How to: Remove/change eyes

A question often asked or wondered about by newcomers to the world of dollfie/bjd is how do you change the dolls eyes? It’s ok to explain it, but it can be hard to know what to do without ever seeing it before.

There are lots of eye changing tutorials and how to’s out there, but I don’t want to plagiarise anyone else’s work, so I have taken my own photos and compiled the following guide myself.

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If you are lucky, when you buy a doll, its eyes will have been fixed in by using putty of some sort. If this is the case then it is very easy to just pick out the eyes, remove the putty, then put new eyes in.  Some companies however, most notoriously, Volks, use hot glue to secure the dolls eyes in place. The hot glue is a mega pain to remove so the first few steps of this tutorial will also show how to remove hot glue from a dolls head.

If you don’t already know how to remove your dolls head, please check here (guide for resin heads coming soon!)

When you first pop open a Volks head, this is the sight that greets you. A hellish glob of yellow, dry hot glue. It is the devil and I hate removing it, but sooner or later it needs to be done. Otherwise those eyes aren’t ever coming out.

Step 1:

First thing you need to do is get the eyes out to avoid damaging them in the glue removal process. The way I find easiest to do this is to poke the eyes and press them until they fall out of the glue and rattle around in the back of the head. Sometimes it can be quite a push, but I haven’t found an easier or more efficient way. Please note: I have never damaged a doll or her eyes by doing this, however if you have dry, rough or oily skin, it wouldprobably be best for you to wear some soft gloves, or to first cover your fingers with a small piece of fabric or tissue. This way you will for sure not damage the doll or its eyes.

Once the eyes are sucessfully removed, your head will look something like this.

Step 2:

Using a hair dryer on medium or low setting, aim the hairdyer at the inside of the head. This will soften the glue. Make sure not to hold the hair dryer too close to the head, otherwise you could damage or deform the head. As you are using the hairdryer, the vinly will soften, a little bit is ok, but if it begins squishing really easily in your hand then stop, wait a minute, then start again.

Step 3:

When the hot glue begins to get warm, it will become soft. While it is still soft, carefully prise the glue out. I always do it using my thumb and have never had a problem, however if you need to, you could you a blunt instrument to aid yourself, but please be careful.

You probably won’t get all the glue out in one go, so once the glue cools down and hardens, repeat step 2, then step 3 and so on.

Step 4:

Once the glue is removed, your head will looks something like this. As you can see, I have left some of the glue in. It is time consuming to do and isn’t necessary to remove all of the glue. So as long as I have removed enough glue that it won’t obstruct putting the eyes back in, I’m happy.

Step 5:

Now that all that nasty glue is out of the way, you can put the eyes back in with a better product. It’s typically called eye putty, no matter what you use. I use uncoloured poster tak. I have used this for years and never had a problem with any of my dolls, however if you want an alternative, artists kneaded erasers and silicon earplugs also work very well. Do NOT use super sculpy, fimo or other similar modeling clays because they can damage the eyes and the doll to a state of disrepair.

Step 6:

Tear off some of the eye putty, or whatever you decided to use and then roll it into a long sausage like you used to at school. Once you made a nice sausage, wrap it around the eye like so.

Step 7:


Now that your eye has a coil of eye putty around it, hold it inside the head and look at it from the front. Line the eye up so it is angled nicely, then when you have a nice position, carefully press down the tak on the inside so that it sticks to the eye and the doll head. Try not to move or wobble the eye when doing so. The eye may move slightly, if it does, carefully press and examine the eye until you regain the desired position. Repeat the process for the second eye.

Step 8:

Your head should now look something like this inside. Although it does look messier then the hot glue did, it much more easier to maintain and manage doll eye changes this way and is well worth doing.

Your dolls eyes should now be all pretty again.

Step 9:

Finally, you can pop the dolls head cap back on, put her head back on her body and she will be one piece again.

12 thoughts on “How to: Remove/change eyes

  1. Is there a particular brand of hot glue that should be used on dollfies or does it matter? I’m thinking of customizing my own doll, but I really don’t want to pay extra money for their putty or glue gun, especially if there are easier alternatives. What would you say is easiest to work with? I don’t plan on taking the eyes out again. Thank you for the great tutorial. It really helped.

    • Any hot glue/gun should work fine. I used to use a cheap £5 mini glue gun I brought from the hobby store and never had any problems with it.

      Personally I would say Putty is easier to work with, but thats only because I have never fixed eyes in with hot glue before xD

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  3. For removing our eyes we didn’t even need to use any heat (or thinner) to get the glue out.

    It was actually pretty tidy in our DD’s head. We used a carving knife to help pry the glue and ended up with a nice clean interior.

    We did need to push on the eyes a bit to help get everything started. Also heating up the headcap to help remove it seems like it would be helpful – though with some squeezing and strength we had little problem removing it.

    You may want to mention to be careful of touching the doll’s face too much while doing all of this so reduce damage to the faceup.

    I found the latter part of your tutorial on using the eye putty extremely helpful – i’m surprised at how much is needed to hold those badboys in place!

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  5. Thanks for this, my Haruhi’s eyes have never been aligned properly and I need to take them out and put them back in at some point :)

  6. This post is awesome, the technique you have for putting on the putty is genius and saved me a lot of time, Thanks! ^w^

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