By Emory Sung
Introduction to Hujoo:
In this day and age of gadgetry and novelty, it can get a little annoying to see “remakes” of products with simple, gimmicky changes of the insubstantial or superficial sort. A new limited edition of a doll for example, where the only change is the faceup and outfit is really not much different than the previous release of the same doll. I found it rather humorous that when we started offering Elf Ear variants of existing sculpts from various manufacturers, soon other retailers followed suit. In fact, much of what was going on behind the scenes in the BJD world has left me a bit more cynical and jaded…how is it that an entire industry based on dolls that could be customized was so lacking in creativity, innovation, and original thinking?
Hujoo is one of the very few companies that do view the industry from a completely different point of view compared to many manufacturers. When the BJD market as we know it began to grow in 2002-2004, Sung-hyon Yoon, a professor at Yon-in Songdam College in Korea founded the Doll and Character Creation department, after having studied ball jointed dolls himself. He then founded Pinnochio Shop, which was the earlier incarnation of the present day Hujoo Shop that we all know and love. At the time, ball jointed dolls were very expensive and were only being purchased by BJD and other niche doll collectors. In 2005, Professor Yoon changed the name of his business to Hujoo Shop and established the relatively inexpensive ABS/vinyl line of dolls.
Hujoo’s first and foremost goal is to help popularize ball jointed dolls to the general public. Their second goal is to develop their own unique technology that does not simply imitate the current technology on the market. This synergy of their top two goals is quite different than most companies in the market, as so many manufacturers are geared primarily to make profit rather than help the market grow. Hujoo is a relatively small company with 10 employees in their office factory in Korea, 8 employees in their factory in China, and 6 freelance employees being hired on a contract basis only. Hujoo keeps an incredibly open mind when it comes to their creative process. They believe that only a free, unrestricted environment can breed ingenuity, and therefore allow their artists to use whatever inspires them and encourages them to exercise their creativity based upon their own inspirations.
Hujoo opened with a line of affordable dolls cast in ABS/ vinyl. The current lineup of ABS dolls consists of their 24cm girls Hujoo, Berry, and Jackie, as well as a 24cm male, Jake, and a 26cm male Wings. (These dolls are actually meant to be genderless, but for the sake of convention, I am denoting them as male and female.) Hujoo, Wings, and Berry come in both regular open eyes and closed eyes, although their closed eyes are not fully closed, but more of a sleepy eye look. Jake and Jackie are currently a release to the USA market first and they are not available directly from Hujoo as of yet. All dolls feature 14 points of articulation, and are strung like a traditional ball jointed doll, but are made from ABS vinyl. New this year at Hujoo is the 11cm baby line featuring Ted, Is, and Suve. They are cast in both ABS and in resin. The dolls are much like their 24-26cm counterparts as they have the same 14 points of articulation and are also strung like a traditional BJD. Retail pricing for the blank versions of Hujoo’s ABS dolls range from $25 to $40 with various faceups and fullsets also available for each model. At the time of this writing, Hujoo ABS vinyl dolls are only available in Hujoo’s Apricot skin tone, however Hujoo, Berry, and Wings have previously been released in Cream and Cocoa skin tones. These two colors are currently not in production, although they have not been officially discontinued.
When the ABS line of Hujoo was first released, a degree of elitism in the ball jointed doll community led to lower sales than Hujoo expected. Understanding that resin was a material that their market accepted more readily than vinyl, Hujoo decided to invest in the technical development of their dolls into resin forms and released their Cujoo and Mujoo resin dolls. Upon the release of their 11cm ABS line, they also released the resin versions of Ted, Is, and Suve. Recent releases in their resin ball jointed doll selection include their 10cm pet dog Wawa, and their 9cm pet cat Dorothy. The company plans to expand their pet line with new animals. Wawa and Dorothy come in different styles of paint to allow for different breeds of dogs and cats, and they are also available to purchase in blank white, ready to be custom painted. Hujoo’s most ambitious resin project to date is their entry into the MSD size resin ball jointed doll market: Action Doll Cora, which is limited to 32 pieces worldwide.
Tomorrow: Part 2: Review of Action Doll Cora!
(To read the review on Cora, go HERE.)
Photo above: “milky” version Wawa the Chihuahua. All photos by Hujoo Doll.
Emory Sung is the owner of Junkyspot, and he is an authorized retailer of Hujoo ABS and resin dolls and pets.
Hujoo Doll – Company website