I have received quite a few inquiries on the pricing of my plush, along with the interval to make them. As a result, I figured I would type up a summary to serve as a guideline for anyone who has any questions about what goes into each plushie, or why prices are set a certain way. I am hoping this guide will serve to help everyone understand why I cannot lower the price of my product, and understand why the prices get so high. In order for me to consider this a profitable venture and not me just throwing money at the wall, I have to set prices a certain way. The reason I started making the plush series was not just personal interest as a fan, and to put a quality handmade product out there for the public, but also to help me save up for very important things that I need. As much as I would love for ANYONE to enjoy these little guys, I have to keep things fair. Right now I have an esty store in full swing that has been quite successful, now that I am more comfortable with my patterns and how everything goes together; but when I had plush at auction, I would set the starting bid to $50, which covers paritial cost of materials and only part of the labor costs; the lowest one I had went for $70, the highest (that actually sold and was not a non-paying bidder) was close to $500. Since these were set at auction, it’s up to the bidders to determine how much they are willing to pay for my product. That $510 Golden Freddy? That wasn’t me setting the price; that was the result of two bidders who REALLY wanted him (the winner happened to be a non-paying, so no dice anyway)! Word got around fast about this auction for some reason. I had people messaging me and posting on FNAF communities in disgust over something I had no control over, which is a bit silly. Even at base price, that is significantly over what I would charge for ANY of my current plush. Now, however, the store is where I handle 99% of my listings, and base prices have been set according to how much time, materials, complexity and effort that goes into each one.
1. Quality of Materials
All of the material that goes into each plush are high-quality. That = expensive. I use cuddle minky fabric, which runs $14/yard on average. This is such a high quality fabric that mass-produced plush will never use it – at least, none that I have seen and felt have. This is a fabric commonly used by artists who make custom plush by hand, since they are not produced in mass ‘on the cheap’. This is a very important factor to my pricing. Some colors cost more and I have to special order them from overseas, such as the salmon color used in Foxy’s accents such as his tummy and muzzle. I am very picky about accuracy, so using colors that are as close as I can get to the source is very important to me. I usually use up about 1/3 to 1/2 of a yard on each plush’s base alone, since they are fairly big, averaging at 17” when standing up. Accents (such as belly, mouth, etc) markings take up more fabric, usually in alternating colors. I love using minky though because it is very soft and lends itself so well to the overall look of the product. I don’t want to settle for using fleece since it makes the plush look ‘hard’ and seams just do not blend as well with that material. Minky is not the easiest material in the world to work with, since you have to be careful to cut it on the right grain and it also has some stretch to it that I have to be mindful of and know how to manipulate. Not to mention it sheds, everywhere. I have to keep a lint roller on hand all the time these days and am constantly cleaning up my apartment.
Also factoring in are notions and other pieces – wire, interfacing, felt, embroidery floss, thread, doll noses, various (non-fraying) fabric for the eyes, Heat n Bond, transfer paper for decaling, adhesives, pompoms, foams, polyfill, polly pellets, rhinestones, top hats, eyelashes, etc are all various materials that go into these plush and that were an additional cost to me to make sure each plush has the right look to it. I do not cheap out or use poor quality materials because they are easier to use or to make shortcuts – if I have to buy an additional supply to get the right effect for a certain part of the plushie, then I will go out of my way to get it. I also have to pay for packing materials (boxes, tape, etc) to have them shipped in. Thankfully they are plush and hence soft, so the most important thing is not to do anything to crush parts like ears.
Time is the second big factor. I do not have time in my life, unfortunately, to meet the demand ATM – so here we have a case of supply vs. demand. The demand is quite high for the FNAF plush right now and I try to keep my store updated, but sometimes I can’t. At most I can juggle four orders per week and will not go over this amount. I am away from home for 13 hours a day during the week working a full-time job, so weekends tend to be the only time I have to work on each plush, along with a little spare time in the evenings during the week to work on cutting out fabric or do minor sewing. Each plush has quite a few pieces – Freddy, the most simple, has 44 pieces of material that go together to make him. A lot more than it looks like. Many of them are tiny and need to be hand worked.
