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How to Manufacture a Toy: The Toy Manufacturing Process from A to Z

By April 11, 2021 July 14th, 2021 Blog
April 11, 2021

From conception to execution, the process of toy manufacturing is a highly complex feat. At every step, you will need to consult a network of highly-trained professionals. You must have a working knowledge of multiple technical processes to ease your journey. 

If you’re unsure of where to start, you’ve come to the right place. 

We’ve compiled a thorough step-by-step guide on the process of toy manufacturing. This guide has everything from tips and tricks on optimizing your brainstorming session to finding the best factory for mass production.

Keep reading to find out everything you need to know to launch your very own toy onto the market.

Come up With an Idea

On the journey of manufacturing a toy, the first thing to do is develop an idea. That tends to be the most challenging part of the process for many entrepreneurs. 

Think of this like running your basic concept through a rigorous testing process to ensure its viability. In coming up with a great idea, the following factors need to be kept in mind. 

1. Is the Idea Unique and Marketable?

First, you must fully understand the expansiveness of the market you’re trying to enter. Over 7000 ideas are debuted by the industry at the annual International Toy Fair in New York every year. 

Of those 7000 ideas, almost a thousand are designed by professionals with vast resources at their disposal. Their only job is to manufacture unique and marketable toys. 

That means breaking into the toy industry is no easy feat. It requires thorough research and determination to turn your idea into a successful product on the shelves.  

So, how do you ensure your idea is viable?

The first step is to conduct your research in both formal and informal capacities. Read industry trade magazines, especially issues that come out right after toy fairs. It’ll help determine the uniqueness of the idea and understand the current trends in the industry. 

Popular industry trade magazines include:

Future trends are difficult to predict, but an in-depth understanding of the current landscape will help you develop your idea according to the market’s needs. You can search articles with the search word “toys, games’’ in the database available on EBSCO.

The next step is to visit stores. 

Visit a wide variety of stores, ranging from large chain stores to local stores. Time your visits to coincide with the launch of new products. New launches usually happen in the fall season to coincide with holiday shopping. 

Take note of packaging, the quality of toys in different price ranges, and the marketing techniques employed. These notes will help you devise the best idea.

2. Will It Sell?

Once you’re confident your idea is unique and marketable, the next step is to ascertain if your product idea appeals to consumers.

Toy companies and parents alike are looking for specific things when buying a toy. These parameters must be met for your idea to be considered viable. 

A few essential questions to understand the value of your idea:

  • Is the toy long-lasting?
  • Is the toy worth the money it costs?
  • Does it follow all safety rules and regulations?
  • Will children enjoy this toy?
  • Is there growth potential? 

The first few questions are relatively simple to answer. If you want to manufacture a toy, it must be safe, fun, durable, and of high perceived value in the customer’s eyes. 

To further understand the intricacies of developing a sellable idea, use Understand Your Market, a nonprofit resource by the US Small Business Administration. 

It’s essential to think about growth potential. 

If brand extensions are possible, toy stores will likely be more interested in your idea. Ideas that can expand to produce multiple toys every season will make it easier for you to sell your idea to a toy store.

3. Is It Cost-effective?

To determine the cost-effectiveness, start by building a prototype. 

You can compare the costs incurred in making the prototype and make a calculated assumption based on different accounting methods. 

It must be comparable to the price range of other products currently available on the market in the same category. That’ll help you ensure you can sell your product at competitive prices.

Depending on the type of toy you have in mind, you might need to contact a toy manufacturer to get cost estimates. 

Contacting a toy manufacturer becomes essential when working on plastic toys or toys that require intricate processes. You must keep the project’s overarching cost from manufacture to marketing in mind to produce a toy at a reasonable cost, sell at competitive prices, and churn out profit. 

4. Is It Safe?

You must follow specific rules and regulations concerning the safety of new toys. Toy safety standards are updated often, so keep tabs on industry trade resources like the Toy Association for further guidelines. 

Safety guidelines vary by age group and the country where a product is being sold. 

Knowing your target audience will help you research the exact standards your product must meet to be considered safe. Ensuring a toy’s safety for children is of utmost importance when manufacturing a toy. 

5. Are You Legally Protected?

Legal protection refers to seeking out a patent or trademark. It’s crucial when making your own toy to understand legal protection. 

