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 am a big palaeontology enthusiast and I love trying new arts and crafts.
I began palaeoplushies after making a few plushie ichthyosaurs for my friends. After their positive feedback I began making more designs including Velociraptor and Quetzalcoatlus. My focus on scientifc accuracy and pose-ability have been warmly received by palaeo fans and those from the palaeontological community alike.
I have been selling my handmade palaeoplushies online and making them to order, but I have found that my production rate could not meet demand. This is where the idea for a Kickstarter campaign came from; my aim is to have one of my soft toy designs produced professionally.
I decided to create a plush Velociraptor mongoliensis; this dinosaur is extremely popular, but rarely are toy depictions of this creature accurate! Based on the latest scientific knowledge, you won't find pronated hands here. Instead you'll find a fully plumaged 'raptor with feathered wings and a fanned tail.
I have worked with a plush manufacturer to produce a prototype plushie Velociraptor to my specifications and we're all set up to start the manufacturing process- this is where Kickstarter comes in;
I need to raise the funds to get these plushies made and in the process give everyone the chance to get their hands on some palaeo-related goodies, or the plushie itself!
How much needs to be raised? £7,600
I've created a pie-chart to help explain the funds break-down:
As you can see, most of the funds will go into plush production itself.
What's in it for you?
I've tried to make a nice range of incentives to suit everyone's budget. The aim was to make designs dinosaur fans like myself would enjoy- vinyl stickers to decorate things, a funky palaeo t-shirt, and of course the Velociraptor plushie itself! For some of the higher incentive levels, I'm offering the chance to own some custom-made, one-of-a-kind plushies, including life-size and realistic velociraptors!
I have always loved collecting soft toy animals, the more unusual the better. Around age 10 I realised I could make my own soft toys and this opened the gateway for many more unusual creations from peacocks to jerboas and griffons to dragons.
As time passed, I realised that other people had the same enthusiasm for plushie creatures and they responded really well to my realistic dinosaurs. Currently, many commercially available dinosaur soft toys are scientifically inaccurate in ways that can't just be put down to stylisation. This is something I hope to change!
If you want an idea of my plush art style and previous happy commissioners, here are examples of my previous work.
When designing the digitally painted patterns for my hand-made palaeoplushies, I work from the bones up. I begin with photographs of fossils, skeletal reconstructions in published papers and ones used with permission from professional palaeo-artist and palaeontologist, Scott Hartman. I build up from the bones, laying on muscle, fat and integument until I have something resembling life appearance. For soft tissue reconstruction I reference scientific papers, books such as Pterosaurs by Mark Witton as well as articles and feedback from the online palaeontological community.
I prefer to work from fossils with really good soft tissue preservation such as Rhamphorhynchus, Ichthyosaurus and Microraptor as I feel more confident that my plushies will be accurate. In the case of Microraptor, fossilised pigment cells have been identified which suggest that it's plumage was iridescent black (Quanguo Li et al. 2012). The discovery of evidence for actual colouration really excites me, and I'm very keen to do more extinct creatures with the "correct" colours in future.
This is not to say that my plushies are 100% accurate, there is a fair amount of stylisation and interpretation that goes into these things (and we all make mistakes), but I've tried my best!
References and thanks:
-Thanks to PhyloPic (and NASA) for the human silhouette used in the graphics on this page.
-A huge thanks to Scott Hartman of SkeletalDrawing.com for the use of the Velociraptor skeletal used for the initial Velociraptor design the plush is based on.
-Pterosaurs: Natural History, Evolution, Anatomy by Mark Witton
- Quanguo Li et al. (2012) Reconstruction of Microraptor and the Evolution of Iridescent Plumage
-Many thanks to the Vertebrate Palaeontology department at the University of Southampton! You guys rock!
-Thanks to Darren Naish of TetZoo and John Conway for the support and for hosting TetZooCon and letting me sell my plushies there!
-A final thanks to everyone who has supported me and bought a palaeoplushie from me in the past!
Risks and challenges
There are certain risks that are involved in soft toy production, such as delays. I have already invested money in this project to push it through the design process and have a finished prototype produced. This has cut out most of the delays in design and has got the plush to a stage I am happy with before I ask for monetary support. This also means I have a finished product to show potential backers so you know exactly what you are getting!
The velociraptor plush has not been CE tested yet, this will happen once production starts, but it has been produced to conform to CE standards. On the off-chance that it fails, this plush will not be suitable for children or changes will have to be made to get it to conform to CE tests.
Many of the incentives pictured are mock-ups. I am confident that I can get them produced to the high standards pictured, but there may be slight variations in colour and design. If anything, changes in design will be slight tweaks and improvements on my part as I'm always trying to make things look better!
As I am producing some of the incentives myself, such as the hand-made velociraptors and custom plushies, not to mention the life-size velociraptors, the time it takes to produce them will be down to me. I have factored in how long these will take me to make and have given a rough estimate of production time, but depending on what designs I've been asked to do the time can vary.
Other set-backs include the chance that incentives such as pin badges, stickers and t-shirts will encounter manufacturing delays. I will keep everyone notified with updates on incentives and plush production following the kickstarter being successfully funded!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Size Guide (Chest):
S - 34/36
M - 38/40
L - 42/44
XL - 46/48
XXL - 50/52
The professionally produced Velociraptor plushies are going to be CE tested, and will likely have a rating of 3+, suitable for children over the age of 3.
My hand-made soft toys are not CE tested and aren't intended as children's toys.
The realistic hand-made velociraptors contain coated aluminium wire to make them pose-able, but this causes them to be a bit pointy for young children.
Custom plushies won't be tested for safety around children and the plush fur isn't suitable for children under 3 years old as it presents a choking hazard.
I do my best to make my plushies durable with everything soundly attached, but as they're one-offs I cannot subject them to CE testing.
If you have any concerns or questions, please contact me.
-For starters, the plush shall be life-size, so that is around 2m long from nose tip to the end of the tail.
-I was planning on using printed fabric feathers for the wings, tail and head crest (should you want it to have a head crest). The feathers I will design and paint myself digitally.
-The claws will be either cast resin or individually sculpted to be life-like in appearance, and the plush can feature plastic or glass eyes set into sculpted surrounds for realistic looking eyelids.
-The legs, hands and nose will be un-feathered/made with short fur fabric or similar, whilst the main body will consist of a combination of high quality long-pile furs.
-The body feathering colour can be chosen from a selection of fur-fabrics. I can do my best to match the artwork I have provided, or I can do something different, it is up to you!
-The body will be stuffed with high quality nylon stuffing and can feature a floppy jointed "skeleton" of foam for added accuracy.
-All this is subject to change and I am happy to listen if there is anything in particular you have in mind!
The t-shirt was designed by me; I really like heraldry-style beasts and the idea of combining that style with semi-accurate dinosaurs seemed fun. I was pleased with the results and thought it would make a great t-shirt!
I am working with an American company called Gann Memorials. Their website is here: http://www.gannmemorials.com/
The plushies will be produced in China, in a factory with good working conditions and that does not employ child labour. For more info, visit the Gann Memorials website.
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