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Production samples from manufacturer

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FCG
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Joined: 11/06/2019

Hi all. I have had games printed in the past where I received the "first mass production copy" from the manufacturer as a sample before giving my approval to proceed with the full print run. I have recently tried a different manufacturer who refuses to provide mass production samples until after the run is complete, which seems weird/stupid to me. While my print runs are small I don't have a lot of money invested but I would definitly not want to invest in a large print run without samples.

So my question is what is normal? Should I be worried? Do manufacturers normally provide a first mass production copy as a sample? Is this just smoke and mirrors anyway, because it also seems a bit unusual that a large production company would halt their presses after 1 copy to wait for my approval? Both companies are reasonably well-known Chinese manufacturers.

I would appreciate if anyone who has some experience could help me out. Thanks!

questccg
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Joined: 04/16/2011
From my little experience...

Our Manufacturer sent out THREE (3) separate samples along the manufacturing process. Not all the game box, Sample #2 came in a baggie and had custom dice, tokens, "real bad" cards (only 3), a sample Game Pad (2mm thickness). But the point of that sample was the "custom" dice (and maybe validating the thickness of the Game Pad).

While the white ceramic looking dice looked pretty darn good, the colored ones were AWFUL! The sample cards were AWFUL! The sample Game Pad was AWFUL!

But it was more for the tokens and dice TBH. I don't know why they include the AWFUL content, it just made the sample look "sub-par".

Sample #1 was a game box with only one (1) miniature. To validate it's color, material and overall quality. It looked pretty good...! It had cards but without a linen finish and the box quality was "average".

Sample #3 was everything that the production copies would have EXCEPT the VacTray... Which took a month or so to figure out. Sample #3 Box was AMAZING! The custom dice still had issues and they've since sent out photos of nicer dice too.

Overall this did SLOW the process down by maybe 3 months in total. You are probably "shocked": THREE (3) MONTHS???

Yes well the samples had to be mailed from China to USA (Florida) and then from USA (Florida) to Canada (Quebec). Time to review, make comments, take pictures and then send the samples along... Took about 1 month each.

So IF your Manufacturer is NOT producing SAMPLES along the way... I would be a little bit worried. You have no say in the production. If they produce the WRONG component you will be stuck without first validating the product. Now I'm not saying something will go wrong... But like I said if something DOES, you have NO RECOURSE! Everything is MADE already... What are you going to do?

Like I said, samples were provided through-out the Manufacturing process and even if it slows down production, WE would rather the product be AMAZING than be sub-par in some aspect.

Custom dice took a while to get them right. Without samples we would never had been able to validate their quality and ensure that the Manufacturer produced dice that would meet Backers expectations.

So my opinion would be: be concerned. No samples = no recourse = no fixes.

It also depends on the nature of the game. We had standard dice, custom dice, miniatures, VacTray (pretty much everyone has this and it was the LAST thing that we worked together to resolve), Cards (500+), Tokens, Acrylic Cubes, Game Pads (now 1mm thick) , Game Mats (30" wide), 2 Rulebooks and a Box (which looks amazing with the gloss finish).

We asked the Manufacturer if they could make "GOLD Lettering" ... They said it was too difficult to do, instead they offered a varnished coating of the entire box and it looks and feels SO AMAZING!

So that's our experience. The Manufacturer SHOULD be providing you samples to ensure what they are making conforms to YOUR expectations. But maybe not all Manufacturers work the same way.

Anyhow that's what I can share with you as an FYI. It does SLOW the process but the Manufacturer has other orders/customers to work on... So no biggie for them... Yes it takes longer to get the game MADE. But I'm honestly GLAD we took those extra 3 months to make sure both Stan and I validated the samples and came to mutual agreement on what was good, what needed adjusting and what was AWFUL! Sample #2 is questionable... I don't know why they added those SAMPLE CARDS that looked so terrible... The drift was blatant, the color was faded, the cut was poor (not sharp die cut)... Anyhow. You get the picture.

What more can I say. We had a lot of "components" and "parts" that were custom and needed special care. I don't know about your game but I guess you could use our THREE (3) Samples as a way of understanding HOW it may still be possible to review the production of YOUR game.

Cheers mate!

Note #1: If you would like to LOOK at some pictures from Sample #2 here is an Official KS Update page I made to explain to the Backers why we were taking so much time in validating what was being made:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/outerlimitgames/tradewars-homeworld...

Note #2: Here is another Official KS Update posted by Stan over at OLG. This one shows samples of the NEW Custom Dice. You can see how AMAZING they look compared to the ones in the earlier Sample #2.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/outerlimitgames/tradewars-homeworld...

FCG
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Joined: 11/06/2019
Thanks for your detailed

Thanks for your detailed response. To be clear, I have been receiving samples all through the process and they have been mostly good. It's just the final samples of the actual final production/mass produced copies that I am asking about. Did you receive samples from the final print run either as a "first mass produced copy", during the print run, or after the run was complete, or not at all?

questccg
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Joined: 04/16/2011
Ah I see...

Whoof... disaster avoided. TBH the answer is probably "NO". We did received a Sample #3 which was ALMOST a production copy but missing the VacTray. They did offer to ship me (in Canada) an express delivery but it was way too expensive...

So I told my Publisher that I can wait until the product arrives in the USA and then gets shipped to me. It was around $450 USD for one box (6 game boxes).

But the time has come and passed, the orders are all wrapped and on pallets for their intended warehouses. So "NO" we did not get a "final proof".

I was worried that you did NOT get samples DURING the process...!

So my answer is: "No we did not get a first mass produced copy." But TBH, we got something pretty close with Sample #3. Only thing wrong are the Custom Dice and the missing VacTray (which had not been resolved by the time the sample was sent...)

I hope that answers your question... I guess they didn't feel the need to do so either... Hmm...?!

FCG
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Joined: 11/06/2019
Thanks for sharing your

Thanks for sharing your experience, that is useful information.

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