Need the right mix of style + softness on your plush? We're glad you found Happy Worker! We're a plush toy maker with only one goal - wonderful toys.
For designer plushies that look great and are huggably soft, Happy Worker’s the perfect plush toy maker. Our plush are patterned and prototyped until perfect, and we won’t stop until the plushies look *just* right.
Below we’ll answer the top 3 questions we’re asked about making orders of custom plush toys.
Then we’ll go through the fun plush design decisions to consider, along with Happy Worker’s perfectionist prototyping and manufacturing process for stuffed toys.
We hope you'll like what you see, and that you'll contact us for an estimate.
The Luxamillions have been a hit. People have actually swiped them out of my hand before I finished saying "this is for you".Garrett Nantz, Partner
Everybody just fell in love with Captain Cleanroom. He was worth the wait because the quality turned out great. The whole experience was very good; We really enjoyed Happy Worker's creativity and teamwork.Rob Satterfield, Vice President
AES Clean Technology
18 - 24 weeks
from concept to delivery
>6 inch plush toys
see rough estimates below
quality and excellent
The Top 3 Questions on Custom Stuffed Toys
1. What Order Quantities can Happy Worker work in?
For plushies 6” tall or larger we can make as few as 3,000 plush. Mini plush smaller than 6” tall are made in quantities for 5,000 or more. Happy Worker can handle larger orders in the hundreds of thousands or more.
p.s. A note about personalized one-off toys.
2. What's the Creation-to-delivery Schedule?
Most custom stuffed toys take 18 - 24 weeks to design, prototype, manufacture and deliver. For complex designs it can sometimes take over 24 weeks.
Faster schedules are often possible, but additional rush costs may apply and some complex designs aren’t good candidates to be rushed. Contact us to discuss your schedule.
3. How Much do Custom Plush Toys Cost?
The budget for your project will depend on your plush character and the nitty gritty details that go into your plush.
Plush budgets depend on:
- Character design and pattern complexity
- Toy size
- Chosen fabrics
- Detailing (Embroidery, printing, plastic parts, etc.)
- Tags and packaging
- # of toys created at a time
Happy Worker specializes in collector quality designer plush. If you're looking for run-of-the-mill plush we may not be the best match. Our focus is on great design and making custom plush toys our clients and their fans will love.
We Design to Budgets
We love suggesting the right specifications for our clients’ budgets, without sacrificing on quality and super soft fabrics. Give us a call to discuss your plush goals.
We break the budget for stuffed plush into three parts:
- Unit Pricing
As one point of reference, 8” tall plush tend to be between $5/ea and $8/ea for an order of 3,000 plush. Mini plush tend to cost between $2.50/ea to $5/ea for an order of 5,000 stuffed toys.
- One-time Set-up Costs
One-time costs for design work, prototyping, and production set-up are often between $1,800 to $2,600 or more depending on the plush toy’s complexity and reference artwork/assets available..
Shipping costs are additional and depend on the size of the plush, the order quantity, and the destination. We’ll help with a freight estimate as we’re discussing your project.
Plush Toy Making 101: From Design through Production
Designing and manufacturing plush toys and stuffed creatures is, as you’d expect, a fun process. Below we provide some info for all the decisions we make together with our clients. And when we’re done the result are wonderful plushies that are fuzzy n’ huggable.
Part 1) Turning a Character into Great Stuffed Plush Toys
On this page you’ll find more information about the design decisions we make together with our clients to create truly wonderful plush toys.
Happy Worker is a custom plush toy manufacturer - BUT we aren’t your standard plush toy maker. We make designer plush and retail & collector quality plush toys. Each order of stuffed toys are designed and fabricated from scratch to best suit our client’s needs – as well as those of their fans and collectors. Those who’ve worked with us know our passion for great design and getting all the pesky little details right.
Plush Character Concepts
First, the right concept & character is chosen for the custom stuffed toys. In some cases clients come to Happy Worker with finished designs. We’ll convert the character into the most authentic plush version for a hand sewn fabric toy. Other times our clients may have just a general feel for the character or in some cases no idea at all. Our creative teams will collaborate to co-conceive, develop and illustrate the character designs with toys in mind, working from rough concepts to finished designs.
