Product: Custom Plush Toys
MSRP: 12 inch toy $29.99 US / 24 inch toy $49.99 US
Even though I have done many reviews in the past, this is something totally new for me, as I have never seen anything quite like Happy Toy Machine before. Happy Toy Machine (HappyToyMachine.com) is an innovative new online business that allows you to use a simple website-based tool to design your own plush toy, and then have it custom made and shipped to you. In order to get more perspective from the target audience of the resulting toy, I enlisted the help of my four year old son, Richard. He helped design the toy online with me, unboxed it when it arrived and will share his comments with you in a short video at the end of this review.
The website which serves as the storefront for the business is divided into a few main areas: Create a Toy, Your Creations and a Public Gallery. The meat is in creating your own toy, but first, let’s look at examples of what can be created in the Public Gallery.
The Public Gallery is where you can browse toys designed by others who have chosen to share their designs publicly. In the gallery there are pictures of their toy design side-by-side with a photo of the actual toy. This allows you to see exactly how the onscreen designs translates to physical toys.
Designing a new toy is a simple process that your child can help with. First, you choose a starting point by selecting a basic design from the list above. Richard decided, after looking through the gallery, that he wanted to design a robot.
The interface was simple enough for him to follow along and make choices for the head, arms, hands, legs and feet. Color selection for each is also a simple process of just clicking on a body part then choosing a color for it. Some of the colors look very similar on screen, especially red and magenta, so double check them all before completing your toy. This is how our robot ended up with a pink body.
We detailed our robot with square eyes, angular eyebrows and nose, a zig-zag mouth and some gauges on the chest area. All of these elements are pre-designed and added or changed with just a click. Additionally they can be moved, rotated and size adjusted. If you like, text can even be added.
When placing your order, there is a choice of two sizes for your toy. The regular 12″ version is $29.99 and the large 24″ version is $49.99, but for a limited time we have a coupon to get a 15% discount (at the bottom of this post).
Once your toy is ordered and manufactured, Happy Toy Machine takes a portrait of the finished product and shows it on the website side by side with your design.
Inside the box, our toy was sealed in a plastic bag to protect it from moisture during shipping. Also included, and also protected by a separate plastic bag, was a thank you letter and, to our surprise, an 8.5″ x 11″ color portrait of our robot.
We were, and still are, very impressed with the quality of the toy. All of the seams are tight and solid and all of the decorative details are intricately embroidered. The material is soft like flannel and surface washable. “Red Robot” has been played with every day and slept with every night since his arrival about two weeks ago and shows no signs of wear. It is rugged and durable enough to easily handle all the typical play and abuse a rowdy four year old boy can dish out.
The only thing we found disappointing was the frequent message on the website that “this feature is coming soon”. While it’s great to know there are more options coming in the near future, it’s hard to explain to a child. The upside is that soon you will be able to add all of the following to your custom toys:
- Use fuzzy plush cloth in place of the standard material (September 2011)
- Add hair (October 2011)
- Choose clothes for your toy (November 2011)
- Upload and add your own images (January 2012)
Richard absolutely loves his robot, partly because it was something we designed together and partly due to the magic of designing a toy and having it become real. While surprises are fun, don’t leave your child out of the design process. If you want to give a gift from Happy Toy Machine, give a gift certificate and design the toy together. You will be glad you did.
I promised Richard that he could help with the review so, here he is to tell you what he thinks of Happy Toy Machine and his Red Robot.
The first 500 customers to use this coupon code at HappyToyMachine.com will get 15% off their entire order: PLATFORMJDG4