Hello dear treasured friends and family of the hospital :D
Today let us talk about a very specific category of soft toys - the beanbag microbead soft toys :3 So let's go!
What is a beanbag / micro bead plush?
There are two main sub categories within this category of a beanbag / microbead plush
1) The full beanbag / micro bead
These soft toys are stuffed 100% with Styrofoam beads / balls that may be similar in size to those found in beanbags or much smaller; with skins typically made of Nylon or an elastic equivalent such as jersey to give it ample stretch and a comfortable cuddling.
These materials create a soft toy with soft squishy feeling of a beanbag, smooth skin and the ability to comfortably mold to your body.
2) The mixed
These plush are less common than the full beanbag / micro bead option and features a blended mix of some or all of the following: Styrofoam beads, polyester stuffing, plastic beans/ beads
These soft toys tends to have minimal features, which are usually lightly embroidered or printed upon. That is because the skin tends to be very poor in holding weight, like clipped eyes, lace and appliques.
How are these soft toys different from the common polyester stuffing ones?
1) The weight
Styrofoam balls / beans aren't as easily compacted or squished. Hence these soft toys tends to be lighter than their polyester stuffing counterparts. Though this isn't a definite characteristics as polyester stuffing soft toys have a very wide weight range depending on the type of stuffing and the amount inserted (polyester stuffing can be compacted to squeeze in more)
2) The texture
These plush tends to be more compact resistant due to their balls/beads nature. And thus hold their shape better. They are also less bouncy compared to their polyester stuffing counterparts as they do not have the typical characteristics of expanding back out when compacted.
Common issues with these soft toys
This is the most major and common issue of almost all bean bag plush. With a thin skin and a stuffing that is "loose balls". This soft toy leaks easily with age, and has a gradual loss that results in loads of balls on the bed and a flattening plush that just gets flatter and smaller day after day
Due to the tendency of Styrofoam to stick together when wet. The soft toy can easily grow mold internally if not dried properly after wash.
3) General Degradation
As the skins of these soft toys tends to be made with either a nylon or a polyester blend, they have a certain level of lycra / elastane (stretchy fibers) within them that gives them some elasticity. Overtime, this degrades and creates a loose skin. This may result in:
(a) Leakage (as above)
(b) Pilling (where the skin gets furry)
(c) Big rips and tears (where a small injury causes the entire row of fibers to burst open)
There are two major procedures requested for these cuddly soft toys
1) The internal backing
An additional layer with a tight weave (means the thread is tightly woven in the fabric) such as cotton is added into the internal part of the body (right under the skin) to prevent continued loss of Styrofoam through the holes in the original skin. This internal layer also slows down the continued degradation of the soft toy by reducing the stretch of the fabric when the soft toy is squeezed.
2) Change to Polyester Stuffing + Styrofoam balls blend
This method results in a fatter plush with a more controlled leakage. As the Polyester stuffing helps to block off the Styrofoam Balls from the existing holes in the fabric and also helps to lock the Styrofoam Balls internally.
Other fixes for these soft toys include embroidery, but due to the weak nature of these fabrics, embroidery appliques are usually done on a case to case basis. If the original skins are already very weak, embroidery applique overlays are generally not recommended. Baba shows an embroidery applique overlay where a new pair of eyes are sewn over the original set.
Have you ever owned one of this soft toys before? Let us know in the comments section below!
You can also order one here!