inPHPinityHow to make an elePHPant generation

Table of content

  • Why doing an elePHPant generation
  • Preparing for an elePHPant generation
  • Folklore of the elePHPant generation
  • Miscellaneous info


Why doing an elePHPant generation?

Here are some questions and pre requisite you need to address before starting an elephpant generation. No involvment yet, as this is the next section, and a lot of fun, imagining what it could be.

What is an elephpant generation

An elephpant generation is a batch of elePHPant, the PHP plush toy. The batch has to be 300 or more to be considered a generation, and remembered as this. That way, it means that the elephpant is accessible to the larger PHP community.

A generation of elephpant has a PHPather and/or a Phpother. It also has a prototype (see later), which will be known as the first elephpant of the generation. The first elephpant might have slightly distinctive features, compared to the rest of the generation : it is still part of it.

Values of the elephpant

The value of the elephpant is the reason that motivate it to spawn a generation. Let’s be frank : having a plush toy, however cute it is, is not life achievement. And, indeed, elephpants have had various purposes.

Here are a few of them :

  • Proof of love for the PHP language and its community
  • To celebrate the last PHP version
  • To make new friends
    • Making exchanges with other like-minded elePHPant companies
    • To raffle at PHP meetups and conferences
  • Raise money for a specific goal
    • To bring more diverse crowds to conferences
    • To help promote women in the community
    • To rent buses and drive attendees to a common event
    • To finance a local user group
  • To promote a piece of software, an event, a company
  • To reward to those who achieved their goal
    • diploma, tests, delivery, etc.
  • HR management
    • To hire new PHP developers
    • To reward the current employees
    • To gift previous employees
  • To send a token of gratitude to Open Source developers
  • To build the culture of the Tech Department
    • Name the elephpant
  • To run marketing campaigns
    • Send to customers or prospects
    • To ask for pictures of the elephpant at the customer’s place
    • To travel with the elephpant (Amélie Poulain effect, when the garden dwarf travels the world)
    • Attract attention at exhibitions with the big elephpants
    • Crowd-source the elephpant name in the Tech department
    • Hold challenges with the elephpant
      • Make the largest elephpant pyramid
      • Write poems for the elephpant
      • Hide elephpants in the room and make an easter egg hunt
  • To build a large collection of elephpant by exchanging them
  • [your story] …

Take into account that elephpants are easily recognized as the PHP elephpant. It is best to have a significant relationship with the technology.

Art of the elePHPant

Colors, nails and the logo side

The most classic elephpant is the official blue elephpant, with the PHP logo on the left side, so as to ressemble as much as possible as the PHP logo and the original 2D elephpant from Vincent Pontier.

The simplest form of customization is to choose a different color for the elephpant fur, and its toe nails. With a little help from a local designer, it is possible to take a picture of an elephpant, check various colors and choose the one that works the best with design specs.

As of today, all the colors of the rainbow have been already used : red, orange, yellow, white, black, grey, pink, blue, green, you name it. White and blue are the most common, and green is the least common. Choose the one you like.

Gradient colors and patterns are very difficult to make into an elephpant. The elephpant fur has to be cut in specific smaller parts, before stitching them together. It is not possible to plan for them to be a in a specific place or orientation. The only elephpant with gradient, EnPHPys, was painted after stitching.

It is possible to use several colors on the elephpant. The most clever way is to use the stitchings lines and have each ‘part’ of the elephpant in a distinct colors. This was done with the red and white elephpant, the blue and red, or a five colored elephpant.

The right side of the elephpant is traditionaly free, and used to add a logo. The logo is stitched, and made of thread: this means that the logo should be simple, and the number of colors should be kept as low as possible. One or two colors are nice, more may raise the production price of the elephpant.

The exact color, the size of the fur is usually left to the factory to choose. They might be slightly different from the requested colors, so check those at prototype time.

The material of the elephpant is traditionnaly plush. After all, it is a plush toy. You may consider other material: some elephpant were done in jeans or in a golden fabric, no plush.


For the most adventurous of us, accessories and advanced features are possible. Simply keep in mind that they will most probably raise the price and the minimum quantity of elephpant to produce. Yet, there are some room for special features. Here are some ideas and previous projects :

  • Pointy ears, for the Spoky elephpant
  • Tusk and long fur for Molly, the mammoth
  • Glasses for Zend elephpant
  • Hat for the PHP Yorkshire elephpant
  • Long hair on the head for the PHP Storm elephpant
  • Two-half colors elephpant with red and white, or red and blue.
  • Elephpant cowboy hat
  • Harry Potter hat elephpant

Elephpant size

Elephpants come in two sizes: the normal one, and the big ones. Normal elephpants are the most common and the most sturdy. They are about 20cm long, 10cm wide and 15 cm high. This is the default size when mentionning elephpants.

