How Action Figures Get Made Part 2: Production

PRODUCTION

Welcome back to our series on how action figures get made. If you haven’t read about our design process, you can check out our previous post here. In this post, we’re sharing the process of how our action figures go from final prototype to production. Once we’ve approved the final look and coloring of the action figure, our partner factory in China takes about a month to make a massive injection mold. It’s like a giant metal ice cube tray that will eventually shape all the inner parts of our action figures.

Once the mold is ready, a large machine flash injects molten plastic into it. This forces plastic into all the little crevices of the mold and gives our action figures their detailed expressions. This is called injection molding. Typically two main plastic colors are injected – one for the figure’s skin color, and one for the main outfit color. After the molten plastic cools, the parts are removed and quality checked.

By the way, we’ve been working with our factory partner, a small, family-owned business, as long as we’ve been making action figures. We love working with them and visit their factory in China at least once a year.

Unlike larger factories, they don’t have the machines to automate every part of the action figure build. This means the details (think eyes, patterns, etc.) are individually painted and the figures are assembled by hand before being carefully packaged in our custom, snug-fitting boxes. From there, our production coordinator Jasmin makes sure they get to our warehouse safely. Once the packaged action figures are put on a shipping container, they typically spend a lovely month at sea on their way over to our New York port. Then, they travel a short distance to our warehouse in New Jersey, where they wait to be sent to their new home. We hope you enjoyed this behind-the-scenes look at how we do things here at FCTRY. Have a suggestion of what you’d like to see next? Leave us a comment below!


How Action Figures Get Made Part 1: Design

Ever wonder how we make your action figures? Take a peek into our Brooklyn design studio and see how we turn an idea into the tiny but powerful action figure that arrives at your door. There are two major steps in creating an action figure: design and production. In this post, we’ll talk about our design process. Get ready to geek out with us!

DESIGN

First, we decide which public figure should get their own action figure. This usually involves keeping tabs on the news, listening to your requests (keep ‘em coming!), and trusting our instincts. It’s not a perfect science, but we’ve got a pretty good track record of spotting real-life heroes in the making.

Action Figure requests

Once we decide which action figure we’re going to make, our product team does a deep dive into the life of that person. Sometimes this means we work with an outside organization connected to a figure (like the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative). Usually though, we pour over articles, photos, and videos of the person to build out a super-detailed mood board.

AOC Mood Board

From there we put together a creative brief and send it over to our sculptor friend Mike Leavitt in Seattle. He’s the artist behind our entire line of Real Life Action Figures, and his name is on the back of every action figure package we make. He starts with a simple sketch and moves on to several rounds of intricate sculptures art directed by our product team in Brooklyn

liz sketch

When the final sculpt is finished, we send it over to our factory in China. There they make a 3D scan and perform several revisions until our product team agrees that everything feels and looks right. Sometimes the factory paints the final prototype and sometimes we do it in-house

Our product designer Ashlee works closely with our co-founder Alyssa to perfect the product packaging. They like to include little details like quotes, colors, and textures that echo the personality of the real person. And best of all, our boxes are designed so you can open them without ruining their mint condition. Once the figure and packaging are as close to perfect as we can make them, we start production. Check back next week for our post on the production process!


Meet The Squad

Talk about a dream team! These trailblazing freshman congresswomen may be young, but they’re not here to wait their turn. Keep scrolling to learn more about “The Squad” everyone’s talking about.

