28 April 2019

On the 17th October 2018, I decided that I was going to look into the idea of producing my Ballyhoo Burny cartoon character as a plush toy. Now, 6 months later, having learned so much, I will share with you where I have got to so far.

China seemed the obvious choice for where to manufacture Burny as a plush toy, being the world's current affordable manufacturing country for most products. Using the 'Alibaba' app for my own legal protection for what it's worth in China, I started to search, research and communicate with many plush toy manufacturing companies, mostly in Shenzhen and then in Shanghai.

After much deliberation, I chose 'Dixin Toys' in Yangzhou and again for what it's worth in China, I had them sign & seal a Confidentiality Agreement (CA).

I wasn't too impressed in the way the CA was returned, as what appeared to be camera photos of the 8 page contract instead of a professionally scanned PDF, but at least they had an Arbitrator sign the contract as an acting witness.

But then they stalled! I waited 2 weeks for them to send me a quote for the production of my plush toy. They made excuses that the accountant was away, so I waited, but still no quote.

There was another company I'd picked as possibly doing business with because their plush toys looked to be pretty good quality. Though the sales rep for 'Got Gift' in Shanghai used some funny expressions when communicating via the 'Alibaba' app, I put it down to the literal translation from Chinese to English. But alarms rang when she returned the CA, again poorly presented and it hadn't been correctly signed or witnessed. So I told her so and she returned another copy where she had signed it both as a company representative and as her own witness!

It turns out her understanding of the English language was very poor, but she did understand and agree with me that communication was very important on a project like this and accepted that I would have to look for another company.

As tedious and as weary as it all seemed, I knew I had to start all over again, searching for another company to work with. I then wondered if perhaps I could find a company in the US to initially design a sample of my Burny plush to then maybe take it back to a Chinese company to produce?

After a weekend of researching, I found a company in Florida. It turned out that they could also do bulk orders too, but at an obviously higher cost than if I were to have the plush toy made in China. But it was such easy and fast communications (in spite of a 14 hours time difference!), that I started to think outside of the box.

I had originally wanted a 30 cm (12") high Burny plush. That was going to be expensive from this company. But they suggested making it two thirds the size at 8" high, for two thirds of the cost. I feared that would be too small, measuring from the soles of his feet to the tips of his horns, so I said, how about measuring 8" to the top of his head, with the horns making up another one inch plus? They said okay, which would mean paying two thirds of the original cost but getting a plush three quarters the original size.

So it looked like we were in business. I was to have a sample made at a cost to me of USD149 + USD25.95 shipping! The cost of the sample would be refunded if I go ahead with a bulk order from them, but was under no obligation to do so.

Things were looking even better when I asked if they made custom safety labels and they said yes, at no extra cost! Awesome! I asked them it they could send me a photo example, which they duly did.....and then "a bomb went off!"

This company was only acting as a go-between. The plush toy was being made in China, not in Florida as I was lead to believe! Plus the label was way too big for an 8" plush toy and I didn't like the way they brazenly promoted their own company name on one side of the label and they weren't prepared to change! So I cancelled my order and was refunded.

When starting this project 6 months ago, I'd researched that the best time to start selling online is in the month of August. I thought back then that I was going to have to "drag my feet" until August finally came around, but right now I was thinking, I'm not going to make it in time! But I had vowed that I was not going to give up, even if I didn't have a plush toy to sell by August! So it was back to the drawing board once again!

In Part 2 of this Blog, I will share how I thought outside of the box once again and how it turned my situation into a positive so that production could finally begin.......

If you would like to comment or be involved in any discussions that might incur as a result of this blog, then please click on this picture to the right and go to the BALLYHOO BURNY facebook page and become part of his scene to share your views.

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