One of the first things I do when getting a new Blythe doll is open her head and make a few changes. It can be intimidating at first, but it’s actually quite easy once you know what to do.
Why would you want to open her head? While some things like changing eye chips and doing a hair treatment can be done without opening the head, there are other modifications that require the head to be open – swapping her stock body for a more poseable one, adjusting the gaze, boggling the eyes, or giving her a spray matte finish, for example.
Before we get started, some disclaimers! If you choose to follow these instructions, you do so at your own risk. This is the technique I use, but I can’t guarantee your results will be the same as mine. There’s always a risk of damaging your doll when you take her apart.
Secondly, the doll I’m using for this tutorial is Winterish Allure, and her face mold is Radiance+ (RBL+). These instructions are specifically for dolls with Radiance (RBL) and Radiance+ (RBL+) molds. Some other face molds may be designed similarly, but this technique will not work on a Superior (SBL) mold and will most likely damage it, so be sure to research what type of face mold your doll has before you begin.
Let’s get started!
First, remove the three screws on the back of the faceplate – there’s one at the top and two at the bottom.
Next, unhook the eye mechanism spring from the back of her head. I do this using a pair of needle-nosed pliers for jewelry making, but you can use a small crochet hook or any other tool that will fit.
I prefer to do this step only after I’ve removed the screws – one of my dolls has a screw that’s stuck in place with glue. The screw got stripped out, so I’ve never been able to open her head. If I had unhooked the spring first, it would be flopping around inside her head and would be nearly impossible to reattach!
Depending on why you’re opening the head, you can either leave the pull string intact or you can untie or cut the cord from the loop.
For customizing or spray matting the doll, you’ll want to remove it. If you plan on reattaching the same pull loop later, snip the cord close to the loop so you’ll have plenty of cord left.
Holding the doll’s head with her temples between your palms, push your hands together and squeeze hard! Her frontplate and backplate should separate slightly, at least towards the bottom of her face.
Sometimes it pops right open and you can then gently peel the backplate away from the rubber scalp, working side to side. Other times you may need to do a bit more work to separate the pieces.
Only work on removing the backplate at this point – the faceplate is attached to her scalp with a screw on the inside, so you’ll have to remove the backplate first.
For areas where the scalp and backplate are stuck tight, you can loosen the scalp and pry it away from the backplate using an exacto knife or small flat screwdriver – just be careful not to snap the blade or dent the plastic.
The Winterish Allure doll I’m using here already had some imperfections in the scalp right out of the box, so I started there.
As you loosen the scalp, you can gently pull the backplate away – sometimes this helps loosen other areas, or you may need to keep separating them with your tool.
Once the backplate was peeled away from the scalp, I could see that there was a lot of excess glue in the area with the imperfection, which is why her scalp wasn’t properly attached there. Although it ripped up the backplate a bit to separate the pieces, I was able to sand it down and remove the nicks.
Next you’ll want to loosen or remove the top screw that holds the scalp to the faceplate.
I usually just loosen this screw instead of removing it entirely, and I don’t tighten it again when putting the head back together – the scalp stays in place just fine without it and it makes it easier to open the doll later if I want to swap out bodies, etc.
Gently separate the scalp from the faceplate using the same technique you used for the back. Keep in mind that any nicks in the faceplate will be more noticeable here unless your doll has bangs to cover the seam, so be careful when prying the pieces apart.
Now you should have three separate pieces – the faceplate, the backplate, and the scalp piece. Depending on what you’re doing with your doll, you can stop here or keep reading to take apart the inside of her head.
To remove her eye mechanism, take out the bottom screw and put the screw and T-bar (the little white plastic piece) in a safe place – they’re easy to misplace!
Then remove her eye mechanism by releasing one end from the tabs holding it in place – once this side is released, the other side will pop right out.
I find it easiest to do this if I can get someone else to gently stretch the faceplate open while I remove the eye mechanism from one side. You can use a screwdriver or other tool if you’re careful not to let it slip and scratch the eyes.
To reassemble the doll, snap the eye mechanism back in, add the T-bar, and screw it in place. Thread the pull string cord through the metal-rimmed hole in the back of the faceplate.
Since I skip the step of tightening the scalp screw, I line up the faceplate and backplate and hook the eye mechanism spring to the backplate. Stretching the spring just slightly, place the scalp between the two pieces and make sure everything is lined up.
Snap lightly into place, but leave enough room to slip the doll’s body back into the neck joint.
Once you have everything lined up, squeeze the front and back together. The faceplate and backplate will usually snap right into place, but you may need to squeeze the sides a bit (like you did when opening the head) if there’s still a bit of a gap near her cheeks and neck.
That’s all there is to it!