Saturday, December 27, 2014

Zap Creatives Review: Acrylic Charms

Hope everyone had a great holiday. Tonight I’m going to write a fairly in depth first review of my acrylic charms from Zap Creatives, a UK based company that manufactures acrylic, wooden, and metal charms, and stickers.

After years of admiring acrylic charms from other artists, I finally broke down and made my first order.

A few years back, Printsess was the #1 acrylic charm supplier that made small enough runs for little artists like us to purchase from. I remember it used to be a big trade secret that a lot of charm sellers were loathe to give out. After Printsess closed their doors, someone else had to step up to the plate. Two companies popped up: Zap Creatives in the UK, and Ink It Labs in the USA. 

I believe Zap has been around a little longer than Ink It, but I had heard some horror stories about Zap. Customer service and quality were something that was hit or miss according to a few other artists I had spoken to. Worried about getting what I paid for, I looked into Ink It. It seemed logical to order from a US-based company, as well as the unending glowing reviews I was finding on the internet. Ordering from Ink It meant shorter shipping times but their prices were a smidge higher. I was pretty ok with that. 

Right about the time I was getting ready to order, Zap Creatives had a sale on their charms so I decided to check it out. Here’s what ended up changing my mind from Ink It to Zap. For an order of 50 charms, Ink It allows only 2 designs whereas Zap allowed 5. Since it was my first time, I really didn’t want to order more than that, but I wanted more designs. I figured if I wasn’t happy with the quality or the service, I’d write my review and move to Ink It.

I placed my order for 50 1.5” white acrylic charms on 11/30, they shipped 12/8, and arrived 12/24.  It wasn’t so bad, although I think the shipping took a little longer than usual because it’s Christmas time.

So a quick note about the customer service. I didn’t have too much interaction with them but the next morning after I placed my order, I realized I could’ve added a free sample pack with my order. I emailed Zap to request a sample pack be tacked on. Didn’t take long before I got an email with a thumbs up. I was very happy with how quickly they responded.

The fun part: CHARMS!
I got my charms in this little bubble mailer.

Here's the sample pack they sent with it. I actually thought it was really cool how they have the pieces stuck to the card so you know exactly what is what. I'm really loving some of these charm examples and might get adventurous one day and order some :D

Here they are! My unicones  turned out really well. The colors are bright and they're actually bigger than I anticipated. 1.5" is a lot of space. Flavors from the top left going clockwise: Vanilla, Chocolate, Strawberry, Caramel, Green Tea.

Here you can see about how thick they are. They're pretty hefty charms.

The backs have little paper pieces that you must manually peel off yourself. I forgot about this and panicked a little because I thought the backs of all my charms were dirty or marked. Oops.

Not sure how clear it is, but the left is after I peeled the paper backing off. It's smooth, clean, and glossy.

Alright, so quality. I'm going to be extremely picky here just so it's clear what there is. For the most part, the quality is pretty good. I didn't have any major problems like crooked images, bad cuts, or discoloration. But there were definitely a few small things I noticed.

1. I saw a few of my charms had little dimples. Not sure if this is a result of some sort of clamp or press used in the manufacture process. It's really not noticeable unless the light is on it just right.

 2. About a half dozen charms has bubbles on them. They're usually small and inconspicuous, but I saw them right away.
 3. More bubbles (3 in a group on the chocolate) and some color fading.
 4. No specific picture, but if you look at the above photos, you'll see the lines of color from the printer. Some of the colors had it, some didn't. This is a pet peeve of mine because I think it looks like poor printing quality. However, the black outlines were crisp and solid.

Oops got my finger in this picture. Here are the edges of the charms. You can see they are striated but they are smooth to touch. No jagged edges, no cut corners.

Overall I was very happy with my order. I will definitely be ordering from Zap again (and praying this doesn't become an addiction). Zap was kind enough to throw in a few extra charms. I've heard they do this fairly regularly to preemptively make up for any broken or defective charms. I think it's nice.

I hope that helps a few of you and if you have any more questions, I'll be happy to try to answer.

My next step with these suckers is to take a few and run them through a stress test. I will bend, throw, drop them in my purse for a week, and run over one with my car. We'll see how they hold up so check back later for that bit of fun.
Follow Up - Second Order

I ordered a second batch (pegasorbet!) from Zap Creatives and was a little mmore disappointed with the quality. My second order consisted of 75 1.5" charms and I had a lot more defective charms. A lot of the charms has areas where the printing must've flaked off or just never printed. I have white spots about 2-3mm on 11 of my charms. A majority of the defects were on my Midnight Nebullamas which is unfortunate because I was expecting 12 but only have 6 that are in sellable condition. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with the bad ones.

On the bright side, shipping only took 2 weeks instead of 3. But based on this order, I might have to rethink ordering from Zap and swap to Ink It.

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