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 Post subject: Chinese companies staying in business.
PostPosted: Wed Jan 13, 2010 4:02 pm 
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So in light of all the high order puzzles coming out of China, I have a question to ask anybody who can answer.

How can Chinese companies afford to produce such high order puzzles, for a relatively small market, at relatively cheap prices, and still stay in business?

Reading the old Teraminx MP thread, a price of 300$ was quoted. Soon a TERAMINX will be available for a third of the price at 100 bucks. The 9x9x9 is for sale. Somebody around the forum says an 11x11x11 prototype is out and the mass-production in the works. Where do Chinese companies find the money for these reckless mass productions? How do they sustain themselves?

Meffert hesitates to produce a shape mod for fear of losing cash. Verdes still hasn't even mentioned further VCube products, yet these companies crank these suckers out like Bill Gates is backing them.

How do they do it?

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 Post subject: Re: Chinese companies staying in business.
PostPosted: Wed Jan 13, 2010 4:06 pm 
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Cheap supplies to make the puzzles, as well as low quality in many cases. Saves them a lot of money I'd imagine.

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 Post subject: Re: Chinese companies staying in business.
PostPosted: Wed Jan 13, 2010 4:33 pm 
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Retr0 wrote:
Cheap supplies to make the puzzles, as well as low quality in many cases. Saves them a lot of money I'd imagine.

Not to mention low wage and unfair work environment.

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 Post subject: Re: Chinese companies staying in business.
PostPosted: Wed Jan 13, 2010 4:40 pm 
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I'm sure these companies don't just produce puzzles, like most companies, the puzzles probably represent only a small part of their product line.

They probably do a run of puzzles, then go on and do a run of something else.


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 Post subject: Re: Chinese companies staying in business.
PostPosted: Wed Jan 13, 2010 6:53 pm 
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Contrary to the popular belief it does not cost that much to make a puzzle mold and the puzzles - given your company already make some form of plastic toys and you already have the premises, machines and workers.
Especially if you can skip the design part, eg. "copy" an existing one, as happened to Void Cube or the 7x7.
For example the cost of the 7x7 mold cost only about twice as much as the mold for the Void Cube.

Of course it can happen that even by copying the first mold won't come out perfect. Then test, fix/redo the mold, etc.
If design needs to be done, then this test/redo happens much more time - cost more, like with the mastermorphix or the 9x9.
Of course the "plans" existed for both, but to make them to real objects cost more than just copy an existing one.
Or it can even fail, see the failed and then sinked 8x8 project from the same company who started making the 9x9.
[If I were Verdes I'd copy that to save some on the development :-]

As for market, most goes for mainland China which is not a small market and worth to produce for.

A mold can make several thousand runs, then can be decided whether the product was beneficial so worth to remake the same mold and do more runs.

As for quality, again "contrary to the popular belief" a "KO" (whether that refers to unlawful or "just unethical" production) does not necessary means bad quality.
AFAIK, the Mastermophix-es were sold by Meffert was made by the "KO company" who made the KO Void Cube and the Fisher Cubes sold by Meffert was made by the "KO company" who made the KO 7x7 first (and the 9x9).
And just for an example of a non-KO / bad products don't go too far, see the thread on Jing's pyraminx at:
http://twistypuzzles.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=15800

Also, I don't think anyone would call the 6x6 a "fantastic product" (not counting the plans/design which of course is a fantastic achievement), but let's not beat the 6x6, so let's pick a much better item.
I've seen/sold several dozens of v7s and I've seen some ugly flaws - not just once (beside the general stickers problem). Here is an example for the "v7 holey edges syndrome", which are/were seen at many v7s, though not all to this degree.
Attachment:
7x7-holey-edges.jpg
7x7-holey-edges.jpg [ 43.31 KiB | Viewed 3069 times ]


Personally I am also not satisfied with the communication of the non-KO puzzle makers, like Gentosha "not being ready for the European market", Mefferts - for not replying my Jing pyraminx email (and in general not too good in replying emails to me - I start to think I am blacklisted or alike), and Verdes not being too "eager" on selling to local distributors - and one can check the news/announcements at v-cubes.com, "latest" is Jan 2, 2010; last before the latest is Nov 30, 2008.
Non-communication helps a great deal to KO companies. (Cenzorship too.)

