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Shenzhen Demeng Toy Design Development Co.,Ltd focus on making custom designer toys.

Vinyl Toy 1
Vinyl Toy 1

Vinyl Toy

Until now, many people think that vinyl is the name of a material. Here, it is necessary to popularize the science. In fact, vinyl is the name of a manufacturing process (rotocasting process). Due to the special manufacturing process, some other things are added to the material. As a result, people feel that it feels different from ordinary PVC toys, and they mistakenly believe that vinyl is the name of the material.

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    The “vinyl process” involves layering copper (possibly other metals, though the specifics are currently unknown) onto the surface of the prototype. This copper layer forms a basic metal mold. Then, a PVC paste resin (or PVC pellets) undergoes various processes to adjust its softness and hardness, forming a latex-like state. This mixture is poured into the prepared metal mold, which is heated over a flame while continuously rotated to ensure even heating. Afterward, it is removed from heat, allowed to cool, and the mold is opened to extract the product. Generally, this process specializes in producing hollow molded products. As it employs a paste-like PVC resin, which is finer than ordinary PVC resin, the sensation and texture vary for each individual. Compared to regular metal molds, this method is cost-effective and easy to produce. However, its drawback lies in the lack of pressure during the process, and the low flowability of the paste PVC, restricting the production of highly intricate and complex products.


    The “vinyl process” uses PVC as raw material, and there are also two types of hard vinyl and soft vinyl(also call sofubi).


    Sofubi is the transliteration of "ソフトビニール" in Japanese, which is soft vinyl, also known as soft vinyl and Japanese soft vinyl.

    "Vinyl Process" Overview

    The process involves pouring a paste-like PVC solution into a mold and sealing it. The mold is then placed in a high-temperature rotocasting oven and rotated slowly along two perpendicular axes. This allows the molten plastic material to uniformly coat the inner walls of the mold under the influence of gravity. After cooling, the mold is opened, and the finished product is pulled out.


    Because it takes shape within a rotating mold, "rotocasting," also known as "rotational molding," is a form of rotational molding process.

    Artist-designed series-vinyl toys

    "Sofubi Production Process" Overview

    Custom-Sofubi-Soft-vinyl-toys-art-designer-toy-fac
    Step 1
    Mix PVC powder with plasticizer, softener and other additives and pour into the mold.
    Custom-Sofubi-Soft-vinyl-toys-art-designer-toy-fac (2)
    Step 2
    Then put the mold into a centrifuge or vacuum machine and vacuum it to emove air bubbles.
    Custom-Sofubi-Soft-vinyl-toys-art-designer-toy-fac (3)
    Step 3
    Put the molds in an industrial oil pool and heated to make the raw materials adhere to the surface of the mold. (The longer the heating time, the thicker the wall thickness of the finished product)
    Custom-Sofubi-Soft-vinyl-toys-art-designer-toy-fac (4)
    Step 4
    Pour out the excess PVC ingredients and the poured out ingredients can be reused.
    Custom-Sofubi-Soft-vinyl-toys-art-designer-toy-fac (5)
    Step 5
    Put the mold back into the oil stove and heat it for 2-3 minutes until the entire glue is cooked.
    Custom-Sofubi-Soft-vinyl-toys-art-designer-toy-fac (6)
    Step 6
    Place the mold in water to cool
    Custom-Sofubi-Soft-vinyl-toys-art-designer-toy-fac (7)
    Step 7
    After cooling, pull out the colloid (A clamp is needed to clamp out the colloid)
    Custom-Sofubi-Soft-vinyl-toys-art-designer-toy-fac (8)
    Step 8
    After successfully clipping out the colloid, you need to trim it to remove excess corners.
    Vinyl Craftsmanship Step 1-Inject raw materials

    It can be seen that the difference between Sofubi craftsmanship and regular rotocasting lies in the process of heating and curing. Moreover, the quality of rotocast toys (vinyl toys) largely depends on the precise control of time and heat during these steps.


    Vinyl Toys production heavily relies on molds. The molding process of soft vinyl requires high temperatures, hence the use of metal molds, typically made of copper.


    With the popularity of 3D printing technology, many designer toys today are designed using computer modeling and then directly 3D printed into master molds. However, in traditional soft vinyl manufacturing, creating master molds is far more complex, usually involving two steps: the clay sample and the wax sample.


    The first is a clay sample (sculpture), and the design prototype is carved out manually and machine-wise.


    Then there is the wax sample. According to the shape of the clay sample, the corresponding wax sample is carved out. Since the subsequent mold turning process will produce about 3% shrinkage, the size of the wax sample must be enlarged accordingly based on the expected finished product size.