The big elephpants are much bigger. They are meant for display, in the office or in an exhibition. With their size, they are a bit more fragile, and require more care.

Artistic review

Elephpants have to be reviewed by Vincent Pontier. This is a very benevolent review, aiming at keeping the family of elephpants sharing the same DNA, and some family traits.

That stage is quite simple : send a mail to Vincent, with a quick description of your intended design. When your elephpant is in the right spirit, his review keept it all.

Preparing for an elePHPant generation

This section deals with the realities of making an elephpant generation. Once you have secured the questions of the previous chapter, it is time to make it a reality. This comes with hard questions, like money, custom certification or where the hell will I store so many plush toys?

Make sure to read the previous chapter first, as this section is the non-fun part, with all the potential deal breakers.

Who to ask about an elephpants generation

It is a good idea to get in touch with some people that will help you shape up the generation. They can share experience, recommendations and answer specific wishes.

  • Vincent Pontier (@elroubio)
  • Damien Seguy, (@faguo,
  • Manuel Lemos, (@mlemos)


Creating a generation from scratch takes about 6 months (six). This is quite a long process, and it will probably be faster than this forecast. Yet, it is recommended to start planning with such a timeline.

Here are the various steps that you may encounter along the way. Good news, you’ve already done the first one!

  • Prepare the art of the elephpant
  • Check your target audience and size the generation
  • Secure the budget
  • Make a prototype
  • Validate prototype and start production
  • Tease the community with the prototype
    • Name the elephpant
  • Finish paiment for production
  • Wait for delivery
  • Celebrate the delivery of elephpants
  • Ship elephpants to their new families

Size of the generation

The size of a generation is important: at the moment (2023), 300 elephpants are the lowest minimum to reach a production level.

Upwards, there are various threshold where the unit price drops sharply. It is often interesting to check if the next level is not actually cheaper than doing a smaller generation.

The next important threshold is 900, where that particular generation is allowed to make the big elephpants. Also, unit price gets lower at that level, and is probably the most interesting of all prices.

Larger generations of elephpants are possible, yet rare. The record is currently of 6000 in one batch.

The size of the generation is important for the budgeting part (see next section), but also for the storage of the elephpants, once they are delivered. Each group of 50 elephpants makes a box, and 16 boxes makes a cubic meter : 1m x 1m x 1m. It looks small, but this means quite a lot of place. Plan accordingly, before a long truck stops at your office.


Budget is quite straightforward when the generation has been sized. Simple, yet not easy.

The figure that are offered here are based on estimates, and in July 2023. Use them when working on the idea, but always check them with the actual production site, as they are subjects to fluctuation, including inflation, custom fees, labor fees, international shipping and insurance, exchange rate, etc.

Elephpants cost estimation is about 15 euros/USD each, all included. This estimate covers production, royalty fees, shipping by boat, toy certication (Europe CE); it is for normal sized elephpant (aka, not the big ones). It is a good figure for budgeting.

Small elephpants batches starts at 300 (three hundreds), and the largest batch ever was 6000 (six thousands). Unit price decreases with the size of the order, and the budget always grows : in case of doubt, stick to a smaller batch.

Large elephpants batches need a 900 elephpant order, and may be made by unit. Each is about 100 euros/USD each.


Shipping is usually offered by boat or by air. Air shipping is a lot faster, but also a lot more expensive. Given the timeline, it is usually worth waiting a few weeks more and get the elephpants in a cheaper and greener way.


Elephpants are produced to meet the certifications of any world market, in particular the European market (CE marking) and the north american markets. The certification and custom process is part of the shipping, so they are delivered with the valid custom review.

Once inside a country, the elephpants may be shipped again anywhere within that country, or any other country with which there is a trade agreement : once the elephpant have been cleared, they are cleared for all commercial partners. This applies with the EC or Alena.

If part of the elephpant generation has to be dispatched to a remote destination, the same certification process may be required. This is in particular true for large orders : customs will want to see the certification profile again.

As for that, it is possible to request for a separate certification at the factory level. This will come as an extra set of document, which, in turn, may be transmitted to any authority. This will save the process of certifying again the elephpant, after the delivery.

Shipping the elephpants

Shipping is the most scary part of the elephpant generation. The whole cost of production has to be paid before the elephpants are put on a boat. After that, the elephpant do travel the world, pass customs and are delivered to your address. There is little information about them along the way, so it is a bit of a tunnel.

Do allow for 3 weeks at bare minimum: that would be shipping by boat from China. Many events may occur during that time, and the most common are delays en route, port entrance file, a landing port a bit further than expected, customs checks for the elephpants or anything else that is on the same boat. Custom may also take more time, as the elephpants are considered as children products.

The best is to prepare the reception (see the folklore section for the unloading), storage, re-shipping and online presence. That should keep you busy enough.

In any case, keep in touch with the producing company, as they have better tracking information.

