Thai company DollClans appeared on the international doll scene at the end of May of this year with the release of their first doll head named Kien of the HellHound Clan. The staff members work together to develop characters that fit within a specific concept. They were fortunate to find a sculptor who could help them create the dolls they desired. DollClans is now in the process of designing the next member for the clan which they hope to offer for sale in early 2012.
A: Actually, we started from being just a group of doll collectors. We are excited every time there are new dolls (we still are!).
The reason that we started DollClans was because we have our own ideas of characters. We would love to see dolls that matched our idea, but we never found any that suited our own personal taste. (As some people might notice, our doll has a hint of villain or bad boy.) So then we started planning on our own doll. At that time, we stumbled on Mr. Ae, the sculptor. He actually is also our consultant. In our team, everyone graduated as an Art major and one graduated from a Sculpture major.
At first, we were very worried because we thought that maybe we should make the doll ourselves. However, the first head by Mr.Ae matched our idea more than we would have imagined. We discussed the doll head a lot, so that we agreed that we could see the same concept, and we worked together to improve the work. It took a lot of time but we are very proud of the result.
We would like to thank the DollClans team, Mr. Ae, the Noirpoison boutique, and all our friends. Now we are working on a new head named Vezeto. Another name for Vezeto is “The Boss”, he is actually Kien’s boss. Vezeto’s head should be released at the beginning of 2012. We will have some more teasers soon, We hope everyone will like him.
A: The name came from how we see each of our dolls belonging to a specific organization. Each of them came from an organization which has it own distinct image. The HellHound clan, for example, has an image of a wolf. We do not actually just give out the image of a clan before the release, sometime you have to guess. It’s more fun this way. Once we had released Kien’s teaser we heard someone say he’s look like a wolf, that made us happy! More and more clans will be presented in the future. It is very fun designing new clans and characters.
Q: How many people are involved with Doll Clans? What do each of them do?
A: In the design division, we have two staff members. We work on designing characters, making props, planning photography concepts, and face-up. One mainly works on the website and face-up, The other mainly works on graphics, making props and photography. But both of us work together on character design and concept.
For sculpture we only have Mr. Ae. When the design division comes up with the concept art, we have a meeting to explain how we want this to be sculpted. Because we have been through a lot of work together, Mr.Ae seems to have very similar ideas to us. His finished work needs just a little adjustment. After he finishes with the clay model, we create a prototype in resin before the last process. We will do a pre-face-up for this resin head before making the final prototype to send to the factory.
Q: How did you meet Mr. Ae?
A: We first start working on Kien for about 6~7 months before we opened our website. It took us a while to adjust our work to make it turn out as close to what we wanted Kien to be. We even discarded the first sculpt and started it all over from zero again to make the current Kien.
Once we wanted to make the doll, we needed to find a consultant, so we looked through websites that have experts who could help us, and we stumbled on Mr. Ae. We contacted him by email and arranged a meeting at his studio. After exploring his work, making discussion, we felt like he was the right one. We just opened our website and released Kien for a few months, but in fact we have worked together for a long time before that, so we know what each other wants quite well. We respect Mr. Ae as our senior.
Q: Has Mr. Ae sculpted anything similar to dolls in the past
A: Yes, he sculpted many different things, but what he’s an expert in is portrait sculpture. Mr. Ae himself understands our ideas, how we want it to be like, and he mixes it with his own style to create the head. Anyway, sometimes we just need to adjust the head ourselves to make him see the idea more clearly. Mr. Ae has his own specific way to sculpt a nose, and we really love that.
Q: What is the connection between DollWhy and DollClans?
A: We are glad you asked! We are really good friends for a long times. Some of our staff used to work with them and some still do. One of our staff likes to create gadgets, she also makes headphones for the brand Soundplay on the Dollwhy site. We saw how the DollWhy staff enjoys their work and how they tend to do what they love. We really got a lot inspiration from them.
Q: How do you name the heads?
A: To say it honestly, we name the head by its character, personality and background, or sometime it’s just something that pops up in our head. For example ‘Kien’ came from Thai slang word which means ‘Bad boy’ We named him this from his facial look. (Original word is ‘Grien’, it’s kind of afunny word and not in a good way, so we changed his name to be a person’s name that has no actual meaning. However Kien’s pronounced sound in Thai is similar to meaning “flog”! (Pronounced “khīen”). When we first heard this from our friend, we laughed amusingly. We did not think about it before!).
Q: How many clans do you plan to have? Will there be a number of dolls for each clan?
A: We have no specific number of dolls or clans we are going to make. As long as we’re still having fun creating something new, we can have more clans and more characters. For now we plan for two or three other clans, but it will take us some time to reach that. We do not have a specific number for the characters in each clan, it depends on their story and how the characters are related to each other.
A: We would like to create clothing for each character from our concept artwork design, because each character has his own specific uniform with clan theme.
For our first clan we designed the outfit and had the Thai boutique Noirpoison create a wonderful work for us. We also make our own props and other accessories to match our outfit concept, but it’s for the official photoshoot only. We prefer to commission Thai artists as we want to show how skillful they are, like the wig we used we got from DollWhy.
Q: What plans does DollClans have going forward? Will there be female doll heads? Bodies? Other size heads?
A: Now we focus mainly on the male doll head. We have a plan to make a full doll in the future, but before that we have some more clans to develop and a few more characters. We’re also interested in creating a female doll because Mr. Ae is good at sculpting the female figure. He’s also interested in sculpting a female doll head, but it might not be in this near future. Our doll size range would be a 60-70cm range doll. Further than that we have no plans yet.
Photos Above: Concept art for Kien, early Kien prototype sculpt.
DollClans – Company website with links to their Facebook, Flickr and Twitter accounts