RACCOON DOLL LUCY

Date of review: 21/09/15

INTRODUCTION

Racoon Doll is the brand name of Seoul-based sculptor Sang Yoon Choi.  Having trained as a sculptor, he became
fascinated with the lifelike positions achievable with articulated dolls.  He learned his trade at Iplehouse, producing their
popular Asa, Leonard and Bianca sculpts, amongst other.  He then broke away to express his own style.

Raccoon Doll made its first commercial offering in August 2015 with a female body and two head sculpts; Lucy and
Sarah.  Mr Choi’s plans for the future include 1:4 male dolls as well as a range of clothing, produced in collaboration
with designers SartoriaJ.  The male dolls are estimated for a summer 2016 release.

SUMMARY

This doll has the Lucy head.  It is a urethane resin, elastic-strung doll (called a ball-jointed doll).

Lucy is 44.5cm tall.  Taking a (very) rough estimate of average female height of 162cm, this makes her 1:3.6 scale, or
a shade over quarter height.  She is of adult proportions.

VITAL STATISTICS

Height: 44.5 cm
Head: 14.8 cm (5.8 inches)
Neck: 6.7 cm cm
Eye size: 8 mm
Chest: 20.2 cm (large), 19.1 cm (small)
Waist: 13 cm
Hips: 23 cm
Shoulder width: 9 cm
Arm length: 13.6 cm
Leg length: 29cm
Feet Length: 7.5 cm
Feet Width: 2.5 cm

ORDERING

Ordering is via the company website, which is currently only available in an English language version.  Payment is via
Paypal and layaway of up to 90 days is available.

The first, two sculpts were available in “normal” skin only.  They were sold as full dolls only with options to add faceup,
clothing and shoes.  There was also an option to chose a large or small bust.

The price for Lucy and Sarah was $350 without faceup.  This is reasonable.

The doll comes with flat and high heeled feet and glass eyes.

Lucy and Sarah were released in August 2015, being available for a one month, time-limited pre-order period.  Mr Choi
has made no plans for a re-release of these sculpts so it waits to be seen how future releases are managed.  The first
dolls were received in mid-September.  This is an extraordinarily rapid turnaround and suggests that Mr Choi has access
to in house casting.  He will have a job maintaining this sort of speed as his popularity grows, as it surely will.

PACKAGING

The doll arrived double-boxed in a sturdy shipping carton  The doll box is plain card, decorated on the front with
Boticelli’s Birth of Venus wearing raccoon ears and tail.  It looks more quirky than luxurious and might not suit all tastes. 
Personally, I like its minimalism and humour.

The doll is secured in foam cut outs and bubble wrap.  There is no reason why it shouldn’t arrive intact at anyone’s
house.

AESTHETICS

Body-head ratio is classical, with roughly eight head heights to the overall height. 

The body proportions are slightly exaggerated, with a slim upper torso and heavier hips and thighs.  If she were to be
scaled up to human size, her vital statistics would be 27” 19” 33”, with an inside leg measurement of 31”.  Do she got a
booty?  Yes, she most certainly do.  Although stylised, it is a credible shape that just manages to avoid looking bottom-
heavy. 

The sculpting of the body and head is of the idealised type.  It is clearly informed by a good grasp of anatomy, but
shows a softening of detail.  There is enough shown to convince, however.  Abdominal muscles are in the correct place
and there is a subtle hint of rib cage. 

Overall, it is an elegant, voluptuous and feminine shape.
 
Flexibility

As well as the ability to stand unaided, I consider it essential that any doll worth its resin can sit straight up without
having to use its arms as buttresses.  Lucy can, with style.  The hip sockets are high enough at the front to get a very
comfortable 90 degree bend.  She has a tendency for her legs to kick out sideways when sitting, which leans her
backwards.  However, she can be persuaded to behave herself with not much effort.
The Raccoon Doll faces are semi-stylised, with large eyes, a small chin and minimal detaliing.  The Sarah sculpt has a
soft, youthful face.  Lucy is her counterpoint.  She has a strong jaw and brow and narrow, feline eyes.  To my eye,
the brow is a little too strong and I would like to have seen more prominent cheekbones and a stronger nose to make
the face more coherent.  The overall impression is of a young, strong-willed woman.  Lucy takes no prisoners.
ENGINEERING

There are many things that can be done to help with stability, such as restringing, sueding joints and wiring limbs. 
However, not everyone is comfortable with this sort of tinkering.  The following articulation tests are therefore all done
with the doll straight out of the box.

