Integrity Toys' Response to Questions Regarding the Use of Decals

W Club members received a carefully worded statement about the use of decals in an email yesterday. It is more notable for the information that has been left out than for what has been included. 
All I had to do was Google "water slide decal" and the information was right there. The following is from Wikipedia:
 Water slide decals (or slip decals) are water-mounted decals generally printed face up and rely on the dextrose corn sugar residue from the decal paper to bond the decal transfer to a surface. A water-based adhesive layer can be added to the decal to create a stronger bond or may be placed between layers of lacquer to create a durable decal transfer. The paper also has a layer of glucose film added prior to the dextrose layer which give it the adhesion properties, the Dextrose layer give the decal (lubricity) the ability to slide off the paper and onto the substrate.

Water slide decals are thinner than many other decorative techniques (such as vinyl stickers) and as they are printed, they can be produced to a very high level of detail. As such, they are popular in craft areas such as scale modeling, as well as for labeling DIY electronics devices, such as guitar pedals.
Until recently, water slide decals were professionally printed and only available in supplied designs, but with the advent of printable decal paper for colour inkjet and laser printers, custom decals can now be produced by the hobbyist or small business.

 Source: Wikipedia Water slide Decal.

There are plenty of instructional videos on Youtube for making and applying your own.
I also found out that I can print my own water slide decals on paper readily available for home printers. So all this language  "the test was sent to a new partner we have overseas who recreated the shapes for us in vector format and from that, tiny waterslide decals are generated. " just means it's made in China.

Here is the text from the IT email. 
Many of our astute fans have commented online that there was something different about the eyes of two of IT's recent dolls; Anika Luxottica and the W Club Upgrade Vanessa Perrin.  We can confirm that those observations are correct; we are using a new technique to improve eye consistency.
Based on the ongoing feedback that the team has received expressing concerns about sometimes subtle or pronounced balance issues with the screening on various dolls, IT is currently testing a new water slide application method for their doll eyes that will eventually eradicate this issue completely.
This relatively new method has been around for a little while now and is being used by more and more companies in the industry. The W Club Liaisons sat down with Alain Tremblay to ask about this new, promising method to address some of the concerns that we read online... read on!
W Club Liaisons: Alain, thank you for taking the time to get back to us. The Anika Luxottica doll that was unveiled at IFDC is a huge hit with fans and everyone was impressed with her, especially her edgy facial screening. Can you please elaborate a little more about the technique that was used to create this screening?
Alain T.: Thank you, I'm glad everyone loved this girl; I had a blast designing her! The new technique is actually really interesting! We decided to test it out on her first and then, Vanessa since Anika's eyes are so detailed and different than the other dolls that we've done in the last few years. To achieve this new look, Jessy Ayala and I collaborated to create her initial makeup look, then the test was sent to a new partner we have overseas who recreated the shapes for us in vector format and from that, tiny waterslide decals are generated.
WCL: Is the entire makeup on Anika and Vanessa applied using this technique?
AT: The technique we are developing could basically be called a "hybrid application method" if you'd like. Only the eyes (outline, white, iris, pupils and "catch light" dots") themselves are applied this way, since those are the most complicated/multi layered segments that are on any doll's face. The rest, i.e., the lips, eyebrows and eye-shadow layers are sprayed using the traditional mask and airbrush technique first, before the eyes and eyelashes are applied on top. This way, the eyes will be balanced, since generating these shapes in vector art is more precise than spraying the entire screening in multiple-layers the traditional way.
WCL: Is this new method durable? Will the eyes come off easily? Many are concerned about this.
AT: Once applied, the water slides are sealed with a topcoat, so yes, it is perfectly secured and should not be any different from the traditional mask layer doll eyes. Of course, it goes without saying that using alcohol, acetone or heavy scrubbing will damage the paint on any doll. Common sense applies.

