Codename: Geoff Beckett
Occupation: Founder and co-owner of Shocker Toys
Base of Operations: www.shockertoys.com
Greetings all. Recently, in an attempt to make sense of the saga of Shocker Toys, I compiled a timeline from whatever news I could glean from the Web. The founder of Shocker Toys, Geoff Beckett, responded and very graciously agreed to answer a few questions. He also provided his own version of the timeline, which sheds a bit more light on the company’s trials and tribulations.
- 1999 Geoff Beckett thinks up an idea for shoulder fighting robots and draws up 150 different designs and copyrights everything.
- 2000 Geoff Beckett attends first Toy Fair and shows idea around and takes in the business 1st hand.
- 2001 Geoff Beckett registers Shocker Toys and begins to promote Electrobytes trading card game and company.
- 2002 Shocker Toys gets a sculptor and factory for Shoulder Robot toys but gets ripped off.
- 2002-2003 Geoff Beckett decides it’s time to salvage and sculpts small versions of 3 of the 150 robots. The small figures are shown to the toy community upon which a few people chime in they should be made blank to customize as well.
- 2003 Shocker Toys finds a factory through Kotobukiya subbed to (3L) which produced Palisades PalZ figures. Shocker Toys produces 3 robots and a blank version of which 1,000 are given away at the 2003 Toy Fair (500 glow in the dark). The Shockinis had limited movement so they were redesigned and re-introduced in 2004 at Toy Fair and had a lot of interest.
- 2004 Received only shipment of 5,000 white Shockinis and found out tools were lost, as were robot versions. Shocker Toys found a new factory to make gen3 Shockinis, which unfortunately, due to lost tools, were not compatible with the gen1 and gen2.
- 2005 New Gen3 shockinis go on sale about the same time another company makes a small customizable robot type block figure (Story on its own).
- 2005-2006 New factory turns out to be a dead end and another set of tools are lost.
- 2007-2008 Shocker Toys absorbed a new design team in Singapore with great factory ties and 3-D sculpting/printing technology. Shocker Toys attends Toy Fair 2008 with new products and new designs and is set to tool beginning of March for all products.
I recently put together a timeline of Shocker Toys’ trials over the last seven years. Looking it over, what have you learned from your experiences?
Never trust a big company like Kotobukiya to sub out tooling. We lost $50k on that deal ,along with our tools and Shockinis. Never trust someone with $2,500 to make a prototype who then send you 3 bases instead of the figure. Never trust sculptors that charge $5,000 for one 5.5″ static figure and it gets called crap. You learn things as you go along. I did not attend FIT for toy design; I am just a fan like everyone else, and I am also a carpenter by trade, so I take pride in what I do and defend it to the end (which gets me in trouble).
Now that we have a design team in Singapore linked to our new factory, things are really running smoothly, and we can make changes we have been waiting years to make. We can only say we are sorry to all the fans who have been waiting, but we will make it right and get all seven of our toy projects onto shelves.
Can you set the record straight regarding what happened with Indie Spotlight and Legendary Comic Book Heroes?
(Insert long story) LOL…back in early 2005, we tossed around an idea to do an independent comic book action figure line, hyper-articulated like Marvel Legends and in scale with ML and DC. We started looking into properties with a person we thought was a friend on the Internet (bad move). Bits and pieces about the idea began to leak out, along with a list of pursued properties. We also approached many creators; one creator at Image Comics said to us, very rudely, “I talked with a friend of mine about this idea and our property and we will have to pass.” The idea he spoke about to his friend (from another company not mentioned) was sent in a confidential-marked email from us.
Shortly after, we announced our Series One of the line in May 2006, and at SDCC we showed prototypes. At SDCC, Top Cow had announced that someone other than us would be making figures (after we had signed a contract). After SDCC the line was pulled and reworked, only to have to be reworked again. During that time we lost two major comic companies and three smaller properties to that other company, who announced their copycat line directly after losing a major license to Hasbro. We also got word that an email was being sent out by said company, of which we put a copy online, stating “We will be selling our line through all of the major mass market toy distribution outlets (Wal-Mart, K-Mart, Toys R US, Target, and Diamond) And I’m confident that the company that you have an agreement with will not be able to sell this line into those channels as we have already sold the line in.”
While that is certainly illegal, we decided to take the high road and see what happened with their line. We waited and refocus all of our projects and as we premiered our line at Toy Fair 2008, we found out the other line was dead.
We are taking a different approach with our line in favor of collectors and kids. People to this day keep calling out that company owner to just come clean and tell the truth, but that will never happen; some people were almost banned from their showroom for speaking about this controversy. With that said, I wish him good luck in his new ventures and we will try and please the fans and pick up where we/he/we left off.
What is your current estimate for when the first wave of Indie Spotlight figures will be hanging on retail pegs?
July/August of 2008; some sooner if they have direct shipments from our factory.
Are you planning to focus on the specialty market for Indie Spotlight, or are you hoping to break into the big retailers?
We plan on getting these to the fans any which way we can.
How far along is wave two of Indie Spotlight?
It is being worked on as we write this, and then will go off to tooling after we preview for feedback.