I’m not sure how I came across the doll who I knew could be Exos… I think it may have been one of those randomly suggested pics in my Instagram Feed that first alerted me to Nihilum Dolls, but after having a look at his work, I knew I wanted to bring one home.
Which obviously would have been a feat during Mister’s chemo since we’ve been skating the thin line in terms of financials, but after speaking to the creator of the dolls first in Etsy and then in email, I was lucky enough to find that he not only had a pre-order coming around the time I first contacted him, but was willing to do a layaway so that I might actually have a chance at owning one of his dolls.
During the time I was working to pay her off, several changes were made to my original order and he was amazing throughout it all, with his communication and with his willingness to work with what I was asking. My first choice for a head was the horns head, but during the pre-order he’d been working on a new one called “Blocks” which once he debuted it, I changed to immediately because it’s awesome. That and he assured me that later on and when my finances weren’t mostly tied up in chemotherapy bills, I would be able to order the original two head plates separately. Though now that the pre-order is fulfilled and he’s announced that he’s discontinuing the Ver.2 body type, I’m not sure if that still applies, but I’ll remain hopeful since I’d still like Exos to have the other two headbacks at some point as well.
Anyway, so the original delivery date was to be in late Feb -early March I think (though it’s been a while so I’m not exactly sure I’m remembering that correctly) and the date was missed, but I think personally, it was for good reason. As far as I know, he’s a one person show so between casting the dolls (including adding in the black resin I requested, which wasn’t a part of the original color wheel choice), what I’ve found to be a full system inset of silicone kip type things, stringing them all together, the jointed hands, the glued in magnets and the packaging, I’m a little in awe that he was able to deliver such quality work in the time he did. I’ve had longer wait times through larger companies like Soom or Volks than I did with him so I didn’t mind the extra time he needed to get everyone’s dolls done.
Not only that, but he was gracious enough to answer within a day or two’s time each time I did check in to see how things were progressing. Which is all I really need in terms of customer care.
Anywho, so despite the slightly longer wait for the completion of Exos, do you want to know where all the torture in waiting actually comes from? Yeah, you guessed it; transit. As any doll owner/hobbyist knows, the actual torture comes from the time your long awaited doll spends in the mail. No matter how many years go by, the time you wait for tracking to update always seems to be the worst time of all. It also feels like it takes the longest. Exos spent a good five days just sitting in Russia after reaching the first hub, then another five plus days in transit to the US, and once in the US a good four or five days just sitting in NY. After she finally moved out of NY, there was another four days where all I got “in transit to next destination” updated randomly before she finally arrived at Unit. Then today, with her arrival at Unit, she was delivered which made all the waiting worthwhile.
So with the waiting done, here now is her box opening and my thoughts on her as I went.
The outer shipping box is both large and small. Large on the thickness side, small in the length. There is a reason for that, as you’ll see below.
Inside, there’s enough room to stack two of the actual doll boxes, but because of the bubble wrap around the doll box, there’s no movement which is great considering how the Post usually bangs up packages.
The actual doll box is very pretty. Simplistic, and yet nice and thick.
The bottom of the box is beautiful with the art silhouetted. I wasn’t expecting this because I’ve only seen the one post that was made showing the top side. It’s a very nice touch.
This is what you see when you open the box up.
The envelope on the side of the wrapped doll, just inside the box holds the cert, a few cards and a small bag with a few extra magnets and an extra hand pin.
The back of the cert is just as pretty as the bottom of the box.
So when you unfold the cloth, you can see how the doll actually fits inside the box. She’s folded in half basically, and while the only additional wrapping is on the hands (bubble wrap on the hands, which I didn’t get a pic of) the box itself is lined in foam so that coupled with the outer box’s bubble wrap keeps her very secure. She had absolutely no damage to her at all.
So just out of the box, she stands very well. The only thing I had questions about when I first looked into Nihilum Dolls was the odd upper thigh leg joints because I wasn’t sure how they would work in terms of posing, but as you can see, they don’t seem to interfere with posing at all.
While I do find the extra thigh/leg joints a little awkward and limiting when she’s standing (the joints are made to fit directly into the thigh/body holes and they aren’t balls, they are more akin to a Lego style snap so there isn’t a lot of roll to the joints when you spread her legs or slide them out to the sides) <-but, as you can see in the image above (and the ones that are about to follow), that awkwardness is gone when you have her on a seated position.
