You may already know that Dollfie Dreams are usually released as Volks exclusive and limited quantity collectibles, sometimes with buyers randomly chosen by lottery or determined by whoever can checkout their order from the webstore the fastest. As a result, Dollfie fans may find that they’ve missed out on a past release and now must set out on a quest to find the doll in the secondary market (AKA not directly from the manufacturer Volks or their official partner shops). In my guide to buying Dollfie Dreams from Mandarake, I explained how to search for DD on the web store of Japan’s biggest second-hand collectible shop. For this guide, I’m going to explain how you can also buy DD from Japan’s biggest auction website, Yahoo! Auctions.
What is Yahoo! Auctions?
Well, long long ago there were a bunch of auction-style websites competing for customers online. In the USA, eBay won the race and now dominates, but in Japan the platform of choice is Yahoo! Auctions. It’s difficult for those located in the USA to use Japan’s Yahoo! Auctions directly, so this guide will explain how you can do it and score the Dollfie of your dreams!
Step 1: Research Your Doll
Say you’re looking for a specific doll, such as Dollfie Dream Hatsune Miku. The first step is making sure that the doll isn’t still in stock on Volks International website, where you can buy some dolls easily and for retail price. There’s usually a few limited release dolls in stock, so when in doubt check first here. Next, find out about the doll’s original release on the Volks website so you can understand the way it should look, the parts it should include in the set, as well as knowing the original retail price. For example with Hatsune Miku, there are actually two versions currently – the original release and a later reboot release which uses an updated body with improved posability. Volks even has a page with all the vocaloid releases so it’s a bit easier to compare.
What you want to avoid is paying a high price for an older version of Miku on the DDIII body when it’s not as valuable as the Reboot version on the newer DD f-3 body. Also, keep in mind the age of the doll and its outfit set – synthetic leather doll clothing tends to deteriorate over time. The original Miku dolls from 2013 may have damaged outfits and accessories even if the box hasn’t been opened.
However, if you get Miku with an older DDIII body, you can easily purchase the newer DD f-3 body from Volks to upgrade if you wish. As for Miku-style wigs, they’re available from Volks and other retailers. The most unique parts of her set are the head, eyes, and outfit. If you have a tight budget or don’t like the default outfit, you could simply look for Miku’s head alone and source the other parts elsewhere.
Keep in mind that stained bodies, broken accessories, and tangled wigs can be fixed if you’re skilled with such tasks, but it can be quite challenging for a newbie. I don’t recommend planning to fix up a damaged doll if you haven’t done it before. It can be disheartening to spend a lot of money on a doll only for it to arrive in poor condition, requiring a lot of work.
There’s so much to consider it’s pretty overwhelming to figure out alone, but the online doll community can be responsive to polite inquiries. I recommend checking the DollDreaming forum to find more info.
Step 2: Search for Your Doll
On Yahoo! Auctions most of the text is Japanese, so you’ll need to figure out the best Japanese search terms for your doll quest. For Hatsune Miku I can check the Wikipedia page and copy the Japanese characters for her name, 初音ミク. Then I can hop over to the Dollfie Dreams section on Y! Auctions and plug ミク into the search. The results show a bunch of active Miku auctions:
I use a Google Translate browser plugin to convert the text to English. Sorting by ‘New Order’ will help keep the listings in chronological order, so if you check the same search often you’ll see new additions at the top. You can use the category ‘Body’ to filter out most outfits and miscellaneous parts if you’re mainly looking for a full set doll. Once you’ve tailored the search to what you want, it’s a good idea to bookmark it so you can check back often.
Also take a moment to check out the link at the upper right to ‘Check the Successful Bid Price’. This link shows a recent history of auctions related to your search terms, so you can see the final bid price. There can be some variation here, but it should give you a pretty good idea of the general market price for the doll you’re searching. At the time of this writing, a 2013 original release Miku with some stains and deteriorating boots sold for 65,550円, and a 2013 Miku in good condition with an unopened (but still potentially deteriorating) outfit sold for 94,020円. A reboot version Miku in good condition sold for 123,777円. If you’ve got some time and the budget is tight, watch the auctions for a few weeks to get a feel for the average price before you go all out on a bid. You can also compare prices with Mandarake, which is a pretty reliable source for the average market price. Do NOT compare prices with US eBay, which tends to be populated with over-priced scalpers and dropshippers.