WCL: What other IT dolls sport this new method?
AT: At the moment, only Anika Luxottica and the Upgrade Vanessa have it, but a few of the upcoming dolls in the 2016 FR Collection will also be created using this new, cutting-edge method.
WCL: Alain, thank you for taking the time to explain this to us and we look forward to what new exciting things the team will be able to create using this method!

Let's be clear, waterslide decals have been around for a very, very long time. It is not a "relatively new method." Decals are used in many other industries and are extremely durable.  I'm fairly certain that the tattoos used on a series of Sybarite Dolls are waterslide decals. (Gothica (not shown), Neurotica and Toxica.)

Tonner's Zombie Boy  - this had to be mostly applied decals. In this Tonner photo below, left, one can see the edge of the applied decal on the forehead.

Water slide decals are different from ordinary decals and stickers:
Different variations of decals include: water-slide or water-dip; and vinyl peel-and-stick. A water-slide (or water-dip) decal is screen-printed on a layer of water-soluble adhesive on a water-resistant paper, that must first be dipped in water prior to its application.
Upon contact with water, the glue is loosened and the decal can be removed from its backing; overlong exposure, however, dissolves the glue completely causing the decal to fail to adhere. A peel-and-stick decal is actually not a decal as described above, but a vinyl sticker with adhesive backing, that can be transferred by peeling off its base. The sign industry calls these peel-and-stick vinyl stickers vinyl-cut-decals.
Source: Wikipedia "Decal"

Source: eBay Auction

IMO (as always) the bottom line is that decals, used appropriately and according to need on dolls, can result in excellent effects.  If used just to make it easier for a factory to get things right...well, that's another story.
Those of us who were Fashion Royalty collectors from the beginning know the difference. 
Here are a few early Adeles and Veroniques. No decals, no lashes, just nicely painted faces. Everything changes. Most of us hope that things will get better along the way. This is an expensive hobby. It's a luxury and the dolls must match up to the high standards collectors are paying for.

Click to enlarge.


  1. Thanks for reposting this- Terri. So, for me there are two parts here that are unsettling. One is the overarching lack of acknowledgement that 'astute fans' were/are NOT impressed- and hence this interview and the tone that IT is doing the consumer a favor in explaining their practices to us.

    Here's the deal- as it doesn't take much to google to get the facts, and Terri you present a compelling use of both technologies- it's a bit distasteful that IT continues to talk to their consumers and 'astute' eg 'pissed off' fan base and collectors like we're idiots.

  2. I know that the decals on Gothika (and the others from that series) have been known to peel. But I'm not sure what triggers that.

    The faces you've posted are gorgeous. I wish they'd figure out a way to go back to the airbrushed designs. I'd certainly pay $10 more for my dolls if they did.

  3. They didn't tell us when we pre-ordered. They tricked us.

    Will decals be damaged during reroots and swaps? Vinyl heads are not the same as hard plastic bodies.

    Decals peel, yellow and crack with age.

    Integrity's decals have not fixed uneven eyes. The decals are being glued on as unevenly as the applied eyelashes.

    The pixelated look is not an improvement.

    This is not better for collectors. They are spinning it.

  4. I fear retalliation, so no name from me. I didn't mean any disrespect toward your blog. I'm not as brave as you when it comes to poking the bear.

    I'll show myself out. No need to post this, obvi.

    1. I totally understand.

    2. That people have to use fake names and post anonymously to avoid retaliation by a company that has made threats of various kind in the past, is so fucked up and says it all. Whoever heard of being scared of a doll company. But it's the truth. Sadly.

  5. Terri, used the water slide decals as a young boy for model cars, planes, etc. (no, I am not "Anonymous"). He/ she is totally correct in that they will yellow and crack with age. As they yellow, you will see the edges become darker than the surrounding vinyl. Also, another thing- they are not really meant to be flexible. So softening the head for re-roots and swaps will damage or crack the decal. The solvent is water-based, so any moisture will allow the decal to float up and off the eye ( and possibly onto the doll's hair). Tonner's Zombie Boy will look very different in 10 or so years, unless kept in a pristine environment. It's easy to understand why these are used for eyes and tattoos for the average doll. Ease of application, not to mention easy of repair if there is a mistake on the line (= less waste). But unless there is some sort of stability program by IT (I was in QC- don't laugh), the collector's response/ complaint data will be the only guide as to effectiveness.

