Stress relievers as stylish as true retail toys.
We’ve been told by many that we’re the best stress ball manufacturer out there. But we have an unfair advantage - our foundation is in retail toys like vinyl toys and action figures, not your garden variety promotional products. We aim for collector quality, even on humble stress relievers.
Below we’ll tackle the 3 questions we always get about making custom stress toys.
Then we'll jump into some of the design choices to think about for your new toys, along with the prototyping and manufacturing stages we employ to bring your toys to life.
We hope you'll love what you see, and that you'll contact us to discuss your project.
We did our homework and spoke with several manufacturers. Happy Worker wasn’t the cheapest toy maker – but they were the best. They were hands-on with our design recommendations and exacting with product quality.Kelly Kubick, Customer Care Manager
McMillan Study Guides
Happy Worker brainstormed with us, using our & our client's goals as the starting point for the toy design. As a result, the Android toys accomplished the goals AND exceed everyone's expectations. Many thanks again... it truly was a great pleasure working with you!Bart Van der Leenen, Managing Director
Out of the Crowd
to have toys in-hand
see rough estimates below
happy from start to finish
Stress Toys – The Basics
1. What’s your minimum order?
We can make as few as 3,000 stress balls / stress toys per production run, but pricing’s better for orders of 5,000. Larger orders in the thousands to millions of toys are of course welcome too.
p.s. A note about personalized one-off Toys.
2. How long do projects take?
Most projects take about 20-24 weeks. This includes time for multiple prototyping stages (to get the toy just right), production, and ocean freight.
Rushing the project is possible, but extra costs may apply and we can only go so quickly while still making great quality toys. If you’re in a rush, please contact us about the details.
3. How much do stress toys cost?
Since we make our clients’ toys to order, no two budgets are the same.
The cost to make an order of stress toys depends on:
- Character design
- Toy size
- Painting complexity
- Branding (logos, contact info, etc.)
- # of toys created at a time
Toymaking for your Budget
Because we make your toys from scratch, we can recommend small design changes that will help save money. Let us know if you’ve got a target budget in mind and we’ll happily give suggestions.
Here is some budget guidance for custom stress toys:
For orders of 3,000 toys the unit price will probably be between $2/ea - $2.75/ea, depending on the factors above. For 5,000 toys $1.75 - $2.50/ea is a better range.
- Setup Investments
One-time costs for design work, prototyping, and molds are additional and normally range between $2,000 to $2,500 depending on the stress toys’ complexity and reference artwork/assets available.
Freight costs are not included, and vary on the destination and the order quantity. Ask us for an estimate when you contact us.
Other common names for stress balls:
Custom Stress Balls 101: From Design through Production
Want to know how we design & make stress balls from scratch? Then this section is for you! We’ve made it chockfull of info and hope it’s a handy resource to help you enter the wonderfully squishy world of stress relievers.
Part 1) Turning a Character into a Custom Stress Toy
On this page you’ll find more information about the design decisions that we make together with our clients to manufacture the best darn custom stress balls we can.
With their unique shapes and designs, each order of custom stress toys we produce are tailor made to best suit our client’s designs and needs – as well as those of their brands and fans.
Happy Worker’s a unique stress ball maker. We combine our creative design, detailed perfectionism and deep-rooted passion for great toys and gifts - with a laser beam focus on our clients’ goals.
Stress Ball Creation That’s Truly Hassle Free
We collaborate easily with our clients’ creative & marketing teams. For some of our clients we handle all aspects of the creative, product and packaging design. Other clients have their marketing and design teams take the lead on product and package development, while Happy Worker’s crew provide strong support and ensure great quality toy execution and on-time delivery.
Design & Development Process
At the beginning of each project we’ll draft a toy design plan, which includes a detailed project schedule with all the nitty-gritty steps and review stages. Together we’ll cheerily carry out the plan – and then, of course, we’ll happily deliver high quality custom stress relievers.
