I am so totally with you: there is major change in the air. Dolls are leaving my house at a pretty fast clip (for me), but I'm also snatching up dolls at an even faster rate; there are BJDs coming up for sale that I NEVER expected to see, and unfortunately there's no way to test-drive a BJD (especially a rare one) except to buy it. I agree with captnwhitebread about the dragon-hoarding trap!
Part of me does want to get back to the happy days when I only had Pen and Claudine, and when every day was an exciting hunt to see what few, elusive things might be available on eBay or Y!J. (Oh, Poshdolls, how I miss you!) Now, there's just so much stuff everywhere--I think that's a kind of mental burden, even though of course I also think it's wonderful to have so much choice. But I'm not sure whether my feeling of suffocation is really because of the flood of new *things* on the market. Instead, I think the problem is that I find the flood of uninformed (many of them, to my mind, willfully, obstreperously, and insistently uninformed) people into the hobby overwhelming and offputting.
It isn't that I value a small hobby more than a larger one--I love fashion dolls, for heaven's sake!--but that the joy of learning new things seemed to be integral to BJDs when I first discovered them. Those "new things" included everything from maintenance and customization to the gleeful ferreting out and sharing of news and ordering information. There was a wonderful energy and excitement in the discoveries, and most people in the hobby seemed to be ready to embrace the new, the untried, and the uncertain not just because these are beautiful dolls, but also because it gave them a chance to learn something. It was that attitude that attracted me in the first place, as much as the dolls themselves.
Now, for many of the people who are making their presence felt so strongly on DoA (and Resinality and probably elsewhere, though I'm not elsewhere myself), there doesn't seem to be much patience, curiosity (except of a strange, inward-directed, self-absorbed kind), willingness to encounter and try to understand new cultures and ways of thinking, or flexibility of mind. I hear a belligerence in the tone of many first and second posts on DoA that baffles me; what is it that's attracting people with this habit of mind--such dogmatic aggressiveness about stating their opinions before they even know anything to pronounce on--to BJD ownership, which I thought required some experimentation, patience, and flexibility? And how did a hobby that began in the love of shared discovery get bogged down in so much repetitive, strident, navel-gazing ignorance?
Even the complaints on DoA (and the apologies) about "wall of text" posts seem symptomatic to me. God forbid that people should think and write in a nuanced, non-sound-bite way--or try to retain and apply information over time.
I thought better of this hobby. And my disappointment and discouragement are affecting the way I enjoy my dolls. I am so lucky to be old enough, and comfortable enough in the world, to be able to indulge my pleasures; I have the luxury of being able to bring dolls home (within reason) if I want them, without feeling that I'm risking my financial security. (Not that I don't joke about that!) But without a lively, stimulating, well-informed, curious, and joyful online community to share this pleasure with, it will be pretty lonely over here with just me and the dolls.
(And before anyone asks, because it would be reasonable to ask this: yes, LJ is wonderful. But as much as I love LJ, it doesn't have as much capacity for real-time conversation as a discussion forum or even a Yahoogroup.)
I want the BJD hobby to be huge. I want there to be room for every kind of pleasure in BJDs, from the glass-case-display kind to the "gimme a Sharpie and let me start scrawling a faceup!" kind. But I want it to be pleasure, not combat. And, yes, I want the experimental, customization-based origins of BJDs to be understood, and the intimately handmade, artist-driven nature of BJD manufacture respected, even by people who only want a beautiful display doll.
I'm sure I'm not thinking clearly about this; there's too much emotional stuff tangled up in my attempts to reason through what I really believe. But I do feel that participating in the online dimension of the BJD hobby is problematic for me now, where it was once an unalloyed pleasure. And this troubles me, because without online sharing with congenial people . . . well, I already said that.