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Plush toy from design to prototype. Go with China or any other recommendations?

stuffed_toy

New Contributor
Oct 19, 2018
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Dear all,

I will go straight to the chase. I'm trying to start a business basing on selling custom plush toys, right now I'm trying to create a prototype from 2d sketch (which is done). At this point I have a couple of questions (and problems). This is all new to me so I hope I can learn from your experiences.


I'm located in Europe, budget for prototype 500-1500 USD.

  1. I'm trying to get a prototype done in China, but so far haven't found a reputable company that is willing to do it without purchasing at least 500 toys first. So my question is can you recommend and China company for prototyping such toy? I would like to see the prototype first before purchasing 500 units.
  2. Did you have to travel to China in order to make this work?
  3. What about copyrights? I mean at the beginning stages of talk I need to somehow show them my design but this is prior to signing any type of NDA. So can they clone the design and screw me over at this point already? (I'm not saying my design is super precious just it is better to be safe than sorry).
  4. Is it better to go with European company for the prototyping work?

Thank you.
 

Kid

Bronze Contributor
Speedway Pass
Mar 1, 2016
298
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Hi @stuffed_toy,

I see you are eager to do your prototype. Its both good and bad.
Good - you have a drive, congratulations.
Bad - you might invest a lot (both cash and effort) in non verified idea.

So solution might be not to develop your product on your own but licence it to company who produce toys.

Take a look at Stephen's Key video about his inventions.

He basically tells that some of his ideas ware one page mail to company.

I think this way is worth looking at.

Regards
 

Readerly

Yes and
Speedway Pass
Sep 25, 2017
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Portland, Oregon
Most reputable Chinese manufacturers will work with you to develop a prototype of a plush toy before you make an initial order. But you have to be willing to pay for it--say, 100 bucks, give or take, plus air courier fees. Or you could try this service: budsies.com
 

Arun Siva

aspiring 大君 of the bourgeoisie
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Did you have to travel to China in order to make this work?
if you care about your business and actually want this to grow yes you must be willing to go to China and oversee operations at some point.

Is it better to go with European company for the prototyping work?
it depends what type of product or what your niche customer is. If it is a higher end plush toy company like i wokred with in the past (check out Hansa toys) maybe this is important. But Hansa makes enivornmentally safe and great plush toys. I got one for my child. Look at the quality control and construction of hansa plushes. By far the best. it all depends what you are going for.
 

MTEE1985

Gold Contributor
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@Walter Hay
Dear all,

I will go straight to the chase. I'm trying to start a business basing on selling custom plush toys, right now I'm trying to create a prototype from 2d sketch (which is done). At this point I have a couple of questions (and problems). This is all new to me so I hope I can learn from your experiences.


I'm located in Europe, budget for prototype 500-1500 USD.

  1. I'm trying to get a prototype done in China, but so far haven't found a reputable company that is willing to do it without purchasing at least 500 toys first. So my question is can you recommend and China company for prototyping such toy? I would like to see the prototype first before purchasing 500 units.
  2. Did you have to travel to China in order to make this work?
  3. What about copyrights? I mean at the beginning stages of talk I need to somehow show them my design but this is prior to signing any type of NDA. So can they clone the design and screw me over at this point already? (I'm not saying my design is super precious just it is better to be safe than sorry).
  4. Is it better to go with European company for the prototyping work?

Thank you.
 

wade1mil

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
FASTLANE INSIDER
Speedway Pass
Jun 29, 2011
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  • I'm trying to get a prototype done in China, but so far haven't found a reputable company that is willing to do it without purchasing at least 500 toys first. So my question is can you recommend and China company for prototyping such toy? I would like to see the prototype first before purchasing 500 units.
It sounds like you're talking to suppliers on Alibaba. Look for stuffed toys forums and find out who they use for manufacturing. You're more likely to find a good manufacturer than picking one out of an internet phone book. Is there a way you can crowdfund or presell a single design in order to fund an initial order of 500+ units? This would help you in two ways: 1) raise the capital required and 2) validate the need (or want, really) while minimizing your risk.

  • Did you have to travel to China in order to make this work?
No.

  • What about copyrights? I mean at the beginning stages of talk I need to somehow show them my design but this is prior to signing any type of NDA. So can they clone the design and screw me over at this point already? (I'm not saying my design is super precious just it is better to be safe than sorry).
Yes. China creates knock offs of even the biggest brands. I would just find a company you feel like you can trust, and develop a strong relationship with them.

Most reputable Chinese manufacturers will work with you to develop a prototype of a plush toy before you make an initial order. But you have to be willing to pay for it--say, 100 bucks, give or take, plus air courier fees. Or you could try this service: budsies.com
For a custom product like this, my guess is it will be more like $400-800. Or the quality would be absolutely terrible.
 

Readerly

Yes and
Speedway Pass
Sep 25, 2017
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Portland, Oregon
For a custom product like this, my guess is it will be more like $400-800. Or the quality would be absolutely terrible.
Or you could see if the supplier has something similar in their catalog and have them modify it. That would reduce the cost of the prototype.
 

biophase

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I get custom stuff dog toys made all the time. They aren’t that big but $500 sounds like a lot of money to make a custom plush toy unless you were making one that’s pretty big for a pretty detailed.

I think I probably pay about $50 per custom dog toy but then again they are pretty simple designs.
 

Walter Hay

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If you want to reduce the risk of knockoffs appearing on the market even before your prototype is finished you should not have it made in China.

There are countless skilled sewing people across Europe who could make a prototype for you. Look around locally. If you can find a group of women who are skilled at sewing they could even become your production team.

Have a read through this GOLD! - I Built A Worldwide Business From Broke. for inspiration.

This member in Australia employs people with disability to do precision sewing for her business.

Walter
 

Arun Siva

aspiring 大君 of the bourgeoisie
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There are countless skilled sewing people across Europe who could make a prototype for you.
agreed. countries like Hungary and Lithuania have great tailors that will be more economical then say a germany or italy. Hungarian labour is still pretty lucrative till date.
 

Vanesco

New Contributor
Oct 29, 2018
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My wife and child like soft toys. Every holiday I try to make them a present in the form of some original toy.
 
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Areding

New Contributor
Oct 12, 2018
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The Chinese of course will invent and put into production everything, but if you want to do toys, it is better to do them with your own hand and with an exclusive design. Such toys are much more valuable.
 

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