Doll eyes: Ersa Flora / FantasEYES comparison and review

If eyes freak you out, you might want to look away, because this post is going to have a lot of pictures of them. Doll eyes, blank and staring. It’s only when I have to write something along those lines that I realize my hobbies are a little unusual. But let’s move on, shall we?

I recently received an order of some custom eyes for my favorite doll, because he’s my favorite and I’m always looking to improve him. It’s always a challenge to find eyes I like for him, since the selection of purples is slim, the selection of cat or slitted pupil eyes is slimmer, and the selection of purple slitted pupil eyes in 12mm is basically nonexistent.

Enter Ersa Flora.

While I was mostly happy with the eyes I already had, I wanted to make the change to urethane resin because I prefer the milky look of the whites in photographs. I was excited when I read that the brand now offers eyes in a resin base with a glass dome, so I ordered two pairs – One red and one purple, both in a custom design. What I received surprised me in a lot of ways.

The top two pairs are what I ordered, and the bottom three were freebies! The bottom left have a beautiful aurora borealis sort of finish, pinky-greenish iridescence that’s amazing in person. The center are metallic red with a cat pupil. They have an almost holographic quality to them, which makes them dazzling in the light. Bottom right is natural blue, which are definitely my favorite out of the 3 pairs, and those found their way into one of my other dolls right away.

There are a few differences between the resin eyes and the acrylics. The acrylic are a hollow back, which makes it easier to get the eye putty to stick. The resin are a flat back, which I find easier to position. There’s a little difference in color, too. The acrylics are a bright, clear white, while the resin have more a milky, slightly translucent quality to them that I absolutely love. Additionally, the resin eyes have a slightly larger base. This is great for me, because it reduces gapping when the eyes aren’t in a static, forward position. This is similar to other types of urethane eyes, such as the brown pair from MakoEyes below.

The above photo also offers the opportunity to show that the acrylic base is very similar in color to the bright white of the MakoEyes urethane. While urethane eyes are typically preferable because of the depth in the eye, it’s interesting to note that the Ersa Flora acrylic eyes mimic this depth by having the pupil (in normal eyes, not cat eyes) set above the backing.

Both the resin and acrylic eyes feature a low dome, which makes them fit much better in dolls with small eyes, like my Iplehouse boys.

Another benefit is the smooth detail. In the above photo, you can see the Ersa Flora acrylic blue eyes compared to Dollmore acrylic brown eyes. While the brown eyes are larger, which should allow for better detail, they actually have worse. The eye shows a lot of spotty pixelation, which can be very noticeable in photos if not in person. Here’s another interesting comparison:

From left to right:
Ersa Flora acrylic 12mm
Dollmore acrylic 14mm
Glib acrylic 16mm
Unknown maker glass 14mm
Ersa Flora urethane resin 12mm
MakoEyes urethane resin 16mm

It’s a pretty wide range of quality, if not a wide range of types, but the one thing that probably makes the Ersa Flora eyes stand out as noteworthy is the level of customization.
There are a few companies who offer customization options. With MakoEyes, they allow very minor customization options, such as omitting glitter from the irises of eyes that normally have glitter. Glass eye makers like Captured In Glass and more expensive urethane brands like Vings allow more robust options like custom color blends. These are great, but the problem I kept running into is that there are size limitations on customization, and the smallest customizable sizes were 14mm, which is too big for the doll I was trying to fit.

Ersa Flora doesn’t have size restrictions on customization; if you can design it, it can be shrunk.  The red and purple urethane resin eyes were designed by me in Photoshop, sent in and made exactly as I imagined. They feature delicate texture and a lot of shine, plus they glow in the dark.

While the red are very vivid and glow brightly after only a few moments in light, the purple are so subdued that they require a lot of effort to see results. While that’s really my only complaint, I do understand that purple and blue glow pigments and powders are typically the weakest, so there’s not really a lot to be done about it. It may be a result of changing materials, too. I have an older pair of glow eyes from around 4 years ago that are more vivid, but they have a higher dome than the new type, which can make them hard to position and cause fitting issues in some dolls.

The new eyes do light up better after being exposed to UV light for long periods of time, which may be of concern to those who are worried about their dolls yellowing in heavy light exposure. It isn’t an issue for me, since the doll I wanted them for has been damaged, modified, repaired and airbrushed so heavily that there’s little concern for discoloration. For people worried about light exposure but still interested in glow effects for eyes, I recommend red and green, as those two colors charge and glow brightly with little light exposure.

As a final closing note, I feel it’s worth mention that Ersa Flora is a very small company, managed by one person. Support of the company is support of an independent artisan, which is something I always endorse. Due to a high volume of sales and every single pair being handmade, wait times are an average of several weeks at minimum. I placed my order at the beginning of November and received the eyes at the beginning of January. Long waits are nothing new to most ball-jointed doll collectors, though, so it’s just something worth note.

All in all, this order has helped keep Ersa Flora as one of my favorite options for eyes, and as far as quality for the money, you simply aren’t going to find something better.

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