Hello Kickstarter! My name is Rebecca Groom, and I am the person behind Palaeoplushies™; a series of realistic soft sculpture dinosaurs that I design and sew myself. I have previously run a successful Kickstarter campaign to produce Velociraptor plushies and other Velociraptor-related goodies. My focus on scientific accuracy has been warmly received by palaeo-fans and those from the palaeontological community alike.
The experience of running the previous Kickstarter has taught me a lot about the plush manufacturing process what to be prepared for. This time I hope to put that knowledge to good use to produce a number of life-size, accurate Archaeopteryx soft toys! I aim to make the toys bigger, fluffier and more cuddly than the Velociraptors, whilst retaining their palaeontological accuracy.
Archaeopteryx is an iconic bird-like dinosaur known from the Late Jurassic (150mya) of southern Germany. It was first named from a single feather in 1861, there are now 12 mostly complete fossils known. The largest species, Archaeopteryx lithographica, could grow to around 50cm in length.
Often touted as the "first bird", or Urvogel, it is a small theropod dinosaur closely related to dromaeosaurids such as Velociraptor. Is often used as an example of a "transitional fossil" as it has features of both birds and extinct non-avian dinosaurs. It was discovered two years after Darwin's publication of On the Origin of Species and played a part in confirming Darwin's hypothesis.
A lot is known about Archaeopteryx' life appearance as there are a number of complete fossils known, often showing beautifully preserved feathers. Archaeopteryx had multiple layers of stiff flight feathers, whilst the body may have been covered in more fluffy, fur-like feathers (1). It sported "trousers" of stiffer feathers around it's legs (2). The presence of preserved melanosomes found in the wing coverts indicates that they were likely to have been black (3). Black feathers are stronger than lighter coloured feathers in modern birds, so dark pigmentation in the flight feathers is very possible for Archaeopteryx.
For such a well-known and historically important species, it has surprisingly little representation in the way of educational toys. Those that do exist are often inaccurate and don't do a good job of showing our current knowledge of how this species would've really looked. I hope to change that by bringing a life-size (~50cm long) fluffy Archaeopteryx to life in the form of a soft toy, as well as pin badges, t-shirts and other Archaeopteryx themed products.
1) Christensen, P; Bonde, N. (2004). "Body plumage in Archaeopteryx: a review, and new evidence from the Berlin specimen". Comptes Rendus Palevol. 3 (2): 99–118.
2) Longrich, N. (2006). "Structure and function of hindlimb feathers in Archaeopteryx lithographica". Paleobiology. 32 (3): 417–431.
3) Vinther, Jakob (1 June 2015). "A guide to the field of palaeo colour". BioEssays. 37 (6): 643–656.
I produced the initial design (Fig. 1) to get an idea of the kind of product I wanted to see made. The first prototype was designed and sewn by me (Fig. 2 "Originalopteryx"), the pattern I created was then sent off to the company Shinedown plush who have worked with the factories on my behalf to produce a plush that matches my vision as best possible. We've been through a number of samples and prototypes (Fig. 2) to get to the finished design that I'm very happy with!
Whilst this was all going on I was busy designing pin badges, T-shirts and the like. I have companies lined up already to produce all these items, so all that is left to do is to raise the funds!
Plush Production - Over half of the cost is for the production of the plushies, including development costs and safety testing.
Fees and Taxes - The boring bit! This covers Kickstarter's fees, card payment fees and customs duty when importing the plushies to the UK.
Shipping - Another large chunk of the cost goes towards shipping. The plushies will be shipped to me, and then I will ship all the incentives out to my backers!
Incentives - This is how much it will cost to produce all the rewards such as embroidered patches, badges and t-shirts!
Unforeseen Circumstances - Most of the time, the unexpected happens. I've budgeted a little extra in case of surprise fees, price fluctuations or miscalculations. This gives me a little wriggle room!
Pin Badge- Your choice of one "Natural" or one "Black and Gold" 30 mm enamel pin badge of a heraldic Archaeopteryx design! The Natural pin will feature translucent enamel dark coloured wings to simulate iridescence that may have been present in life. The "Black and Gold" pin will be gold plated with black hard enamel fills. Add £6 to pledge for one add-on pin badge of your choice
Embroidered Patch- a 70mm embroidered patch with an iron-on backing (can still be hand-sewn if you'd like!) featuring a heraldic Archaeopteryx on a shield. Add £4 to pledge for add-on Embroidered Patch
T-shirt- Heather-effect Grey t-shirt available in sizes XS to 2XL. The heraldic Archaeopteryx design will be discharge-ink printed. This process removes colour from the shirt rather than laying ink onto the surface, resulting in a more hard-wearing design with a much softer finish which should survive the life of the shirt! Add £18 to pledge for add-on T-shirt
Lifesize Archaeopteryx Plush - The main event! These plush toys are 47cm long, which is around the upper limit of a large Archaeopteryx lithographica. They have printed details on the feet and beak, with two small soft claws poking out of each wing. Embroidered details on the wings and tail show feather patterns. They have blue-grey plastic safety eyes. These toys will be EN71 Safety Tested and should be suitable for children over 3 years of age. Add £30 to pledge for add-on Plush
Risks and challenges
As with any project, there's always unforeseen risks and challenges. I have completed a successful similar Kickstarter before I have already encountered a few of the things that can go wrong- luckily everything went smoothly in the end and I know what to expect this time!
For example, last time I was hit with unexpected customs charges, this time I have taken this into account in the budget. I'll also strive to improve the postage and packaging this time, as a few pin badges were damaged in the post by the postal franking machines, this time I will send them in protective card boxes.
One possible cause of delay would be due to the manufacturing process- as I've already approved the samples so we should be ready to go with manufature as soon as payment has cleared. There might be slight variations of the final product from the samples, which can be expected in larger runs of plushies. I will keep everyone informed when it comes to production updates and will let everyone know if I think we're going to encounter delays.
The pin badges, t-shirts and embroidered patches will probably be ready sooner than the plushies. I will be using UK based companies I already have a working relationship with, and they've proved reliable in the past- their products are of a high quality and are produced quickly.
I've already made arrangements with the local post office and warned them in advance of the large quantity of items I might want to drop off one day!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (34 days)