Maho Nishizumi Doll Project - Part 1 - Where to Start

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Being a doll collector and a huge fan of Maho Nishizumi from Girls Und Panzer I have been quite disappointed at the total lack of any Maho dolls from any of the doll companies, therefore this is the story of my project to make my own Maho Nishizumi doll in 1/3 size (approx 48-50cm).

First lets look at what already exists, the closest I found was Danny Choo's Smart Doll of Miho which comes in the Oarai senshado uniform, however the hair and face would of course be very wrong for Maho, and it was also no longer being produced.

Lets take a closer look.

And of course we need Maho to compare to:
These are all official images (I think) and hopefully you can clearly see the differences, the main point I want to draw attention to is her eyes, Maho has tsurime style eyes.

Sourced from (which in turn from TV Tropes).
Tsurime is a style of drawing eyes where the outward edges of the eyes are pointed up, resulting in a strong, piercing look. A character with tsurime is usually considered strong-willed, arrogant, or proud. It is generally an attribute of tsunderes, kuuderes, and particularly badass action girls. The opposite is tareme.
This is a key aspect to her serious or stoic personality, and is a detail which completely changes who she is, ie she is not her sister Miho which poses an almost opposite personality. This might seem obvious, but they are sisters and so look very alike, therefore it is important to reference the differences they do have on the doll otherwise it might as well be Miho in a Kuromorimine uniform, which is actually true as Miho was previously attending the same school. Therefore, taking the Miho Smart Doll, changing her uniform and changing her wig still wouldn't be right. This is of course just my opinion, but this is a requirement for me, I love Maho's eyes and I want these to be right, or as close as possible.

If I am not satisfied with converting a Miho Smart Doll, which is very expensive and no longer produced anyway, then what other options are available? Well simply put there are none, in terms of ready made Maho (or Miho) dolls. Therefore the only option is to make her. And this is where the fun begins.

The Search For The Eyes
As I have made the eyes one of if not the most important aspect of a Maho doll then I need to start there. Firstly it is important to think about how these eyes are converted from a drawing to a doll, dolls tend to come with one of two main types of eye, either they are simply painted onto the face or they are socketed eyes. Both have benefits and drawbacks here, in theory a painted eye just means it is a case of buying a blank head and painting on the correct eye. In practice, just no, I am not skilled enough to do that. There are transfers which is a much easier way to do it, but then I'd still need to buy a doll body and find the right transfers and actually put them on, something which is a daunting task for me. That leaves trying to find an existing doll with the right shape and colour eyes, but the other problem with the painted eye type in the case of Azone dolls is that these often have rooted hair, the chance of finding the right eyes and hair on an existing doll is pretty low as well.

The socketed eyes have the benefit that you can easily change the colour of the eyes just by swapping them out, the drawback however is that with sockets, these are physically shaped and painted to create the style, so again there is the need to find the right shape and paint but this has a much higher chance and it is possible to buy blank heads with different eye socket shapes that are pre-painted.

As I have quite an extensive collection of beautiful anime dolls from Azone and Volkes (Dolfie Dream) I simply started to look around the room and look at all of the lovely ladies eyes in my current collection. I was instantly drawn to Kano in her Lovely Snows edition from October 2018:

Source: Azone Int. and The Dolly Insider.

Her eyes are amazing, they are of course blue, but they even have a little snow flake in her eye as it is the winter edition, but the main point here is she has the closest to a tsurime eye, they are still a little more rounded than Maho's but they have that all important sharp upper point. This is a huge starting point, but there is a problem, firstly I am no way going to change my Lovely Snows Kano, and being from 2018 I can't easily get another one, and then the obvious problem of having to get another set of eyes. But, I know that I have another Kano.

Kano Winter Coming, November 2017:
Source: The Dolly Insider.
Same shape and style and her eyes are brown! (well Maple Red officially). They have a slight red tint to the brown but I like that. The obvious other benefit is she has dark hair, therefore I tried an experiment, I carefully tied her hair back and put a black jacket on her, the effect was amazing, unfortunately I forgot to take a photo of the experiment, sorry. The next issue was again I didn't want to loose Kano as being herself, and her Winter Coming edition was even older from 2017! I then did some research and found there was also a direct store version where she has light hair. At the time I was mistakenly under the impression that the direct store version had a slightly different shade of eye colour and thought it was more brown/yellow/orange versus the red/brown of the normal version. I discovered later that this was incorrect and both have the same colour eyes.

Kano Winter Coming Direct Store Version, November 2017:
Source: The Dolly Insider.

Therefore I was now on the look out for either of these two versions of Kano Winter Coming, and about 6 months later, AmiAmi had a pre-owned Direct Store Version of Kano Winter Coming, the very one I was hoping for and in A ranked condition. At over $400 she was by no means cheap, but she is amazing and she could be my Maho. I placed the order and added her to my monthly order which would be shipped at the end of the month. Unfortunately this just happened to line up with Japan Post suspending all EMS shipments to Europe due to the effect of the pandemic and the war in the Ukraine, the result I had no choice to have her shipped by surface mail, a 3+ month wait. With some discussions and some well timed pre-order combining I managed to delay her shipping by a month, the theory was that I had hoped EMS would be re-instated, but it wasn't. So I delayed another month, I also didn't like the idea of her spending 3 months on a ship and didn't want her to get damaged. Sadly I had no choice and in the end after 2 months of delay she was sent surface, and then I had the 3 month wait anyway.

More in Part 2 to follow shortly.
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