All things being equal, I’m going to start sewing Sherman tank plushes on Monday next week. I’ve reworked the pattern some, so the wheel/track assemblies don’t splay out, and adjusted the turret design some, since @enrique262 said it looked like a head sticking up. :D Still need to do a test run of the reworked pattern–that’s on Monday–and if it looks good, will post pictures and start taking commission orders. For reference, here’s the prototype. Pricing when I time the production of the rework and do some calculating.
If you guys weren’t tired of seeing her yet, you probably are now. This is now the fourth Cerea plushie I’ve ever made. This little lady is now tied with Peacock from Skullgirls for character I’ve made the most plushies of. However, you eagle eyed followers may have noticed that there is ANOTHER Cerea further down on my commission list. Soon this character will be my most plushed character. You guys really love her and your dedication is astonishing!
I wanna take a quick aside here to announce that for the first time ever COMMISSIONS ARE CLOSED! You guys have been so good to me in the last few months of 2016 that my commission list is running wild and out of control! So, I decided to close commissions for a bit just to get a bit more caught up on it. COMMISSIONS RE-OPEN MARCH 1ST 2017. So don’t you guys worry, I won’t be gone for long. I won’t be able to catch up on my list completely in that time, but I just wanted to get a good chunk of it out of the way. I hope any of you who want to commission can be patient until then!
Anyhow, I hope you guys had a great holiday season, a great end of last year and a great beginning of this year! I look forward to making all your waifus in 2017, no matter how trash they may be ;P
Some of you, those who have been following me for a while or seen me at conventions, know that I am *trying* to branch out into designing toys rather than just making them. There are a lot of reasons for this, primarily so that I have time: time to design new things, time to rest, time to do literally anything other than crochet delightful sea creatures - you get the gist.
It’s not that I don’t love making things, I do. And I’m certainly not going to stop making things; I’m pretty sure I can’t, to be honest. But I have to admit that it would certainly be much easier on me, at least for my wrists, to have sewing machines do most of the work.
So. The dragons.
I finally made enough money to get a run of plushies made, and I decided to start with my red dragons as my first line. Dragons were one of my most popular items, but they were a lot of work to make, so I figured they would be perfect as plushies.
I decided to go with Gann Memorials for my production. Now that I’ve already made my mistakes, I’ve had a lot of people tell me that I should never have partnered with Gann, but since nobody felt the need to tell me anything about them previous to my giving them quite a lot of money, that’s who I went with. I did have one person tell me that they were “skeevy”, but since she wouldn’t go into any detail or even use any other words to describe them, I assumed her issue was personal in nature and dismissed it. I wasn’t planning on spending time with these people, I reasoned, just entering into a business arrangement with them. I don’t care if they’re skeevy. I care if they’re competent.
Well, now I know.
We began in July of 2015, a year and a half ago. I made the initial phone call (which was grand, because I have social anxiety and calling people on the phone is one of my least favorite things to do). Chris Gann (hereafter Chris) was a genial guy, very much a salesman - but, since I was looking to buy things from him, that was pretty much what I was looking for. We set up an account for me. Promises were made, verbal assurances; they specialize in quick turnaround for orders, I’d have them in less than three months (assuming that I don’t take forever making alterations, of course), they have very high quality standards, et cetera.
A few days later he set up a Basecamp account. Basecamp is an app for communication between people working on a project together. I can definitely recommend it; it works out beautifully for that precise thing. The account was started July 27.
So far, so good.
On August 11, he sent me the first sample images. They needed some tweaking, but I was starting to get excited. I made my recommendations and he went off to relay them to the production team.
On August 19, he sent the second sample images. These were very close. I accepted this version:
Cute, right? I think it’s cute. Grumpy, but not off-putting; now that I have a little more experience under my belt, I can see where I would make further changes, but it’s still very cute.
September 1: Chris tells me that the dragons will be shipped to me in October.