The first step in obtaining a patent is to conduct a patent search. 

Patent searches are usually performed by patent attornies who go through multiple databases to ensure that a similar idea isn’t already patented. Your market research is not complete without this step, as toy manufacturing companies will have patented toys that are not yet on the market.

You can learn how to conduct a patent search and obtain a patent yourself or pay a licensed attorney to file on your behalf. Obtaining a patent by yourself is time-consuming. You will need to take courses on patent law to get a patent on your own.  

The Toy Association has multiple resources to help you understand the importance of obtaining patents and their technicalities. 

Source: train miniatures photo – Free Human Image on Unsplash

Identify Your Target Audience

It’s critical to understand who your target audience is. Determine which gender and age group the toy is most appropriate for and research what other interests your target audience most commonly indulges in. 

For example, girls aged 6-7 who play with dolls may also like stuffed toys. Having a specific target audience is highly relevant in the toy manufacturing process’s marketing and packaging stage.

Classifying a specific target audience will help gear marketing and packaging efforts towards a particular aesthetic that will appeal to this group the most. It’ll help determine a reasonable production cost and competitive market price for the product. 

Source: white ceramic mug with yellow medication pill photo – Free Toy Image on Unsplash

Create The Design

Once you have a viable idea and an appropriate target audience, you can create the design. The following list is a step-by-step guide that will help you better understand the toy manufacturing process.

1. Have a Detailed Brainstorming Session

A brainstorming session is a perfect opportunity for all your hard work to take form. Work on the intricate details of the toy and decide its final appearance. 

That is where your idea’s creativity, fieldwork, and research come in handy. 

The brainstorming session will help you create a guiding vision throughout the rest of the process. Whenever you are on the fence about a decision regarding the toy manufacturing process, revisit your brainstorming session.

2. Prepare Sketches of the Toy

To prepare sketches of the toy, enlist the help of a professional designer or do it yourself. This design should include all the intricacies that came forth in the brainstorming session. 

Consider factors like size, colors, and possible variations. 

When making stuffed toys or figurines, try out different expressions and styles until you find a sketch that you are happy with.

3. Create a 3D Depiction

Once the sketch is ready, it’s time to create a 3D depiction. You can create 3D depictions using software like Zbrush to give a realistic portrayal of what the toy will look like once manufactured. You can hire professionals trained in 3D model development. 

Professionals will produce a more polished model for presentation.

You can also opt for more traditional routes, such as hiring a wax modeler to create a handmade 3D depiction of the toy. A common concern when working with a wax modeler is the perceived time investment. 

However, professional wax modelers work faster than 3D software. Having a tangible model will be helpful in the next phase of manufacturing a toy, prototype development. 

Source: man action figure photo – Free Toy Image on Unsplash

Create A Prototype

Figuring out how to get a toy prototype made is a vital step in the toy manufacturing process. A completed prototype helps to sell your idea to toy manufacturers. It’s also a good judge of the resources you’ll need to produce the toy in bulk. 

Many important factors come into play when building a prototype: 

  • determining the mode of production of the toy, 
  • creating a mold, and,
  • deciding the materials. 

To determine the toy’s mode of production, you need to decide the number of molds required to make the toy. 

Consulting a mechanical engineer is crucial for this step. Advanced knowledge of physics goes into ensuring the correct number of molds needed to manufacture a toy successfully.

Resin artists make a basic silicone mold by filling a metal box with silicone and placing the toy inside. After curing for approximately 12 hours, they can remove the toy. The cavity left behind can produce multiple hard copies of toys. Silicone molds are the best option if your product is made of resin, polystone, or polyresin. 

For mass production of plastic toys, more durable metal molds must be made by toy factories. 

That is a technical step that requires you to hire a figure manufacturer. They can work with the 3D depiction and sketch to bring your idea to life. 

Durable metal molds use alloys of metals like zinc, copper, aluminum, and magnesium. These are long-lasting molds and can be used to produce hundreds of toys at a time. This process is much more expensive

You can reduce costs by using two or more types of molds for different parts of a toy. You can tailor many kinds of molding to a specific toy. The level of detail required and the material can help narrow down the choice. Rotational molding and injection molding are both excellent options to consider. 

