The final manufacturing steps to putting your prized action figures at your disposal are now discussed. Again, these are general steps in the entire processing plan and may vary depending on individual goals and design.
Step Eleven: Inserts, Decals, etc. – It is now time to prepare any and all manuals, flyers, decals, bagging material, etc. that will be needed in the final package. The creative department usually supplies all of the copy and artwork that is required for the production. This information is then passed along to the selected vendor/factory previously chosen for this project. The factory will then provide proof sheets on each item for review and approval by the client and licensor if necessary prior to going into production.
Step Twelve: Tooling First Shots – The tooling is now complete and “First Shots” (also known as “Test Shots”) of the figures are produced with the new mold. These first parts are then evaluated for size and function. They haven’t been decorated yet and are not typically shared with the client. It allows the engineers to make any adjustments if necessary to the tool prior to going into production.
Step Thirteen: Limit Set Samples and Meeting – After the first shots have been reviewed and any modifications have been made to the tool, a request is made to the factory to provide pre-production samples. These samples will be representative of the production line product and will be used for a “limit set” meeting with the client. At this meeting these samples will be reviewed for decoration, function and safety to determine they are ready to proceed in to production. Any changes or defects that occur at this stage have to be taken care of prior to going in to production.
Step Fourteen: Intervention Testing – All production line product needs to be tested during each production run. The quality lab determines the intervention or frequency testing. This is based on the size of the project, the complexity of the product and the quality levels established with the vendor.
It is during these intervention tests that the product is subjected to all of the testing that the lab has determined in the earlier QAP. If the action-figures tested during intervention fail, then those items are pulled and reworked and tested again prior to becoming acceptable product to ship. It is also determined what made them fail the test and production problems are fixed if need be.
Step Fifteen: Final Ship Date Selection –This is the last opportunity to increase the order and a Final Ship Date is provided to the client. Based on the tooling that has now been finished, first shots approved and the submission of the limit set samples, the factory can establish an accurate production schedule. A final ship date of the action figures is then determined.
Step Sixteen: Production Begins – All approvals have been established and the factory can begin full production. If at this point the client were to make a change it would have to be a “running change” which means you would keep the production line going but make the change during production. This usually means variants will be shipped throughout production.
Step Seventeen: Pre-Shipment Inspection – As with any production line, the quality lab again determines a random inspection sampling of the completed and packaged action figures. The QA inspectors will open cases and take out product to test them for function, quality and safety. If the product fails the test the product must be unloaded and reworked prior to being able to ship.
Step Eighteen: Photo Shoot & Contract Samples – At times, Point-Of-Sale displays may be required. This may require photo shoot samples or contract samples of the action figures to arrive prior to the actual product. These extra product samples are used in setting up displays at local stores or for photo and commercial shoots. These samples are usually taken from the beginning of the production run.
Step Nineteen: Production Complete – Now all of the production and manufacturing operations for these action figures are complete. That is if this particular product is not to have a continuous run. The production line will be taken down and the tooling for this project will be stored at the manufacturer’s facility.
Step Twenty: Final Ship Date – The last of the containers have been delivered to the ocean terminal for shipment. The vendor is paid and the action figures begin the long journey to their final destinations.
They are then delivered, usually by truck, to the distribution warehouses of the retailers. They are sorted and shipped to the individual stores. The stockers rip the cartons open, stock the shelves, and stand back as scalpers rush over and hoard the whole shipment (ha ha). Hopefully this won’t happen in your area and you will have sufficient time to run down and purchase your much-anticipated new action figures.
And now the next time you pick up one of your favorite figures, you have an idea of what all is involved in producing this marvel. And, of course, this is all figured into the final cost, unless the scalpers get there first. To review all my pages on Action Figures and their wonders, just use the link in the menu at the left to start at the beginning.
Action-figures collecting has become quite an active and enjoyable hobby over the last 30 years or so. If you are just getting started in your action figure fascination or have your own collection started, then you may want to check out this action figures blog. And keep up with one guy's opinion on action-figures.
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