Stability

The first test of stability is standing unaided.  Lucy achieved this with no problem, in spite of her tiny feet.  Her tight
stringing and well-locking knee, hip and torso joints mean that she is as steady as a rock.  I was happy to leave the
room with her standing on the table and not feel the need to hurry back.

Stability, the next level up, is standing in contrasposto:  This is standing into one hip with the weight of the body on
one leg.  She could do this, which less sturdy dolls can’t. She was also stable in the pose.  However, there was a lack
of fluidity to the pose.  This was largely caused by difficulty moving the standing leg in towards the midline.  Straight
down was about as far in as it wanted to go.  However, she stood there steady as a rock, and that was the aim of the
exercise.
In terms of details, these are mixed.  My pet hate with female dolls is improbable breasts.  It is a tough job to sculpt
breasts that look perky when clothed whilst avoiding the gravity-defying look when bared.  Mr Choi has done a good
job.  The breasts convey an impression of weight but don’t look as though they would look droopy in lingerie.  They are
also a good size with both small and medium sizes looking credible. 

The sculpting of the hands and feet is the weak point here.  Both are lacking in detail and what there is is somewhat
soft.  The anatomy is also slightly off.  The feet are strangely flat and lack a sense of there being bone structure
beneath the skin.  The hands are also slightly awkward.  The left hand is relaxed and the right is in a “cupped”
position, which is presumably intended for use as a holding hand.  For versatility, I would rather have seen two relaxed
hands as standard, with any action hands being offered as option parts.  The fingers look rather tense and jar with the
elegance of the rest of the body.  Both feet and hands are tiny.  They look noticeably out of proportion.  Her small
feet give the impression of cankles when combined with her more substantial calves.  If she were full-sized, she would
be shoe shopping in the children’s section.
In terms of size range, there are already a number of dolls in the 44-45cm range.  However, there remains a dearth of
realistic, mature 1:4 dolls.  Most are either stylised (such as Luts Model Delf) or children (such as Iplehouse JID).  She
might be out on her own for a while, although the tide is gradually turning on this one.

Her distinctive body shape is also going to make her difficult to clothe.  Her top half is close to existing 1:4 female size,
but the bottom half is substantially larger.  But, hey, we love a challenge.

The current dolls were offered in “normal” resin colour only.  This is a peachy pink, almost identical to Iplehouse normal
skin and others in the same colour family, sometimes called “Volks compatible”.  It waits to be seen if the red
component of the shade is as fugitive as it is in Iplehouse resin, which mellows rapidly to a light, creamy peach.  Mr
Choi has stated that he hopes to add other resin colours to future orders.

The resin feels smooth with the surface finish that gives good tooth when painted with pastels.  Casting seams are
present, but they are minimal.  All parts fit well, with the headcap being smooth to the head.  The overall feel is of a
quality cast.
Stability, boss level, is standing on one leg.  She was close, but no cigar.  The ankle ball kept sliding in the foot
socket.  Sueding the ankle scoket could have made the difference, but she wasn’t going to do it out of the box
without superhuman patience.  To be fair, most dolls can’t.

Arm stability was fair.  She could be made to hold her arm at near shoulder level without much effort and was able to
keep it there for an indefinite period.  However, she was unable to hold it at any other angle.  It was close, however,
and sueding the shoulder socket and adding wire would probably have enabled her to do this.
A nice touch is the addition of notches at the top of the thigh piece, presumably for the elastic to slot in to lock the
bend.  I am not sure I needed this when seating her, but I was able to get her to hold a high kick by using the
notches.  Without being able to stand on one leg, however, that wasn’t of much use to anyone, unfortunately.
Flexibility of limbs is fair.  The thighs have rotating mobility joints, which enable the legs to be turned in or out.  The
arms don’t.  However, the shape of the shoulder socket and positioning of the elastic channel at the top of the arm
are such that the arm can be rotated easily in the socket.  

Elbow and knee are double jointed, with “peanuts” being used between the upper and lower halves of the limbs.  These
are nicely shaped to be pretty much flush when the limb is extended and look harmonious when the limb is flexed, with
no gaping or break to the line of the limb.  The result is the usual square knee or elbow, but that is almost impossible
to avoid.  There is a good degree of flexion in the knees, but rather less in the elbows (about 60 degrees). I couldn’t
get her to touch her own mouth without holding the flexed arm.

