Even if dolls creep you out, you may still want to read the regular updates that I'll do about the production process of Smart Doll which will not only give you insight into product design but also how its done in Japan so that when you make your own products, you will have already avoided my mistakes and gained from my learnings.
Today I'm going to talk about the packaging for Smart Doll and how its changed over the past few months.
This is the new packaging for Smart Doll which I really like! The design serves many purposes.
1. Mirai or Kizuna can do the peekaboo-take-me-home pose like you see in the photo.
2. You can use the corded bag to carry around Mirai or Kizuna.
3. The large surface of the bag serves as branding.
4. Much more easier to assemble.
5. Takes up much less storage space.
6. Does not get easily damaged or scratched like the previous clear box.
7. 4:3 Rectangular form means more efficient use of storage space.
8. Bag is reusable and practical
Regarding no8, I hate packaging that you just keep in a cupboard or just throw away - the paperbag (made of card) allows one to transport Mirai & Kizuna here n there.
The cord is designed so that one can carry the bag over their shoulder.
And obviously you can carry it from the cord like so.
Looks like Mirai likes the new bag ^^
By the way - this peace hand part will be available late Jan or Feb 2015. Because Smart Doll wrists are designed with a 3 Axis Joint - you can do poses like this which are not achievable with other soft vinyl dolls in the same class.
The bags are made of 230g/m2 card and is coated with matt just like the boxes that come with Apple products - they look and feel great. Artwork is by Shirahane Nao-sensei (DMYO).
Mirai or Kizuna are wrapped once around the waist to prevent damage of hands rubbing against the body and then wrapped again in bubble wrap so that the face is covered twice. We then place Mirai or Kizuna in another plastic bag, have her rest on her knees and placed in the paper bag like so.
The face is protected by the double layer bubble wrap and her chest also provides protection to prevent her face being mashed against the side of the bag.
Then we place the accessory box in the remaining space like so which forms a strong and sturdy support to prevent the bag being squashed.
The whole bag is then wrapped in another layer of bubble wrap which covers the top of the bag providing more protection.
Here are the accessory boxes which are not only designed to go inside the bag together with Smart Doll, but also for sending out apparel and accessories which have been purchased seperately.
Most boxes are printed with black ink but again - I wanted something different and decided to go with white - I think it turned out quite snazzy ^^
By default, Smart Doll comes with a telescopic stand, wig, shoes and apparel.
We don't wrap each item but instead place some foam or crumpled up paper to prevent items from moving around too much in the box.
The accessory box that goes inside the bag is not taped up - I didn't see the point because the bag prevents the lid from opening and I also wanted to leave the customer with a nice box without tape marks all over it.
This new packaging has been in use since December 15th and we have shipped a load worldwide already.
A load of Kizuna ready for shipping!
This is what the inside of the double corrugated box looks like before shipping. To make it easier to remove the bag - pull on the bag cord on one side while using your other hand to ease it out of the box.
Up until now, most doll boxes have been long and rectangular but I wanted to get out of that comfort zone and try something different and practical - and that's what Smart Doll is all about.
Other doll manufacturers of 60cm tall class dolls would never put a hole in the back of their dolls but thats what I did - the Smart Support Socket provides a new way to pose the dolls in a way that has never been possible.
Smart Doll encompases my vision of what a fashion doll should be and includes many features that current doll owners are probably not used to - for this reason, I encourage current soft vinyl doll owners to refrain from purchasing a Smart Doll as they will be disappointed that its not just like all other dolls.
Some apparel items will come in this "Tea Bag" style packaging. I love the simple design.
Unlike other doll manufacturers in Japan, we have decided to make our packaging in Japan too. While it is a wee bit more expensive than printing overseas, the time needed to manage the quality and the cost of shipping everything to Japan didn't make sense.
In the middle of receiving a ton of the new boxes at the office.
So many boxes ><
But this lot should be all gone within a couple of months - to be replaced by more ><
We have the folks from Japan Post who come in to process all the EMS packages on a regular basis.
I thought we would take a look at the previous package designs. Here I'm putting together some prototypes of the first designs.
The first design idea was that Smart Doll would be shipped sitting down on the accessory box where the whole box was windowed so that it could be used as a display case.
The reason why this didn't work out well was not only because the box took ages to assemble, but it also weighed as much as the contents which would increase shipping costs for our customers.
When designing packaging, one has to think about how that packaging is going to be stored - in our case we are talking about thousands of boxes.
Ideally the packaging should be able to be stored flat otherwise fully completed boxes would take up soooo much space. I guess this is no problem if you have a warehouse but we are not at that stage yet.
The next design was to be a clear box and here are the many prototypes that we made. The thicker we made the material, the more foggy it became so struck a balance between being study while clear at the same time.
This was the final design of the box. When we started selling Mirai, she would be dressed and secured to the box at the ankles by a ribbon.
For shipments in Japan this was no problem (most Japanese post folks don't throw boxes around) but for shipments overseas, Mirai arrived looking like a zombie!
At this point we already ordered a ton of clear boxes and had to make use of what we had. I decided to wrap up Mirai as shown in the photo which served as better protection when shipping.
Shipping Mirai out like this meant that she was well protected but also defeated the purpose of having a clear case in the first place.
The clear cases however do look good on display and on shop shelves but I feel that packaging has to serve more of a purpose than just being pretty.
I do plan to make sturdy clear carry cases in the future though.
Peekaboo-take-me-home Mirai! Do note that Mirai's knees should be bent at less than 90 degrees to hold her up in this position. If her knees were bent at 90 degrees then you wouldn't see her at all.
Do note that the packaging for Smart Doll sold at events may differ slightly - this is due to the fact that we have to hand carry them with us.
Product development should be an evolving process which is why we are always looking at ways to improve our products and packaging. This means that the packaging could change again but it would be for the better and I'll let folks know when that happens.