The not-so-secret production process of PVC figurines has been unveiled! By no other than boss of Max Factory, Max Watanabe himself during an online hobby show. In this short programme, he visits the China-based production line of Good Smile Company and goes on a tour of its facilities and processes.

The show is pretty comprehensive in its coverage and it’s great for us figure fans to finally be able to take a close look into how our favourite toys are actually made. The episode ends at the painting process, but watch out for the next episode (which will be out on 24 January).

It’s in Japanese obviously and there are no subs, so I’ll just briefly talk about the main points.

Max Watanabe looks like a friendly version of Hitler.
The boss of GSC is a funky young otaku! Or what appears to be a funky young otaku. Totally unlike the stereotypical Japanese company director.
The factory is based in China and from the exterior, looks like a typical Chinese industrial building.
The raw material, PVC, is packed in sacks of either white or blue, with the colour designating its quality.

Each of the parts are injected moulded. So there are mould lines, stems and other little extra bits that our friendly Chinese workers clean up by hand. In fact, from sanding to cutting, everything is done by hand. There are marked differences between cleaned up and uncleaned up pieces, the latter look like fucking Yujin’s. So we now realise the true reason why GSC and gang have such high quality products - they don’t scrimp on the processes. Up to a 100 people are involved in the cleanup stage.

A freshly moulded piece is placed into a support mould and watercooled for it to keep its shape and size. All done by hand of course.

Examples of pieces shown include the front hair plus ahoge of Swimsuit penguin Saber, the bubble chair of Mizuho and Elwyn. The chair is an ABS piece and doesn’t require much after work, save for one stem removal. Since ABS cannot be sanded (it’s a shiny clear plastic), the stem scar is still quite obvious.

A large chunk of the workforce maintains and creates the metal moulds which give birth to our babies. Using master blueprint pieces, they fine tune each mould to perfection.

Unlike a typical Japanese factory, everyone is in casual clothing here. Jeans, t-shirts and all that. It’s a good shift away from the disciplinarian, conformity-culture of old industrial Japan. I also see a lot of ceiling fans. The dining area looks pretty spacious (then again, everything in China is fucking spacious). Looks like work in a figurine factory isn’t that bad after all! Besides the mindnumbing assembly-line workscope of course.

I’ll be looking forward to future episodes of this webshow.

14 Responses to “FigSci: How are PVC Figures Manufactured? Let’s Visit the Factory!”  

  1. 1 suguru 7 comments

    Interesting, I never realized the process was that labor intensive, I always pictured an assembly line of machines cranking out an army of Feena-samas to take over the world, with everything automated. Although I really need to stop reading about figures, or I’ll go to the dark side, start buying them, and end up having to sell blood by the gallon to pay the mortgage ^^;

  2. 2 Tsubaki 303 comments

    Whoa. It’s damn cool. But I wonder how much those workers are paid each.

  3. 3 Skane 54 comments

    Towards the end of the episode, the lady-host mentioned something about Suzumiya Haruhi. What was that all about? It happened after Watanabe was shown caressing a polished leg segment.


  4. 4 tj_han 653 comments

    Skane: I heard that part as well but didn’t pay too much attention. IIRC it was a conversation talking about the number and date of releases for Haruhi.

    I bet these workers are paid pretty bad.

    Suguru: Most outsourced productions in labourplenty countries like India and China make use of just that. After all, why buy a million dollar machine when a million dollars gets you a thousand workers? It’s just an assembly line anyway.

  5. 5 Somatic 14 comments

    Think its impossible for a factory to be appearing in singapore. Imagine if theres a figurine factory in Singapore i guess it might get raided time to time for producing “Obsecene Toys” By the Govt….

  6. 6 TedFox 60 comments

    Oh! Time to buy more stuff from GSC

  7. 7 LianYL 322 comments

    @Somatic No. The reason why figurine factories don’t exist in Singapore is because of the relatively very much higher labour costs(even though our labour costs are quite low). Furthermore, with a screwed up land supply, it would be impossible to build a big enough factory here. Throw in EOS crap and there you have it. And Mizuho sensei isn’t even remotely obscene.

    Okay, work time’s over. Time to get my butt to Bugis MRT.

  8. 8 rdrake 65 comments

    Tj_han: The dining area looks pretty spacious (then again, everything in China is fucking spacious).

    Damn, we need more space here…

    Personally, I think I need more space to put more figures…

  9. 9 super rats 55 comments

    You mean there was interesting stuff in that thing? I stopped watching a quarter of the way through since it was just a bunch of people sitting around talking in a language I don’t understand. I’ll have to wait for it to load all the way and just fast forward to the good stuff.

  10. 10 Tiny Red Man 18 comments

    it takes forever to load…………….

  11. 11 Tiny Red Man 18 comments

    sry for the second post…lol…….after watching, i can understand why our parents and the garment are calling us to study Chinese more and more……its so cool. those men/women have ART cells in them man…if they dun have, the figurines we buy is sure to have defects..I shall respect the makers of Figurines more!! *salute

  12. 12 tj_han 653 comments

    The video doesn’t stream well for non-Asian based people I think. Pity. And red man, it doesn’t take any sort of art cell to sand figure parts 24/7.

  13. 13 Crest 13 comments

    We need to give kudos to them. It is still a job and someone has to do it.. although I believe many here will be happy to do it

  14. 14 ZeroG 19 comments

    ok, if only the clip IS loading
    They will be willing to do it only IF they are given lifetime supply of PVC figurines as part of the contract. Wages isnt a problem.

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