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Everybody knows that Santa employs elves to help him build his toys. Traditionally, they use hammers and other tools to build toy trains, dolls, horses, etc. As more children were asking for electronic toys for Christmas, the elves presumably started reading hammers in for soldering irons to build the circuit boards.

But nowadays, computers, video game consoles, phones, and other electronics can have processors with billions of transistors. As skilled as the elves are, I can’t see their skills of handcrafting toys to be able to create something that complex.

Assuming that Santa wants to keep his elves employed (rather than automating them out of existence), and that their only skill is in making toys (rather than factory building or whatever), How would Santa’s elves be able to build complex electronic toys?

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    $\begingroup$ Get the mechanic for the sleigh to apply the same magic that makes the sleigh go many times the speed of light. $\endgroup$ – Thorbjørn Ravn Andersen Dec 26 '18 at 11:29
  • $\begingroup$ *reading hammers --> trading hammers $\endgroup$ – jpmc26 Dec 27 '18 at 1:41
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I think you're giving the elves short shrift here. In particular, I think you may be focusing on the wrong elves.

Consider the svartálfar or "black elves" in Norse mythology, who were responsible for crafting a golden wig for Sif among other treasures - and are often conflated with the dwarfs, who have even more amazing feats discussed in this Literature.SE answer. Creatures capable of forging a self-duplicating gold ring, a boar with golden fur, a ship that can be folded up and put in one's pocket, and many unique weapons (including Mjölnir and Gungnir) clearly know secrets we've yet to plumb about the mysteries of the universe. I'm not going to bet that they can't handcraft modern electronics.

The most obvious course is to use a variation on the folding-ship technique: work on the circuits at an expanded size that's more amenable to handcrafting (keeping in mind their ability to work individual strands of golden hair), then shrink them down to their "proper" size. Or if that's not dramatic enough, maybe it's the workers who are folded down to tinker with individual circuits.

Sure, it's slow, but you can't put a price on proper (mythic) craftsmanship.

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    $\begingroup$ This. Gungnir, for example, clearly contains target selection and self-guidance software as well as a return mode, and the elves were making ‘toys’ with that level of sophistication before mankind figured out drums. +1 $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Dec 25 '18 at 11:32
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    $\begingroup$ Interesting that you should draw the parallel to golden fur in a question about IC manufacturing, considering that every IC is bonded with strands of golden hair. $\endgroup$ – pipe Dec 25 '18 at 13:05
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There are several foundries all around the world, producing integrated circuits for all our needs. These foundries run 24/7.

Once in a while some produced chip is defective, and get discarded from the production line.

Well, the trick is, the chip is not really defective. It's just a toll to Santa's production line. Then, once the chip is available, the elves can use their skills to assembly it into the desired product.

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  • $\begingroup$ Clever. I like this answer. $\endgroup$ – Adrian Zhang Dec 25 '18 at 19:49
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    $\begingroup$ Hmmm does that mean that factories with lower error samples are just cheaper, not helping Santa as much as they could (should?) ? $\endgroup$ – Patrice Dec 26 '18 at 14:15
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    $\begingroup$ "That's a nice foundry you're running here. Would be a shame if some chips... came out defective." Santa is the biggest racket operation. $\endgroup$ – void_ptr Dec 26 '18 at 18:23
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Santa not only have power to give things to kids who celebrate Christmas, but also the power to take things from ones who don't. Like those children who work at assembly lines in China or India. Elves? Just a cover-up story.

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    $\begingroup$ Not a sweat shop. A swelf shop. $\endgroup$ – Mindwin Dec 26 '18 at 13:07
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The workers in chinese factories who assemble iPhones aren't very skilled either. Chips are printed by machines.

Elves are just the cheapest manual labor available, and Santa has just one upped every other third world country by having his assembly factory where no labor laws can reach.