From Characters & Mascots to Custom Plush Toys
Original plush toys can be designed from an existing brand character or mascot, or created from the ground up to bring an entirely new idea to life. People, animals, unique creatures, mascots and soft n’ fuzzy replicas are perhaps the most common things to be created as stuffed toys – but there’s no reason to limit creativity.
As a design-focused custom plush toy maker, Happy Worker enjoys pushing new boundaries in toy design. There are few limits when it comes to conceptualization of plush pieces - all sorts of people, things and strange critters can be fashioned into well executed toys, and all styles and types of plushies can be created from mini plush and finger puppets to plush with sound chips and giant plush.
Recipients & Ages
Plushies can be created for ages 0 to 100. Or, hopefully in the future as medicine advances, ages 0 to 200. Different ages and recipients look for different things in their plush. Children want to play, hug, uncover, and spend time with a plush-sized friend. Grownups enjoy plush toy hugs too, but their toys also become office toys and soft designer art pieces to collect and display.
Before we begin designing your stuffed toy, we’ll ask who the plush are intended for. This is more than just their age - we’ll ask who their audience are, what they like to do, and how they’ll use them. Then we’ll incorporate these into the design goals, and into plush toy product safety.
Design Process: How Happy Worker Creates Custom Plush Toys
To get the best final custom stuffed animals we follow the old saying: ‘measure twice and cut once’. So before we begin making toys first we make a plan.
At the beginning of each plush toy making project we’ll draft a design & development plan. This includes a detailed project schedule with all the nitty-gritty steps and review stages. Together we’ll cheerily handle each step – and then, of course, we’ll happily deliver high quality plush toys and great custom stuffed animals.
An introduction to Happy Worker’s Toy Making Process.
Plush Design Decisions - We Work Happily to Get All the Details Right
Once the character is determined it’s time to decide what plush toy format will best bring the character to real toy life. Often occurring in sync with the concept development, a number of creative decisions are made including size, branding, seam locations and materials.
Happy Worker will recommend the best design to suit the toy’s purpose, audience and retail or business goals. Once all the decisions are made we’ll create final plushie “control artwork”, or blueprint designs that will be used for toy prototyping.
Sizing up your Custom Plush Toy
Stuffed toys can be designed from a miniature size as small as an inch or two (5 – 10 cm) to giant jumbo sized creatures standing 3 feet (1 m) or taller.
Best Size for Desk Friendly Plush Toys
If your plush creation is meant for business types, desk-friendly sizes for corporate plush toys are commonly 8 –10 inches (20 – 25 cm) tall and 4 - 5 inches (10 – 13 cm) wide. Plush over 12 inches (30 cm) tall usually have a larger footprint, and are not be as suitable for easy “desk top” or office display.
Logos & Branding
Depending on the materials and fabrics selected, branding and logos can be applied almost anywhere on the surface of the stuffed toy through various methods. These include:
- Silkscreen printing
- Digital printing
- Transfer decals
- Sewn tags (“tush tags”)
Fabrics & Materials - Surface Fabrics & Stuffed Animal “Coats”
Common plush fabrics include faux polyester fur of different lengths, nylon, felt, cotton and other natural fibers, knits, blends, and specialty fabrics. During material selection, Happy Worker will send a collection of fabric swatches showing our recommended materials. Please let us know if you have special fabrics in mind that recipients and fans will relate to, recognize, or connect to your character or brand.
A variety of stuffing materials can be employed to fill up the plush, including beans i.e. plastic pellets, cotton and synthetic fibers. Happy Worker’s “Action Plush” construction also contains a hidden component: a wire skeleton that allows the plush and its extremities to pose, flex and bend.
Seams & Locations
Plush toys are created by sewing fabric parts and other components together into a unified finished piece. Stitching and sewn seams are a visible and necessary part of plush toy construction. However, like mold lines on custom plastic action figures, seams add to – and can even detract from – the desired final toy design, and thus need to be planned and considered before prototyping begins.
If the plush toy character has eyes, we can create them with different methods and materials such as:
- Silkscreen printing
- Transfer Decals
- Buttons, with unique painted designs
- Other objects, including custom made eyes from plastic, wood or metal parts
Retail Toy & Gift Packaging
The most popular plush toy packaging is a simple “hang tag” – a branded card with a character back story or product information that hangs from the plush toy’s ear or hand by a cord, chain or plastic tie. Many stuffed toys have no other packaging, other than simple clear plastic polybags for shipping protection.