Name: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez aka AOC
Represents: New York’s 14th congressional district
Known to say: “Women like me aren’t supposed to run for office”
Ceiling Shattered: Youngest woman ever elected to Congress
Power Move: Expert thrift shopper
Bet You Didn’t Know… Her worn-out campaign shoes were on display at a museum exhibit

Name: Ayanna Pressley
Represents: Massachusetts’ 7th congressional district
Known to say: “When the challenges we are confronted with are this big, this deep and growing, I can’t and I won’t wait my turn”
Ceiling Shattered:
• First black congresswoman representing Massachusetts
• First woman of color elected to Boston’s city council
Power Move: Epic party planner
Bet You Didn’t Know… She has a cat named Sojourner Truth

Name: Ilhan Omar
Represents: Minnesota’s 5th congressional district
Known to say: “I’ve always said you get what you organize for”
Ceiling Shattered:
• First Muslim congresswoman, along with Rashida Tlaib
• First Somali-American in Congress
Power Move: Award-winning angler
Bet You Didn’t Know… She’s a huge Prince fan

Name: Rashida Tlaib
Represents: Michigan’s 13th congressional district
Known to say: “We’re going to have more women run for office. We can shift what’s going on in Congress”
Ceiling Shattered:
• First Muslim congresswoman, along with Ilhan Omar
• First Palestinian-American woman in Congress
• First Muslim woman to serve in the Michigan legislature
Power Move: Dog whisperer
Bet You Didn’t Know… Her sons dabbed in Congress when she cast her first vote

Did you know we’re making an AOC Action Figure?


A Brief History of AOC

Every hero has an origin story, and AOC is no exception. Keep scrolling to follow the journey of a kid from the Bronx as she becomes one of the most powerful political voices of our time.

AOC Timeline


Why Is My Gummy Bear Nightlight Flashing?

Is your Gummy Bear Nightlight flashing? Then it most likely needs new batteries! Check out the video below to learn how to correctly switch out the batteries, so your Gummy Bear can shine on into the night. Hint: There’s a trick that involves a teeny bit of patience, but don’t worry. You got this! 💡

Here’s how to do it:

  • Simply open the battery case using a small coin.
  • Then remove the batteries and wait 30 seconds before replacing them.
  • Pop the cover back on and you’re good to go!
  • Still having trouble? Email one of our friendly customer service team members at hello@fctry.com


Vote For Your Favorite AOC Outfit

The rumors are true! Our Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Action Figure is being designed as we speak, but we’ve got a bit of a dilemma…

You see, we’re trying to choose the perfect outfit for the new congresswoman, but we just can’t make up our mind. 🤔 So, in the spirit of AOC herself, we’ve come up with a populist solution: We’re putting the decision in your hands.

The outfit that gets the most votes in our poll will be the one our AOC Action Figure wears. Ready to cast your vote?


Why We Launch Our Action Figures As Pre-Orders

There’s something we’ve been meaning to talk to you about for a while now, and that something is pre-orders. We get a ton of questions about why we launch our action figures as pre-orders, and we totally get it. In the age of Amazon and same-day delivery, why would anyone pay for a product so far in advance? (Although, it is kind of fun to get a gift from your past self, right? 😉)

Okay, drum roll. Here it is: The main reason we pre-sell our action figures is because… we can’t read your mind. No, seriously – it’s basically impossible for us to predict how many of you are going to want a particular figure before we start selling them, and demand varies wildly. We’ve had some launches that only sold a few thousand action figures, and others that have sold more than 100,000. If we ordered 5,000 when we needed 100,000 we’d be in trouble. If we ordered 100,000 when we only needed 5,000, well, then we’d be out of business. As you can see, it’s a bit of a conundrum and as a small company (there are just 13 of us!) we can’t afford to place big bets on production orders… at least for now.  

For us, taking pre-orders eliminates all the guesswork. This way, we know exactly how many action figures we need to make. That’s great for us. But what about you?

Well, think of it as our way of holding your spot in line. Once we’ve received the first shipment of an action figure, we ship them out in the order they were pre-ordered (that’s a bit of a mouthful, but hopefully it makes sense). Basically, if you were the first to order your action figure, you’ll be the first to receive it. We also try our best to keep you updated on shipping timelines along the way so you’ll have a pretty good idea of when to schedule the welcome party.

Once we start to build up some sales history, we can better predict how many action figures we need to have on hand to stay in stock. However, we do sometimes stock out faster than expected and have to ask you to pre-order while we make more. This was often the case with RBG, who smashed not only the patriarchy, but our sales expectations for every shipment that came in last year. Some might say she’s a notoriously good seller.

