Before I begin todays post I would like to give a bit of background to it – I realise many of my readers have probably never heard of Blythe, let alone Blythecon! Very briefly, Blythe is a doll that was originally created in 1972 by toy company Kenner. Her run was short-lived as children found her big head and haunting expression to be quite off-putting. However she was re-released in 2001 by Japanese toy company Takara. Since then she has become more and more popular and collectable. Today a Blythe doll costs from around £120 pounds and up – with some customs reaching well in to the thousand pound mark. Blythecon is an annual event held around the country (and in various locations worldwide) where collectors and fans can gather to buy handmade outfits and accessories plus custom dolls, take part in competitions and workshops and meet/make friends with similar interests!
This year Blythecon was held in Cecil Sharp House, Camden and the theme for the event was Halloween.
I don’t have any friends who are interested in Blythe. In fact, when I tell people I collect these dolls they usually find it rather strange and throw bewildered looks my way. I don’t mind, I have lots of hobbies and interests – this one might be a little quirky than some of the others, but it certainly makes me happy. And when all is said and done, isn’t that what really matters?
Despite being somewhat of a loner I decided to attend Blythecon anyway, the Halloween theme and promise of goodies too much of a lure to ignore. I speak to a lot of people online (Instagram is my jam) so I knew of a few people who were going – I figured I would make friends along the way.
I arrived in Camden to rain. That fine, mist kind of rain. The kind of rain that turns your hair in to strings that cling about your face. As I walked to the venue I heard someone call out my name from behind, a woman whom I had spoken to on Facebook. We chatted dolls and Blythecon and made our way to the venue together. We were early but the queue was already long, bright hair and colourful outfits snaking up the path and up to the doors. I spoke to two other women – the four of us chatting, laughing, getting out our Blythes and speculating on the day ahead.
Inside the venue we were handed bright orange tote bags full of goodies and tags with our names on. The hall was already packed, a loud, bustling, jostling throng of people and stalls with beautifully customised dolls, hand-painted eye-chips and miniature garments that had been painstakingly sewn by hand.
I had taken my Sarah Shades Blythe with me because she’s my newest addition and because we both have orange hair with a fringe and I had wanted to take part in the mini me competition. We both wore an orange jumper, pumpkin-printed skirt and red shoes. As we wove our way around the hall and between the stalls many people complimented me and my Blythe, and reckoned how alike we were. One woman even took a photo of us!
I had never seen a customised doll in real life before – in photos certainly but up close? Nope. I could not believe just how beautiful they were. The more I saw the more I felt I just had to have one. The price tag was the main deterrent as most of the dolls I coveted were priced at £500 and up and I certainly hadn’t taken that much cash with me! But it’s something I will consider for the future.
Workshops were held throughout the day – Halloween hair bows in the morning and a pattern making class with @hipstapunz in the afternoon. I sat through the latter and got to meet the very cute Rosie Hightower as her owner talked us through some tips and techniques to sewing in 1:6 scale. I can sew a button, fix a hole but beyond that my skills are non-existent. I took a top pattern with me rather hopefully, but I had fun getting to understand the process anyway.
There were three competitions held that day and all of them were Halloween-themed. A doll fashion contest for those that were talented enough to dream up and sew a costume for their Blythe, a photography competition for those with the skill to capture the most spooky of shots and a mini-me competition – for people like myself who just love an excuse to get dressed to a theme.
I took part in the mini-me – I stood on stage with six others in front of a room full of faces. I don’t know why I didn’t feel nervous, if you’d told me a year ago I would be doing that I wouldn’t have believed it. But for some reason it just felt like fun, and everyone was so friendly and happy it was such a positive environment. I didn’t win – an adorable child in a bat costume did (and it was well-deserved!) but the loud clap I received left me smiling, and afterwards two women pulled me aside and said they really loved my mini-me!
Bat girl approached me later to share some of her prize chocolate and to tell me she liked my costume – I was incredibly touched by that and thought to myself how polite and generous she (and everyone I had met that day) was. Blythe people really are the best!
Asides from the competition one of the highlights for me was meeting my most favourite Blythe of all- grumpy Gertrude from the Little Mischiefs! Eileen Lam (@dollytreasures) was so incredibly sweet and accommodating – posing my Blythe among the Mischiefs so I could get a photo of them together. I’m sure I was gushing like a fan-girl, but she was immensely kind to me, and even signed a copy of her latest book!
Throughout the day I met many faces from Instagram. It was so surreal to meet people I had been following for so long – at times it became a bit overwhelming and suddenly I’d be reduced to nodding and smiling and need to sit down for a bit to rest. It felt like I was talking to people almost constantly! Regardless I really enjoyed the opportunity to speak with lovely people about our shared passion. I particularly enjoyed meeting Gemma and her gorgeous dolls – even if I was absolutely too terrified to handle her very special Kenner Blythe!
I was also happy to discover @seamstresskaycee as a vendor at the event. I have a few of her dresses and they are the best quality – I’ve also followed her on Instagram for a little while and she seems like such a lovely person. This time I picked up a pair of black tights, and my Blythe was rewarded with her own lollipop! Such a cute touch.
I bought six tickets for the raffle – there were so many gorgeous prizes that had been generously donated-I was particularly enamoured by the Halloween-themed Tina custom girl. Sadly I didn’t win a thing! But the money from the raffle is to be split between two worthy charities so that was my consolation. On the other hand when the ultimate prize – a real 1972 Kenner Blythe in beautiful condition- was unveiled and an audible gasp escaped from the crowd – not winning did pain a little!
After seven hours of socialising, shopping and getting involved in general fun and games I was exhausted. I didn’t spend as much money as I thought I might as I had been strict with myself. I ended up coming away with a goodie bag filled with miniature Blythe-sized props and an enamel pin, an adorable crocheted pumpkin hat, black tights, new eye-chips which I am too afraid to utilise and a copy of the latest Little Mischiefs book!
The day was truly wonderful – I took the train home exhausted but content. I can’t wait to do it all over again next year!