Color matching is difficult for three reasons:
- No two pullips are the same color
- Sometimes two of the same pullip aren't even the same color
- The luminosity of plastic is not constant; therefore a doll that may match another doll or body in indoor lighting in the middle of the day may not match in indoor lighting in the evening or in outdoor lighting.
Sucks, huh? I've had just about every doll come through my hands at one time or another, as well as volks and obitsu bodies, and I swap out almost all bodies so the advice I can give you is pretty good but it is not by any means absolute. For example, I cannot STAND Carol because her face is a different color from her body. Some people don't care.
This is more for the people who are very exact about color matching. If, for example, Carol doesn't bother you, then just pick whatever body you like best and slap it on your doll; the difference will rarely be more than Carol and her own body.
If your doll does not have an exact match, all is not lost! This is sort of a 'straight out of the box' matching guide. Most dolls that are close can be toned to match better or match almost perfectly. For that though, you'll have to look at the Body Blushing & Toning Tutorial
Most pullips come in 'Pale'. There's a whole range of pale, but there's little more than a two shade difference between the lightest dolls in this category and the darkest dolls so most of them can swap out bodies interchangably because the bodies aren't exact matches to begin with, but good enough that you can swap their stock bodies around. For example: A medium doll could take a light or dark body with an OK match, and a white doll could take a medium doll or a dark could take a medium with an OK match, but you probably don't want to match a white doll with a dark body or vice versa. I'll group these dolls:
- White-Pale: Pullips: Moon, Street, Wind, Bouquet, Noir, Leprotto, Withered, Savon, Nomado, Sacralita, China China, Afternoon, Mercu, Rida, Sticca, Alte, Holly, Namu: Serpant TaeYang: Shade, Missionary, Lead, Cavalie.
- Medium-Pale: Arietta, Anne, Principessa, Alice, Panda, Fanatica, Chicca, Assa, Greggia, Aquel
- Dark-Pale: Nero, Oren, Fourrure, Little Red Riding Hood, Jupi, Paja, Rovam (matches Pale Volks/Obitsu)
There's the dolls that are far enough away from pale that they are not going to do very well except for a few dolls with similar (but not exact) skintones:
- Light tan: Nina, Latte, Papin, Eternia, Taeyang MJ, Butler.
- golden tan: Mitzi, Bianca, and Raphia (matches natural volks/obitsu)
- almost olive Zuora
- olive tan dolls, Venus, Squall, Cornice (close to obitsu marrone)
- Standard Namu Wolf, Fai, Vispo, Sage
- Tan Namu: Geronimo, Trunk
- Brown: Another Alice, Another King, Another Queen, Soldier Dal.
Then there's the dolls that unfortunately do not seem to have a body match with anyone else:
- Edward Scissorhands (gray)
- Timulus (most similar to Zuora)
- Carol (whose own body does not match--it is the same white-pale as the rest of the type 1s)
- Happy Birthday #2 Sacagawea
- Nahh-Ahto (close to obitsu coconut)
If I didn't mention a doll, assume it's in the pale range but I have not personally been able to compare it to other dolls. So either compare it to other dolls I have mentioned if you have it, or ask someone who has the doll to comapre it to others for you.
Limited Edition Obitsu Skintones
So far, Obitsu has released 2 different tan skintones which, with a bit of toning, match some of the darker hard to match dolls. A Marrone body can be toned to match any of the girls in the 'olive tan' category. A Coconut body can be toned to match Nahh-ahto. The most difficult thing is finding these bodies as they were released in special batches of 500 per color worldwide.
A note on Dals: So far, the Dal dolls seem to redefine 'pale'. They're all sort of an unbleached white. Drta is the darkest so far, but she is still a bit paler than the 'white pale' pullips.
Now what about OTHER doll types?
Well, if you're replacing a dark-pale body, you're in luck. Volks EB Pale, Volks other pales, and Obitsu soft bust pale, and Obitsu hard bust pale will work pretty well. In that order.
The bodies you see are Obitsu soft bust pale, Fourrure, and Volks EB Pale. They're all decent matches, some more some less depending on the lighting and depending on the doll. Generally Volks has a more neutral tone, and Obitsu has a orangey tone--on the soft bust the bust will match better, but the arms will be more orange. On a hard bust, the entire body is more orange.
Here's Fourrure and Oren. Oren is probably the best Obitsu match in all lighting because her skin has a slightly pink undertone. Fourrure, however, has more of a neutral tone and is much better in Volks. But generally on dark-pale dolls, you're pretty set if you want a non-pullip body. (If you can't tell from this picture you'll just have to take my word for it. The camera plays down body color differences a lot)
The doll below illustrates the differences of Obitsu on medium-dark pullip very well--it's a hybrid with a pullip soft torso and Obitsu arms and legs. You can see how much more orangey the arms/legs are compared to the neutral pullip skintone
If you want a replacement for a medium-pale doll or pale-pale doll, it's going to be personal preference. Most medium pale dolls look ok on volks to me because most have the same neutral skin tone (they just look like they have foundation or powder on) but I cannot STAND them on Obitsu because they're not just paler, they're a different color. I only put them on if I can tone the orange out.
The other dolls that have a decent match with a non-pullip body are the 'golden tan' dolls, Mitzi, Raphia, and Bianca. And by all means swap out because their stock bodies don't match very well at all.
Here we have Mitzi with a soft bust EB Beauty body in natural, a Obitsu soft bust body in natural, and Raphia. As you can see, Mitzi matches her body spectacularly, the obitsu body is way too orange, and Raphia's own stock body is a little on the dark side. You *could* put in an obitsu soft bust, but it's not going to look very good.
In recap, here are all three pullip types with different Obitsu and Volks bodies:
In Order: Type 3 (golden tan), Type 2 (pale), Type 3 (pale), Obitsu SB2 (pale), Volks EB Beauty B type Pale, Obitsu SB3 natural, Volks EB Beauty soft bust E natural.
Color matching wise, volks is much more similar.
But which body is best?
Well... none of them are 'best'. Among the pullip bodies, Type 1 is probably the prettiest, but has the least range (unless you trick it out with my tutorial, then it will have more poseability than type 3) Type 2 is the most poseable and wears barbie and other 12" clothes most easily. Type 3 is sturdy and well balanced, but is extremely hard to find clothes for, has absolutely no curves, and has only slightly more poseability than an unmodified type 1.
Volks bodies are the best doll bodies for looks. They are the most similar to 'real' womens' bodies, and the best colored. They have about as much flexibility as a Type 2 pullip. The downside is they use ball joints EVERYWHERE and have hands/forearms pop off all the time like Type 2 hands do.
Obitsu bodies are the best doll for poseability. If you get the magnetic foot dolls, your pullip will be able to stand on the metal disk without back support. The downside is they don't really match pullips, and the soft bust dolls either have huge tits or almost no tits (and the SB3 torso is asymmetrical) and there's a huge upper body joint that pushes the torso out of shape a lot.
So my answer is, know what you like, know what you don't like, and know what you can live with. My ideal doll would be a Volks torso with Obitsu arms and legs and Volks color. But I have the entire range of stock pullip and non-pullip bodies among my girls. It gives them more personality.