    Why use wax samples?

    On one hand, the surface of wax samples is easy to polish, resulting in a very smooth surface for the molds produced. On the other hand, the following steps closely resemble the "lost wax method" used in ancient China for casting bronze artifacts.


    The wax sample is placed in an electroplating tank, where a copper mold is poured through the electrolytic reaction of electroplating. Then, it is heated to melt the wax into a liquid state. After the wax liquid drains away, what remains is a hollow copper mold, a negative of the wax sample. This copper mold is called the "master mold."


    In large-scale production, even metal molds face wear and tear and may become unusable. Therefore, multiple production molds are usually created from the master mold. These production molds are welded onto a steel frame, allowing for subsequent mass production processes.

    Vinyl Craftsmanship Step 4- Place the mold in wate
    Vinyl Craftsmanship Step 2 - Sealing mold

    Characteristics and Disadvantages of Vinyl Toys

    Do you still remember the major issue with injection molding—the parting line? Sofubi completely eliminates this headache. Because the mold is a single-piece formation, it ensures that the finished product has no parting lines.


    Furthermore, due to the centrifugal force from rotation, sofubi toys are generally hollow. They are lightweight, have a bouncy feel, are less prone to damage from falls, and are convenient for playing with, carrying around, and using in outdoor scenes. Beyond merely sitting in collectors' display cases, they offer more companionship and social interaction. Perhaps this is why many designer toy brands are increasingly adopting vinyl process to customize art toys.

    What are its manufacturing flaws?

    First, vinyl toys have design limitations. If a toy has many sharp protrusions or indentations on its surface, the flow of the liquid rubber material within the mold will inevitably be obstructed, leading to defects like air bubbles and incomplete fillings. That's why most vinyl toys we see tend to have simple shapes, with rounded edges and no sharp angles.


    Secondly, almost every stage of production requires manual labor (except for the copper mold electroplating process). For instance, controlling the molding time, manually extracting toy parts from the mold after forming, and because the shapes of soft vinyl toys vary significantly in finished products, it's not feasible to automate painting in bulk, necessitating manual coloring. Consequently, there's considerable uncertainty in the final products, leading to a high rate of scrap and significantly increased labor costs in production.

    Vinyl Craftsmanship Step 6 - Vinyl parts to be tri

    Vinyl Craftsmanship Step

    Vinyl Craftsmanship Step 1-Inject raw materials
    Vinyl Craftsmanship Step 1-Inject raw materials
    Vinyl Craftsmanship Step 2 - Sealing mold
    Vinyl Craftsmanship Step 2 - Sealing mold
    Vinyl Craftsmanship Step 3 - Rotating mold
    Vinyl Craftsmanship Step 3 - Rotating mold
    Vinyl Craftsmanship Step 4- Place the mold in wate
    Vinyl Craftsmanship Step 4- Place the mold in wate
    Vinyl Craftsmanship Step 5 - Pull out the vinyl pa
    Vinyl Craftsmanship Step 5 - Pull out the vinyl pa
    Vinyl Craftsmanship Step 6 - Vinyl parts to be tri
    Vinyl Craftsmanship Step 6 - Vinyl parts to be tri

    Here are some popular types of vinyl toys

    Each type of vinyl toy offers a distinct appeal and attracts a specific group of collectors, contributing to the diversity and excitement within the collecting market.

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    Artist-designed series
    These series are designed by well-known artists, showcasing specific styles and creativity. They often come in limited editions or feature unique designs, appealing to collectors.
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    Qee Toys
    Recognizable by their large head-to-body ratio, Qee toys have a simplified design. They're available in various forms and styles, crafted by different artists and designers.
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    Robots
    Vinyl toys with a robot theme, often featuring transformation capabilities or articulated joints, are beloved by sci-fi and mechanical enthusiasts.
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    Cartoon and Anime
    Inspired by characters from cartoons or anime, these vinyl toys mimic the designs of these beloved characters. They typically boast vibrant colors and cartoonish features.
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    Retro Toys
    Paying tribute to past eras, these toys reflect styles from the 80s or 90s, evoking nostalgia among collectors.
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    Pop Culture and Icons
    Drawing inspiration from pop culture, movies, music, or historical icons, these vinyl toys feature popular characters or patterns, capturing widespread attention.
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    Urban Vinyl Toys
    This category features toys rooted in urban culture, often showcasing street art, graffiti, and elements of city life. They bring a unique edge to the world of vinyl toys, appealing to fans of contemporary art and urban lifestyle.
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