Thursday, February 17, 2011

She moves! An Experiment in Articulation

Arlene Tellez is a doll collector I met thru the Yahoo Group for the Franklin Mint Scarlett Vinyl doll. It is thru her that one of the unimagined possibilities for the Franklin Mint Scarlett comes true -- for me, at least.
That dream is "articulation".  While most Franklin Mint Scarlett doll collectors have contented themselves with the current locked limbs, elbows, knees of their current Scarlett,  I will have to admit that I for one wished for it to be articulated.

Posing for portraits was one of the main reasons. That delight of seeing the doll in life-like poses, exuding mood and expression of body language that Scarlett herself would have done.  I have longed to see the possibility become real, perhaps even hoping one day that Franklin Mint would reconsider.  When Tonner released their version of Scarlett, it was inevitable for me to be drawn to their  13 points of articulation. 16" in height she could hardly share the existing GWTW of FM (Franklin Mint).

Arlene then sent me an old Gene body which had yellowed in the arms and body save for the hands. This yellowing, she says, happens to most Gene doll bodies and to exposure to the sun. Unlike the FM dolls whose bodies are as sturdy as Scarlett's undying spirit.

"Frankendolly" is the method called of removing the doll's head from its existing body to transfer it to another doll body.

What are the Gene body and Scarlett body differences:
1. They are almost of the same built. Thus, it is easier to redress and maximize the possibilities of imagination with an FM Scarlett on a Gene doll articulated body.
2. The Gene doll body has more slender hands, pointed of fingers. They are thus more expressive and elegant.
3. The weight of the Gene doll body is lighter; much, much lighter vs. The Franklin Mint body which has the weight and feel of porcelain (proof of FM quality in dolls)
4. More importantly, it is the neck holes that differ and the knobs by which the dolls are connected to their respective bodies (please refer to photo below).

The Gene neck knob is attached to its body with the round knob entering the neck hole and the upper flat thick circle entering the head.
The Franklin Mint Scarlett's neck knob has the round knob entering the body too with the pointed end supporting the head of the doll. This alone will show you that putting the FM Scarlett on a Gene body would only be possible by using the existing FM knob as the Gene knob can hardly fit the FM Scarlett head. And since the pointed end of the FM Scarlett neck knob is smaller vs. its counterpart round knob of the Gene neck-connective knob, that would mean that if done, the FM Scarlett on a Gene body would have a loose head -- like a broken neck.
Seeing all this, I thought it would still be possible by putting some filling in the Gene neck hole before putting the FM Scarlett with its own neck knob in.

I was told by Arlene that using a heating pad would help in taking out the head. What I did instead (having no heating pad at hand and fearing contact of the vinyl with the pad would melt the plastic) was to set a blowdryer at its lowest heat and put the doll neck facing it at a distance of 8" or 10" inches away.
Much has been said that  leaving the doll inside the car under a humid climate would do the same thing too. But instead, I opted for the blowdryer method.
There are links on how to take out the head so, I've place them here too:
This is the most informative site about it with even quotes from Tonner's Doctor Noreen and pictures that demonstrate the process.

THE MOST CRUCIAL POINT OF THE PROCESS IS TAKING OUT THE FRANKLIN MINT HEAD FROM THE SCARLETT HEAD AND ATTACHING IT TO THE GENE DOLL BODY BEFORE PUTTING IN THE FRANKLIN MINT HEAD AGAIN.  THIS IS THE HARDEST PART BECAUSE THAT KNOB IS LIKE ATTACHED TO ITS OWNER LIKE IT WERE THE DOLL'S HEART. THERE MAY BE EVEN A CHANCE IT MAY BREAK. THAT'S WHY IT IS IMPORTANT THAT THE FM DOLL NECK IS HEATED WELL. (CAUTION: HEATING MAY ALSO LOOSEN THE WIG). The pointed end of the Franklin mint head easily fits into the Gene doll body --- but a setback: it is loose, so loose the FM head on the doll would move from side to side -- like I said, like Scarlett had just broken her neck. I filled the neck with cotton to make it soft and some paper. I was afraid to put in just cotton because in time that would flatten with the constant movement of the doll.

The result of the Frankendolly  are seen below.

Will I recommend it? To the Franklin Mint Scarlett devotee perhaps not. Because the doll is beautiful as she is. And if you are happy with what you have, by all means stay with it. But for the one who wishes to indulge in play and portraiture, and the possibilities of imagination that come with it -- the answer is: YES. It is a tedious process though, one that could mean damage to a very expensive doll. It comes with patience and it comes with great courage. It also means buying a Gene articulated body -- a cost on top of the FM Scarlett doll one already has. My only wish is not  for Franklin Mint to accept, but perhaps to reconsider because the doll is really even more beautiful when she simulates a pose.

Thank you so much to Arlene Tellez for this experience!  For your generosity of time, and the generosity of sharing the doll body with me. I hope this fulfills our little project  What makes you happy is always worth pursuing.


  1. Thanks so much for taking the plunge and doing this; The Jackie and Marilyn doll heads are attached in such a way that Franken-dollying is impossible. However, Scarlett is one that I have considered. I too hope that FM changes the body to articulation instead of having to go through the painful process that you did.

  2. Dave, I have seen a Franklin Mint Marilyn placed atop a Tonner body. I will try to look into this. It is a daunting task. And after moving the head to a Gene body, I don't think I'll have the courage to put it back the FM body. I hope that FM also moves into articulation too. Even if it just be a simple articulation I know that somehow it will make a collector happy to have many poses lined up in a collection. Thanks so much Dave, I feed on your passion for this hobby from people like you.

  3. Thanks a lot for this info !! I have a Gene doll waiting to lose her head (sorry Dave, I know it must look like sacrilege to you !)but I never dared try it yet...

  4. Congratulations on a successful experiment! You are a lot braver than I am--I would have given up at the point of changing the neck knob. Actually, the older Gene bodies without articulation seem to be less prone to yellowing than the articulated bodies. Also, I was told by another collector that once the dolls start to yellow, they become brittle. She mentioned pulling out NRFB Madras out of the box and having their legs shatter. That is one thing I particularly appreciate about the Franklin Mint bodies--while they may stain from clothes (common to many dolls), they do not yellow. Neither do Tonner bodies (that I know of). Thank you for sharing the results of the experiment. Arlene