We know there’s a huge amount of trust involved when it comes to pre-ordering a product, and as such, we take this very seriously. Not to brag or anything, but we’re now a Google Trusted Store. In fact, they trust us so much, they’ll guarantee your order up to $1000. 😍 See here.

One more thing! We will always refund pre-orders with no questions asked, right up until the day they ship. Promise! Just email the friendly team at hello@fctry.com with your order number. Or, if you want to edit your order, change your shipping address, double check that everything’s still on schedule, or even suggest your own idea for our next Real Life Action Figure, we’re always listening – and we’ve got real life people handling every case personally.

If you have any other questions about pre-orders, please drop ‘em in the comments below.

Cheers,

The FCTRY team


Kamala Harris Is (Almost) Ready For Action

If you backed our RBG Action Figure on Kickstarter, you probably know we have a Kamala Harris Action Figure on the way. It’s a long road from concept to final production, so we thought we’d give you a quick update on where she’s at, and say thank you for being so patient.

Sculptor-extraordinaire Mike Leavitt has scaled down the Senator in his trademark style, and since then she’s been through the wringer – scanned, prototyped, transformed from clay sculpture to posable action figure, and we’re now in the process of perfecting paint colors and box design before she’s ready for production. This means she won’t look exactly like the photo above – she’ll look even more realistic.

Just a heads up! You’re going to see an announcement about another action figure in the next couple of days, but not to worry. This won’t impact or delay the production of Kamala in any way (we promise).

For those of you who ordered Kamala by pledging $100+ during the RBG Kickstarter campaign, we’ll send out another email with an update on shipping. In the meantime, sit tight and we’ll ship the tiny senator out to you just as soon as production is complete.

To stay updated on all the latest action figure news, follow us on Instagram.


Vote For Your Favorite Photo of the RBG Action Figure

To mark the successful delivery of our first shipment of RBG Action Figures,* we ran an Instagram contest to find the best photo of our little Justice, tagged #NotoriousAF (get it?). We received more than 700 entries from RBG fans all over the world, so the FCTRY team got together to do the difficult task of choosing our top 10 photos.

In the spirit of democracy, we want YOU to vote for your favorite. The lucky winner will receive a full set of Real Life Action FiguresCheck out the top 10 photos below, and scroll to the bottom to vote for your favorite.

*For those of you who ordered your RBG after the first shipment, be on the lookout for her to arrive soon. Shipping begins next week!

@selgear’s RBG Mosh Pit 

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#notoriousaf #rbgmoshpit

A post shared by Sandra Elgear (@selgear) on

@robrobrobyeah’s Fearless Girl

@astronautof’s Baby RBG

@akittycalledruth’s Purrrfect Playmate

@tainaconcurls’ Justice Flakes

@pake50’s Beach Walk

@marciabee’s Out of Office

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#NOTORIOUSAF There’s the door, Mr. Trump!

A post shared by marciabee (@marciabee) on

@blanketmichaeljackson’s Cheeto Smash

@gaelen’s Dissent Dogs

@ape_owl’s Supreme Stance

Decided on your favorite? Click the button below to vote! Voting closes Wednesday 11/21/18.


Bring On the Blue Wave

There’s an 85% chance the Democrats will take back the house after the mid-term elections on Tuesday, but that’s no reason to sit back and relax. We figured you might want to post something on social media before the mid-terms encouraging others to vote — you’re good like that — so we created these fun graphics to help you out. Scroll down to see Liz, Barack, and Bernie advocating for change (and yes, POTUS makes an appearance too).

Click the download links and get sharing!

AF_MidtermElections_Warren

Download Liz

AF_MidtermElections_Obama.jpg

Download Barry

AF_MidtermElections_Bernie_Wages

Download Bernie

AF_MidtermElections_Trump

Download the Evil Cheeto