Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Monster Mash-Up (two new CAM bodies)

Yesterday I was at the Goodwill and saw a Mattel ballerina in the doll jumble. She is smaller and thinner than Barbie and her limbs are thin as well. Her hard plastic body is marked 1999, her head is marked 2005. One leg is permanently bent at the knee and her ballet slippers are molded on. If someone can identify this doll that would be great! Mattel could've used this body for some fairy dolls because it's small.

Who am I?
Her size made me think she might be able to donate her torso and limbs to a Monster High Create-a-Monster add-on pack. These are the CAMs that include an outfit, wig, head, hands, forearms, and lower legs with feet. The add-on packs do not include a torso, thighs, and upper arms. You have to borrow those missing pieces from the CAM Starter sets, buy a homemade molded torso on eBay/etsy, or perform surgery on a donor doll.

The molded torsos I've seen online look great but you'd still be missing the upper parts of all four limbs. Also, the torsos are NOT cheap. Around here Goodwill donor dolls cost $1.29. I like that price!

Important: If you're a kid please do not perform surgery on your dolls!!! You could cut off a finger or do serious damage to your eyes, please ask a parent to do this for you. They are old and have more life experience than you, they can make do without a finger or eye.

First I used the toothiest saw on my Leatherman tool to remove Ballerina's legs at the knees and then her arms at the elbow. This didn't take much time at all, less than a minute per limb. Then I sanded the rough edges to a smooth finish. Her legs and arms are hollow but I had to remove the pegs from her articulated arms stuck in the upper arm. On one arm this was rather simple, the seams weren't glued cleanly so I gently pried up half the arm (just a bit, didn't want it to snap) and flicked the peg out. Her other arm wasn't cooperating, the seams were glued firmly shut so I had to drill out the peg hole.

(Kids, do NOT use your parents' drill. I was a kid once, I know you'd think of doing it when they're not home so they won't be there to scream down the stairs, "What's that noise?!" That means if you hurt yourself, which is actually very likely, no adult would be home to help you. JUST DON'T DO IT. Your parents love you and would much rather do this doll surgery for you. It'll make them feel needed, parents like that sort of thing. Remind them to wear safety goggles. Thanks.)

Sea Monster starter CAM with the 3 Eyed Ghoul add-on CAM
Pretty cool! The monster on the left is the Sea Monster from one of the CAM starter sets, she's using a CAM starter set torso and a Liv wig. My three-eyed Ghoul will look even better with her new body parts painted blue to match. I was so happy with the way this CAM turned out I looked through other Goodwill dolls I've accumulated over the years for more small bodies.

I found a Moxie Girl missing her feet (they have the foot/shoe combo like Bratz) and her hair was a wreck, she was purchased just for her dress. Her body and limbs are a little thicker than the ballerina doll but her torso is still small, I figured she'll work if clothing is used to hide her limbs.

I cut the hooks off the neck knobs to make head swapping easier

Notice how much longer Barbie's thighs are compared to the other three, look at the knees

I easily snipped Moxie's arms off at the elbow with kitchen shears, they are solid soft vinyl (not hollow hard plastic like the ballerina) so the scissors worked much better than a toothy saw (the saw tore up the vinyl more than cutting through it). Then I drilled small holes into the upper arms. After seeing the above photo it looks like I should make their upper arms a little shorter to match the Monster High upper arm length.

There's a hard plastic click mechanism inside Moxie's vinyl legs at the knees so I sawed through that and then used a bigger drill bit to remove more of the plastic and vinyl inside her thighs.

In total I spent about 2-5 minutes per limb, which includes cutting/sawing, sanding, and drilling. Not bad at all.

Oh, the heads! I didn't care about the donor heads so I cut them off with kitchen shears. Brutal. If you want to save the head you can heat it up with hot water or a hair dryer (protect doll hair from direct heat with a towel) and slowly work it off over the hook. Do not break the neck or neck knob! After the head is removed cut the hook off the top of the neck knob, it's a safety feature and doesn't serve any other purpose. Try not to break the neck knob, that is what holds the head on the neck and allows you to tilt and pose the head. Swapping heads will be MUCH easier without the nasty hook in the way but you still have to be careful to avoid breaking the important neck knob.

The monster limbs plug into the Moxie Girl vinyl because her limbs are solid with little drilled holes. When I lift her up the legs don't fall out. The ballerina body looks better but the ballerina limbs are hollow. I'm not sure how I'll secure the MH limbs in there but I have a few ideas, like air dry clay, sponge, vinyl plugs with drilled holes, etc.

I think they look good but they'll look even better painted to match the CAM limbs. Next week I'll take the limbs to the craft store for a paint match. :) The skeleton is easy, ha.

One disadvantage to these donor torsos is that the bodies are slightly bigger than the monsters so the CAM clothes don't fit. This isn't such a big deal though because the CAM clothes aren't that great.

I need more CAM torsos so I'll keep an eye out for these ballerina girls and Moxie Girlz too. I prefer the Ballerina body but Moxie Girlz will be a lot easier to find at the thrift stores -- but even they don't turn up that often, Bratz are much easier to find. I'm not sure if the Bratz body will work or look as good, I might try one of those next.

After I have enough new bodies for the three add-on pack CAMs I'll experiment with removing the entire arms and legs and using just the torso for the second character in the CAM starter sets. (Yes, Mattel sold just one torso with two characters in each Starter set.)

P.S. I took photos of the pleather doll outfit I found last week and they look terrible. Pleather is hard to photograph! I'll try photographing Arizona outside in her cool new outfit, natural light might help.


  1. I am impressed with your bravery - the most I have ever done is switch heads! But to answer your question at the beginning of the post, I think the doll in question is a Hadley or Isla doll from the 12 Dancing Princesses line. There were (as the name says) 12 dolls (Ashlyn, Blair, Courtney, Delia, Edeline, Fallon, Genevieve, Hadley, Isla, Janessa, Kathleen and Lacey); the first seven used Barbie bodies, Hadley and Isla are twins and used a Skipper sized body and the final three were triplets that are Kelly sized. Hope this helps!

    1. Thank you so much! I like how they used different size bodies for dolls, they probably looked cute as a group. I'm kinda afraid to look at amazon prices, they can get silly if the doll is no longer in stores and scalpers think someone would be desperate enough to pay 3 times its original value.

  2. This looks like major surgery. It will be very interesting to see the final results

    1. I bought the blue paint, one step closer... :)

  3. As I read the part about you cutting up Hadley's/Isla's head, I had to stop myself from screaming "Noooooooooooooo!" :) I'm the opposite of you, I like the Princess heads, but the monster heads don't really appeal to me. I love what you've done with these bodies, though! I seek articulation! I can't wait to see these once you've finished.