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  • $\begingroup$ But... Canada does have labor laws... $\endgroup$ – Sora Tamashii Dec 25 '18 at 17:45
  • $\begingroup$ @SoraTamashii I'm familiar with Lappland or the North Pole, what tradition has Santa in Canada? $\endgroup$ – Pete Kirkham Dec 25 '18 at 23:52
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    $\begingroup$ @PeteKirkham canadian. $\endgroup$ – Renan Dec 26 '18 at 0:42
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    $\begingroup$ @PeteKirkham While the North Pole officially is not owned by any nation, Canada has staked claim to sovereignty over it since the early 1900s. For all intents and purposes, it is Canadian and has been generally accepted in North America as such. Thanks for making me have to explain an obvious joke that wouldn't take more than a couple seconds of googling to understand. hmph $\endgroup$ – Sora Tamashii Dec 26 '18 at 1:41
  • $\begingroup$ @SoraTamashii Sorry, but (except possibly for Canadians) it's not obvious at all. In common with almost every other Brit, I don't have the faintest idea about Arctic geopolitics, beyond jokes about Sarah Palin being able to see Russia from her house. However I did find the implication in your first comment that Canada laid claim to anything mythological was rather amusing :) $\endgroup$ – alephzero Dec 26 '18 at 19:37
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Much to the surprise of conspiracy theorists everywhere, the true role of the Illuminati is that of Santa's supply chain. When the department of defense budgets $600.00 for a hammer, it is really buying components for Santa's elf minions.

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Santa-type elves, Elfus SaintNickalus Arcticus, operate Santa's electronics manufacturing equipment building the printed circuit boards and microchips. Additional elves assemble these electronic components. Elves are excellent electronics manufacturers because of their small hands and mentorship training from other elves. They are excellent solderers and many are NASA certified. In fact, many elves worked on classified NASA projects because they were able to crawl inside the avionics compartments of the early space rockets which no human technicians were able to do. After the Cold War, the elves returned to Santa's toy production facility at the North Pole under the auspices of the United States Air Force during Operation Binderclip. This was all scrubbed from the official record to keep Santa's Workshop from becoming a primary nuclear target for anti-Christmas Soviet war planners. That's why I couldn't link any non-classified sources for you.

Think about it: why does NORAD track Santa every Christmas season? It's how NASA and the USAF honor him for his still-secret contributions to space science.

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Did you ever see Santa distributing complex electronic toys without wearing the brand of a maker ? The trick is there : Santa's elves only build unbranded toys. For trademark reasons, all branded toys are bought from their respective makers.

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  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to Worldbuilding.SE! We're glad you could join us! When you have a moment, please click here to learn more about our culture and take our tour. Thanks! $\endgroup$ – JBH Dec 26 '18 at 8:31
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easy: Automated / computerized pick-and-place technology with board manufacturing on CnC routing, drilling, and soldering tables that have been computerized and fit into the assembly line. The elves run the robotic processes and troubleshoot issues on the assembly / production line, and refill the bins of components as they come in from IRT ordering vendors.

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Santa has always been incredibly wealthy. The easiest and simplest thing for Santa to do is to sell toys to the open market and invest the profits in the stock market. If Santa had started doing this in 1933 during the great depression, he is easily the richest individual in the world, and can easily afford all the electronics that he desires. Giving away toys once a year would be one of the best marketing tactics to increase toy sales during the other 364 days of the year. Santa can easily afford to own significant portions of large toy and electronic retailers and manufacturers around the globe, as well as significant real estate for the polar express. It's no secret that his marketing works incredibly well - Boxing Day is one of the biggest sales days of the year.

There is no requirement whatsoever that in our increasingly global economy, that Santa's elves should have to assemble every part of every toy by hand. No matter how many integrated circuits are involved in toys, there is always going to be a degree of manual labour and final assembly or testing that is required to ensure the quality, as well as selecting toys which children will enjoy. While some skill shifting is inevitable, with the increasing population and wide variety of desired toys from the good boys and girls all across the globe, I have no doubt that Santa can easily keep a full-time staff of elves as he always has.

So there you have it, Santa is incredibly wealthy, orders and ships parts to the north pole using the polar express, and does the final assembly and testing using the same crew of elves he always has.

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