Case in point. The title. Yes, you read that title correctly. I got the inspiration for talking criminal sock monkeys from Cabbage Patch Kids. I searched for the cheapest stuffed animal I could find and sock monkeys seemed to be it. There was also a lot of information on making your own, so naturally I jumped ahead to imagine a sweatshop of my very own filled with grandmothers churning out sock monkeys.
OK, sock monkeys are fine for kids, but what could we do to differentiate ourselves and also make them into something an adult would buy (either for themselves or for other adults as a gag)? Make them into criminals. Instead of a unique birth certificate being included with every one like Cabbage Patch Kids, the sock monkeys would come with a lengthy rap sheet.
I think that novelty would be enough, but I also thought it would be better to make them talk too. Stop for a minute and think about all the funny stuff you could come up with that a scumbag felon might say. All you have to do is squeeze the little monkeys stomach to hear his unique catch phrase.
You might think this was only a passing fancy, but no, I actually created a prototype.
I found an eBay lot of five sock monkey chew toys for dogs. They were about a foot tall and had one of those devices in them that made a squeak when it was pressed (or bitten). I found two small message recorder buttons for stuffed animal craft projects and recorded some hilarious (ok, funny to me) audio, then swapped out the squeaky toy with the message button.
Next I spent a good few hours searching for a criminal history template. This turned out to be the most consuming part, but I eventually found something I could use again and again for different monkey perps by easily customizing a few fields.
When all was said and done, I had a dog toy with bad audio. The biggest lesson I learned was to use the same products you plan to use for production in the prototype. I bought the sock monkey and message/recorder button based on a price point and profit I had in mind, but the quality of the audio was pretty bad and the stuffed animal was a dog toy. I could never use these products to create a finished product.
Creating the same product with higher quality materials would force me to charge way more than I wanted to, but not out of the realm of possibility for success. For an item like this, I figure a cheaper price is better, because seriously, there’s only so much (a good amount of) people will pay for a stuffed animal, regardless of how clever the novelty.
Not to worry! I lost interest before there could ever be a round two of the prototype. Anyone got a puppy that needs a new chew toy? I still have a few of them I never cut open. Oh, and speaking of cutting them open, there’s another lesson I learned during this process. I don’t know how to sew!