November 3, 2011
What happens when you blend together a background in music and film, electrical engineering and product marketing? You get an entrepreneur cranking out happy toys, of course. And with the season almost upon us – that time of year where we rack our brains for unique gifts for the people in our lives – it's a perfect time to learn about an interesting new startup called Happy Toy Machine.
Happy Toy Machine allows customers to design their own plush, stuffed toys online using a 3D toy designer application, and then have them created and delivered directly to their doorstep. The app lets users choose their own colors, body parts, facial features, decorations, and text for their own creation, and choose from a small size (10-15 inches tall) to larger size (20-26 inches tall). The toy is then made to those specifications at their factory in California and shipped to your door.
Happy Toy Machine is the brainchild of Scott Schube, the creative and technical entrepreneur who has worked in Hollywood and at Intel.
I've always had an interest in custom manufacturing and mass customization, and I have four kids, so the idea for Happy Toy Machine seemed a natural one. It's always interesting to see what crazy designs people come up with and gratifying to get feedback from parents and kids about their creations. A number of people have reported back, often with pictures, that their kids sleep with their Happy Toy Machine toys, and take them to school and just about everywhere. Maybe my favorite anecdote is about the baby who stares at a picture of his custom Happy Toy Machine teddy bear to make himself smile while he's on the changing table…
Still in it's first year, the team has grown (to 5 employees at last check) to add more expertise on the marketing and manufacturing sides, which has allowed them to focus on developing unique manufacturing processes for custom toys at attractive prices – toys range from $29.99 to $49.99. And they've garnered some good attention since winning the Audience Choice award at TechCrunch Disrupt's Startup Alley.
After creating my first toy, I agree that their tool is easy enough for a child to use – Schube kept his 6 year old in mind when they built the application. Look for more features in the future around personalization, e.g., allowing users to upload photos to the tool.
To guarantee you get your Happy Toy in time for the holidays, order by Dec 6th.
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