Last weekend (September 5th), I attended Volks USA’s official Doll Party in LA 2015 event. This was my first time attending a Dolpa event, as well as my first time meeting a large number of DD owners. I had previously attended the BJD-focused Uncanny Dreams 2013 and had a mini-meet at Sakura-con 2014, but that was it. And so, with high expectations and excitement to making new friends, I planned out hotel and scheduling with thebobness, packed up Lily and Arcueid, and hopped on the plane to Los Angeles.
Overall, the trip was quite fun and an enjoyable experience. I made tons of new DD friends, many of whose names I heard of from DD-related blogs and websites (such as Wolfheinrich and Archeangeli) but got to meet and hang out with for the first time. Saw a lot of really cool custom/customized Dollfie Dreams as well as Super Dollfies, and got a glimpse into the professional world of doll photography. The Doll Party event itself was unfortunately rather lackluster – it literally felt like a make-shift DD sales event + impromptu DD/SD lottery. From what I heard, the Tea Party event was more interesting, but I wasn’t among the lucky ones who made it through the entry lottery so there was much sitting around while waiting for it to end (we just held our own little Starbucks Party right outside). I was lucky enough though to win the lottery for Kanu Unchou from Ikkitousen, which I gave to thebobness (Arc and Lily are enough for me… for now). Anyway, here’s the disorganized photo dump, enjoy!
Inside were three rows of tables with merchandise set up on them. There were SD and DD parts, maintenance items, Standard Model DDs, a bunch of official Volks outfits, a bunch of 3rd party one-off outfits (but being handled by Volks employees), and some for-display Super Dollfies. More or less reminded me of the various Volks stores I visited in Japan, except much more crowded. People moved along nicely though, so it wasn’t much of an issue (just a bit hot). I was actually quite surprised when I asked and was told that I would be allowed to take photos inside (photography is usually not allowed in Volks stores in Japan).
Most of the outfits were sold out already by the time I entered, and there weren’t any standard items that I was looking for, so I ended up finishing my shopping pretty fast (with an empty cart). Took that time to take some more pictures of the display dolls and merchandise tables.
In addition to the “store” part and beauty salon, there was a lottery for some older DD/SDs. Each participant could only enter for one doll, and the drawing would happen later in the day, right before the Tea Party. Rules were as standard Volks lotteries – you enter the lottery, you hope you win, and if you win, you get the choice of buying the doll you entered for. In total, there were 16 dolls available for lottery entry (it later turned out there were some doubles for the SDs), of which three were Dollfie Dreams: DDdy Kanu Unchou, DDdy Mai Shirami, and DD Sinon. I wasn’t really interested in any of the three DDs nor any of the SDs (Charlotte does look pretty cute though I admit), so I just entered the Kanu lottery for thebobness.
After going through the store a few times, a bunch of us gathered upstairs in the hotel lobby. This was where thebobness introduced me to a bunch of other owners from the DD community (Facebook, Flickr, DOA, DD forums, etc.) and we lined up our Dollfies for some group photos. It was pretty exciting for me as it was the largest gathering of DDs and DD owners I’ve seen so far in person (though I was told it’s quite small compared to many unofficial meetups). Unfortunately I’m not yet familiar with whose doll belongs to who (nor what everyone’s online handles are) so I can’t do the roll call. A lot of Sasara love it seems though in our group, as well as blondies ^_^
Found a few other DD owners hanging out at the SD table on the other side of the lobby (I really wish Volks had set up some organized, more-official meet-and-greet area instead of just us naturally finding a random place to sit down). The lovely bunny-eared custom DD below is jadepixel‘s Ringo. Didn’t manage to catch the names for the other three :(
A wild DDS Makoto has appeared!
After some hanging out in the Marriott main lobby (during which many quartz were consumed playing Fate/Grand Order), we all headed back to the room for the lottery drawing.
Volks USA’s General Manager Hideyoshi Shigeta did the lottery drawing. Incidentally, he was also the same person who I met in the Volks Akihabara store during my Japan 2013 trip and sold me my first Dollfie, Aoi V2 (whose body would later be used for making Arcueid). He probably didn’t remember me but I made sure to shake hands and thank him that day.
Somehow I managed to win the lottery for Kanu against the ~50 other people who entered for her (Sinon only got 4 entries and poor Mai got no entries). I was pretty happy about winning my first DD lottery, and thebobness was pretty happy about getting Kanu. They wrote down my name on a Winners List poster which I’m guessing would be hung somewhere later. Maybe.
After the lottery was the Tea Party. There was a bunch of us who didn’t win that lottery (really wished they would have just expanded the event cause it really made me feel like I wasted my plane ticket), so we just went back and hung out in the Marriott lobby drinking Starbucks tea. After a while, we ended up going up to Wolfheinrich’s hotel room which he boasted had a nice balcony view.
thebobness making sure to also capture the glory in digital memory. In the presence of all the DSLRs and external flashes, I felt like a complete and casual photography newb (which I admittedly still very much am :P)
The Tea Party’ers came back and brought with them some juicy info that was announced at the event. Here’s some photos of the SD Blackjack info pamphlet and the Tea Party pamphlet. There was apparently a lot of finger food and free stuff there too. Still pretty jealous and disappointed I didn’t win that lottery.
And that was it for Saturday. I surprisingly didn’t end up buying anything this trip except some random non-DD souvenirs while wandering around downtown LA the next day before flying back. If Volks were to host another Dolpa next year, I probably wouldn’t attend again to be honest (wasn’t worth the flight ticket), but it was really fun hanging out with other DD owners so I’d probably use Anime Expo or something as an excuse to fly out to LA again next year.
Til next time!