Wrist flexion is decent, with enough stable movement to get some useful gestures.  Ankle flexion is limited, but this is
not so important. It is enough to flex the ankle to accommodate for an angled leg and provide stability.
Lucy has a two part torso, with a single, high torso joint under the bust.  This is the usual arrangement with a two part
torso and works well to give a smooth line on the abdomen and ensure stability.  The issue with joints such as these is
that they are reluctant to be moved and tend to want to snap back into the static position.  This can limit fluidity. 

The backbend shows the limitations of most joints like this.  It also shos the solution Mr Choi has tried.  There is a
notch on the front side of the lower torso piece.  With gentle manipulation, a very modest backwards curve can be
achieved by locking the upper torso into this notch.  However, the degree of bend achieved is barely noticeable.  To
produce something more dramatic requires dislocating the upper torso and catching the underside of her breast on the
top edge of the lower torso.  Ouch.  This leaves predictable gaping, although the line of the body is still acceptable.
Crunch isn’t impressive.  There are a further, three notches on the back of the lower torso piece and the upper torso
can be clicked into these.  However, the amount of bend achieved via this means is modest.  A more dramatic bend
can again be achieved by dislocating the upper torso and catching it on the edge of the lower torso.  This causes
gaping and some loss of line.  This would disappear under clothes but it is not something one wants to see naked.  The
forwards bend is still not spectacular, although it is enough to give a slight stoop.
Lateral flexion lacks any notches by which to catch the upper torso.  The only way to achieve it, then, is to do the
dislocation thing.  This can either be mild, catching the edges of upper and lower torsos, or full on extreme, by lifting
the upper body clear of the lower and hoiking it off to one side.  In terms of line and gaping, this is an ugly solution and
only for those with a demand for extreme poses.
In terms of twist, there is no way to twist the upper body whilst still on the lower.  This is because of the shape of the
lower torso joint.  Our only solution is therefore brutal dislocation.  This is a difficult one as the upper torso has an
even stronger desire to snap back to static in this position.
The head has a decent range of movement.  This is aided by there being three notches inside the head which enable
you to position the S-hook differently, depending on whether you want her to look up or down.  The only issue is you
need to remove the head cap and fiddle around inside to achieve it.  The advantage is that, even at full tilt, there is a
smooth line from head to neck.  The rear notch, used for tilting the head down, can be difficult to use.  When
positioned here, the S-hook loses any space in which to be tucked away.  It can therefore protrude beyond the edge
of the head and so prevent the head cap from being replaced.  It takes some work to position it correctly.
THINGS TO LOOK OUT FOR

There are no major drawbacks with this doll.  She is well thought out with no nasty surprises.  If you want fluid
engineering of a Fairyland standard, this might not be the one for you.  However, there is enough flexibility to please
most people, although achieving some of it takes care.

SUMMARY

This is a nice doll, sculpted with skill and thought.  It is also better engineered than other, larger dolls with the same
degree of realism.  It is a sterling first offering from this new company and shows the results of Mr Choi’s formal training
and experience in the commercial doll world.

In terms of improvements, I would like to see Mr Choi have another go at the hands.  It is not unusual for hands to be
a sculptor’s nemesis and for revised versions to appear with later editions of a body.  Two relaxed hands and some
optional action hands would be a welcome development. I would also like to see larger, more realistic feet.  This will be
a bane for those who have already bought shoes for the first edition body, but larger feet with be more harmonious
and would make this already stable doll stand like the proverbial rock.

What does the future look like for Raccoon Doll?  There appears to be a move away from expensive, heavy and
difficult-to-store 1:3 dolls towards mature, 1:4 scale offerings.  Iplehouse has yet to produce a 1:4 scale adult.  Into
that gap steps Mr Choi.  He might therefore have hit the market with just the right product at just the right time.  The
smoothly realistic Iplehouse signature style, as represented by the work of Sang Yoon Choi, is also hugely popular. 
That popularity currently shows no signs of abating. However, high realism is beginning to make its mark and might
eventually supplant smooth realism as the Next Big Thing.  If he can continue to produce such appealing sculpts with
such efficient production times and possibly progress into greater realism, I can see Raccoon Doll becoming a force to
be reckoned with. 
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