September 7: Chris informs me that these guys are going to need tags. I hadn’t thought about that, but I whip up an acceptable tag design (it’s not great but it’ll work) and send it off to him two days later. I don’t hear back from him until October 2nd, when I ask for a shipping estimate; Chris assures me that they’ll ship by the end of the month.
October 21: Chris asks me to approve the tag design that I had sent him. I’m a little confused, but I approve. The day after, I approve of the shipping mark and I start to get myself emotionally prepared to receive a large shipment of toys.
October 29: I check up again on the time frame. Chris says he’ll ask.
November 2: Chris says that they’ll be shipped by the end of the week.
I want to point out here that Chris told me they would be *delivered* by the end of October, not shipped at the beginning of November. I’m a little unhappy with this, but you know, things happen. Whatever. I’ll probably shop around for the next line of plushies due to this delay; he hasn’t lost my business forever at this point, but neither has he pleased me to the point where I would go with his company again as a matter of course.
November 5: Chris sends me pictures of the final product. There’s not much in the way of variation from what I had already approved, so I assume all is well. He also tells me that I’ll be getting extra product on their dime. I am pleased by the prospect, as that would mollify me about the delay. Unfortunately, it turns out not to be true.
Novemter 18: I receive the boxes. I do not believe in putting things off, so I opened them immediately and went through my product, counting and sorting carefully. I am widely dismayed by what I find.
I ordered 350 dragons. It’s a small order, in the way of these things, but it was what I could afford. I did receive exactly 350 dragons, but they were not what I had approved. Every aspect was correct and acceptable *except* the most important part of any mammal, toy or not: the face. In this case, the eyes. Of the whole order, 17 dragons had split seams (not a big deal, I’m handy with a needle and I understand that they underwent significant squishing in order to fit them into as few boxes as possible to make shipping affordable); 46 were correct, as in their eye placement and shape were in a range close to what I had approved of; and a whopping 286 of them had what I have to call drastically incorrect eye placement. Here’s what I mean:
The eyelids are too low and placed at the wrong angle, making it look sleepy (still sellable, but not what I paid for). The eyelids are, by the way, glued into place.
These eyes are totally wrong (and, may I remind you, glued into place, so I can’t fix it without cutting the eyes out completely). That’s just… wrong.
This guy has to be my favorite. One eye is significantly larger than the other one and has been placed about a quarter inch higher; the eyelids are entirely wonky - and still glued into place.
Dec 3: Chris tells me he is trying to work things out with the factory; I send him the above images for clarification. He says he may just have me keep what I received and he will replace the entire order on his dime.
I am, at this point, entirely depressed. I feel like a failure. I have a certainty that this issue will not be corrected, and even if it is, it won’t be corrected in anything like a reasonable time scale. I feel that I have wasted a very large sum of money and way too much time and it makes me angry and hugely, vastly, deeply disappointed.
January 5, 2016: Chris asks me if the appearance of the dragons I received is somehow different from the sample I approved. I wonder to myself if he has working eyeballs, or at least knows someone who does, but I respond in the affirmative and re-send all of the pictures, including the one I approved for reference. All of these pictures are still in the Basecamp account. All I have to do is scroll to look at these exact same pictures, but I send them again anyways. I also ask for honesty, here; if he’s not going to fix this, please at least have the decency to tell me about it so I can move on with my life and not have to expend my energy trying to get something done here.
January 7: Chris takes umbrage at the notion that he might just possibly not bother to fix these glaring mistakes, as he is nothing if not forthright and good. I point out that the delivery took much, much longer than he had initially told me, and that the extra product that was supposed to be included with the shipment never showed up.
January 8: Chris says that he misspoke about me getting extras; there will not be another box forthcoming, he was mistaken about that. He does graciously allow me to keep the gigantic pile of unsellable, wasted material that they sent me, and promises that he’ll have the dragons remade at his expense and the issue with the eyes will definitely be fixed in the next batch. (This also turns out to be untrue.)