Introduction to Happy Worker’s Custom Stress Ball Creation Process
At a high level Happy Worker’s custom stress toy manufacturing process includes 5 basic steps, starting from the initial concept and finishing with happy stress balls delivery:
- Ideas & Concepts
- Design Decisions
- Logistics & Delivery
- Extra Step - Happiness Now & Forever
Stress Ball Ideas and Concepts
First, the right concept is chosen and developed. Sometimes our clients come to Happy Worker with clear ideas or concept drawings. Other times our clients haven’t yet built out the concept, shape, or messaging, but know they want custom stress toys or custom stress balls. Either way our teams will collaborate to co-conceive, develop and design the stress toy. This is handled step-by-step, starting from rough concepts through to finished designs.
Turning Mascots, People, Buildings and Products into Custom Stress Balls
Custom stress toys can be designed from an existing brand character or mascot. Or they can be created from the ground up to bring an entirely new idea or message to fun toy life. Popular ideas that are created as customized stress balls:
- Product replicas
- People (stress toy figures or stress dolls)
- Logos and 3D graphics
- & almost any unique design or idea
Many shapes and sizes of custom squeeze balls can be created – from mini stress relievers, toys with plastic bendy arms and legs, to stress relievers with sound chips. There are few limits. As a design-focused custom stress ball manufacturer, Happy Worker enjoys pushing new boundaries in stress toy design.
Stress Toy Design Decisions
Once the concept or idea behind the stress toy is determined it’s time to decide which type of stress toy or stress ball will best fit the project. A number of creative decisions are made including the best size, shaping, branding, and packaging. Happy Worker will recommend features that best suit the stress ball’s or stress toy’s purpose, audience and pricing goals.
Once all the decisions are made and the project is approved, our designer will create final stress toy “control artwork”, or blueprint designs that will be used for the stress toy’s prototyping.
Sizing up Custom Stress Toys
Most stress balls or toys are made to be hand-held, i.e. sized to fit in a fist and be squeezed:
- Most popular sizes are 3.5 to 5 inches (8 to 13cm) long or in diameter.
- Other sizes - small mini stress toys or jumbo sized foam toys - are possible.
Happy Worker will recommend the best stress ball or custom squishy toy size to suit the item’s purpose, target audience, design goals, and budgets.
New Unique Shapes for Custom Stress Balls
We specialize in manufacturing new, never before seen stress ball shapes designed just for your project, brand and campaign. Often stress relievers are made to be handheld, and can be shaped much like a ball or egg shape to fit nicely into a person’s fist. However custom stress balls can be made in many unique and unusual shapes, including larger objects like vehicles, animals, products, people, or buildings.
Some shapes are better suited to foam stress relievers than others, either for production or final stress toy durability. Happy Worker will recommend changes to the design so that the final foam toys are high quality and resist tearing or breaking.
Logos & Branding
Logos, graphics and slogans can be applied almost anywhere on the custom squishy toys and their packaging. Depending on the surface texture of those positions, branding and logos can be applied almost anywhere on the stress ball through various methods. These include:
- High Quality Permanent Decals
Fun Toy Features & Functionality for Custom Stress Toys
For custom stress ball orders of 5,000 or more, we can create custom stress relievers that have bendy plastic arms & legs, and other playful components like “wind-up” walking ability, sound chips that play music, and magnets.
Materials for Custom Stress Relievers
We create high end collectible stress balls made of premium materials. Traditional stress relievers are made of polyurethane “PU” foam and are decorated with high quality, durable paints, imprints, and decals. In some toys materials like silicone and rubber can also be considered.
Retail Toy & Gift Packaging
Most retail packaging styles are possible for custom stress relievers, including:
- Polybags – most popular & most economical
- Card ‘blind’ gift boxes
- Window boxes
- Blister cards or Clamshells
- Tin boxes
The most popular packaging for custom stress balls are transparent polybags. These see-through or frosted thick plastic bags are printed with branding and product information and sealed with the stress reliever inside. The breathable polybags provide protection during shipping, storage, and distribution.
Part 2) Custom Stress Toy Prototyping
In this section you’ll find an introduction to how Happy Worker prototypes and manufactures custom stress balls and stress relievers.
