Process - ***1/2
Since half the fun of this toy is creating it, it's worth spending a good amount of discussion on the process.
Happy Toy Machine has an excellent help section on their website, designed to walk
you through the entire process, and it's worth taking a look. You probably won't need it - most things are pretty clear
- but it's nice to have just in case.
As I mentioned earlier, it costs nothing to design a toy. You can take the process all the way through to saving your design,
and in fact you can have it added to their catalog for other people to buy, all without buying it yourself.
You start the process by picking a generic body template - rabbit, bear, dog, alien, that sort of thing. Have no fear though,
because while this basic design is intended to get you started, you'll be able to change all the features (arms, legs, ears,
tail, head shape, hands, feet, etc.), making it possible to create a totally unique creature.
After you've selected the basics, you are presented with the main design screen - the creature is in the middle, with
function buttons (like saving or sharing) to the left, and feature buttons (like body parts, etc.) to the right.
You can use the feature buttons to change just about everything about the plush toy - the shape and style of every body part,
including adding things like wings, tails or horns; every feature of the face including eyebrows, whiskers, mouths and more;
decorations to the chest; and even sounds and clothing, although those features are still to come. You can also change the
color of any body part, and there's a surprisingly broad range of colors for the material. You can change colors one of two
ways - either use the color palette button to the left, which gives you a paint brush to click the intended area with, or
simply select the area you want to change, and when the palette pops up at the bottom, select the new color.
One of the better features is the ability to add text to the chest. This will be embroidered, like the other features you see
in the photos, which really adds quite a bit of personalization. In the future, they plan on allowing you to add your own
artwork or photo as well.
As you can see, my daughter was interested in being somewhat traditional with her bear. I was pushing her to add some
tentacle arms, horns or maybe bat wings, but she wasn't having any of my foolishness.
Another cool feature of the software is the ability to rotate the figure through space. This way you can see any tail or
other backside additions quite easily.
Some of the features can be a little confusing, like how to delete something you've chosen. You have to first click on the
offending item (say, a chest emblem), and then the delete button will appear down at the bottom. This took a little playing
around to find, but once I understood the process it worked fairly easily. There are a few of these slightly counter-intuitive
processes, and kids may need an adult's help to figure some of them out.
Once the design is complete, you can save it. You can order any saved design, or someone else can come in and order it for
Overall, my daughter had no trouble creating just the beast she wanted, with very little confusion or frustration. She
enjoyed the process, and it was painless for her dad as well. Someday I'm sure she'll wish there was a Happy Husband Machine
just like this.
BTW, it took less than a week for me to receive the completed bear - not bad!