As for "sweatshops" in China, they generally are.
Same goes for Gentosha's Void Cube/Floppy Cube and MegaHouse's Mirror Blocks - made in China.
And in general, everything made in China...
I might be wrong, but I'd still be happier living in China than Africa if I had to choose, but I guess we're getting off topic...


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 Post subject: Re: Chinese companies staying in business.
PostPosted: Wed Jan 13, 2010 8:12 pm 
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EMarx wrote:
Somebody around the forum says an 11x11x11 prototype is out and the mass-production in the works.

Yes, I said that. Here's the video. :wink: {removed}
And the 11x11x11 dropping video (the result amazed me) :) {removed}

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Last edited by Hugo Mak on Wed Jan 13, 2010 9:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Chinese companies staying in business.
PostPosted: Wed Jan 13, 2010 9:28 pm 
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take out the links to KO products...


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 Post subject: Re: Chinese companies staying in business.
PostPosted: Wed Jan 13, 2010 10:27 pm 
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malevolant wrote:
take out the links to KO products...
I don't think they are really KOs but instead unlicensed products. A KO, by definition, is a copy of an existing item. The V-Cube 11 has not been produced (at least not that anyone is aware of, a prototype may exist). Since there is no item for these to be a copy off they really aren't knock offs. But since they are most likely based on the V-Cube patient (without taking one apart we can't be 100% sure but there's a really good chance about it) then we can and should consider these to be unlicensed products which are in violation of the V-Cube patient in many countries (outside of China).

I guess I'm just tired of seeing KO and/or "knock off" being used too much around here and in ways where it's not really correct.

And don't forget that not all KOs are bad!


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 Post subject: Re: Chinese companies staying in business.
PostPosted: Thu Jan 14, 2010 4:25 am 
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Volitar Prime wrote:
malevolant wrote:
take out the links to KO products...
I don't think they are really KOs but instead unlicensed products. A KO, by definition, is a copy of an existing item. The V-Cube 11 has not been produced (at least not that anyone is aware of, a prototype may exist). Since there is no item for these to be a copy off they really aren't knock offs. But since they are most likely based on the V-Cube patient (without taking one apart we can't be 100% sure but there's a really good chance about it) then we can and should consider these to be unlicensed products which are in violation of the V-Cube patient in many countries (outside of China).

I guess I'm just tired of seeing KO and/or "knock off" being used too much around here and in ways where it's not really correct.

And don't forget that not all KOs are bad!


Ok then...don't post the videos/pictures of the ILLEGAL puzzle. Happy?


Last edited by malevolant on Thu Jan 14, 2010 12:08 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Chinese companies staying in business.
PostPosted: Thu Jan 14, 2010 4:36 am 
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Actually it's a video link. :wink:

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 Post subject: Re: Chinese companies staying in business.
PostPosted: Thu Jan 14, 2010 9:44 am 
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Just to expand on some key points :)

In China:

1. Worker wages are very low and sometimes unacceptable.
2. There are no export duties.
3. They never do or pay for marketing, patents, and advertising.

There are more points, but the above are the ones I can think of right now.

:)

Pantazis

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 Post subject: Re: Chinese companies staying in business.
PostPosted: Thu Jan 14, 2010 12:19 pm 
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kastellorizo wrote:
Just to expand on some key points :)

In China:

1. Worker wages are very low and sometimes unacceptable.
2. There are no export duties.
3. They never do or pay for marketing, patents, and advertising.

There are more points, but the above are the ones I can think of right now.

:)

Pantazis


[...]

1) Wages are related to local living standard which is not that meaningful in is absolute value, besides, a living standard with less cost doesn't necessarily mean a poor situation and well probably a sign of stability;

2) The export duty is 12% and above for toys in China;

3) Without marketing and advertising, how do Chinese sell products? Is there anyone crying for products from China? In the 09 Shanghai Patent Week, the amount of deal has reached 286 million. Do China pay for patents?

Please keep yourself respectable just as i appreciate your well behaved actions against KO products which i sincerely support.

Leslie

[Added]

The point I have to make clear is that I was pondering the validity of quoted post by a long time member who's apparently ignoring some ground rules and is likely to enkindle country-wise flames which is totally not acceptable.

My appologize to Sandy if I had brought any negative effect to this forum. My intention has never been like this and TP is my all time favourite.

Let's look back to the topic. The problem is also one of my questions because the industry is very complex. maques was right, the actual amount of investment can be largely reduced if we do not assume a fresh start up. In practice, a factory usually can't feed itself without developing enough products, producing just a few puzzles is unlikely to keep living. So whether or not you support them, they usually have bigger threads that puzzlers may not aware of.

