Monday, September 12, 2016

The Rebecca Rubin Project

Back at the beginning of August I wrote about a $10 Rebecca that I was lucky enough to find on Craig's List. She was nude, and had gotten on the wrong side of a canine at some point, but you just don't pass up a $10 Rebecca. You don't. Her hair was a little dry, but not as bad as I've seen, and her eyes worked well. Her limbs weren't even very loose, and in good condition if you could overlook the missing hand. 

I could. Besides, I'd been looking for a doll to experiment with rehabing on, and I found her!

This is an "after" image. Keep reading for her "befores" and a description of how I got her there. 

I knew very little about Rebecca before we picked her up, so the first stop was our local library. (Naturally) In less than a day we, as a family, were all caught up on Rebecca's story. I have to say, I am surprisingly fond of this spunky little girl from NYC! I'd never been interested before, and only wanted to get her one day as a means to complete my Historical Collection, but I'm very glad that I picked her up.

Of course, I then was facing the challenge of making her look good again. Outside of some cleaning, Oxy treatments, and minor hair work, I'd never much of a rehab on any doll. I'd certainly never swapped out limbs, but unless I wanted to wrap Rebecca's hand in a handkerchief and pretend she lost it in a factory accident, I had no choice. It was time to tackle the limbs!

Listen, if you have never unstuffed an American Girl doll, there are some things you should know going in. First, there is an absurd amount of stuffing crammed into that doll body! Like double or triple the amount that you think should be able to fit in there! It's also a little traumatizing to realize that you are completely pulling apart a $115 doll, even if you didn't spend that much on it. At some point you are sitting there, looking at the bits and pieces of what used to be an American Girl doll strewn out in front of you, thinking "Oh my God, what if I can never get it back together?!" Don't worry. You can.

Rebecca had a bit of a bite mark on her foot as well, (as you can see above) but I decided to leave that alone for now since it will be covered by her stockings and shoes. At some point in the future I plan to swap that leg out too, but for this rehab I chose to focus on her mangled arm. This meant that I only had one limb to remove, which is good, I think, for your first time. 

Since her limbs were still relatively tight, I decided not to replace the elastic at this time. (I also didn't feel like waiting to order it new, and I don't want to use the hair tie method.) It was not easy getting the knot untied. I ended up requesting Mr. D's help, and he may or may not have injured himself in the process. (I am a lucky woman!) In the end we got it, and Rebecca's offending arm was removed from her body. (No dolls were harmed in the making of this blog post.)

Now I needed to get the other tension cup out of her chewed arm so that I could use it in her new arm. There is a very little bit of give in the newer plastic, but not enough to get the tension cup out without breaking it. To soften the plastic up a bit I warmed it with my hair dryer for about 30 seconds. This made the plastic softer, and I was able to use pliers to pull the tension cup out of the arm. I used the same method on the new arm in order to get the tension cup back in.

Once you get to this point it is fairly easy to put your doll back together. Everything just goes back the way you took it apart.

I tightened this knot a bit more after taking this picture. There is also a way to replace the elastic that used metal crimps instead of tying, but I was able to tie it back fairly well. Her arm is very tight now. One day I will do a complete replace, with the elastic and everything, and I will document the crimping method.

So, this looks a little intimidating, but once you are to this point you might as well just skip over the finish line. There is a lot of stuffing, and it was a job getting it all back in. Sometimes you have to shift the stuffing about a bit, shove it down again when you think you can't anymore, but it will all fit. I promise. Things look much better when you have the body stuffed again, and even better than that when you get the head reattached. (In hindsight, I would have waiting until I got her head back on before taking her hair out of the curlers. I worried the entire time that I was going to ruin the curls I'd just put back in.)

Speaking of her hair, I think it cleaned up very nicely if I do say so myself.

I didn't use any heat. I just wet her hair thoroughly, rolled it, and then sat her in front of a box fan for a day. (I did this to help it dry since I've heard horror stories of mold growing under the wig cap, and I got her hair pretty wet.) I didn't even wash her hair first, though I might try that next time. One of these days I'm going to brave a hot water dunk. Not yet though.

I'd ordered her original meet dress around the same time that I ordered her new arms, so the only thing left to do was dress her. I'm still on the hunt for her bloomers, hair clip, and meet accessories, but there is time, and I think she looks pretty fabulous without them.

What do you think? What was your first rehab?

I know there are a lot of pictures. I'm sorry. I had a hard time choosing.

Is it common for the Josefina mold to sometimes seem like her eyes are a bit "off". I don't always notice it, but every once in awhile I do a double take on the mold. (This in no way shape or form means I don't like it. I think the Josefina mold is gorgeous. I just think there eyes look a bit funky sometimes.)

~Mrs. D


  1. My first rehab was Naomi, but the first one I documented on my blog was Gwenni. I always use the clamp method because I much prefer that to trying to tie knots--that and with my hemostats or needle clamps, I can pull it super tight now even with my bad hands.

  2. She's lovely! My first rehab was replacing elastic on Kaya and Samantha.

  3. I absolutely love the 19th picture! That's so weird that the doll has knots. My doll Katrina (I found her on eBay) had the metal clamps. I thought all the doll were like that. Also, $10 is an amazing deal for her!