3. Bidding on a Doll
It’s a good idea to find a way to bid before the doll of your dreams pops onto the market. The easiest method for folks outside of Japan is to use a proxy service, either a company or an individual based in Japan. Some proxies I’ve successfully used in the past are From Japan, Zenmarket and Buyee. Lately I mostly use Zenmarket since I’ve had inconsistent packaging issues with the others. For prices, you want to be mindful not only of the current exchange rate from Japanese Yen, but also the additional proxy fees and shipping that you’ll have to pay. When you win a full doll you can expect to pay at least $100 in fees to the proxy, in addition to the cost of shipping from Japan internationally which lately can be $80 or more. Fortunately you won’t owe any proxy fees if you lose the auction. Check the fee schedules provided by your proxy to avoid any expensive surprises.
Once you’ve set up a proxy account and gotten your payment method secured, you’re ready to bid. You can see from the auction page listing info exactly when the auction will end, and it’s common for bidding to stay slow and low until the last hours of an auction. It’s important to read the auction listing carefully so that you know what you’re getting- don’t accidentally bid on an outfit or an empty box thinking you’ll get a doll! If the translated text is unclear, try a couple different options – besides Google Translate and Microsoft’s app there’s also DeepL. As far as fakes, there are only a couple of counterfeit Dollfie Dreams (Saber and Snow Miku) and if you’ve done your research it should be pretty obvious that they are inferior. In general Japanese auctions are pretty safe and reliable but very rarely you’ll find scams or mislabeled items.
You’re not necessarily required to bid in real time – you can set a high max bid early on, and other bids will only increment it by the auction’s set amount. For example if the auction is at 25,000, and you then bid 50,000, the auction price would go to 25,500 if bids are incremented by 500. Another bidder puts in a bid of 30,000 and your bid then goes up to 30,500. This will continue until your max bid of 50,000 is exceeded by another bidder. When you’re outbid the proxy will normally notify you, but if the auction is about to end there may not be enough time to make a new bid by the time you receive the notification. So it’s a good idea to decide early on exactly how much you’re willing to pay, and if you want to actively monitor the auction ending or not.
Another trick that some proxies offer is the Sniper Bid, which will automatically submit your bid near the end time of the auction. This prevents a bidding war with other users from starting early. However, bidding wars can still happen as a last-minute bid can extend the auction time by 5 minutes. In truly fierce wars auctions can go well beyond the set end time due to these time extensions. Again you’re probably best to make your top price the initial sniper bid and either see it get outbid and give up on that auction, or be pleasantly surprised when the price ends below your bid.
After the auction is won, the rest is up to your proxy. Some offer services to inspect packages as they arrive, which is a good idea for sellers with little or no feedback or sales history. However most proxy companies aren’t subject matter experts so you can’t count on them to know if the doll you received is correct or complete, so it’s better to pay a bit extra for photos of items as they arrive to confirm yourself before the doll gets shipped out of Japan by the proxy.
4. Y! Auctions Tips and Tricks
Before you head out into the auction wilds, here are a few bits of parting advice:
Many auction listings on Y! Auctions are set to end on the weekend, usually Saturday night/Sunday morning in USA time, and those listings often go up on Thursday. You’ll have a couple days to scope out and compare auctions before you really have to bid.
Occasionally dolls are mislabeled or put into the wrong category, you might find a good deal by going outside your normal search parameters.
The second-hand retailer Dollyteria also sells stock on Y! Auctions under the account name discwave_mountposition – they have a markup (plus proxy fees) so you’re better off buying directly from Dollyteria’s webstore instead.
Toy’s King is another account you’ll see often – they’re a consignment service and often sell dolls with very low starting prices, though the condition can be poor. They’re not doll experts either so do your research rather than trusting their labels.
Some auction sellers have blocked proxies – either they had a bad experience or just prefer to deal directly with individual buyers. You can try a different proxy service – some have multiple accounts instead of one large corporate account and as such not all their accounts are blocked. You could also look for Japan-local individuals to hire as a proxy.
Certain keywords can trigger automated warnings from proxies – you may need to communicate with your proxy to override bidding blocks in this case. A common one is ‘resin’ which refers to urethane plastic but can also be confused for plant sap when translated.
Here are a few handy links to get your auction search started: