Replacing Baby Face Eye Lenses

Many people like to change the eye color on their Baby Face dolls. It makes a nice change in appearance. The lovely custom Laura doll on the left was made by Cynthia (CC.) Grey eyes are a nice change and gives her a whole new look. The freckles are adorable, too. CC made all the custom dolls on this page.

The entire first batch of Baby Face dolls had very pale eyes that are not very pretty. This means that 100's of thousands of dolls ended up with the pale eyes! For the second production of Baby Face, Galoob made eye colors that were darker with rich deep colors. So, many of the BF collectors like to change the eyes on their dolls.

I break the eye in half first, so the front half of the eyeball will sit flat on the table and it's MUCH safer to work with it that way! If you can't pop the eye into two pieces (front and back), then use a pliers to crack it and get the back half off.

Some people use a vise to hold the eyeball while they work on it. That's another option that is possibly safer. I use an exacto knife to pry the lens out of the eyeball, and you do have to dig into the edge of the lens a teensy bit but it doesn't do enough damage to be noticeable later. Then push very firmly into the crack, and give a teensy bit of a twist to pop the lens.

Sometimes the exacto blade breaks. CC says the broken piece has hit her in the face, more than once - so she strongly recommends safety glasses when using the exacto knife.

UPDATE! I use the straight pick from this dental set to remove the lens from the eyeball. This works especially well for removing the lens from the doll's eye. Previously, I used an exacto knife to pry with but I think this small pick works much better, and is safer. These dental picks are handy when replacing lashes on dolls, as well. In fact, these dental tools are very useful for many crafty type projects.

UPDATE 2! Now I prefer to use a small pliers to remove the lenses from the replacement eye. I break the plastic apart (break off pieces) so I can remove the lens. I still use the picks to remove the lenses from the doll.

When you have the lens out of the eyeballs, then do the same thing with the doll's eyes: remove her lenses.

Christine (Woot's) husband helped her swap the lenses, while Christine took pictures. Here are their photos. First, he put the eye in a small vise.

Then he heated the eye with a blow dryer approx 45 seconds.

Woot had already broken the blade on her exacto knife, but that might have been an advantage, actually. Dear Hubby (DH) used the broken blade.

Ahh... success. Now, for the doll.

DeeDee gets the dryer treatment, too. CC suggested heating the eye because it possibly helps to soften any glue residue that might be on the lens.

Then DeeDee goes 'under the knife' need to worry though..he was gentle and she didn't feel a thing!!!!

Four girls were swapped out in no time....

NOTE... sometimes the doll's lenses are glued in place and there's no way you can get them out. This is actually a rare problem but the collectors have come across it from time to time... I think the manufacturer only used glue if there was a problem with the eye. Otherwise the iris is just pushed in place.

The first time I tried to swap lenses, it was a Laura doll who was a goner anyway: someone had ruined the head and it couldn't be fixed. But the eyes had been glued in and I never got the lenses out! The eyes were RUINED when I finally gave up. I'm not the only one who has encountered this. It's not common but there are some BF dolls with lenses that are very securely glued. And you won't know which ones are glued until you try to get them out.

When I got the nerve to try again with a different doll, I didn't have any problems! The lens popped right out, it was easy.

To remove the lens, I push down very firmly into the crack at the edge of the lens. Push down hard but very carefully so you don't lose control. When you've got some depth, then lever up on the edge of the lens and it should pop out fairly easily.

When you have the lenses out of the doll's eyes, then push the replacement lens in place. There is a little "snap" sound when it slides into place. The lens will be fine without glue. If necessary, I use the eraser-end of a pencil to push the lens in place.

Do not use SUPERGLUE to put the new lens in. Superglue will totally ruin the lens and the eye. Ask me how I know. :(

Most modern brands of eyes do not have the removable lens. You can't buy just any eyeballs for this lens-swapping trick. You need a specific style of eyeball with a removable lens.

You can replace the entire eye if you wish, and then it doesn't matter what eyes you use as long as they're the 20mm size. Replacing the entire eyeball is something that I haven't tried yet.

As with all my refurbishing tricks, do this at your own risk. And please be careful with the exacto knife, it's a serious blade! This Heidi is cute with grey eyes, but you can see that her mama has a new boo-boo.

Ann Pitingolo is the one who first discovered that we could swap the eye lenses. Ann has done some amazing things to customize her dolls. She turned Suzie into a yawning doll by stretching her mouth with heat from a hair dryer.

Ann did many heat treatments until the mouth eventually stretched into a yawn. She applied something to the eyelids for the "half-closed" appearance. Ann was also the first to attempt dye on her Baby Face dolls. We heard about it from Medoll's web site, and by the next day Ann had created her own Black Sarah doll.

This doll did lighten up after a few months. Initially she was darker than Ann wanted, because she was trying to match the Baby Face AA skintone. The dye mellowed to a softer brown after awhile.

Thank you to the Baby Face Club for
helping to compile this tutorial and providing photos.

Copyright (c) 2002, 2012 Cynthia Stevens All Rights Reserved