January 9: Chris tells me that the next batch will ship out after the Chinese New Year. This makes sense to me; holidays always mess up shipping times, and these are travelling across the planet, after all. I settle down and assume they’ll be here in six to eight weeks.
April 20: This is more than six to eight weeks, you will notice. Chris tells me to expect a shipment some time late next month. I have given up on ever seeing these damn things.
September 23: Chris sends new pictures for approval. It has been over a year since the first time I went through this process; I was told that I would have them in under three months. Over a year. I’ve moved to a different state by this point and yes, I was snippy. I pointed out that in the FIVE MONTHS since I last heard from him, my address had changed.
I liked the new ones. These looked angrier. If I got dragons like these, I would be able to sell them in exchange for money.
November 16: Chris asks me for my delivery address. Again. I ask if this indicates that they will be shipped soon, but there’s no response.
January 10, 2017: Gene Gann, another employee of Gann Memorials, informs me that I should expect my shipment by mid-February.
February 8: Gene asks me for my phone number, which I supply, so the shipper can get into contact with me to set up a delivery time.
February 15: The shipper calls me. We set up a delivery time.
February 17, 2017: I receive six boxes full of dragons. They have the same qualities of the first batch, only there are more of them this time. Four - I repeat, four - are correct, in that they match the above picture. A further 189 are in sellable condition, looking sleepy or disappointed rather than angry but otherwise having no defects. 27 have split seams, only three of which I bother fixing since the other 24 have devastatingly bizarre eye placement. 303 dragons go into boxes with glued-on, incorrectly placed, wrongly sized eyes.
In the end, I’ve received a total of 243 dragons that are in a sellable condition. Only a small portion of those actually resemble what I ordered. 589 dragons can only be sold as misfits. I put some in grab bags, feeling guilty. I see them in trash cans at conventions and can’t really blame anyone. 218 dragons, which should have been sold at a profit to fund the next line, are utterly unusable. I have scrapped them and am using their stuffing to fill other projects.
I am bitter about the entire thing. I am angry. I am never, ever going to do business with Gann Memorials again, nor will I recommend them to anyone, as I cannot with good conscience do so, because if they had an experience anything similar to mine I would be wracked with the most horrible guilt.
I *am* going to try again. As tempting as it is to simply give up, to assume that there is something lacking about my character, that there is something about me that makes things like this happen, I won’t do it. I’m saving up for another line of plush toys. I am shopping around for a different company to work with.
My hands are tired and my blood pressure is high, but I’m still going.
(I want to put in a disclaimer that I am not assuming anything about the personal morality of Chris or Gene Gann. I do not want them attacked or thought of in any wrong way because of how all of this went down. This was a business deal, and sometimes they go sour. This could have been a series of misunderstandings, mistakes, communication errors, unfortunate events, what have you. I don’t know what’s going on in their lives. These are things that happened, and they will affect who I do business with going forward, but I don’t assume that these are bad people. I don’t think I could encourage anyone to have a business relationship with this company and these people, but if you want to have a beer with them, I’m sure they’re very nice.)
The last plushie I managed to finish, Beyond Kirk for my own collection of Kirks. He’s been sitting around waiting to be photographed. For giggles, here he is next to the very first plushie I ever made years ago.
I don’t have my own Sam plushie so I made my own felt Sam! Anyways, my name is Mia and I’m from England. I first found Sean through Felix’s shout out competition and at first I wasn’t a huge fan but then I watched more of his videos and really started to enjoy his content. His bubbly personality improved my best days and helped me on my worst. I’m not the prettiest or talented or anything like that but Sean has always made me feel special. He’s the friend I never had and thanks to him I’ve finally learnt to accept and love myself for who I am. I’m so proud of the progress you’ve made and I’m proud to be a part of this community. You’ve been such an inspiration to me and an amazing role model to us all. So here’s to you, Sean, for being you. Thank you for everything.