This post is brought to you by the talented and highly inspired Chobittum, who never gives up the quest in helping her fellow doll enthusiast achieve their Volks dream dolls. Please do yourself a favor and visit her instagram and DoA accounts to enrich your online experience in the world of Volks Super Dollfie~
I personally prefer to buy my dolls brand new where I can, but there are times where you may find yourself wanting to buy second-hand for a number of reasons, such as:
- Getting into the hobby too late to purchase a certain sculpt
- Mother SD not blessing your entry in the Volks Lottery
- Wanting an older sculpt for a cheaper price second hand and
- Finding an absolute bargain!
But where would you purchase a second hand Volks doll? There are a variety of places to try, so all is not lost if you’re looking for that long sold out/long released grail. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but it’s a starting point.
Currency used: Yen
Recast risk: Low to Medium*
In essence, this is the Japanese eBay. This website is one of my first ports of call when I’m wanting to do some dolly window shopping, or when I’m stalking the second-hand market for something particularly rare and old. And because of the popularity of Volks in Japan (versus Soom or Iplehouse, which are Korean), you’ll find tons of beautiful second hand Volks dolls there. In fact, some of them will be practically brand new, because Japanese collectors are usually extremely particular with how they treat their collectibles…… usually.
You may run into some slight difficulties with using search terms or translating your results, but the effort will definitely pay off. If you have Google Chrome, it has an auto-translate function which is very helpful, and entering things like “SD13”; “SDGr” and “SD17” can help a lot with filtering the search results (as they won’t return anything if you enter English search terms).
Additionally, Y!J sellers by default will not sell overseas – they send to Japan only, and no, it’s no good asking them “pretty please” through a PM! Consequently, you will need a middle-man or ‘proxy’ in order to buy from here. There are a large number of proxies online who buy from Japanese websites (too many to list here), and a quick Google search will turn up a bunch of results that you can read reviews for and choose from.
My personal favourite to use for Yahoo!Japan is ‘Real Yahoo’ which is run by Aleado. This website is great because not only does it run the middle-man service for you, it also has a handy English category search to make looking for dolls easier! You will still need to use Japanese terms in the search bar though. We also recommend From Japan as an excellent proxy website where you may use English or Japanese to search for the items you are looking for~
Finally, please be aware that there are some recasters who have made their way to Y!J, so keep that in mind when shopping.
Den of Angels: https://denofangels.com/
Currency used: USD
Recast risk: Very low*
Ahhhh, DoA. One of my favourite online doll haunts! Long-time doll hobbyists are probably already aware of this, but Den of Angels hosts a large and bustling online marketplace. You are required to make 40+ forum posts and be a member for a certain period of time (2 months) before you can access it, but if you’re really into dolls then it’s a no-brainer! These restrictions are to prevent scammers preying on people, as well as to encourage newbies to engage with others in the hobby and build a forum reputation.
DoA is a very popular site with English users as it’s based in the U.S., and thus uses English as its primary language. Its marketplace is split into many different categories like the different doll sizes, eyes, shoes, clothing, etc. You can also enter split orders (don’t want the outfit of a fullset doll? Split the cost with others!); or find shipping services here (want to order an FCS from Tenshi no Mado but can’t fly to Japan? Maybe someone can make the journey for you!). An interesting aspect of this marketplace is also the ‘Sold Dolls Archive’ – obviously all the dolls here are sold, but searching through the results can give you historical info; like how often a sculpt comes up for sale and how much it tends to sell for on average.
Den of Angels also has its own feedback section for members with marketplace access, as well as an area for dispute arbitration between members – if a transaction isn’t going according to plan (stolen doll, missing money etc.), the website moderators can help you get in contact with the other party though they are not allowed to help you reach a specific resolution. These features raise awareness for other marketplace shoppers, so everyone can see who is reliable and who is not via your behavior on the marketplace forum.
Currency used: USD (regional websites use native currency)
Recast risk: Medium to High*
eBay: the world’s largest garage sale. Naturally it’s bound to have some hidden gems – and sometimes, these gems are Volks! The flagship website is the U.S. address, and because it’s the most used it is also the most likely to have what you’re looking for. Luckily the main site also shows results for regional eBay sites too.
There’s not too much to say about this one that isn’t immediately obvious, except that when you’re looking for things on Ebay you need to be a vigilant consumer. That is, you’ll see a lot of things like “DOD Superdollfie Volks Fairyland Iplehouse SD 1/3 1/4” clickbait type results. Carefully read descriptions to make sure the item’s exactly what you want – right size, colour, and so on. Never has the old saying “you get what you pay for” been truer than when searching for doll things here, and if something’s too good to be true (e.g. a fullset Souseiseki for only $200) then it probably is.
Currency used: Yen
Recast risk: Low*
A dream website for lovers of Japanese culture, ‘Mandarake’ is an awesome website. Not only is there an abundance of Volks paraphernalia, but if you like manga or music, figurines or electronics, then this is the place to go!
