1/6 Scale 'B-Girls'
Cool Girls with Barbie heads

Sofar seven of my Girls are what I like to call 'B-Girls': CG style bodies with Mattel Barbie heads.
I decided to use some Barbie heads simply because Mattel does make some beautiful and downright adorable head sculpts.
Here's a list of my B-Girls:

portrait
  • Andrea, not an actual Barbie head but made by Mattel and based on a Barbie 'Tango' face
  • Sylvia, a lovely Barbie 'Summer' face
  • Jessica, a cute little blonde 'Barbie 2005' face
  • Liz, a beautiful variation on the Barbie 'Summer' face
  • Nina, a gorgeous Barbie 'Lea' face
  • Helena, another lovely variation on the Barbie 'Summer' face
  • Dinah Lance a.k.a. Black Canary, a beautiful Barbie 'Ana/Lara' face
Jessica, Sylvia and Liz

No less than three of the Barbie dolls of which I used the heads appear to have sparked some controversy when they were released:

Personally I don't really see what all the fuss was about, but then I'm no Barbie collector Smilie :).
I'm not sure if these controversies had any impact on the collectability of the dolls or if Mattel is simply producing more dolls than they can sell, but I did get most of the dolls or heads for what I consider to be bargain prices.


Making a B-Girl

It takes these simple steps to make a B-Girl:

  1. Find a suitable Barbie head, if the head comes with a body it needs to be removed first
  2. Find a CG body with a matching skin tone
  3. Modify the neck of the CG body to fit the head
  4. Add an adapter to the neck post and fit the Barbie head

Do note that the quality of cloned CG bodies is no match for the quality and durability of Barbie bodies, the CG bodies are simply unsuitable for being played with regularly (parts may come off, joints will get loose).

I always try to do modifications in a reversible way (Liz being the only exception sofar as I cut up the neck post of her Barbie body to make the adapter for the CG neck) so I don't worry about ruining rare collectibles.



Heads compared

Barbie bodies not only have more slender necks than CG bodies have, but also have a larger neck post.

Mattel Barbie head Mattel head vs CG head
Regular Barbie head. Special edition Mattel head (left). Regular CG head (right).
neck post hole is 7.0mm,
neck recess is 11.0mm diameter.
neck post hole is 4.0mm,
neck recess is 9.5mm diameter.
neck post hole is 5.5mm,
neck recess is 13.0mm diameter.
The diameter of the neck of a CG body needs to be reduced slightly to fit this head.
The neck post of a CG body needs to be enlarged.
Both the hole for the neck post and the recess for the neck are smaller than those of a CG head.
As the plastic used for the head is very flexible, the neck post hole does accept the larger CG neck post, but the diameter of the neck of the CG body needs to be reduced considerably for the head to fit properly.
Note that the diameter of a CG neck can not be reduced to 9.5mm without harm to the functionality of the neck joint and the aesthetics of the body.
 

heads of Sylvia and Liz compared With Cy Girls a particular head is usually referred to as a 'head sculpt'.
With Barbies the faces are referred to as 'face moulds', this makes sense once you notice that a particular face is used on differently shaped heads, as Mattel recently did with the 'Summer' face mould for the 2010 Hadley and 2011 Teresa.

When buying a play-line series Barbie head I prefer to pick one myself or at least check pictures of the very head I'm about to buy. There is quite some variation in the way the play-line Barbie faces are printed so it pays to compare different versions of the same head.
I adore the Girls that are already in my collection, so it makes little sense to me to add a new Girl that is any less than adorable.




Removing a Barbie head

head safely removed from Barbie body

A Barbie neck post has a 'stopper disc' at its base (closest to the body) this disc is slightly wider than the neck hole in the head and holds the head tightly against the neck.
A prong on either side of the post is designed to keep the head from being pulled off, some recent heads have an additional sleeve inside the base of the head that the prongs will tear into when attempts are made to pull the head off.
To succesfully remove a Barbie head, the edge of the neck hole (and the sleeve, if present) should be kept clear of the prongs.

To remove the head from this Barbie body, I used a manicure tool made for pushing back cuticles. The tool has a small thin tip without any sharp edges and is slightly curved.
First I gently pulled the head off the stopper disc at the base of the neck post. Holding the hollow side of the tip of the tool towards the neck post, I then carefully inserted the tip into the head through the gap between the neck and the head.
I did some feeling around for one of the prongs, placed the tool over the prong and slid the edge of the head over the tip of the prong, then moved the tool over to the other prong and slipped the head off completely.
As the tip of the tool is quite slim and the head was new and flexible I did not bother warming up the head (mind you it was 30+'C in the room at the time so all vinyl parts were extra flexible anyway).




Find a CG body with a matching skin tone

None of the original CG body skin tones match the Barbie skin tones well, however there are some cloned and CG look-alike bodies available in skin tones that do match:

Here is a picture to show the skin tones of the various CG look-alike bodies:
CG-style body skintones
From left to right: CG v2 'enhanced', TTL L1.0, ZC Eve caucasian bodice, ZC Eve tan bodice, CG v2 type B.
Apart from these bodies there are also pale skinned ZC Eve and Triad Eva and Alpha bodies available but I don't have any of those.




