Meiday, Meiday!

I came across a Gotz Pottery Barn Mei on eBay, a "fixer-upper" that seemed like a  good idea at the time. . . Her biggest problems were a bad haircut, which is possibly still workable, and. . . bright red permanent marker--I mean bright--on her face. I can only guess someone was trying to create a Vampire Mei doll and "accessorized" her with blood running down the corners of her mouth--an original idea at least. My job is to try to return Mei's face to its pre-fed phase. ;) I'll worry about the hair later.


Easier said than done though. I have scoured the internet for solutions to permanent marker on doll vinyl and retrieved an assortment of ideas. But so far, no luck. :(

What I've tried off so far:

  • Magic Eraser
  • nail polish remover
  • alcohol
  • toothpaste
  • Lysol cleaner
  • undiluted bleach

Zip. Zilch. Nada.

I did let her sit with 10% Benzoyl Peroxide on her face covered in plastic wrap over night near a portable heater (sorry no sun in January here and heat was offered as a substitute) with minimal, if any, results. I keep thinking maybe the marks have faded a bit, then I look at her original eBay pictures and think . . . maybe not. So what is this alien technology tattoo, and how do I get it off?!!

Either way, it seems the Benzoyl Peroxide may have the best chance of returning Mei's face, so I'm going with that for now. If I don't see much of an improvement after another day of treatment, I've got a few more things on the list to try, including: Goof Off, Goo Gone, whiteboard spray, dry erase marker, Awesome Cleaner, hair spray, WD-40, Sam's Club Heavy Duty De-greaser, Sunblock, and--Coppertone! Wow do they still make that stuff? And if it strips away permanent marker where undiluted bleach fails, why would anyone want to put it on their skin?!

These are questions that must be asked.  Stay tuned for results. ;)




UPDATE: After nearly 24 hours straight of 10% Benzoyl Peroxide under plastic and heat, it occurs to me this isn't going to work. The stuff can't even touch the red marker!


I realize I may be working with a handicap, having no actual sun to properly test this out. But my options are limited, so time for Plan B: my arsenal of cleaning products and all the other "weird" I've collected to get this stuff off.

But after running through pretty much everything pictured above (and more) Mei simply stares back at me looking like this:


I can only commend Gotz for creating such a durable doll. How is her face still looking so, um, intact? I poured toilet bowl cleaner on it for cripes sake! I also doused her with concentrated bleach, turpentine, mineral spirits, peroxide, acetone, bug spray (yes bug spray) and I'm still in "the red."

In more ways than one actually. The cost of buying all this stuff without getting any results is starting to add up. And even though there are a few more things that have been suggested for removing permanent marker from vinyl, I think I'm throwing in the towel until I can come up with a good Plan C that isn't going to break me!


UPDATE: So six months later, I have a Plan C. Except that it's really Plan A again!

Let me bring us all up to date by saying that after failing miserably with the toilet bowl cleaner last January, I just tucked Mei away for later consideration and then forgot all about her while I worked on other dolls and projects. That is until I happened upon her again at the bottom of my fix-it heap recently--and remembered. But this time, I had the distinct advantage of it being July and full-term summer. Now where was that benzoyl peroxide again??

After glumping it on her chin one more time, plastic wrapping her face, towel-wrapping her body, and setting her outside in the California late afternoon desert sun for a couple of hours, I unwrapped and this is what I saw! The red was finally fading!


So maybe it wasn't dramatically faded--it merely went from bright red to a dull, rusty orange. But it was a change, and that's all I've really needed to stay motivated to keep going.

All this was last evening. By the time I brought Mei in, washed her off and photographed her, I was left with only shadows outside for rest of the evening; I had to wait for morning to continue. But today I'm giving Mei the full treatment, a whole lovely spa day consisting of eight hours under the infernal 100+ degree desert sun. And I'm eagerly anticipating the result!

UPDATE: And after a full day in the sun, we've got some very noticeable results!


The sharpie marks have faded to a dull yellow color. Awesome! They're actually much more noticeable in the photograph than they are live, but it's still obvious the 10% zit cream is working. Who would've thought that benzoyl peroxide could be helpful in clearing a doll's complexion too? :)

DAY 5                                                                                           DAY 6

The next two days are showing less dramatic results, though I do see a small difference, which the camera did not pick up well unfortunately.


