1. Whatever happened to ThisIsBlythe?

How the site that started it all became big pile of scam

The front page of ThisIsBlythe when Gina Garan still ran the site

The good old days of thisisblythe

Any newcomer to the Blythe doll hobby is likely to stumble across thisisblythe․com. Sadly, it’s now nothing more than a scammy site that sells knock-off dolls for an eye-watering markup. You can easily get the same fake Blythe dolls on eBay or AliExpress for a fraction of what they charge.

Screenshots of ThisIsBlythe vs eBay listings for fake blythes

Same fake dolls on eBay [right] at easier to swallow prices…

The worst part is that the knock-off dolls are only the tip of the iceberg. They also steal images of one of a kind artist Blythe customs and “sell” them for a huge markup. Only they not only don’t have those dolls in stock, they also have no way of getting most of those dolls in stock. So any customer putting their money down on those is going to be disappointed to the tune of hundreds of dollars. Bleak.

Lolipopbears Etsy Listing for their custom Blythe doll

Genuine one of a kind Blythe custom doll listing by artist lolipopbears on Etsy

The same Lolipopbears doll image stolen and used on ThisIsBlythe

Fake listing on ThisIsBlythe with huge markup using image stolen from artist’s Etsy page

But this wasn’t always the case.

Back in the early 2000s this site was owned by the one and only Gina Garan. Gina Garan was responsible for Blythe’s resurgence after her photography books This Is Blythe and Blythe Style re-invigorated interested in Blythe among doll collectors.


The book that revived Blythe

I won’t go into the history of Blythe here because many others have already done a much better job than me already. I’m here to talk about how THE site for all things Blythe ended up as nothing more than a tacky site shilling counterfeit goods.

Long story short, thisisblythe․com and Gina Garan were victims of domain sniping.

Domain sniping is a practice where someone waits for the registration of a domain they want to lapse, and quickly registers it to themselves before the original owner can re-register it. Before 2013 it was a common way for people in the know to make a quick buck by extorting the original owner for money to hand the domain back, or gain internet clout by grabbing well-known domains under the noses of the large and powerful companies that owned them. Some people actually made a living just from sniping domains from their rightful owners.

Thankfully, after 2013 domain registrars had to comply with the ICANN rules that gave original domain owners a 30 day redemption period after their registration lapses, as well as reminders about domains due to expire. But that was too late for thisisblythe․com.

At some point before 2013 the domain registration for thisisblythe․com very briefly lapsed. But before Gina Garan could finish renewing her registration, the snipers had already stolen the domain out from under her. Sadly, there was no way for her to get the domain back, and it’s been under the control of these sleezy con-artists ever since.

[Update: This information needs correcting. I heard first hand about the domain sniping from Gina Garan at her online talk at BlytheConUK 2021. However, looking into the domain history, there are some incorrect assumptions on my part, and some very shady behaviour on the part of Gina's domain registrar at the time that is pretty involved. Due to this I'm going to get into the details in this post.]

But who are these domain snipers?

Well, that’s a whole can of worms I’ve had a lot of fun opening. This blog post looked too long on my site compared to on Medium so I've split it into two pieces. You can read the rest here.