When you first encounter this website it’s probably going to be in Japanese, but there will be a button in the top right corner that converts the site into English. Or Chinese, if you prefer. When the website is in English, you’ll be able to use English search terms…. to a degree. Mandarake’s English results are translated (somewhat poorly) from the original Japanese, so you may occasionally have to use some intuition. Take the Volks La Personal collections – the auto-complete results will show ‘La Pell Sonare’ instead. You can also filter the results to show results differently (price, if it’s sold out, etc.).
One of my favourite features of Mandarake is that if you make an account, you can set the system to alert you if a particular item has come into stock! Very handy for those who are keeping an eye out for something rare or hard to find. You also don’t need a middle-man for Manda, you can buy from it directly using Paypal or a Credit Card. The risk of bootlegs is nice and low; Mandarake’s physical locations and discerning staff members sort out what’s fake from what’s legit.
Sometimes you might even find something that’s been labelled incorrectly as ‘junk’ if the staff member who listed it doesn’t know what it is – a secret cheap bonus you don’t have to race anyone to buy!
The physical locations are a double-edged sword when it comes to Mandarake – visit Japan and you can see the items they don’t list online, and because they’re a big second-hand retailer they can get in a lot of rare stuff. However, because items are both in brick-and-mortar stores AND online, the people who can get there in person will beat out someone who buys the item online. Further, because the items here are being on-sold rather than directly from the collector, you may get something that’s in a little less than optimum condition.
Currency used: Yen
Recast risk: Low*
Most people who learn about Dollyteria tend to come back and say how terrible this website is for their wallet, haha! This is a fantastic site for both second-hand Volks dolls, and new dolls of other brands (Pullip, etc.).
Dollyteria combines the enormous second-hand choices of Yahoo!Japan, with the ability to buy through the website (instead of by proxy) of Mandarake. As a matter of fact, some things that are listed on Yahoo!Japan are also listed on Dollyteria, so that’s something to consider. You’ll also find things on DT that aren’t on Y!J. Special mention goes to their second-hand Volks outfit selection, it’s amazing! If you happen to be in Tokyo, Dollyteria has a physical location you can visit.
The website itself is in Japanese, but has a translation option at the top. You can also use a site called ‘Shopping Mall Japan’ to translate DT into a bunch of different languages, found here. English search terms will work in the search bar through either the normal site or through the SMJ site, but personally I find you get better search results if you sort by categories instead. More results that may not be what you want, but I’d hate to miss something that was incorrectly labelled/doesn’t appear under the search term.
Social Media sites: Instagram/Flickr/Tumblr/Facebook etc.
Currency used: Seller’s choice
Recast risk: It’s a jungle out there*
Now that social media is a much bigger feature in this hobby than it used to be, it follows that you can buy/sell dolls via these platforms too. There’s not too much to say about the dynamics of buying dolls from these places – someone will make a post saying they want to sell their Volks doll with photos and a price, and then you message them in response. Some sites are more active than others, and Instagram and Facebook are considered to be the busier ones.
However, these sites also carry the most risk. Unlike any of the other websites mentioned above, they offer the least protection in terms of scams and recasts.
As we are buying second-hand Volks dolls online and not from the company, every single item will come with some unavoidable level of risk; this is simply the nature of online transactions. So, it behoves you to be an informed and vigilant consumer in order to avoid pitfalls and make the right choices. A simple set of rules would be: make sure the doll comes with their headplate and papers where appropriate (some Volks do not come with a certificate, and Volks older than 2006 do not have metal headplates – their names are carved on the inside of the head instead), aren’t in an unusual/non-released colour, and feature photos of the doll itself instead of a promotional photo from the company. A photo of the person’s username along with the date/time against the doll is good too.
I have given each of the above websites/stores a Recast risk rating based on two things – the prevalence of recasts on the sites versus how easy it may be to unknowingly purchase a recast.
Den of Angels has the lowest rating due to their zero-recast policy, where anyone caught sharing a photo of a recast (let alone selling one) is immediately banned.
Mandarake and Dollyteria are next due to their stock having to pass muster with their staff before being listed. I suppose it is possible for something to slip by their staff, but on the whole I feel like they are trustworthy to buy from.
Yahoo!Japan is Low to Medium because of the number of recasts for sale. There aren’t many recasters on there, and the few that ARE will be easy to spot because of the language they use in their posts, but as long as you inspect the auction carefully you should easily be able to spot a fake versus a real Volks.
eBay gets a higher rating due to how many recast dolls and recasters are on there. There are a lot more here than on Y!J, and unfortunately are more likely to be bought for you by a caring relative…. That’s not to say that you can’t find a great deal or surprise find on eBay, because you absolutely can! Just remember to read everything carefully and be an informed buyer.
Social media websites have the worst rating because there is nothing really to hold a user accountable for what they sell. Please be extra careful!
Finally, if you are worried about whether the doll you’re trying to buy has been recasted already, there are master lists that detail which dolls have already been done (not totally comprehensive, but better than nothing). I found a pair of lists which were updated on 31st March 2017, here:
Thank you so much for reading and I am hoping this post helps you welcome your own beautiful Volks doll you’ve been searching for!