Each plush takes a MINIMUM of 8 hours of work (Golden Freddy being easiest, Foxy being the hardest in this regard). And 8 hours is when I’m working on one of the simpler ones and not hitting any snags along the way. Many components on my plush also need to be sewn by hand, due to working in tight, curved spaces that the machine would mangle (no pun intended). This ends up eating up more time, obviously, to make sure the stitches are quality and tight enough to hold up over time. The eyes have several layers that have to be carefully cut and made symmetrical and placed just right on the faces. Many pieces that are embroidered are first hand-basted so my machine will not scrunch up the fabric. A lot of care is taken each step of the way to ensure that nothing is damaged or looks ‘off’ during the construction process. With errors made, it means scrapping the pieces that are not up to par and remaking them, which takes up more time, but I want to always put quality first and will redo anything that I feel does not look right or is not stable enough.
The following is an estimation / breakdown of time it takes for a Freddy Fazbear plush, for example – roughly 7-8 hours of work give or take. For Foxy it goes quite a bit longer into 9-10 hours mostly due to the pants and being careful with lining everything up and having it sit right.
- cutting out fabric – 45 minutes
- handsewing for ‘paws’ – 45 minutes
- mouth – one hour
- eyes and brows: 45 minutes
- sewing in the arms and legs - 45 minutes
- making ears– 45 minutes
- sewing together the head – 1 hour
- Miscellaneous machine sewing – 45 minutes
- finishing touches and miscellaneous things like the bowtie, tail, mic, etc – additional 45 minutes
I pride myself on good craftsmanship – neat seams, avoiding glue except when absolutely necessary (such as the Chica’s cupcake’s google eyes), symmetrical parts, stability, quality materials, and accuracy to the source. Those with button noses are affixed with washers, so they will not come off. Eyes/brows are heat bonded and satin stitched down as are certain details, wire and foam used for infrastructure in things like ears, interfacing for stability, decal work is done with transfer paper instead of paint, etc. Part of what you are paying for with my labor cost is this quality of workmanship. I have won many awards from costuming, often times Best in Show at large conventions, due to how meticulous I am with my work. I want it to look good and to last a long time and refuse to cut corners. A lot of people do notice this and compliment me for the quality of my work, but don’t understand that this is why the product might be a bit more expensive. You are paying for skill and attention to detail as part of the cost. Also factor in that I made the patterns for each plush, which took a lot of time and several mock-ups with fleece fabric to get an idea of how I wanted the end result to look. (The patterns are NOT for sale, BTW – I do get asked this quite often). I try to take inspiration from both the plushies in the second game that you can win through various Custom Night challenges, and adding my own touch to make them look more like their animatronic counterparts, which means more detail but a very nice end result.
The methods I use to make the plush factor into the labor. This also ties in very closely with time, since it takes up to 10 hours for each plush to be constructed at the rate I am going right now. Nothing on the plush comes pre-made, aside from the noses in the case of the ones who have them (all except Chica). Even the eyes are patterned from scratch. So I am working from the ground up – cutting out the pieces (which is around 40+ depending on the plush), organizing them, sewing them together, heat and bonding face details, wiring and interfacing where required, stuffing, making accessories (for example: Bonnie’s guitar and Chica’s cupcake) all factor in. Figuring out placement is still something I have to do on a case by case basis for things like the ears, to make sure they look suitable to the rest of the face, for instance, and because no two plush items are EXACTLY alike due to them being handmade. There is a TON of handwork involved, and not as much work done with the machine, since it allows for better accuracy at times and to get into tight, curved spaces as previously mentioned. I am particular about how everything is shaped and in many cases, it is absolutely necessary for pieces to be the right size once sewn together so they stay uniform and fit properly. One seam being too wide or narrow means a do-over for me.
Also, take into account that this is a one-man show, I am the only person working on any part of these plush, from start to finish. This is not a production line, a sweatshop, or a team effort, so all responsibility falls on me to get the job done. I have to maintain a spreadsheet with everyone’s orders on it and also a calendar I use to make sure everything gets worked on time and out the door by the shipped by date at the latest. It takes commitment and management to make sure everything runs smoothly These are not mass-produced items – when something is OOAK (one of a kind) you need to expect a higher price than something that is manufactured in bulk quantity by an assembly line and machines, often times, also with cheaper materials.
Based on labor and fine crafting, I price myself at about $13 an hour going rate. This is less than I make during my day job but a reasonable rate considering over 12 years of sewing experience and awards for craftsmanship and knowledge of patterning and assembly, and refusing to cut corners. With at least 8 hours a plush, that’s what equates to about $100 for each of them. The rest of the math comes in with material costs and complexity. Foxy’s time and labor cost is $130 of his total $175. The remaining $45 helps cover his materials cost - fabric, poly fill, poly pellets, foam, nose, eye detailing fabrics, thread, and blanket.
