Ray Charles, the legendary musician, was getting a ribbing from James Brown because Ray did not have a cool animatronic figure on the market like James Brown’s successful doll. Ray called an agent in Chicago and asked him to find a firm that could design and develop the Ray Charles doll.


Ray Charles asked one of his promotion agents in Chicago to put together a plan for the development and distribution of his own animatronic doll. The agent made a connection with Walgreens, and three milestones were set on the calendar.

The first was a meeting in less than 5 weeks’ time between Ray and a looks-like, works-like prototype of his new doll at the Arie Crown Theater in Chicago when Ray would be in town for a concert. The second milestone was a sales meeting at Walgreens, where the doll prototype would be demonstrated to the purchasing team at Walgreens.

Once a purchase order for the doll was received from Walgreens, Ray and his agent set a goal to have Ray Charles animatronic dolls on the shelves in stores only five and a half months later.


Design Integrity coordinated this rapid effort with weekly team meetings to keep the project on track. The prototype was completed on time, as planned, in four-and-a-half weeks. The first production order was shipped from China only 7 months after the kick-off meeting.

To meet the aggressive schedule, Design Integrity managed the vendor sourcing process including the qualification of factories, requests for quotations, vendor selection, and manufacturing development.

Design Integrity developed the design of the Ray Charles doll in cooperation with Beyond Design and Cosmodog in Chicago. Design Integrity engineered the robotic mechanisms, led the design of the exterior components, and led the vendor sourcing effort including the selection of a quality toy factory in China.


Client Benefit

Ray Charles and his agent presented the prototype doll to Walgreens on schedule and sealed the deal for the first purchase order. Ray was so thrilled with the quality of “Little Ray” that he recorded a testimonial video (viewable to the right or below this section). The Ray Charles doll landed on the shelves at Walgreens stores only seven months after the project kick-off.

“This is Ray Charles here, and I have to tell you that those cats at Design Integrity that designed my doll are good! Those guys have passion for what they do! I have never been so impressed in my life, and coming from me that means a lot.  Thank you guys! I thank you guys so much!”

Ray Charles

Legend, Ray Charles Foundation

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