Many of our clients don’t want to know all the nitty-gritty details of custom stress ball production. And really, there’s no need - we handle all aspects of manufacturing. We fuss over all the little details so our clients can focus on their own business. We’ll guide your team through the process and involve you and your team only when necessary.
However, if you’re the curious type and like to know how we create custom stress balls, then this page is for you!
Working from the concept artwork and creative decisions, the stress ball’s first rough prototype is sculpted from wax or clay. We’ll share digital photos of the sculpture in progress.
From your feedback, we’ll make any adjustments to the shaping of the prototype.
Then we’ll create a plastic resin copy of the sculpture, which we’ll courier to you so you can see the prototype in person. Note - because this prototype is made of a hard resin it won’t be squeezable just yet. If any changes are needed we’ll make them prior to moving onto the next step.
With approval, we’ll create a single set of stress reliever molds and produce a few test stress toys in the final PU foam material. We’ll paint these prototypes according to the concept artwork. Logos, graphics, and slogans are also added to the painted prototype to produce a final “pre-production” prototype - or one that looks and feels just like the final custom stress reliever. Again, we’ll courier these sample toys to you so you get to examine and play with them in person.
On approval, we will get started manufacturing your custom stress balls!
Part 3) Custom Stress Ball Manufacturing - Production Process
After the stress ball pre-production prototype is completed and approved, it’s foam toy-making time! Custom stress ball manufacturing includes the following steps:
Mold Making (Tooling)Additional sets of production molds are created as required, to properly produce the desired order size and meet the production schedule.
Materials OrderingThe next part of stress ball production is fairly rudimentary - raw materials and paints are ordered or created. In many cases we make new paint colors and decals so that the final stress toys match Pantone PMS colors and brand guidelines exactly.
Toy Molding & ProductionThe production molds are used to cast the number of stress relievers needed to fill the order. This is also called “foaming”. After the newly birthed stress toys are removed from their molds there is some extra foam material left where the two halves of the mold meet. This is carefully trimmed. Then the foam stress relievers are inspected for quality, and any small spots are filled to ensure that no bubbles or holes mark the surface of the stress balls.
PaintingWhile Happy Worker manufactures stress balls in quantity, each stress ball is painted by hand with the use of air brushes and paint masks.
Printing & DecalsAny graphics, slogans, or logos are now applied to the surface by printing or decal application.
Quality ControlBefore being packed the stress balls are checked for quality assurance against our toy quality control checklist. Additional stress ball safety testing is also performed.
PackagingGreat toys require great packaging. The finished custom stress balls are carefully and happily placed and sealed in their packaging. Then the packaged toys are placed in shipping cartons and prepared for delivery.
Delivery of Custom Stress Toys & Stress BallsWhether it’s for an event, trade show or retail launch, we’re experienced at delivering custom stress balls around the world, from large shipments to small, by sea, truck, or courier. We can also kit stress balls together with other items and manage complex distribution requirements.
Together we’ll discuss your distribution needs, and then work with our shipping and logistics partners to deliver your order happily on time and in great condition.
For super important rush shipments – if we agree to produce a rush order (e.g. stress balls less than 18 weeks), then please see our Time critical rush shipping – the fine print for additional information to be aware of.
Quality, Testing and Product SafetyWe’re an unusual custom stress ball manufacturer – we really care about quality. All the toys Happy Worker makes as well as their raw materials are subjected to quality and safety testing.
Additional safety testing is required for stress toys intended or marketed for children and teens less than 15 years old. Happy Worker works with certified toy testing labs that perform U.S. CPSC, CPSIA, ASTM and other tests as required by each country and region to meet and exceed federal and international safety standards.
Important Extra Step: Happiness Now & ForeverWe’re just as excited about your custom stress balls as you are. And we want to make sure your new stress relievers aren’t just delivered to the quality we both expect, but that they achieve the goals of your program and business.
We follow-up both during launch and a few weeks or months after launch to get your feedback and that of stress toy recipients – to make sure we know that together we’re achieving the design and program goals. Any potential improvements to products and processes are captured so we make sure that every new custom stress toy is our best ever.