Why I Can’t Lower My Price – The Bottom Line
Every now and again someone tells me I need to charge less. From the outside looking in, it can be hard to realize WHY I am charging up to $175. But with my above explanation and my final breakdown, I hope this makes it clear-cut.
Let’s say I wasn’t an artist with a small business and I wanted to make just one plush. Let’s use Freddy as our example. How much would it cost me to make him, if I had NONE of the supplies on hand? The following is a breakdown of about how much it would run me (not counting the sewing machine itself, because…that would be at least another $100):
Minky Fabric – ½ yd brown, ½ yd light brown and ½ yd dark brown - $25
Nose – $4
Interfacing – $3
Hat - $2
Polyfill – $9 (from Walmart)
Polly Pellets – $8
Felt for bowtie – $1
Thread – $5
Embroidery Floss- $.50
Needles – $4
Heat N Bond - $3
Craft foam - $1
Fabric for eyes (I use high-end spandex for the white and color, suede for the black, and the spandex I must buy in a yard increment) - $35
Adhesive - $10
Fabric scissors - $12
122.50 for the materials needed to make ONE FREDDY PLUSH.
That’s already way over this $20 fee that people are asking me to charge, and this is WITHOUT time and labor. This whole ‘charge $20’ concept is now thrown out the window, with no justification for it to be that low. Also consider I have to pattern him and use mock-up fabric and materials, too. Because many of these materials I can spread across several projects, I never charge the full materials cost as part of the pricing. It wouldn’t make sense since I can usually buy in bulk and that one bag of $9 polyfill lasts me around 8-10 plush. You will notice that amount is much less than if I were to just make one plush, as a result (usually, the materials charge that factors into a plushie is $30-50 or so). You are mostly paying me for my time and skill to make YOU a quality, handmade item that you can cherish for years, that will resemble the photos I have listed for that particular item.
One thing that never ceases to amaze me when asked to lower my price to something ridiculous is that there are FNAF plush out there that cost that much that people can buy if they so desire. If that is your budget then I will even encourage you to give them your business. And I am going to be frank here. No one in these circumstances wants to admit that they want mine because of the quality and extra mile that they can see in my work, but refuse to pay the price FOR the quality. It is only a lot of headaches and heartache for me every time someone tries to degrade my work when the materials, time and skill level put into each one is far above $20. I am not trying to whine or moan, but when told this, it hurts. It is perfectly fine to tell me you can't afford it. The economy IS rough and I myself would have to save up to afford my own plushies if I didn't have this as a side business. I can name other artists that are right on my level who charge in the same range and I can justify their price because I have been there, right with them, in figuring out how to price their pieces. And they are truly worth what they are asking for! Don’t undermine them. They are not trying to ‘pull a fast one’ on you. They have amazing talent and any artist dreams of being able to be a success with their art. To make that a reality is an experience for us. DO NOT GIVE THEM GRIEF. I can also name some who have taken advantage of the game’s popularity and buy plush bears and glue felt features on them to make them resemble the characters, and triple (or MORE) the price of that base plush but that is another ballgame entirely and I would much rather not open this can of worms. Eheh.
I am truly thankful for the fact that my little endeavor has, even with these little bumps, been very successful. I want to take a moment to thank everyone who has purchased one of these plush – whether they have one now or are waiting for me to finish theirs or whatever the circumstance would be, you all are the reason FOR my success. And I value that a lot. I hope to continue making these little guys for as long as at least someone is interested. I am here to serve you!
Q and A
1) Why does it take up to 8 weeks to ship? The way my ordering system works is that when I list a plushie on my etsy store, you are reserving a spot in line. It’s a rather long line, and when you order from me, you are taking your place in the back of generally 20-30 orders in front of you; but I like to be able to provide a service to as many as possible, but I can only make 4 plush a week, max. The way to keep the store active is to have this span of time frame. By now I know my limits and know how much time it takes me to churn out a quality item. Most weeks I have 3 or 4 plush to make, and I have a full-time job that keeps me away from home for 12-13 hours a day every weekday. Weekends are precious to me, and the time I am able to devote to my plush work the most. Usually on a weekend I can finish two plushies and get a dent in one or two more. I keep a spreadsheet handy of everyone, what plushie they want, specifications, and the ‘ship by’date. Lately I have been working very closely up to or on the ship by date but I have not yet had anything ship out late. I am also available to answer questions any day of the week, if you happen to have once, before, during or after ordering. I came to the realization that etsy is not giving everyone their ‘ship by’ date that I consider so important, so I have started to include it on my invoice notes. I don't believe in rush jobs either, so I do take my time to give you the quality of service you paid good money for!