As the 7th next spa day comes to an end, Mei's "fangs" are slightly less apparent, though it is becoming clear to me it's going to take longer than I had originally thought to get rid of them completely.

And something else has started troubling me. The area around the stained vinyl is starting to slightly discolor or fade. I've had little control over the exact area the peroxide went under the plastic wrap, and the many hours in the sun is starting to affect the non-stained areas to, and not in the best way!

All I can do is try to apply sunblock around those area and hope it doesn't spread and interfere with the marker stains. What a challenge this project has been so far!
Back Mei goes into the sun to bake a while longer.

DAY 10

By day 10 I'm starting to feel close to winding up Mei's tanning bed days. She's not quite there yet, but the marks are getting harder to see. Plus I don't want to ruin the unmarked vinyl!

DAY 13

At day 13, Mei is slowly, slowly looking better. The results seem to be slowing down, but there's still change each time she comes back from her outing. I'm thinking at this point one more time out and that's it. I'm hoping it will be enough!

DAY 15

By day 15, Mei is looking nearly like herself again. The marker stains are extremely faint, almost completely invisible. It's definitely the end of her benzoyl peroxide adventure. I could almost celebrate.

Except that the extended treatments have slightly discolored the chin area. If this was an arm or leg, it would be no thing at all. But because it's her face, it does present a problem. So I decided to take my reborning paints and re-stain (oh no don't say re-stain!)
Mei's skin to remove the sallow areas and turn it back to its original color. Yikes, I hope I can mix the paints to get the color exactly right! Even a little bit off will still leave me with discolored areas. Fortunately I've done portrait painting for years and I'm pretty god at mixing skin tones.

And viola! Her face looks normal again! And I am one tired but relieved doll restorer!

But let's not forget Mei had more problems than just her face! Her hair is still cut pretty badly on side! This one is definitely problematic. If Mei was wigged to begin with, I could easily swap out her wig for a new one that was a good match. But her hair is rooted, so to restore her to her original condition, I would have to re-root her bangs/ fringe, one hair plug at a time. I'm not so sure I'm ready for that, as the hair plugs are pretty dense.

Furthermore, as I'm looking the hair over, I realize the cut has gone beyond the bangs and up into the main hair. That's definitely beyond my scope, unfortunately. I need another option. :/

So for the time being, I decide to try to give her a bit of a "stylish" comb-over. It looks pretty messy no matter what, so I finally reluctantly elect to trim her bangs on the other side to even it out.

I dress her in something girly and give her a pink buttery clip but I can't help but wonder if I am really done. In all truth, Mei does not look very happy to me. . .

I take a series of photos to conclude my rescue post and make Mei look like that stunning "AFTER" portrait. But for some reason, none of the pictures click.

I suddenly realize what the true solution is, and that I'm not done with Mei at all!

After temporarily attaching a false hair piece to the front of Mei's head for my official List of Asian Dolls and Pottery Barn Kids post, it's time to get serious!

It finally occurred to me what Mei needed: A new persona--and a new gender. As long as I was going to have to re-wig, I might as well make it count! There are so few boy dolls as is, and there are even less ethnic boy dolls. I am not aware of any 18" Asian boy doll, so what the hey, I went for it.

I didn't have time to make any new boy clothes for him so I borrowed some I had already made for his buddies and gave him a hoodie. He's rocking his new look!

With his new persona, he needed a new name. So he's Ming-Yue now. His American friends call him Mick. He's quite happy to go by either name. And I'm pretty happy to finally bring MIng-Yue's long story to a close. :)

Mei Before
Ming After


Karla's picture

I have been trying to put a name to my eBay Gotz-Puppe Asian doll. She looks like your Kimberly but with paler lip color. Of course hat could be put down to different computer screens. She is dressed in a white kimono type top in a satiny fabric and rainbow satin trim. She has magenta/pink/purple paints that are cinched/gathered and the bottom. It would seem to be her original clothing, as she has a matching 'belt' with Gotz embroider on it. Thanks for the info on yrour page! Karla
Little Raven's picture

I got curious and had a look through a couple of my old Gotz catalogs to see if I could find your doll, but didn't find an exact match. I did find one from 1990 with a but not in the same colors. It may have been a different doll altogether.

I only have 2 or 3 catalogs so my search was limited. Might be fun to track down with the right resources. I do love doll archaeology.  ;)

Good luck with your search.

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