Plasticine is such a familiar material for creative modeling classes with children that many people do not even suspect that his invention has become a very profitable business idea, which brought his author a fortune.
Plasticine business prospects
Sixty years ago, an American Joe McVicker from Cincinnati, who worked in a chemical factory, filed a patent for a non-toxic wallpaper cleaner. He sent a sample of this product (which was not very popular) to his relative, a kindergarten teacher. She found a new use for the strange cleanser, replacing it with the usual clay used in modeling classes. White bars were more plastic than natural clay, and did not stick to hands. In 1955, McVicker's invention was noticed by large retail chains. White plasticine began to be in incredibly huge demand, and the 27-year-old inventor instantly became a millionaire. However, according to some sources, the invention of plasticine is attributed to the German Franz Kolb (patent of 1880), and according to others - to the British William Harbut (patent of 1899), but that plasticine was very different from the modern one and was not very popular.
It is unlikely that modern plasticine manufacturers will be able to get rich as quickly as a successful American in the middle of the last century. But experts believe that the market for goods for children's creativity is very promising and opens up great opportunities for new companies. And there are a number of reasons for this. Firstly, this type of product is little dependent on seasonal variations. Demand for such goods remains at a consistently high level throughout the year. However, it is worth noting that this does not apply to the clay itself. He is part of the school goods group, so on the eve of the school season there is a sharp increase in sales of paints, colored paper and plasticine. At other times, sales of plasticine experienced a decline. On the other hand, even the economic crisis did not affect the stably high demand for quality products for creativity. This is due to the fact that parents, even in cramped conditions, reduce the cost of children's goods in the least. Another positive factor for the active development of the market for goods for children's creativity is the high birth rate in our country from 2002 to the present. Now the number of children under the age of 16 in Russia is over 34 million. So you can be sure that in the coming years this segment will only grow.
Plasticine is included in two groups of goods for children's creativity. First of all, it is attributed to school goods, which are used by students in labor and drawing lessons. Such products are designed for mass demand and domestic producers prevail here - Gamma, Spectrum, Polion, Neva Palette, Hatber, etc. In addition, certain types of plasticine belong to the third group of products for a narrower audience . They are purchased for children to engage in creative work at home or in institutions of additional education (creative workshops, art schools, etc.). Although, in general, here buyers prefer products of Western manufacturers, but in the “plasticine” segment, domestic brands still prevail, which attract consumers by value for money.
Types of plasticine
Plasticine is the most popular and common modeling material and one of the most popular materials for children's creativity. Although the most familiar to us is children's wax plasticine in whetstones, this material has a large number of varieties. Traditional plasticine is the most affordable price, but inferior in plasticity to other types of plasticine. This lack of it limits the possibilities for its use in classes with children of preschool age. They simply do not always have the strength and patience to stretch a piece of plasticine to the state necessary for modeling. Such plasticine (like all types of plasticine intended for children) does not contain harmful substances (for example, petrolatum obtained from the distillation of oil). Wax plasticine is a variation of traditional plasticine, but it has an improved formula. Natural wax gives the material increased plasticity without compromising other properties, so it can also be used for preschool children.
There is also sculptural clay, which is intended for a more adult audience. It holds its shape better than ordinary material, and allows you to work out even the smallest details of the sculpture. It is used for sculptural miniatures and model works, does not leave spots and does not stick to hands. It can also be baked in the oven. For children, there are special plastic masses for modeling (they are lighter, more pliable and more saturated in color than the usual plasticine), as well as polymer clay.
Polymer clay deserves special attention, since the demand for it is now very high. It is a plastic mass, which, both in appearance and in tactile sensations, is very similar to ordinary plasticine. It contains a plasticizer that is completely absorbed into the particles of the base material when heated to a temperature of 100-130 degrees Celsius (you can bake it in an ordinary oven). At high temperatures, polymerization occurs, as a result of which the material becomes very hard. There are also self-hardening materials that polymerize just in the open air, becoming like gypsum or wood. Baked polymer clay is more like plastic, so it is often called plastic. This segment presents products of one domestic manufacturer from St. Petersburg - the Murmansk factory (Tsvetik brand), but the most popular plastic brands are foreign brands Cernit (Germany), Fimo from the German company Eberhard Faber, Kato PolyClay and Sculpey (both American brands) .
Using a special production technology, floating plasticine is made, the weight of which is several times less than usual. Therefore, figures fashioned from such clay are held on the surface of the water. Recently, ball plasticine, which consists of small balls connected to each other by a special adhesive solution, has been in great demand. It makes very unusual and light crafts. True, the disadvantages include the fragility of the material.
There are also unusual types of plasticines on the Russian market: fluorescent, jumping, mother-of-pearl, glowing in the dark, etc. For older children, the so-called “smart plasticine” (or handgum - “chewing gum for hands”) is intended. This substance is based on silicone, which is reminiscent of chewing gum, but has unusual properties: it flows, breaks, breaks. Some types of handgam even magnetize, change color and glow. However, clever plasticine is similar to the usual one only in name and does not apply to goods for children's creativity.