Leslie


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 Post subject: Re: Chinese companies staying in business.
PostPosted: Thu Jan 14, 2010 5:11 pm 
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Gentlemen,

Let me make it clear (again) that we should keep discussion on this forum from getting personal. Many of us will have different views but we need to be able to discuss them in a respectful manner (*all* of us, this is not directed at any one person or post). I know this is a charged topic so that means we must all be extra careful when discussing it.

All of the staff of TwistyPuzzles are members as well. Ideally we shouldn't need to speak from the position of a moderator or administrator and just with the voice of a member, and in most cases our posts are just that. From time to time (like this particular post) we will speak also from the perspective of an authority for a particular area as chosen by the site owner. But let's be clear what the roles, responsibilities and authorities of these are:

1.) Red name (Admin)
Sandy is the site owner and, as such, is an administrator and can make direct changes to the code of the forum and site itself. There is no higher authority than this, of course. Slightly below this is Jin who does not have the powers to change the site itself, but is an admin and therefore has authority and responsibility of adding and removing members, as well as moderation of all site features. Sausage used to be an admin, but has recently stepped down.

2.) Green name (Global moderator)
I am the only global moderator a the moment and have the authority and responsibility of moderating the forum, as well as many other site functions.

3.) Orange name (Content moderator)
There are various content moderators that can moderate different site features (not the forum): Museum moderators, article moderators, price database moderators, etc. The color does not describe what the responsibilities and authorities are, but these are people who have been selected to help with a particular part of the site outside fo the forum.

So regarding comments made by members with colors other than blue, take them first as the comments of a member. If, like in this post, they call out a bit more authority then consider them in the context of the particular roles they have been given.

In this case Pantazis is a content moderator in the area of the price tracking database, and a very good choice for that position given his extensive collection and eBay prowess.

But do not confuse his views on any particular subject outside of price tracking as representing the voice or policy of the forum or site. This statement is not to pick on Pantazis, and applies equally to any of the content moderators or even myself and the admin team unless we call it out.

There are times when my view on matters may not be in complete alignment with site policies and I will be certain to call out these differences if it ever becomes necessary. But my responsibility is to uphold the policies and rules of the forum regardless of whether or not I agree with them. These rules and policies are set by Sandy in consultation with the admin and moderator team.

So taking off my moderator hat now, here are some of my views as a member:

I think Pantazis' point #1 is perhaps better stated as "Working conditions can be poor and sometimes unacceptable". I think direct compensation is relative to standards of living but safety and working conditions are not. There is, to my knowlege, little debate that working conditions in many parts of China would not meet the standards in many other parts of the world. Raising these would result in more expensive products as the costs would be passed on.

Dave

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 Post subject: Re: Chinese companies staying in business.
PostPosted: Thu Jan 14, 2010 9:18 pm 
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I just want to add my 2 cents worth.
I have visited a number of factories, and have posted on two of them on this forum. My general impression is they are all different.

One was very simple, I wouldn't have wanted to work in it. The owner while a nice person himself didn't have an obvious concern for the workers. They seemed a part of the factory to him (my opinion). Like furniture in the home you don't notice until you bump into it. But I really don't know what happens when we weren't there.

Another was very obviously concerned about the workers and even "did their job" to show them how to sit properly so they wouldn't cause back strain.

The third type I have seen is what I would term as "cottage industry" The factory makes the bits and people line up and take those bits home to put together. (This by the way was common practice in the UK and the US for many years early in the last century to put it into perspective. It was also common practice in HK up until the 1990's and still happens today in some areas.)

Each factory, like each individual on this forum is different. It is impossible to blanket them all as being the same, and stereotyping in any sense is not good. (yes, I know I have done it on occasion and I cringe when I do)

China is not the only country to produce products in a variety of ways with differing safty standards. It just happens to be the only country that is prominent in the production of copied puzzles and for this reason I think we are quick to jump to conclusions about it. I know before ever visiting a factory, I had preconceived notions of what I would find. After my first visit I assumed my ideas were confirmed and all factories were the same. My second visit took me to a factory that would have exceeded most OSHA regulations and the level of concern for the workers astounded me. Other visits have been to even worse conditions and others have fallen mid-way between the two. I have learned to not prejudge. I think this is good advice for all of us.

