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DrunkkToys : Concept To Completion - Prototyping and addressing technical challenges!

Prototyping: From Concept to Reality: Discuss the creation of a prototype, sharing insights on company research and addressing technical challenges associated with vinyl toys... after our previous posts HERE and HERE, Igino aka Morticella of DrunkkToys continues to share his series on the experience he has had in creating his characters... and this is the third installment. So enjoy the read, and be on the lookout of the others!
Now that you have your design and you're eager to bring it to fruition, it may sound exhilarating. However, it's essential to remain composed. If you aim to deviate slightly from mass art toy production, you may encounter challenges. Primarily, you need to locate a factory willing to undertake the production for you. When I initiated my research, I aimed to steer clear of using a Chinese factory. It's not a matter of snobbery, but rather a preference for legal procedures. In my perspective, a contract with a Chinese entity doesn't hold the same weight, and there seems to be a lack of enforceability. To mitigate this concern, I began exploring factories with a legal presence in the West. Eventually, I came across a U.S. company based in New York City. I reached out to them to inquire about a quote for my robot design toy.
Following a brief conversation, it became evident that I would encounter significant challenges. The process appeared overly complicated, and the company seemed uncertain about the feasibility of realizing my vision. After a week of discussions, they provided a quote of $2,000 for the prototype alone. What was even more disconcerting was their lack of clarity regarding the pricing for the mass production phase. This marked the conclusion of my research with them; the prospect of investing $2,000 without a clear understanding of the final market price was discouraging.
I decided to explore the option of working with a Chinese factory. However, they began questioning the originality of my design, suggesting it might have been borrowed from a video game. Frustrated with this line of inquiry, I found it difficult to continue the conversation. Nevertheless, it became apparent that, even with them, the design posed challenges. The technical limitations of vinyl, which I had initially overlooked, surfaced. Despite my determination, I sought out a third factory in China, but the outcome remained unchanged—they couldn't produce the design as a vinyl toy. It seemed that the intricacies of the design, especially its small components, were a significant drawback for this manufacturing technology. So, it was back to the drawing board, with the need to create a new design.
Now armed with a new design, I crossed paths with BalkongToys on Instagram. Having prior experience with Chinese factories, he provided me with a reliable contact—a source less likely to engage in scams. This factory, unlike my previous encounters, was capable of offering a comprehensive quote for my toy. While not inexpensive, the price was realistic, albeit one that would necessitate a market price of at least $149 per piece. Although not the most favorable cost, I'll delve into these challenges more deeply in the upcoming post.
I believed I had finally resolved my issue and sent $335 to initiate work on the prototype. However, my optimism was short-lived as I discovered they were altering my Rabbit without informing me. They sent me files where my art toy appeared overweight, leaving me incredibly frustrated. When I questioned them, they cited balance issues and other excuses. Fed up, I decided to take matters into my own hands and printed it myself. Surprisingly, there were no balance problems; the ghost I envisioned effectively lowered the toy's center of gravity. The factory, in an attempt to regain my trust, decided to refund the money and continue working on it. While some might see this as a positive resolution, I was even more upset because I lost my negotiating leverage. Furthermore, I had to endure a lengthy wait of almost three months before receiving my prototype.
I want to emphasize that communication was extremely challenging; their English proficiency was quite basic. Although they often claimed to understand, it was evident that they were reluctant to admit their limited mastery of the language. While English isn't my native language, I have a solid understanding and even studied Latin, which surprisingly aids comprehension in sophisticated English. Frustration over communication issues reached a heightened level.
Adding to the difficulties, they consistently failed to meet deadlines, missing them two-thirds of the time. When I finally inspected the prototypes, my discouragement reached its peak. The arms and legs were not black as intended. How could someone assume that a black body should have magenta arms? Additionally, the pants lacked the updates I had specified, and even the tail turned out to be magenta. It was a significant setback for me, and at that moment, after three months, nothing aligned with my initial vision.
Fast forward to the present, after the refund, they are now requesting payment once again. While the financial aspect is not the primary concern, the real issue lies in the fact that the prototype does not align with my specifications. It appears that they have no intention of addressing these issues until the pre-mass production stage. Simultaneously, I've started seeking quotes from other Chinese factories. Some offer more competitive prices, but the challenge is that they can only produce my art toys in resin, not vinyl. At this juncture, I'm contemplating a switch from vinyl to resin. Although I haven't reached a final decision, I recognize the need to make a choice promptly. Catch you in the upcoming post, stay tuned!

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