2) Are these plush a good idea for kids? My intent was to make these plush to be collector’s items, and I am very surprised how many are bought for children – but they are great gifts, as long as they aren’t being handled roughly. There are a lot of handsewn pieces so say…tug-of-war may not be such a good idea for little Freddy. Even though I double over my thread, with enough tension it will break. As long as you make sure your children understand this, everything will be fine! They are very huggable and a decent size, which does work towards the advantage of being child-appropriate.
3) Can you expedite for me, please? My policy for expediting is generally, I don’t accept those, ever. HOWEVER, if you have a special request and a valid reason I can see if I can accommodate you. It must be at least three weeks out from the date of inquiry, your order MUST already be placed and be for a single plush, and it depends on how many plushies I have scheduled for that particular week, and sometimes, which ones are being requested during that week. I generally refuse to do two Foxy’s on any given week, unless I have sufficient time around that week to fit them both in, for instance, since they are my most time-consuming item. I also can’t make more than four plush a week so if four spots are taken, it’s an automatic no. I love to make everyone happy but sometimes it’s not possible. I want everyone to have my best work! Rushing is not going to equate to this.
4) Can you make a FNAF plushie in another style than your own? My style is pretty unique, whereas many are very cutesy, mine are a bit closer to the true animatronic appearance while still looking kinda cute. They are also larger than your average fanmade FNAF plush. I refuse to make a plushie based off of someone else’s plush design due to infringing on the design of another plush artist, and as for someone else’s 2-D art, you will need to get their permission first – though honestly, that is ground I don’t really want to tread on to begin with since many artists are very possessive of their design and for good reason. Mine are inspired by Custom Night prize plush with a flare of my own. I’ve had people ask me if I could make one that looks exactly like Custom Night, but the answer is no. Besides, several artists base theirs off of that and I enjoy being unique. And now with the official Sanshee release, I’d rather just direct anyonewanting Custom Night plush to them – plus, it’s a way to support Scott.
5) What kinds of custom requests do you accept? Right now I will admit that it is near impossible for me to accommodate custom requests for plush I have not made yet. I have a constant number of requests on my plate any given week, and a new plush requires patterning, which is the most time-consuming part of the whole process of plush work. However, I do have plans to make Mangle, Springtrap, Golden Bonnie, Toy Bonnie, and Purple Guy, to add to my inventory. I also made a full-size Puppet but I am still figuring out pricing and mastering his pattern. There is also the potential for others like Toy Freddy, Chica, Balloon Boy, too! I just haven’t gotten any requests for those and tend to believe they are the least popular characters. I am all ears though and open to ideas and suggestions. I always keep in mind when someone asks for something I don’t have, even if I can’t get to it right away. I can also do FNAF OC plush but they will keep to mystyle of making the plush.
6) What do I do if there is a plush I want but it’s not listed in your store? Listings are made available based on calendar availability. Once I hit four a week, I can’t have any more listed for that week (I count a week as a succession of 7 calendar days, not necessarily starting on Sunday and ending Saturday). This doesn’t always happen. I also base it on materials that I know I have so I don’t have to worry about backordered fabric or noses, for example. Please send me a message expressing interest in that plush and I’ll see what I can do for you. I will create Private Listings so you can get the plush you want and not have to wait for it, but it’s also based on my schedule. I do this as a service to anyone who wants to be guaranteed a plush and not wait for it to appear in the store. Do realize though that this in some cases may prevent me from listing certain plush as often in my store – for instance, Foxy or Springtrap or any of theother more involved plush. I have to limit how many of those I take on per month due to how much of my time they require.
7) How do I clean my plush? Please handwash with a wet handtowel and mild soap, and air dry. Never bleach by hand unless the minky is white (Mangle, for instance) and never throw into the washing machine. It won’t be pretty.
8) Can you lower the price? The answer is no. Sorry. It’s also not fair to everyone who paid the existing amount
I will likely edit this doc in the future, to add more to the Q and A or to clarify any items that I feel need to be clarified or am asked to explain in further detail.