Doll Design Progression

It's so fun to look back and see how far we've come with the design of Zero the Dream Hero. We started with this drawing of Emma's (back when we still called him the Dreammaker, or DM): 


An artist created this animated drawing of him: 

As we were writing the story, he became Zero the Dream Hero. We liked blue for the night sky better, so he was changed to this: 

We loved it! This is back when our project still had momentum. The image was sent to the factory, and we received this as our first prototype:

We weren't sure exactly what to say. We knew we didn't love it, but we weren't sure what to do to improve it. We tried giving some suggestions and got this:

Again, we didn't love it. We sent several pictures of dolls we did like. We tried making different suggestions. Then we received this:


This whole process was extremely frustrating, not because of the factory, but because of the lack of communication from the toy company (the middle man). We were hoping to work with someone who would provide expert guidance, and have a hand in creating something we were proud to show off. It was around this time we nearly gave up. We decided to get our money back from the company and have the doll designed professionally on our own.

This ended up being the one bright spot in our experience. We were introduced to a designer that created our adorable doll. She maintained consistent contact, we were elated! She sent us fabric samples to feel and decide on as a family. We knew we were working with the perfect person when she emailed us this description:

"We just need to make sure he is fabricated in the most incredibly snuggly soft fun exciting materials as this is crucial when considering the product form and function that he is for sleeping with. So he must feel completely soft and squishy, yet be made of fabrics that psychologically induce a positive calming soothing effect." And that our doll should be "snuggly soft like a baby bunny’s nose!"

These were the fabrics she sent:

We selected the ones we loved. I can't even describe the excitement we felt when she sent us pictures of the prototype she designed for us. I think we almost cried. We were thrilled! 

The day we received the doll was incredible. It was like welcoming a new member of the family! Each of our kids wanted him to sleep in their room, but we wanted to keep him pristine, so they just had to take turns snuggling him during the day. It was scary when we had to send him off to the factory for toy duplication. Especially because after he was out of our hands, our project completely stalled once again. Once the expert designer was no longer at the helm, communication proved to be difficult again. 

This is our nephew snuggling him. We had a hard time getting him back! 

Apparently, after several factories tried to replicate him (for reasons we still don't entirely understand), we received a sample we were satisfied with!

We're still making a couple of minor changes to the mask to make the eyes more appealing: 


We're thrilled to share Zero with other kids to help them combat nighttime fear. He'll be here soon! 

Now, we're starting this same process with the book....

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