Folklore of the elePHPant generation

A large part of making an elephpant generation lies in the folklore around it. Planning it, making it, receiving them and shipping them is a long process, with its own specific silly traditions. Here are some of them.


In English, the same word is used for both assisting baby birth and reception of goods : delivery. So, an elephpant generation has a date delivery to the happy Phpathers and PHPothers : by extension, this is the date the elePHPants are born.

PHParents : PHPathers and PHPothers

Just like elePHPant is build as a porte-manteau from elephant and PHP, a wide range of words are porte-manteau-ed the same way in the PHP world : P’s and F’s are replaced by PHP, leading to a new, strange yet vaguely familiar word.

This applies to the PHPamily: a delivery of elephpants is an addition to the great elePHPant PHPamily.

Triaieul, the first elephpant

The first elephpant goes by the name of ‘Trisaïeul’, a French word meaning great-great-grand-parent. Although, this first elephpant also goes as the ‘grand-father of all elephpants’. Also noteworthy : there are currently (2023) over 70 elephpants generations, which would make that name a long long repetition of ‘great’.

The first elephpant is still alive, in the custody of Damien Seguy. It is a great honor for young elephpants to meet him, and pay respects. Find him at conferences, meetups, exhibition or travelling the world. He is always happy to make pictures.

The elePHPant mother

Elephpants are known to have one great-grand-father, aka Trisaïeul, the first elephpant ever. NO ONE asks who was the partner of that first elephpant, carrying about 6000 cubs in one pregnancy: just NO ONE.

Dedicated elephpants

Each generation may dedicate elephpants to some outstanding members of the community. For example, the first generation of elephpant was offered to the members of the PHP group, in 2007. Nowadays, Release Master get a PHP 8 inphpinty elephpant, as a token of gratitude.

Vincent Pontier is requesting 3 elephpants for his own museum.

Besides the last one, there are no special rules to distribute the elephpants : they may be shipped to anyone you like.

Unloading the elephpants

The delivery of elephpant is an important moment. There are several large and cumbersome boxes to take out of a truck, and store them in a dry and safe place.

It is a tradition to bring everyone involved in a PHP generation to help unload the boxes. It comes from the first delivery of elephpants, where 54 boxes where unloaded by throwing them from one developer to the other. Even with the right rythm, it ended in a messy pile of card boards.

Later, several generations where unloaded manually, with everyone remotely involved with PHP giving a hand. The legendary level was when the delivery truck parked next to the warehouse, but 60 developers showed up to help. In the end, they lined up across the parking, and the elephpants boxes went the really long way into the warehouse. Also, it rained, that day.

Of course, there may also be a warehouse dock and a forklift available, and it will do the job fast and clean. It’s just not fun, but go ahead.

Washing the elephpants

It is possible to wash the elephpants, using every day appliance. Make sure to use a very gentle washing program, and low temperature.

Also, after drying, you may have to work the plush inside the elephpant to spread it around its body : no need to open the sewings, pressing and massaging the content from the outside is sufficient. Long, but sufficient.

Customizing further the elephpants

Once the elephpant have been delivered, they might be further processed. Being material and thread, it is possible for a skilled couturier or seamstress to add extra features, or an accessory.

By experience, it becomes quickly an expensive endeavour, as each of the elephpant has to be processed manually. Besides, even if they are industrially produced, their plush and fabrics nature makes them all distinct.

Simple operations, such as adding a sticker on the elephpant, or pairing it with a hat are possible and reasonable.

Shipping the elephpants

While the big batch is delivered at one address, there is often the need for re-shipping. This means breaking the boxes, and sending smaller batches to particular addresses.

This operation is simple, though it does take quite some time and energy. It is important to plan for it.

Check with the post office how you can ship those elephpants. No need for a special machine, but buying stamps in bulk is useful. Also, getting those custom forms for shipping abroad is critical, as you’ll have to fill them quite often, if not all the time.

By the unit, elephpants are about 20cm x 10cm x 10cm. They are also malleable and compressible: a tight box doesn’t scare them. Check with the post office, as they may have a standard box for that size, and if not, any office supply brand.

While you’re at the office supply, include some more scotch tape, and a few pens. Tags to print addresses with a printer is also a good idea.

Finally, consider reshipping boxes as a whole : that will be 50 elephpants, available somewhere for local distribution with a PUG, an event or a local company branch. Batch shipping is a good idea, as it saves the cost and generate a small but significant event.

Miscellaneous info

elePHPants and elePHPants

ElePHPants actually have two meaning :

  • The original drawing by Vincent Pontier, and all its derivatives
  • The plush toy elePHPant, based on Vincent Pontier drawing, and produced by Damien Seguy.

Although both notions are close, they are two distinct art productions.