However, several other packaging styles exist that are well suited to the stuffed animal format. These include originally designed gift boxes and window boxes that provide a larger canvas for branding, graphics and copy, while protecting the toy and displaying it attractively.
In-Seam Stuffed Toy Tags
All originally designed plush will be equipped with fabric tags sewn into a seam, often along backside, bottom or leg of a plush character. These in-seam or tush tags offer branding opportunities while providing required regulatory information.
Part 2) Prototyping Custom Plush Toys
If you’re the detailed oriented type and like to know how the toy magic happens, then this section is for you!
Plush Toy Prototyping
Like all fashion and fabric creations, the plush prototype starts from a pattern. Working from the final character artwork, design decisions and material preferences, the plush toy’s draft sewing pattern is created. The patterns are templates for each different piece of fabric and material that make up the final plush, along with fabrication and sewing instructions. From the patterns a rough physical custom plush toy prototype is created showing the shape and basic detailing for the plush, which we send to our clients for feedback.
Depending on the project, we may decide to create an initial rough prototype. This is often made in a plain test material rather than the desired materials, and may not have branding or logos. Our main goal with a rough prototype is to agree on a general plush toy shape and construction before moving onto the final detailing. From feedback, we will create a final “pre-production” prototype with any changes, and with final detailing. On approval, we will begin plush toy making & manufacturing!
Part 3) Custom Plush Toy Manufacturing
Stuffed Toy Production Process
After the plush toy prototype is completed and approved, it’s toy-making time! For anyone who’s familiar with bespoke suit tailoring, plush toy making is a similar process. At a high level, plush manufacturing includes the following steps:
Fabric MakingUnsurprisingly, the first part of plush production is ordering all fabrics and materials. In many cases Happy Worker creates and dyes unique fabrics, colors and patterns for plush toys so that we can match Pantone PMS colors closely and get the right design look and feel.
Fabric CuttingThen, the plush toy pattern is used to precisely cut the final fabrics into the pieces needed to make the plushie. This is done either by a laser cutting machine, or by the older school method of creating cutting dies which are placed in a press. Some pieces are also cut by hand using old-fashioned fabric shears.
Embroidery & DetailingMost embroidery, printing and detailing is added after the fabric is cut, though in some cases this can also be done prior to cutting.
Sewing & AssemblyThe fabric pieces are stitched together inside out, leaving a small hole at an appropriate location for stuffing to occur.Tags are also added at this stage. While Happy Worker manufactures plush toys in quantity each toy is sewn together by hand operated sewing machine and occasionally by hand stitching.
StuffingUsing the small hole that was left during sewing, the plush toys are stuffed until they get the right level of softness or denseness as desired. This commonly includes polyester fill and plastic “beanie” pellets.
Quality ControlBefore being packed for shipping, the stuffed animals are checked for quality assurance against Happy Worker’s toy quality control checklist. Additional plush toy testing & safety certification is also performed.
Plush Testing & Toy SafetyAll the toys Happy Worker makes as well as their raw materials are subjected to safety and quality testing. Standard plush toy testing includes placing all toys through a metal detector to ensure no lost sewing needles make it into the toys. Additional safety testing is required for 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.
Stuffed Articles Registration in the USA and CanadaThree U.S. states and three Canadian provinces require stuffed articles – whether they are mattresses, pillows, or stuffed plush toys - to be tagged and registered with the state and provincial government. This includes:
- USA: Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Ohio
- Canada: Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba
Plush DeliveryWhether it’s for retail launch, an event or trade show, we’re experienced at delivering custom stuffed toys around the world, from large shipments to small, by sea, air, truck, or courier. We can also kit plush 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 plush happily on time and in good condition.
For super important rush shipments – if we agree to produce a rush order (e.g. plush toys less than 18 weeks), then please see our time critical rush shipping – the fine print for additional information to be aware of.
Important Extra Step: Happiness Now & ForeverWe’re just as excited about your custom plush as you are. And we want to make sure your new stuffed toys are delivered to the quality we both expect, and 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 feedback from plush recipients – to make sure we know that together we’re achieving toy and program goals. In our spirit of constant betterment, any potential improvements to products and processes are captured so we make sure that every new batch of custom stuffed animals is our best ever.