Plasticine, familiar and familiar to everyone since childhood, is made from two main components - white clay and paraffin. In addition, to give it various properties and colors, animal fat is added to the mass, ozokerite (a substance similar to beeswax), ceresin (a derivative of ozokerite), petroleum jelly, which prevents clay from drying out in the open air, color pigments that determine the color of future clay. All these components are mixed in a special boiler. Then the mass cools on a flat surface. And plasticine acquires its presentation in a crushing machine. From this machine, the plasticine mass comes out in the form of bars that are familiar to everyone, which workers put in cardboard boxes.
Other types of plasticine (for example, sculptural) also consist of the same components with certain variations. They also include beeswax or mountain wax (this is ozokerite), various fillers and plasticizers. Powders of dry clay, sulfur and talc are used as fillers. There are wax-clay sculptural clay, wax-sulfur, ozokerite-kaolin. Their production principle is similar to the manufacturing technology of ordinary children's plasticine. Finely ground clay or sulfur and powder pigment are added to molten wax or ozokerite. The whole mass is thoroughly mixed, after which it is poured in a thin layer onto a wet burlap or a thick plastic film and cools. The cooled mass is passed through a meat grinder, as a result of which the lumps of unpolluted clay and pigment settled in the melt are crushed. At the next stage, the mass is given the desired plastic properties. The resulting composition is melted, for softness, machine oil or technical petroleum jelly is added to it. If, on the contrary, it is necessary to give hardness, potato flour or talcum powder is mixed into the mass. Then it is thoroughly mixed again, poured onto a flat surface, cooled again and checked for softness, density and suppleness.
The specific ratio and composition of the components in the production of plasticine directly depends on the requirements for the final product and on its variety. The market for creative products is constantly evolving. Manufacturers are constantly trying to get ahead of the competition and offer consumers something new and original. Therefore, if you are focused on success and want to take your place in this segment, you will not be able to limit yourself to the two or three most common product names. Although the production of ordinary plasticine does not require large expenditures, including the development of formulations, it will be necessary to invest a lot of money in creating new products. For this, you will need highly qualified specialists (chemists, technologists), special equipment for the production of products in large volumes, various formulations of plasticine manufacturing, vehicles for transporting raw materials and finished products, the staff of the enterprise. Finding plasticine specialists will not be easy. The fact is that in Russia there are not so many enterprises where such products are produced. Most of them simply solve the problem of lack of personnel: they hire graduates of chemical faculties and teach them all the tricks of their work. The turnover at such enterprises is also small: experienced workers simply have nowhere else to go. Therefore, the only option for finding employees is to be an expert in this matter (or to have at least one such specialist in the staff) and spend a lot of time training newcomers. The advantage of this option is a certain saving on wages: an employee who is on training and probation and does not have much experience is usually paid a little.
Another difficulty is finding equipment. In our country, special equipment for the production of plasticine is not sold. Firstly, this is not the most popular product, and secondly, this equipment does not belong to the category of expensive ones and you won’t earn much from its sale. However, such equipment can be made to order. The cost of one such high-performance line for the production of plasticine is about 300-350 thousand rubles. If you are lucky, then you can find used equipment, however, its condition is likely to be deplorable, which will reduce all savings to zero.
Plasticine manufacturers are faced with other difficulties. In particular, they are not able to establish the recommended price for the goods due to one of the features of the clerical market of our country - too long a chain from the manufacturer to the end consumer. As a result, plasticine with a penny cost is sold in stores at inflated prices. Plasticine is considered a consumable and, in theory, for every two or three lessons it would be worth buying a new package. But due to the high retail cost of products, parents save and try to stretch the use of one package for the entire academic year.
As mentioned above, plasticine is a seasonal product, unlike many other products for creativity. The peak of wholesale sales falls on April-June. In principle, sculpting products are in demand throughout the year, but the greatest demand for them is observed before the first of September, so wholesale companies form inventories mainly in the spring. Seasonal fluctuations in sales are offset by a wide range of sculpting products (plastics, unusual types of plasticine, clay, etc.). In addition, many manufacturers also produce auxiliary tools: boards, stacks, molds, aprons, creative sets with plasticine, teaching aids. Small companies order their production on the side, as they are not able to purchase all the necessary equipment. Sets for creativity bring plasticine producers considerable profit. They include not only the molding material itself, but also molds, stacks, films to protect the working surface, detailed instructions, etc. Using the set, you can make an original figure, a picture of plasticine, a model, etc. The cost of such a set up to 100 rubles, and in retail it is sold at a premium of 100-200%. Moreover, for its production does not require large expenses. Many companies do not even hire artists who are developing layouts for boxes or come up with new crafts, but work with them on a contract basis. Unlike ordinary plasticine, kits for creativity based on it do not apply to school goods, therefore they are always in high demand throughout the year. They are bought for children from three to twelve years old (depending on the complexity of the craft).
As is the case with any other products intended for children, most of the success directly depends on competent promotion. As a rule, the consumer properties of plasticine of a particular brand are not much different from competitors' products, and manufacturers are not able to regulate retail prices, so there are two ways: to promote the brand (such costs will be justified for a wide range) or to attract buyers with bright packaging with the image of characters loved by children.
The total cost of opening own production of plasticine is estimated at 500 thousand rubles (this amount includes rent, purchase of equipment, manufacture of packaging, wages to employees for the first three months of work). It is possible to engage in the purchase of raw materials and the organization of marketing of finished products at first on their own. Payback periods depend on the assortment, on the sales market (regional or all-Russian), on promotion methods and pricing policies. According to various sources, they can range from 9 months to 1.5 years.