Modify a CG neck to fit a Barbie head

original CG neck
original CG neck viewed from above
The neck of most CG style bodies is not perfectly round when viewed from above.
To allow a Barbie head to swivel and nod without showing any gaps between the head and the neck, the edge of the neck must be sanded to a perfectly round cross-section of about 11mm diameter (this won't impair the fit of CG heads).
original CG neck
original CG neck
Once the cross-section has the right shape, the top 2-3mm of the edge of the neck needs to be rounded off in side view to make the head fit over the edge of the neck, rather than sitting on top.
Finish by smoothing the sanded area with fine polishing paper.
Once sanded the ABS plastic looks slightly more pale, this can be restored by applying a thin coat of mild solvent based modelling glue suitable for ABS (I used Tamiya Extra Thin Cement cat.nr. 87038).
reshaped CG neck
reshaped CG neck before applying modelling glue to the sanded area


Making an adapter to fit the Barbie head

The regular CG neck post is smaller in diameter than the Barbie neck hole is, so an adapter is needed to make the head fit.
There are several ways to adapt the CG neck post:

At first I used flexible discs for adapters, but the discs I made tended to tear and lose grip so I tried making a more sturdy adapter out of some clear vinyl tubing instead. I first used vinyl tubing for Nina.



Flexible disc

cutting a neck adapter
Making a flexible disc adapter
On the MWD forum a great tip was posted describing an easy way to make an adapter:

Cut a 20mm circle out of a soft plastic (high density polyethene aka HDPE) using a compass cutter. The plastic I used is from the lid of a sweets container and is about 0.6mm thick.
Then cut an X across the center (cuts of about 6mm long, 3mm on either side of the center) and cut a 2.5x2.5mm hole in the center to allow for the stem of the neck post.

If the material is too stiff to fold, you may want to cut part of the sides away to make it easier to fold the disc when inserting it into the neck hole.
ready for Barbie head
CG neck with adapter, ready for fitting a Barbie head

Vinyl tubing

vinyl tubing fitted to CG neck pin Yet another type of adapter can be made from vinyl tubing. It is best to use clear tubing because it contains no dies that could be transferred to the soft vinyl of a head.
Use tubing of 9mm outer diameter and 6mm inner diameter ('clear flexible hose for water, coolant or fuel', this can be found at automotive supplies shops) and cut a length of 15mm. Make sure one side is cut at a straight angle. When fitting the tubing over the neck post the straight angled side should be facing towards the body.

There is an easy way and a sure way to fit the tubing, the easy way is to just slide the tubing over the CG neck post and then fit the Barbie head.
One drawback is that the tubing may work loose, making the head fit loosely as well and the tubing is likely to remain inside the head when the head gets removed. To avoid this the tubing can be secured to the neck post.

To keep the tubing from working loose, the tubing can be locked in place by inserting a cloth pin through the neck post and the tubing.
Select a cloth pin with a smooth flat head and check the diameter of the pin (0.7mm in this case).



cloth pin inserted through drilled hole in CG neck postStart by using a pin vise to drill a 0.7mm hole straight through the neck post, just above the widest part.
The picture shows a cloth pin inserted through the drilled hole.
cutting cloth pin to size of vinyl tubingCut the cloth pin down to a length just smaller than the diameter of the tubing and round off the newly cut tip.
This way the tip of the cloth pin can not damage the edge of the head when it is pushed over the tubing.
vinyl tubing fitted over CG neck post, inserting cloth pinSlide the tubing over the neck post, leave a gap of about 1.5mm between the edge of the neck and the lower edge of the tubing.
Then push the shortened cloth pin through the tubing and through the hole in the neck post.
The clear tubing makes it easier to locate the hole in the neck post.
A pair of flat-nosed pliers might help to push the pin all the way in.
vinyl tubing fitted over CG neck post, cloth pin fully insertedWith the pin fully inserted, the assembly is complete and ready to receive a Barbie head.

This method may look more elaborate than the others but the only hard part is drilling the hole through the neck post.
As with the flexible disc, this modification can be easily reversed: just pull the cloth pin out and slide the tubing off the neck post and the body is ready to be fitted with a CG head again.




Fixed disc

Some of the recent Barbie heads like the one used for Liz have a sleeve inside the base of the head which makes it harder to pull the head from the body. This sleeve also makes it hard to fit the head using the flexible disc type of adapter, so a different type of adapter is needed.

Actually I found out later when creating Helena that an adapter made from vinyl tubing fits perfectly and works fine with the recent type of Barbie head, so there is no need to cut up a Barbie neck post.
I left the description below just for reference.

disc cut from Barbie head mount I cut the neck post from the Barbie body and turned that into a disc that can be fitted to the CG body neck post.
The disc is basically the stopper disc at the base of the Barbie neck post, with a 4.0mm hole drilled in the center and a slightly tapered cut-out on one side to clip the disc to the CG neck post.
To keep this disc from slipping down the neck post, I fitted a thin brass sleeve between the disc and the ball at the lower end of the CG neck post. I sanded the disc down to a thickness of 2mm and cut the brass sleeve to be slightly under 3mm tall.





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