These companies are mass producing. And I do mean mass. Not only that, we often seem to think that we are the only people in the world. By this I mean people from highly developed nations. We often forget there are other countries out there and they want these toys too. At the fair this week I over heard orders for countries like Venezuela, Israel, and Nigeria. People the world over like to play with puzzles. That's a given. The problem is, the cost of living in many countries is not what it is say in HK. Therefore, they purchase the cheaper puzzles/toys. Not everyone can afford a US$10 puzzle. Many of you here have stated that. So why expect others to be able to if you cannot.

My thoughts (not representative of the forum :wink: ) are that the companies producing these realize the government is trying to clean up it's international image and will be cracking down soon. I believe the companies are wratching up production to sell as many as they can as quickly as they can in the hopes that they make some money before any governmental fines and/or intervention take place. If that means saving money on R&D and copying someone else's work, so be it. Don't forget guys it's not just puzzles. In Lo Wu I can get a copied I phone for 1/3 the cost of an original and the only thing that is different is the name on the case. "i-pone" Want jeans? go for D&C instead of D&G. The list goes on. Yes, they get shut down, and yes, like rabbits they multiply and reproduce rather quickly.

And for the record, while I earn substantially more than my counterpart across the border, they have a higher living standard. The rent is lower, the space more abundant, the food and utilities are cheaper.....the list goes on and on. As Leslie said, it's all relative.

As to the moderators, I have gotten pm's from people who don't realize my role as a moderator and take the time to explain what I can and cannot do. Perhaps this should be a sticky at the top of a page. "The role of moderators". I agree with Dave, we all have our own opinions, and they don't necessarily reflect the opinions of others on the board, or the Forum owner.

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 Post subject: Re: Chinese companies staying in business.
PostPosted: Thu Jan 14, 2010 10:49 pm 
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@panta: I've been mainly reading these forums for quite a long time now, but your attitude in the last several months has disturbed me. At first it seemed like you just had a really passionate hate for knockoffs, but as time passed, and with this last post you have made, it has become increasingly obvious that you have some sort of disdain for China. Everytime a Chinese inventor makes something brilliant, you come up with some obscure patent law that you would NEVER dare to bring up if the inventor was out of China. This isn't just you btw, but you seem to be leading the charge against 1/6 of the world's population.

@maques and Leslie: Good words, thank you for having the courage to stand up to overzealous and ethnocentric moderation.


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 Post subject: Re: Chinese companies staying in business.
PostPosted: Thu Jan 14, 2010 11:38 pm 
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Guys, behave! Seriously. This is going into personal attacks again. Why do these topics about any KO company/product always end up this way?

EVERYONE knows. Pantazis stand on KO puzzles. It should therefore be a given when he replies like this that he is talking about KO companies. I've known him for a while, and speaking about him as a person (not a puzzler or businessman) he's not racist in any way that I have seen.

This does not mean I am taking sides in this, but rather trying to see it from both perspectives.

Knock it off guys. Stop fighting on the forum. Do we want to really digress to such a low level that all posts end up in fights? If this continues, I'm going to beg for the ban stick to be pulled out for all of you! A good beating might cool everyone down a bit. Or at least give you something to cry about :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:


Behave yourselves and start acting like the mature gentlemen I know you all are

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 Post subject: Re: Chinese companies staying in business.
PostPosted: Fri Jan 15, 2010 12:08 am 
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[...]
We should all be more careful before posting and accusing.
(I have said this MANY times!!!).

What David has said above, is exactly what I also believe. I hope things are more clear now.

:)


Pantazis

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 Post subject: Re: Chinese companies staying in business.
PostPosted: Fri Jan 15, 2010 1:36 am 
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I have deleted many posts that were personal and off topic. This is exactly what I posted above that people should be avoiding. Warnings have been issued. I don't like having to do that. If you don't like a post and feel it is personal, report it. DO NOT RESPOND IN KIND. Just don't, it is a big drain on my time.

I had hoped to edit all the posts to keep whatever reasonable points they contained, but it was far too much work.

Where does that leave us?

Assumptions were made, on all sides, and posts were interpreted in ways they were not meant which led to irritiation. Some of this has been corrected, the rest removed. Nothing on the point of "Chinese companies staying in business" was lost that had not already been posted.

In general let us go away with the something positive: Wouldn't you have rather been reading this? I would have, but instead I was editing this topic.

Dave

P.S. And look, you went and made Roxanne angry. Why did you you have to go and do that?

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