  6. For certain types of dolls and effects using decals is a good idea and I think you did a nice job pointing that out, but decals don't work on IT dolls. They are not making skeleton and pop culture action figures or fantasy figures. All that talk about how they are doing this to bring us something new and do us a favor is nonsense and insulting. How stupid do they think we are?

    This whole situation has been handled badly and the newsletter was not really explaining anything other than being a carefully worded sales pitch trying to make this look like some kind a favor to us. No apologies about not having disclosed this to customers beforehand or acknowledgment of our concerns. They just sat on this for over a week and then sent out a vague response. I really felt manipulated.

    1. To answer your question - pretty stupid.

    2. When they said this is our attempt to make the eyes balanced because printers are more precise than spraying the entire screening in multiple-layers, I thought how fucking lazy do you have to be? What they are basically saying is that they don't want to do the work and have to train and pay people to do this right, so they will use a printer.

      I have this feeling IT is getting ready for mass production and trying to find a way to mass output these dolls. Least amount of work, highest output and most cost effective. Only that something is lost in the process, which is the quality that has made IT stand out. It is pretty sad. I get that they want to expand and grow, but if it comes at such a cost it is time to rethink your approach.

  7. I'm sorry to see that Integrity has introduced eye decals, though I've never been an FR collector, I own dolls from several of their cheaper lines. Licca Castle dolls start at around $35, and are all airbrushed by hand in Japan, a country with a roughly $7-9/hour minimum wage. The bodies and dresses are simple, but at least it shows the painting alone isn't prohibitively expensive.

  8. To Poppy's point on mass production- IT has always had mass produced dolls at a lower price point like ITBE- I mean hell- those dolls in some ways used the same bodies or slightly modified. IT paves the way for Tonner and the 50,000 different doll bodies lol! And with IT there isn't a universal foot-

    But to screening, the eyes have never been 'hand painted' that's a misnomer- it's always been a computer generated screen- that's been applied. I'm still not sure I'm seeing the value here for them- while I get one step over say three, is it really worth it if customers feel quality is lost? Even pink box Barbie as far as we know screens.

    1. With mass produced I mean the higher edition sizes we have seen over the past few years. Around 2008-2011, most of their dolls were produced in smaller edition sizes which seems to have allowed them to give more attention to detail, including using hand-screening (or NOT decals. I know it is not hand hand-painted, but at least it is not a sticker).

  9. The bean counters are no longer counting pennies, but tenths of pennies!! Even Mattel's first articulated Silkstone didn't have earrings (or earring holes)..and NO panties. Not with that full-skirted dress!!! It's happening everywhere, not just Integrity.

  10. Hello Terri,
    Thank you for a very balanced presentation on this.
    I have had the same experience as Steve C with decals, including on model cars. They faded, yellowed, cracked and flaked off.
    These dolls are being marketed as "collectibles" and are expected to have a reasonably long display life.....they aren't being sold as ice sculpture.
    As always love the blog.

    Will C.

    1. Hi Will:
      Sadly, the dolls are not holding up and haven't been for years. For some collectors this is the last nail in the coffin.
      Thank you for your comments!

  11. All the threads and discussions on the W Club related to this have been removed. All the valuable feedback. Gone. I guess IT really does not give a shit anymore. I remember in the past, one issue of concern and IT would go out of its way to immediately address it and set the record straight. This time they just sat on their asses for one week and then published a Newsletter with a bunch of vague responses bullshitting their way out of this. And now they are just sweeping the whole thing under the rug by removing the polls and comments about the decals. The liaisons may as well just have sent an email with a giant middle finger to all of us, "thanks for your feedback losers, this is what we think of them".

    1. $$$$$ NEVER quality. Welcome to the 21st century. Sigh......