FAQ: Toy and Collectible Design & Invention – Happy Worker
We’ve created this FAQ to help those looking for small numbers of custom toys, as well as new toy inventors who want to learn more about getting started designing & making original toys and collectibles.
Quick info for:
- 1 or a few: How can I make just 1 or a few custom toys?
- Prototypes: Can you prototype my toy for me?
- Order sizes: What is the smallest order size when manufacturing toys and collectibles?
- Licensing: Can you produce my toy idea or license my invention?
- Resources: Helpful resources for new toy & collectible inventors and designers
1 or a Few: Can Happy Worker make just 1 or a few custom toys?
Sorry, this isn’t our specialty. Happy Worker manufactures toys, gifts and collectibles in the thousands of toys at a time.
But all is not lost – if you’re just looking for just 1 or a couple of custom toys, there are others better suited to helping out. We hope you find a happy toyful and joyful solution with either:
- Toy Customizers – Craftspeople & hobbyists that take existing toys and rework them by hand, using a combination of crafting, sculpting and hacking. While many types of toys can be customized it’s most common for plastic toys like action figures and dolls. Some customizers are hobbyists, while others are creative professionals who dabble in customizing in their free time.
- Budgets: range from low $100’s to low $1,000’s per toy.
- Find a Toy Customizer: by searching “toy customizers” online, or by asking around in toy-focused online forums & communities
- Sculptors / Sewers / Craftspeople – Creatives and artists who have expertise with the materials that your toy is made from – e.g. plastic toys – sculptors; plush toys – sewers; wood toys – carpenters; metal toys – metal casters, etc etc.
- Budgets: varies widely based on project, but can range from low $100’s to low $1,000’s or more per toy.
- Find a Craftsperson: through online forums and communities, craft marketplaces like Etsy, craft and art schools, or by the tried-and-true asking people in your community – “Hey, do you know anyone who’s good with ___________…”.
- Model / Prototype Shops – Professional model makers with expertise in creating one-off or small prototypes. Some shops specialize in certain materials and types of models, while some shops can be rather diverse.
- Budgets: range from low to mid $1,000’s and up per toy, depending on complexity, fabrication method and revisions.
- Find a Model Shop: Search online for prototypers, model makers, prototype shops, etc.
Prototypes: Can Happy Worker create a toy prototype?
Yes and no… we’re going to use tried and true “yes, but” answer…
- Yes, we create prototypes for each and every new order of toys and gifts we make – prototyping is a core part of our happy, collaborative & thorough design and production process. Each prototype is approved by our clients before we start production on their order of toys or collectibles.
- But, as a toy manufacturer Happy Worker only create prototypes together with a production order, typically in the thousands of toys at a time. We’re unable to create standalone prototypes.
Order Sizes: What’s the smallest number of toys Happy Worker can make?
The short, ballpark answer – in the low thousands. The long answer is it depends on the type of toy & its materials, along with your goals and budgets or pricing targets. For example…
- Plastic toys: we make plastic toys like action figures in order sizes of 5,000 toys and up
- Plush toys: most stuffed plush toys are best for batches of 3,000 toys and up
- Resin sculptures: like figurines or replicas, are generally created at 1,000 collectibles and up
- Other types of toys: may be possible in the lower thousands, while ultra-limited run toys and collectibles with higher prices/budgets may be made around the high hundreds, or low 1,000’s and up.
Licensing: Can Happy Worker produce my toys?
Happy Worker doesn’t typically work with toy inventors to prototype and manufacture their toy inventions. We specialize in working with brands, retailers, companies and agencies that want to create toys and collectibles for resale, gifting, and marketing. We haven’t built out services for the unique needs of inventors and aren’t able to consult with or partner with inventors.
While we can’t consult with inventors we do want new toy inventors to succeed & happily launch their new toys into the hands of fans. So to help you get started with toy invention we’ve compiled our favorite guides and tips in the toy invention resources section below.
Licensing: Will Happy Worker consider licensing my invention?
We sincerely appreciate you thinking of us with your new toy concept. But – and unfortunately it’s a big but – we’re unable to consider ideas from outside our team or outside our clients’ teams. Sorry!
However, other toy & collectible companies may consider working with inventors. We recommend that you read more about toy licensing and working with licensing agents in the first two guides in the toy invention resources section below.
Toy Invention Resources: Things to help new toy and game inventors get started
Dear inventor – just like you we love designing and inventing new things... especially toys and collectibles! Before we created our first toy we did an incredible amount of research, learning everything we could get our hands on. Thankfully these days it’s easier to find answers!
If you’re serious about designing and inventing toys, we’d strongly encourage you to do your homework – starting with these excellent resources:
- Attend a Toy Fair in person as a toy designer/inventor
Toy Fairs are annual trade shows where the toy industry gets together and shares their upcoming releases for the upcoming year. The most important toy fairs are:
- Many toy associations have good web sites with additional research and resources on the toy market in your country. Check to see if your country has a national toy association.
- Find and join a local inventor’s group, grassroots association, or meetup. Happy Worker continues to be an active participant in a number of inventor groups and communities. They’re a great way to meet other inventors – including those who have already created, designed, developed and commercialized their ideas.