Special cases and accomodations

Of course, each elephpant generation is different, and may be prepared in a slightly different way from the others. Half production by boat, and half by plane? Biological fur or multi-colored toe-nail? Each in a box or all under a vacuum ? Local factory or remote one? Extra certifications ?

While this guide get you through a lot of details, some of those have to be discussed directly with Vincent Pontier or the production facility. Some are possible, others cost more and some are not possible : if you have a special idea for your elephpant, come and discuss it, we’ll do our best to have it done or find an alternative.

Elephpant naming

Once you have an elephpant, you need to give it two names :

  • a secular name. This is the commonly used elephpant name, and it default to the author. There are PHPcon elephpants, a.k.a. Polish elephpant, a.k.a. Janusz. The name may be anything.
  • a latin name. This name is for science purposes. Create that name as a tagline, with pig latin. Fun is of the essence here.

Unique elephpants names

Besides the generation name, some elephpants have achieved famous as individuals.

  • Trisaieul: the first elephpant ever. Famous for being the first and oldest elephpant. Recognizable with its blue PHP logo on the left.
  • Traversable: the travelling elephpant. Famous for going from speaker to speaker, across the world, with its passport. Recognizable with it piercing on the ear, and its accompanying passport.
  • Papa: the big elephpant from the first generation. Recognizable to its tired fur, and very slim figure, as it was slept on a lot.
  • your elephpant here…

Elephpant smuggling

Elephpant smuggling covers all the activities around providing elephpants to any region of the world. It smells like contraband, but since elephpants are legal in every countries in the known universe, it is actually a legit activity.

There are stories of carrying a lot of elephpants in suitcases onboard planes and trains, or bringing rare elephpants from an event to another part of the world. For example, 400 elephpants in a plane to Barcelona, the aborted exchange of elephpants at the Thalys 3 mins stop in Brussels, or the successful elephpant delivery on a hidden Neuhaus chocolate factory.

Sometimes, the fun lies in making it sounds like it is a spy novel, although, indeed, it is mundane.

Community Postal Service

The community Postal Service, also known as CPS, is a cheap but slow way to ship elephpants across the world.

The trick is to find someone who can travel to a location closer to the destination. There, the elephpant shall be given to someone else, who will bring the elephpant again closer to its destination. The process is repeated as much as necessary.

CPS is free, and mostly requires knowing someone who travels. The down side is that it is difficult to know when the elephpant arrives. Sometimes, it will take up to several years of transit.

CPS is very fun for the patient ones: it puts people in contact, and they usually exchange information and updates during the trip. It makes the base for very complex elePHPant stories.

CPS was used successfully with the following lines :

  • San Francisco (USA) to Seattle (USA) to Amsterdam (NL) to Brussels (BE) to Koln (DE).
  • Brasilia (BR) to Metz (FR) to Amsterdam (NL)
  • Omst (RU) to Berlin (DE) to Amsterdam (NL)

Batching elephpant orders

When buying elephpants online, check if there are already a grouped order. Sometimes, it is cheaper to buy a big box (50, one of the classic box size of production), and spread the shipping costs across several buyers.

Grouped orders are usually made online, on social networks. They are also done when someone discovers the elephpant shop: it might be anyone, including you.

This strategy is best when coupled with CPS (see above). The orders are collected online, and a big order is shipped to one address. Then, a mix of meetups and informal meetings is used for the last mile logistics.

This is also good for the environment, as much less shipping resources are used. And it brings the community closer.

Sourcing new elephpants when they appear

Finding a source of elephpant is quite a little event. Feel free to mention it online, and offer remote collectors the possibility to access them. It is then easy to acquire a set of them, and then, spread it to whoever needs them. Use social networks for that.

Elephpants exchanges

When finding a new source of elephpant, it is wise to get several of them. You can add one to your collection, and make the others available on the Web site. is a market place where you can describe your herd of elePHPants, and also, initiate exchanges. Find a specie that you don’t have in your collection, and look for anyone who has it in double. Then, make an exchange with one of your own.

Elephpant world collector ranking (see above) also includes a world ranking. Each collector is ranked by the number of unique elephpants they possess. One of each specy is needed to progress. The website has world and per-country ranking.

Field Guide of elephpant

The Field guide of elephpant is the reference of elephpant species. It includes all the existing elephpants, with their name, pictures, latin description and date of availability.

When building a new elephpant generation, it is wise to submit a PR to that site, and have your elephpant listed there.

Elephpant collectors

There is a group of tenacious elephpant collectors. These people, including the author of this page, are relentlessly looking for the missing elephpants in their collection. They will go great length to snatch the elephpant they are looking for.

It is a good idea to book about 100 elephpants in any generation, and set up a simple shop online to sell them. Whatever values are driving your generation, there are collector who want to fork out a few monies and get it.

It actually offsets a part of your elephapnt budget. By selling 100 of them, they will help you finance your own generation, and you’ll be making a lot of people happy.