Adventures in Puzzle & Game Design. Part 5: Factory Samples

Factory Samples Are Here!

Probably the MOST exciting box I’ve ever received arrived this week!

Tucked inside were factory samples of the very first puzzles and games I have ever helped to make.

I teamed up with Amber Pavey, a talented Mindfulness Coach in Calgary, and a fabulous toy and game company, Ambassador Toys. For over half a year we have been working together to create products to teach people how to reduce stress and anxiety and be mindful. We are combining our skills and resources to try to make a positive difference in the world.

FINALLY I can show you what we’re up to.



Here’s an unboxing video of the first time I have ever seen a puzzle or card set I’ve helped to create. This was a very surreal and emotional moment for me – I wanted to share it with you.


What are “factory samples”? 

It’s important to see samples of a product in real life before you make thousands of it.

In the publishing world, a sample book is called a “proof”. The printer sends you a proof so you can closely look through it to ensure it all looks good. Once you’re happy with it you “sign off” on it by literally signing the proof and sending it back to the printer. They then use it as their sample to base the mass-produced books on.

A similar thing happens in product design. The factory creates samples for you so you can see if anything should be changed. These test products are called “pre-production samples” or “factory samples”. Once those look good you can place your order and they’ll “go to production”, which means they’ll make them by the hundreds, thousands… whatever you need!


Why is it important to order in bulk?

With any product, including books, the more you order at one time the cheaper each item will get.

It’s important to order in bulk! You must order as many as you can so each item will be cheaper for you… meaning you can then make more money on each item you sell.

The tricky part is deciding how many to order. You need to be sure you can afford it, have space to store the items, and can sell them quickly enough to pay off the expense of making them and start making a profit before you run out of money.

The safest way to decide how much to make is to start selling them before they’re made. This is called taking “pre-orders”.

Pre-ordering from companies you love is a great way to support them! You have NO idea how helpful it is.

Have you pre-ordered from me before? Thank you so much. You help make it possible for me to create new products for you and be able to support my family.

The toy company is already busy presenting our new products to big buyers from international retail chains to get as many orders as possible before we go to production. Fingers and toes crossed that some are in Canada so they can be purchased here, too!


What are “dies”?

For our puzzles and card sets the process to make the samples takes roughly a month. They need to create dies, which are like cookie cutters used to cut shapes out.

Dies are used to cut out our cards and fancy boxes. The most important dies are those used to cut out the puzzles! A die creates the shape of every puzzle piece so they can have that satisfying ‘click’ when you put them together. Oh, how I love that click. 

Here’s an example of a puzzle cutting die:

Puzzle cutting die example. Source:


What will we change?

Our products are so close to being ready for production!

We did, however, find some things to tweak. We spotted some sneaky spelling mistakes (phew!) and some spacing and font sizes which need adjusting.

The biggest changes at this point are the mandala puzzles. The pieces are way too small so we’re changing it from 1000 pieces to 500. Many of you also asked for them to be 500 instead so this seems like the perfect solution.


For the kid puzzles, the boxes are so fantastic! The inserts, however, need to be thicker and slightly smaller so they will fit in the box without crumpling. We are also hoping to make the actual puzzle larger. The quality of the sample is awesome but larger, thicker pieces would feel even more satisfying to put together.


My FAVOURITE change is that we are adding a colouring page to each puzzle! One of the buyers actually suggested it! You know how much I love colouring… plus, it’s such a great fit for sharing mindfulness and helping people de-stress.


When can you buy them? 

I still don’t quite know. It depends on which stores in which countries purchase them and when they want them. Hopefully there will be some options to purchase them this fall (2021).


Help me design future products! 

Did you help me design these by offering feedback on the package designs? Can you spot any of the changes we made to the boxes, thanks to your insights?  

Would you like to help with future packaging and product design? Your insights are so helpful! Plus, you get to see a sneak peek of what I’m making. I love sharing that with you.

Just email me to let me know you’d like to help. Thank you!

I'd love to hear from you!