For the manufacture of soft toys, you must determine appropriate fabrics and stuffing material. Distribute costs over these factors, including the price of stitching. Manufacturing soft toys are slightly less technical than plastic and resin figures but incur higher costs in the workforce needed for stitching. 

Source: Free Building Image on Unsplash

Find A Factory

For mass production, you need to contact a suitable factory. Wholesale toy manufacturers can be found at toy fairs and expos

Working with a toy store may expedite this process. Most toy stores have long-term contracts with wholesale toy manufacturers and different factories with various toy manufacturing machines.

Independent toy manufacturers also have a host of options when searching for a factory that can cater to their needs. You can outsource the toy manufacturing process to other countries such as China

China has many toy industry exhibitions  you can attend to narrow down your choices:

To outsource the production process to other countries, you must conduct fieldwork to ensure a contractor’s trustworthiness.

The factory you choose must meet all your requirements to produce a safe and durable toy. 

Work through the following checklist when picking a factory:

  • Does the factory have the molding parts required to manufacture the toy?
  • If using multiple molds, are there adequate assembly lines available? 
  • Is there a rigorous quality control department overviewing the process?
  • Are the outgoing batches of toys consistently being tested for safety?
  • Do they meet your unique packaging requirements?

Once the factory provides satisfactory answers to these questions, you must check reviews from other clients to ensure their claims’ reliability. Quality control and safety measures must meet international standards so that you can launch the toy in multiple regions to maximize profit. 

Supply Chain

At this stage, you have a complete idea of the toy manufacturing process in mind. However, this process would be incomplete without mentioning the supply chain. 

Having a bird’s eye view of the entire process and understanding the interdependencies is crucial to building a successful product. 

Keep the following steps in mind:

1. Planning

This step consists of everything you must do before mass manufacturing can begin:

  • Coming Up With an Idea
  • Building a Prototype
  • Finding a Manufacturing Plant

2. Procurement

Now that you have a plan in mind, you need to think about the raw materials required and their sources. This step will vary depending on the type of toy you have in mind. 

Here is where building relations with suppliers to source your materials is essential. 

Essential tools, services, and resources needed to start the manufacturing process are acquired through competitive biddings and investment-to-profit ratio analysis.

3. Manufacturing

Manufacturing a product requires material, machinery, analytics, and other industrial knowledge. This is where we suggest you consult experts in the field like Gembah

Some of the key steps include:

  • Demand forecasting
  • Identifying bottleneck process
  • Throughput accounting analysis
  • Performance and productivity management

4. Delivery

The mode of delivery is critical. Many options can be viable, depending on your preference. Depending upon the available space and method of delivery, different models like cross-docking can optimize the process. 

The significant stakeholders in delivery process care identified here:

  • Wholesale dealers
  • Retailers

Wholesale dealers are key players since the outflow of inventory depends on them. Building good long-term relations, identifying delivery timings and methods can be some of the hassles if you work alone.

5. Retailing

Retailers are vital as they have direct interaction with your consumers. Retailers require an appropriate amount of incentives to enhance our product placement at their shops or malls.

You must analyze incentives provided to retailers for an appropriate margin and promotional shelves. These incentives keep the retailers motivated to display products at an optimal place based on consumer behavior. 

5. Consumption

A detailed analysis is necessary to set up the price, facilitate sales returns, product placement, and cater to consumer demands. A comprehensive study of consumer behavior, a detailed analysis of data collected through CRM, and other factors determine each step. 

You need to have a policy set in cases of defective products and consumer returns. The return policy builds consumer satisfaction and goodwill of the parent company. As these factors are key players in customer retention, we recommend you give as much importance as any other process for long-term success. 

Source: assorted figurines photo – Free Human Image on Unsplash

Get Started Now 

The toy manufacturing process and the toy industry at large is a daunting field for many. The sheer number of options and their implications can be overwhelming for the most proficient of entrepreneurs.

That’s where services like Gembah can help:

  • Streamline the entire process of toy manufacturing
  • Have a constant support systemWork with professional designers
  • Find the best factory in the world
  • Rigorously monitor the toy manufacturing process
  • Avoid common mistakes
  • Use the right resources
  • Build a product worth investing in
  • Prevent money waste 
  • Scout out the competition
  • Delivering quality products on schedule

So, if you have a great product in mind and need some more guidance, you’ve come to the right place! Get started today with Gembah, and convert your vision into reality.