Peek into our Brooklyn design studio to see how we create the miniature but powerful action figure that arrives at your door. There are two major steps that go into creating our figures: design and production. We'll walk through both in this post – get ready to geek out with us!
Who deserves their own action figure? This simple question is often the most difficult part of the entire process. We keep tabs on the news and trust our instincts, but overwhelmingly rely on suggestions and requests from fans like you (keep them coming!). More art than science, we like to think we've got a pretty good track record spotting real-life heroes in the making.
The second we land on a hero, our product team dives deep into that individual's life. We pore through their history – in articles, photos, and videos – to get a comprehensive view of who they are. It's more than just looks, but what they have accomplished and why they do what they do that informs our action figures' design. It's important to us that each one has a soul!
From there, we put together a creative brief and send it over to our best sculptor friend (everyone needs one), Mike Leavitt in Seattle. He's the artist behind our entire line of Real Life Action Figures, and his name is on the package of every single 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.
When the final sculpt of the action figure is complete, we send it over to our factory in China. A small mom-and-pop owned business, we've worked with them as long as we've been making action figures. They're a fantastic partner and we make sure to visit at least once a year. They produce a 3D scan and perform several revisions until our product team agrees that everything looks and feels good. Sometimes the factory paints the final prototype and sometimes we do it in-house.
We put the same effort into our packaging as we do the action figure that comes within it. Our product team likes to include little easter eggs – colors, textures, and quotes – that echo the personality of the figure's real life counterpart. Best of all, our boxes are designed so they can be opened while retaining their mint condition.
Once we’ve approved the final look and coloring of our new hero, our partner factory in China prepares to build. They begin by constructing a massive injection mold. Like a giant metal ice cube tray, it is responsible for shaping all the inner parts of our action figures.
When 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. The process is called injection molding. Typically, two main plastic colors are injected – one for the figure’s skin color, and one for the primary outfit color. After the molten plastic cools, the parts are removed and checked for quality.
Unlike bigger companies, we don’t have the machines to automate every part of our action figure build. This means the details (think eyes, buttons, and patterns) are individually painted, and the figures are assembled by hand, before being carefully packaged in our custom, snug-fitting boxes.
From there, it’s on us to make sure they arrive safely at your doorstep. We ship them by air or sea to our New York port. From there, it’s just a quick truck ride 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 FCTRY. Is there something else you’d like to learn? Have an action figure you want to see made? Let us know and leave a comment below!