How do you make your packaging?
I get so many requests for this topic.
The truth is... I am always changing my formula and switching things up. I’ve never found anything that I am 100% satisfied with.
Packaging is an integral part of making a toy and I would go so far as to say the packaging is more important than the toy.
by ETC Toys and RENONELABS
The sure fire way to get awesome packaging is ordering it from Kevin Malone at Chimera Studios. He makes great stuff. Email him with your packaging inquiries at:
Tell him Scott from Barbarian Rage sent you.
I will start with blisters because that is easy. Buy your blisters from Dov at DKE.
He just got in some new blisters including a large rectangular one for 5.5 figures, one sized for TMNT figures and circular blisters for a coin.
Check out http://www.dketoys.com/
Again. Tell him Scott sent you.
Cardbacks: What not to do.
When I first started I used diluted Tacky Glue to adhere a printout to a comic book backer card. Then trim it with an Exacto Blade. Then I clipped the corners with a craft store corner rounder.
Everything done here is wrong. Don’t use Tacky glue for your cardbacks. Tacky glue is not acid free (although they do make it, but the regular version is not acid free).
Tacky Glue is not archival. Diluting it also makes the card buckle and curl.
I wouldn’t use comic book backs either. They come in weird sizes. I’ve always had a hard time getting them to work.
Trimming your cardbacks with an Exacto Blade is difficult. Sometimes it’s uneven. Sometimes you don’t cut all the way through. Sometimes it’s crooked and it’s a hell of a lot of work if you are doing 20 plus cardbacks.
Craft store corner rounders will break after about 30 uses. They are garbage. Don’t even think about it.
So, how do I make a good Cardback?
I start with a good 50pt (0.050) chipboard. I’ve done lots of experiments with this. Anything thinner that 50pt is too flimsy and anything thicker than 50pt is too thick to cut well.
Now what I do is take your card design and print them out. I use the local Fedex Kinkos. I center the design on a standard 8.5x11 sheet of paper.
Then use an acid free adhesive. I know a lot of people use a spray adhesive. It’s tempting because it’s easy. But the sheet ALWAYS lifts off the board. Sooner or later it will buckle and release from the chipboard. Don’t use spray adhesive. It stinks.
You can use Elmer’s Glue sticks. They are acid free and archival. The problem with that is you have to really jam it in. There are some spots that you have to really go over and apply lots of pressure. And while I’ve never had a problem with it, I’ve heard that the print will lift off the card after a few years. And you will go through A LOT of little tubes of glue sticks.
Here is the best way that I have found to make a cardback, step by step.
Make 2 prints. One for the front and one for the back (don’t skimp on the back of the Cardback!).
Give the back print a 1/4 inch bleed on each side.
For a standard Star Wars sized 6x9 Cardback I use a cut out to trace where the image will go to ensure that the whole surface will be covered with the paste.
I use Yes! Paste. Yes! Paste is an acid free thick paste. I will dilute it a little (not too much) to about the viscosity of honey.
Then I use a brayer to roll it on evenly making sure you get it really good around the corners and sides.
Line your print up on a piece of cardstock and press your print onto the chipboard.
With the print still covered, use a bone folder to apply pressure starting in the middle and move out towards the edges.
Then I put that under a giant book and put a weight in it.
Repeat for the back.
To trim the card backs, I head back to FedEx Kinkos. They have a giant rotary cutter. It cuts through thick cardstock, canvas, or chipboard. I even saw a guy cutting a big roll of AstroTurf on it once.
I use the one at FedEx because this is an expensive cutter. I’ve looked into buying one and even a used one is $200.
After you have these trimmed it’s time to round the corners (they will do this at Kinkos too).
You can get a little hand corner rounder for about $20-30. Again don’t buy a craft store rounder. They will break immediately.
These are okay. But your hand will get tired after cutting a few dozen cards.
I splurged and bought a big tabletop corner rounder. I think it was around $75 and worth every penny. Especially if you have 25-50 cards you need the corners rounded off.
Now to glue your toy and blister on to the card. Some people glue the toy down then put the blister over it. Your choice either way.
Everyone’s “go to” glue is Loctite GO2. Which is probably where it got it’s name.
Some problems that I’ve had with GO2 is that it will yellow on a white surface after a few years. So keep that in mind when you are designing your packages and maybe try to use darker colors where you know your blister is going to go.
Once the blister is glued and in place I put a couple VHS tapes on it to give it a little pressure.
Then, lastly, I use a hook punch to give it a vintage look. But it’s not necessary.
This “We R Memory Keepers” hole punch will add a little nostalgia to your packaging.
So now I know you are saying,
“Wow Scott... that’s a lot of work!”
Well, it is. So on my journey to make this easier I was talking to Dain (@damarxtoys) aka BuzzardGuts and he said that he just prints out full size 8.5x11 stickers and sticks them to the chipboard and trim them.
Brilliant idea! Well, I tried it and it worked brilliantly. So easy. So fast. I made a bunch of them.
But it wasn’t until I glued all of the blisters on that I noticed a reaction from the GO2 glue on the sticker prints. It looked like dirt trapped under the blister when I know there was not.
I even bought different sticker paper and had the same results.
This wasn’t cheap! It was a very costly mistake.
I brought this up to Gary (@2bithack) and he said he uses Canopy glue. Canopy glue dries clear and remains flexible. It does NOT have the reaction to the sticker paper.
I just started using it so I don’t know if it yellows over time. But the articles I am reading say it remains clear.
So, there you go! That’s everything I know about packaging. I am still always learning and always changing. In fact I was writing this article when I had the problems with the sticker paper. New solutions equal new problems.
So, if you do something that’s easier or different leave it in the comments section! And if you have any questions please leave them in the comments section to be answered.
Until next time.