Discussion in 'Transformers 3rd Party Discussion' started by P4NCH0, Sep 10, 2020.
Advice, ya say?
This. Some people seem to think producing a toy from scratch is just a fun little thing they can do in their spare time for a couple hundred bucks - that's not how it works.
It isn't fun and it isn't cheap. Unless you have tens of thousands of dollars that you are ok with never making back, don't even try.
If you aren't the money or the designer then you fall into a unique place. I don't know how much of this you may already know, so forgive the possible overlap. Standing up a third party company is costly. Most of the biggies who've exhibited longevity own businesses outside of toys and are wealthy in their own right without having produced a single figure. When they came into the third party space they had the money to make toys and with a similar dream to yours I'd wager, but again... they had the capital and closeness to manufacturing. If the debacle with the third party Sunstreaker that was the dream project of a non-Asian designer taught us nothing, it's that proximity to manufacturing and even the owning of your own factory makes it more certain that you can deliver a quality product. The guys who own Maketoys, X-Transbots and Fanstoys owned manufacturing businesses before dabbling in toys and I'm sure if you had all three in a room they could tell you that selling third party TF's doesn't keep the lights on. They augment with their other business(es).
I actually sat in an interesting meeting between two big TF retailers at a BotCon years ago and the biggest lesson I learned is, it's better to share risk/cost than to go all in even on something like a repaint exclusive. Manufacturing (not to mention cutting steel molds) would price most out of the market.
Me personally I'd start by gathering some decent designers and putting together some ideas that you could then take to a larger more established company based in Asia to have the product actually made. You could start from ground zero and build your little scrappy business, but as someone who (by your own admission) knows nothing about that side, you'd be starting at a very significant disadvantage.
All of that said, I do wish you the best of good fortune in your venture. God bless!
Yeah, MP figures can cost around $20,000 for the design alone
I'd recommend starting out with upgrade kits or legends class figures
As far as I know, I don't think Half the Battle Toys ever actually went into actual production with anything? Even their OS Gravity Builder parts, which I think they took preorder payments on, haven't shown up anywhere. They may not be the best example of how to go about things.
If I ever moved forward with my own 1-man 3P plan it would be on a really small scale (100 units or so).
I would post preorders with a maximum yield of 100 units but get enough supplies to make an extra 10-20 overruns/spare parts.
I'd use a small injection molding press like this one: Model 150A PLASTIC INJECTION MACHINE
And make my own molds out of cold-casted resins from 3D printed protos: LNS Technologies FAQs
I would try to be environmentally responsible AND fiscally frugal by using variable plastics like these guys:
I would have an option to package these as build-your-own Kits because it would save on labor and give the model builders a nice treat...
I would only use Paypal
I would only use Trackable Parcel services with signature. Yeah it's a bit more $$ but it reduces scam rates and helps maintain good reputation of both the buyer and seller.
Mailing list for future early bird access.
Post daily/weekly snapshots of progress so to reduce the flood of "where's my schtuff" emails.
One of the sub-lines would be homages to classic slasher flicks. Like a Hellraiser puzzlebox that inverts into the Pillar of Souls. Because it wouldn't be 3P without an obscure reference to something from the 80's.
I noticed a few people mention that it's a good idea to test the waters/start with a very small project, and I agree! Consider starting by finding a designer who is equally passionate about the movie line....if you're the ideas guy, then perhaps there's a weapon or attachment, joint fix or other 'really desirable' upgrade that you can find an easy way to produce. Hopefully this will motivate the designer to join you for the first step.
This 'starter project' will help you get a feel for the delights and challenges from creating something from scratch, as well as the first key steps: creating a brand, a fan base, a marketing/messaging approach, an idea of the amount of time/money involved, and (hopefully) the beginning of a supply/distribution chain.
Something to consider: is this a hobby thing or a serious business thing? That question alone is very key, and will help drive a lot of important decisions as you go forward.
I think they talked about what sort of challenges they had faced even before going off the ground.
Respectfully, this is an awful, awful idea for a business.
Aren't Fan Toys people ex-takara designers?
I want that machine so hard now.
There's a bunch on the market if you know where to look. The benchtop models are small R&D and are "broomstick" repeaters. Very manually intensive when you're talking 100x 5 molds with an average of 3 sprues each. But if you have the willpower then certainly beats the $15K floor model that does 50 gallons of pellets an hour.
Realistically, what's your time to market to put out a product? With small production runs, e.g. 1,000 to 2,500 units, you will be beholden to the production factory's availability schedule, which still isn't guaranteed if the factory receives a more lucrative job to prioritize over your original production schedule date. Let's just say 2 years from now to release the very first figure. By then, would you still be interested in these particular figures/characters or the aesthetics? Also what if another company produces a superior piece in the mean time or even knocks off your design?
As a part of the iterative production process, you will need to QA/QC the pre-production, sample units. Then ensure that the production run are produced in adherence to the desired standard. For example, what if your final samples are amazing quality, but then the production run creates inferior quality for whatever reason. You'll need to take measures to mitigate these risks.
Additionally, Disney seems to be very keen on protecting the movie line IP. So is it feasible for you to even try to start off producing an unofficial figure based on their IP? All in all, amongst what everyone else shared prior, the amount of personal time and capital required in producing a few unofficial figures to "surpass" the current official (or unofficial) figures seems like a poor choice. There's just an incredible amount of uncertainty and risk counternance to instilling confidence to be successful with this particular venture.
If you see otherwise, then best of luck to you.
If that's the case, then they obviously quit before they learned any useful skills there.
I think it's easier if the owner of the company is the designer itself. I know @risingforce started more or less like that...
Looks kinda like what we saw in the wei jiang raids, same model?
Probably not. Wei Jiang was pressing out tub fulls of sprues. That means weight controls and double intakes and hoppers and automated extrusion and reset. Probably one of the big 8-footers for that.
This one is a hand-operated lever that fits on a tabletop.
I work for a facility that manufactures components for industrial hydraulic and rotary equipment. I took my kids to work a couple times when they were younger and they would brag to their friends that their old man worked at "How It's Made" LOL.
Going back to the original question: if you have the capital (money, manpower, facility space, equipment) to be able to have one of those big injection molding machines then more power to you. But you gotta start somewhere, so I will mirror what others have said, start out with smaller risk and more control and oversight over the project. Use profits from that to finance the next innovation at a slightly larger scale. Diving head first into the shallow end is tricky business.
My advice is to search the forum for the myriad of other threads on the same topic that end in shattered dreams when realizing costs vs risks of production. Good luck, innovation in the industry is needed.
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