It actually gives her a large range of motion for seated positions and I like it, because unlike a lot of my other dolls, she can do some nice angled sitting without having to pop her legs completely out of joint, or have huge gaping holes showing where her knees are when her legs are folded. It’s a unique bit of engineering that I haven’t seen in any of the other dolls I own.
Another unique thing is how her hands are jointed. This was something I really liked about the dolls when I was researching them originally. The fingers and the thumb all move independently, and unlike the jointed hands I’ve both currently own and have worked with in the past, these ones are not strung with elastic, they are strung with a single pin while the thumb is strung with another pin that looks to loop up to the finger pin. Because of this, the fingers have tension and aren’t floppy the way elastic strung fingers are.
It makes posing them easy, because they already have the tension to them that you usually have to add to elastic strung jointed fingers by way of wire.
They are also very expressive, which considering they are molded into a single position is pretty cool.
This is the thing that surprised me, the silicone inner kips. I didn’t realize that she’d come with molded in (yet easy to remove) silicone to help with the posing. It was a nice surprise actually, because usually, and as most people know, you have to do a sueding or buy kips separately when you get a doll. It’s not something that’s usually included. This is another thing that allows her to stand and pose directly out of the box and it’s a nice additional touch.
Now, the only real drawbacks I can see so far with her are as follows;
Instead of having a faceplate that’s easy to take off and interchange (as I plan to if/when I’m able to buy the other two head plates), it’s her head back that comes off.
As you can see, the hole for the elastic is very small and if/when I want to change her head front to a different one, I’ll have to loop a thin piece of wire or string around the elastic so as not to lose it in her body in order to remove the head. I think this is probably the only thing that needs redesigning a little – to make it easier to remove the faceplate the way you can with say, an Unoa faceplate, or even a newer Soom head. But if that’s a re-design issue that isn’t in the works, even just widening the hole there would work, just to make it easier to pull the head away from the elastics because as it is now, I can see it being a pain when the time comes.
Though, did I say drawbacks, as in plural? Because so far, that’s the only one. I thought the odd extra leg/thigh joint would be an issue before I got her, but it’s not. A little awkward perhaps when she’s standing, but only if you allow her leg to swing out in an unnatural position. It’s that way with any doll though, and now that I have her in person and can see how that part actually functions, I’m not bothered by it the way I thought I might be.
Another thing I have noticed however, and it’s something that the creator brought up in one of his most recent posts (the one where he shared his thoughts on this last pre-order and announced that the Ver.2 will be discontinued), is the “floppiness” of the three part torso joints. Having Exos in person, I can say that even with the silicone inside of the torso joints, that yes, there is some floppiness. If I straighten her chest parts she doesn’t exactly lock into place so she will easily flop back with a slight movement. But, I actually don’t mind it. In fact, I think by sliding a little bit of wire in, it’s an issue that can be fixed easily. I’m curious to see what the creator plans to do with the next version of the body, but I’ll be a little sad to see the three part torso gone because in truth, this is one of the things I like best about the dolls and what attracted me to them to begin with.
A lot of jointed torso dolls, especially the newer ones, seem to have that joint just beneath the chest -in both Nexus and Higher Jun, and the newer Soom female body a client sent to me to use for some commissions, that joint is both okay and awkward to me. While it’s not how bodies work (we can bend, but we don’t bend directly beneath the boobs), it does work in terms of posing as far as dolls are concerned. But it also doesn’t work at the same time because it’s limiting since the joint isn’t at the ribcage where it should be. What I like about Exos, and this version of the Nihilum Doll is that there’s a joint both beneath the chest and at the ribcage, so it gives her a more fluid range of motion when you are posing her than you get with the two part torsos that are jointed directly beneath the chest.
I’d gladly trade a little floppiness for this extra joint since the floppiness can be fixed by a simple slip of wire (or I think it can be, I guess I’ll see when I try it), and I’m glad I was able to get a version of the doll that has it, because like I said, it’s one of the things that drew me aesthetically to the Nihilum Dolls to begin with.
Anyway, so yes, I’m very happy with Exos, and my overall consensus is that the creator doesn’t charge nearly what they are worth for all the work he put into them. I am definitely looking forward to seeing what he has planned next and I hope that at some point, I’ll be lucky enough to own more of his works. In the mean time, I have two of my three Page Turners down, and am happy to see Exos come home e_e /