Thursday, August 29, 2013

Character Plush Toy Rescues 75th Brand Anniversary

ObjectiveA national food brand decided to celebrate its seventy-fifth anniversary with the introduction of a spokescharacter.  The client decided that one of the mediums of the spokescharacter would be a three-dimensional plush toy.

Purpose:  The makers of SPAM® products launched its first ever spokescharacter, Sir Can-A-Lot™,  a two and a half inch tall embodiment of the brand essence ready to begin a crusade to rescue the world from routine meals. See Press Release. (

Result:  The initial order was for 5,000 pieces Sir Can-A-Lot plush toy character, which resulted in $40,000 of revenue for the Promotional Consultant.  

Development: In November of 2011, a Promotional Consultant approached us about an opportunity to create a custom brand character.  Over the next 9 months we worked with the client to turn their illustration into a stuffed plush toy.   Here is a summary of the steps taken to get from print image to real stuffed plush toy character. 

1.       Original Client Image 

     2.      Prototype 1 - 

     3.      Artistic Toy Design Form - 
     Client Style Guide –
     Client Licensing Requirements -

The order was placed in July of 2012 and delivered in November 2012.    We faced many design challenges, including working with a vague initial photo and also having to take a two and a half inch print character and enlarge him to a nine inch toy.  While the finished toy looks remarkably similar to the print image, a tremendous amount of artistic interpretation was needed to get the correct look and feel of the toy.   As you can see from the multiple versions, we had to prove the viability of the plush character concept, accept client rejections, and overcome the factory’s reluctance to mass produce a work of art versus a standard stuffed plush toy.  Due to the complexity of this character, it took many hours to simplify the design for manufacturing while achieving enough of the important elements needed to represent the brand spokescharacter.  Through continuous revisions we were able to produce a remarkable brand character that is safe and achieved the factory’s requirements for mass production.    

    4.      Prototype 2 –

    5.      Prototype 3 -

    6.      Final Production Toy -    

As you can see the finished product came out better than any of the prototypes.  We were so pleased with the finished plush toy that we decided to use it as example of our custom toy process and an illustrative guide in our 2013 catalog. (  The final plush toy products are on sale right now in the Company’s Minnesota Museum Store.   

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Going Beyond Softness to Launch New Carpet Brand

Objective:  A flooring company launched a new line of super soft carpet.

Purpose:  The client wanted a fun and engaging way to explain to customers the softness of their new carpet at tradeshows and in stores.

Result:  The client used super soft teddy bears with imprinted ribbons and hand-sewn “Ouch” patches that sold almost 6,000 units within a 6 month period, creating over $50,000 of distributor sales revenue.  


On November 15, 2012, a salesperson called Artistic Toy troubled because every other toy supplier they had contacted had refused to quote this project.  The project had a quick release date and uncertain client specifications, limiting the options a supplier could offer.  

Initially, the client had requested for the bear to be shaved somewhere indicating that the bear had donated some of its softness to the new carpet brand.  Our sales team quickly consulted with our resident cosmetologist on the assembly team to test this overnight.  Unfortunately, it was concluded that due to the fine fabric, teddy bear plush cannot be shaved like human hair.  Also, cutting the fabric shorter with scissors would be too high a risk a task for our assembly team, plus they could potentially damage the finished product and would produce inconsistent results. 

Alternatively, the sales team offered the solution that we hand stitch a patch on top of the bear fur.  That patch would be printed with the word “Ouch” to give the illusion that the fabric was missing and that the bear had in fact donated its super soft fur to the carpet brand.  The client was very excited about this opportunity and even provided several unique patterned fabric samples from their fabric inventory for to make the patches.  We received very particular instructions with regards to thread colors, stitch direction, and patch location.  We ordered a special cutting die for the patch and started training a 15 person hand sewing team in order to ship out the first 2,000 pcs before the end of the year, allowing these “Patch Bears” to be in hands for a January tradeshow.       

The products delivered on time and the
client loved them so much that they continue to re-order them.