Feverish auction comes to sudden end as buyer takes decisive action to claim the princess.

Japan’s highly developed otaku culture means that for those with a penchant for niche hobbies, those niches can stretch very, very deep. But while an intense interest in anime or video games can seem puzzling to outsiders, perhaps no passion is more inscrutable than that of Japan’s hard-core doll otaku.

Even in Japan, doll otaku are considered to be on an extreme end of the bell curve in terms of leisure pursuits. Being so far from the mainstream means that for those who enjoy doll collecting, it’s likely nothing else quite scratches that particular itch, which brings us to doll manufacturer Volks, makers of the Super Dolfie doll line.

As part of the festivities at the Doll Party doll expo, held in Tokyo during the early May Golden Week holiday period, Volks was displaying an intricate one-off of Princes Odette, the tragically cursed protagonist of classic Russian ballet Swan Lake (and, by extension, the oft-forgotten U.S. animated film The Swan Princess).

Volks wasn’t just exhibiting its Princess Odette at the event, either. The doll was also being offered for sale, but in light of its rarity, the manufacturer figured it could let market forces determine its worth by auctioning off Her Royal Highness.

Because Doll Party serves as a gathering of hobbyists with very specific tastes, a bidding war quickly broke out. At 11:50 a.m., the high bid was already a startling 520,000 yen (US$4,690), but the leapfrogging was only beginning. An hour later, the top offer had nearly tripled, climbing to 1.33 million yen. After another 60 minutes, at 1:50 p.m., it was up to 2.7 million yen.

That turned out to be the last update Volks had to write on the doll’s information board, however. See, while it was holding an auction for Princess Odette, the company had also designated a buy-it-now price, and one deep-pocketed collector took Volks up on its offer by shelling out six million yen (US$54,000) for it.

Granted, we’ve seen anime figures with seven-digit yen price tags before, but those are usually full-scale, human-sized statues. In contrast, Volks’ Super Dolfies usually measure about 55 centimeters (22 inches) in height. Even with Odette’s more compact dimensions, though, we doubt her buyer will be taking the pricey princess out to Tokyo Disneyland anytime soon, for fear of her getting lost, damaged, or dirty.

Source: Twitter/@volks_doll