Wednesday, November 2, 2011


So there I was, a closet Barbie collector, thinking I was a nut. That I was strange. Because I still loved Barbies at my age.

Then, early this year, I discovered there were other nuts like me. A lot of them even crazier, more rabid, more obsessed with collecting Barbies and other vinyl creatures than I was.

I got a peek at the world of adult collectors. It was a strange world, its citizens with quirks, norms, traditions. And they even have their own language.

One of the new terms I learned was NRFB. Outside the Barbie world, those who collect action figures and other iconic toys also know this term.

It means Never Removed From Box. A collector buys an item for the simple pleasure of owning it, displaying or storing it, staring at it behind a wall of plastic, and occasionally, lovingly wiping the dust off its box

Never Removing From the Box (NRFBing) is meant to preserve the doll, keep it in its pristine condition, so that it will always look as great as it did on the day it came out of the factory, usually somewhere in China.

NRFBing is also meant to give it a premium when the time comes to sell or swap. I heard that a car loses 75% of its value once it's driven from the showroom. A doll that has been deboxed goes through pretty much the same kind of devaluation. An NRFB doll, vintage or otherwise, can fetch you a better price in ebay and elsewhere than one that has already been deboxed, even if the deboxed doll is in good condition or has not been played with at all.

As for me, I don't get it.

I buy dolls to play with them, to dress them up, to assign personalities and even back stories and secret lives to them. The concept of reselling them hurts my heart. They're not investments. They're, uhm, well, they're dolls. Pretty dolls. And they're mine! And forever will be.

Aside from the above reasons, my ability to delay gratification is practically nil. I have the will power of a doorknob. And the EQ of a well, a person with very low EQ. ;) (Forgive my sorry attempt at simile.)

Yes, it took me more than 5 years before I finally deboxed my Kate Spade Barbie, but that's only because it was not covered in plastic, so I could still touch it even while it was tethered to the packaging.

Though I have a few dolls that are still NRFB, it will be a matter of time before I get them out of the confines of the box. They are only in their boxes because I am still too busy to play with them. Opening every box brings a little bit of that Christmas eve feeling. And I enjoy the process slowly. I take pictures of every new doll. So I need to make sure I allocate time for the deboxing. 

I also have a few dolls which have been deboxed just for the pleasure of it, but because they're collectors' items, fancier and fussier than other playtime dolls, I have put them back in boxes. But the attachments have been removed, so they are no longer technically NRFB.

Anyway, here's Sari (I name some of my dolls, but I haven't gotten round to naming them all.), a Barbie Basics doll from the Metallics collection. I bought her more than a month ago from Kid's Depot in Market Market. So many things happened with life and work right after the purchase, so it took me a while to get to deboxing it.

Join me in the step-by-step process of liberating Sari from the confines of that plastic and paper jail.

Don't be fooled by her feisty appearance. Deep inside, she's very sad to be stuck in this box, untouched, immobile, loved only from afar. She's aching to be free. To be played with, to be touched, to be refashioned, to interact with other dolls.

All you need is a pair of scissors. This is optional, though. You can use your bare hands to rip through the packaging. I am civilized (or I try to be) so I use scissors.

Once you've pulled this from the box, technically, it's no longer NRFB. However, it's still fairly easy at this point to put it back in and just seal the cover with a bit of tape.

This is the point of no return. Once you start snipping at the tethers that hold Barbie in place.

Be careful as you snip to ensure the scissor edge does not damage the doll skin.

Sari can't wait to get out of there. Just a few more snips.   

I only have to remove your feet, Sari.

She's free! She's free!

We just have to remove the stitched plastic that protects the doll's hair while it's in transit and on the shelves.

Alleluia! Alleluia!

Collectors' items usually come with a stand. It's sometimes disguised with the packaging, so make sure you don't throw it away with the box.

Sari relishes her freedom.

Well, whatever freedom an inanimate doll may have. She still needs me to achieve her poses.

Even cheesy poses like this one. 

Sari says goodbye to her plastic and paper prison. 

She breathes in the fresh air and says in a sultry voice lightly tinged with an Eastern Asian accent, "Thanks for liberating me, Gege." 


  1. what a fun documentation! I love her pose when you set her free..she looks like an angel flying!!!

    I too liberate my dolls (although only the basics edition). I still find it hard to debox the collectors edition dolls.

    I'm now a certified Gege blog follower!

  2. Hi Ms.Gege, didn't know you were a doll collector.
    Instead of NRFB, most collectors state their collections as MOC/MIB (Mint on Card/Mint in Box) and sometimes with 'S' for sealed. :D