenge to find for her. As it turns out, these classic Triad female boot-cut jeans look as though they were made for her. I've had them for years, and they finally have an owner!
Her top is made by Karen Kolkman of Kolkman Kreations. It was designed to fit a large bust Triad Alpha body. Her boots are the lower parts from the TBL Fighter Woman figure set. I'll explain later why I opted for boot-feet for this part of the shoot.
As you can see, she is easy to pose standing up. The boot feet help of course- they're designed to support a heavier TBL body with a steel frame. Not that this body is a light weight.
So how well can she do basic poses? I decided to start with some sitting poses.
It was hard to tell whether it was the pants restricting the range of motion in her hips or if that's all they had. I was a bit surprised by this. I'll show it later on, but her waist has a very wide range of motion. I could have made her lean forward just with the movement of her waist.
A little bit of a quality control issue became evident in that her left arm does not hold a 90 degree bend. Her right arm does, indicating this is a flaw. It comes close to 90, but all of my TBL figures can bend and hold their elbows well past 90 degrees. Kind of a bummer here...
Her knees show the same kind of variance. Her right knee will bend to 90, her left one just a bit further.
I decided to try some other poses with the bench, and encountered a severe limitation: her neck wouldn't bend forward or back. Other than standing or up-right sitting poses, this limitation really hinders getting natural looking poses and postures. As far as I know, only military and Naval academy attendees sit bolt up-right. I'm only including these photos to show how limiting this is.
My overall impression at this point is that I really love the way the body looks, but I'm not going to be replacing any of my TBL figures with Jiaou Doll. Let's move indoors to look at how the nude body looks and poses. Please note that my photo lights really accentuate the difference between the plastic of the head sculpt and the silicone skin. They're a much closer match to the unaided eye.
JD did minimal blushing on her breasts, even less than TBL does. Not that big a deal for me as I usually paint them. They actually have a natural look to them rather than the porn star look that has been done by other companies.
She can sit on the stool nicely. Her legs bend enough to look natural here. I just wish she could get closer to gripping her ankle.
Here's some of the upper body range of motion I mentioned earlier. Would have been nice if her neck moved...
My excuse for this photo is to show some of the body sculpting. I like her arms, and her elbows look really nice when they're bent. I'm not sure about the two forms on her lower back. If they were dimples, they would be positioned differently. I'm calling them manufacturing marks. They're the only anomaly that I've found on her skin.
Okay, here she is nude, finally:
JD did some really nice sculpting on her abdomen, and I like the shape of her legs and the look of her knees. As you can also see, she does have some anatomic detailing.
I wanted to see if the limitations of her knees and thighs were due to restrictions from the pants. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
Not a deal breaker, but I don't see why her knees and hips can't have more range of motion. Not only that, but her left hip bends farther than her right. TBL is far superior in this regard. Her joints do bend smoothly.
I did make a happy discovery in the course of taking these photos- her neck IS articulated! The neck joint is inordinately stiff, which is why I didn't think it moved at all. Her neck will tilt down; I haven't been brave enough to try tilting her head back. Neck articulation is a basic necessity in posing a figure, an action figure!
No doubt about it, this discovery has greatly added to my appreciation of this body.
Although I mention range of motion, I don't usually post my figures as gymnasts or contortionists. For me, the goal is to accomplish natural looking, convincing poses. Still, I am very impressed with this body's torso articulation.
That's quite amazing...
Okay lady, take a break and we'll look at all that's included with the set.
Here's a quick look at what's included. JD has taken steps to separate themselves from TBL by offering different things than their rival. It's nice that they include a bathing suit. JD has a unique set of neck posts that are easily changed. Three with different size neck balls, and one with a cone shape. They also include a stand.
JD includes the usual hand poses, along with some different ones. They have two sets of relaxed hands that are different sculpts. They also have a left hand that looks as though it's holding a cigarette or making a "V" gesture. I also like the right hand with the outstretched fingers. I'm glad JD provides these hands, and the fingernail painting is a nice touch. As I mentioned earlier, the sculpts themselves aren't as detailed as those from TBL, but they do integrate with the wrists better than those from TBL. These are all positives for JD.
What isn't a positive are the accessory feet:
JD thinks these featureless feet are useful for shoes. Maybe they think our figures only wear closed toe shoes. As someone who has been using TBL bodies for years, I can tell you there isn't a shortage of shoes that fit them. I'm sure if JD were to sculpt feet in a similar size, the same shoes would fit their bodies as well.
But my main objection to these has nothing to do with shoes. It's that JD has limited their figures to only bare flat feet for posing! Arched feet are not just for wearing high heels! In some of the photos above, arched feet would have made a huge difference. In fact, there are some poses I didn't even bother with since the flat feet looked so awkward. Yes, I'll use some TBL arched feet when I need them, but it sure would be nice to have been able to use some that are in the perfect skin tone and also have matching painted nails. The foot slugs are simply of very limited use. Give us detailed arched feet. End of rant.
I like this body, and I'm glad I have it. I bought it to make a specific character, and it will suit that purpose well.
This body is so close to being really good, but it's hampered by a few issues.
JD needs to address some basic quality issues: elbow, hip and knee joint function that vary from side to side, and the overly stiff neck function. Their rival has joint function that is the best in the industry.
I've said enough about the foot issue, but it's a real limitation. The lack of foot options with a body such as this one that has a unique skin tone (beautiful though it is) can be an obstacle for some enthusiasts. It is for me.
I have to weigh the things JD does well, even better than TBL: nicely integrated hands, painted fingernails, and the ease of changing feet and hands. These are useful advantages.
The neck pin design is a nice feature. It shows that JD is thinking of better ways to do things, and this is very good for hobbyists.
Less useful to me are the stand and bathing suit. I've never been a fan of figure stands, and find them to be horrible intrusions. My philosophy is that a properly designed action figure should be able to stand and pose on its own. When I have used a stand to aid photography, I use far less intrusive ones that are much easier to edit out of photos. As for the bathing suit... okay it's nice to have, but along with the stand, I wouldn't miss it at all. I would rather have a pair of arched- right, I've said that already...
Last, JD has a price advantage. I paid $51.00 US, delivered (from China) for my figure. This is about $14 less than what many US based retailers charge for an equivalent TBL body. For some this may be reason enough to choose the JD body, and they would have a point. One might be able to buy some clothes for their nude body with that money. Unfortunately, there is the possibility that what you ordered or thought you ordered, isn't what will arrive!
Unless TBL raises their price for basic nude bodies, this difference isn't enough to sway me...