Material choices

Resin and plastic are two most popular materials in toys and figures, but other materials, including metal, fiber, acrylic, ceramic, fabric, and wood are also commonly used. What material is right for your product is determined by factors such as usage (market), function, design (shape and pose), size, and quality of the product.

 

Resin, fiberglass

Resin, also called poly resin, poly-stone, is ideal for making figurines and statuette products. Resin product is cast by using silicone mold and, given the flexibility nature of silicone, resin can be used for casting complex design details. In addition, silicome mold is relatively cheap, which makes resin a preferrable and most common used material for product prototypes.

 

Most resin products are hand-polished and hand-painted, which is usually perceived valuable and collectible.

The main disadvantage of resin is its fragility, meaning breakable if hit hard, which basically limits the use from designs with articulations such as scaled action figures and most children toys.

 

Fiberglass, or fiberglas, is actually mixed resin with fiber, which strengthens the resin so make the product more durable. In production, fiber film is applied from inside the product, so certain size of cavity is required; as a result, fiberglass is usually used in large size life-like sculpture and statue.

 

Plastic

There are many types of plastic, including PVC (also called PVC vinyl), ABS, PS, PE, HDPE, PP, and so on; but as far as toy products are concerned, PVC and ABS are the most common uses.

 

Due to high temperature and high pressure required for casting plastic product, its molds are usually made of special steel with precision machines, so is expensive. Because of that, plastic product requires some quantity.

PVC is a thormoplastic plastic, a plastic becoming soft and flexible under certain temperature, while ABS a thormoset plastic, a plastic hardened once is formed. This difference sets apart the forming techniques between them, which in terms limits the design of the product itself; for example, while some recessed or hook shape details are allowed with PVC, it is not with ABS plastic. Roto-casting, on the other hand, can only be used with PVC material.

 

Plastic casting is a precision production, which means uniformity, which means feasibility in using paint molds for coloring, which means efficiency for production.

 

Advantages of plastic include durable (almost unbreakable), posable (with soft vinyl), articulated (moveable parts), light in weight, and efficient in production.

 

Because of its productivity by machine, plastic product is perceived as lower value than that of resin. This may not be always true, though, read this article for insight.

 

Metal

As far as crafted toy is concerned, the mostly use of metal is pewter. Pewter can be plated (coated) with bronze, making it less expensive than bronze casting.

 

Wood

Wood is actually a safe material for toys; the only thing is, with trees become scarce, it is more environment friendly by using subsitue wood such as wood pulp wood (MDF) or recycled wood.