What is Shocker Toys?
The answer is hard to grasp. Just when you think you’ve got it, it slithers out of your fingers like an eel.
It’s become a popular pastime for figure fans to bash Shocker Toys whenever founder Geoff Beckett types a word. The company–or at least Beckett–has earned a reputation for talking up a license long before it goes into production, and sometimes even before the contracts have been drawn up. To the best of my knowledge, the only product Shocker has gotten into stores are their block-figure Shockinis.
Recently, Shocker surprised a few of its critics with photos of its Indie Spotlight prototypes and a promise that the figures will be out in Q1 2008. Predictably, the latter claim has been met with skepticism.
I’ve been poring over dozens of sites trying to put together an article about Shocker, but in the end I decided the best way to tell their story is through a timeline.
- 1999: Geoff Beckett first starts thinking about Shocker Toys.
- 2000: Geoff Beckett founds Shocker Toys.
- May 2002: Shocker announces “Shoulder Action Figures” concept line. Despite several follow-up news items with prototype images, product never makes it to retail.
- October 2003: Beckett announces that in addition to main “Shoulder Action Figure” line, Shocker “will be doing a plush line of SAFs and a line of 3 inch mini figures called the Shockinis.”
- November 2003: Shocker officially announces Shockinis. Shoulder Action Figures are still on track as well.
- November/December 2003: Shocker debuts Shockinis.com.
- May 2004: Shockinis appear at retail. Shoulder Action Figures are put on hold.
- July 2004: Geoff protests blogger’s characterization of Shockinis as copycat of Stikfas.
- February 2005: Last Archive.org reference to Shockinis.com.
- December 2005: Beckett profiled in Business First.
- January 2006: Shocker announces licensing of GWAR action figures. Announces licensing of 2000AD, including Judge Dredd and Judge Death (both of whom would later appear in Toy Biz’s Legendary Comic Book Heroes).
- April 2006: Shocker Toys attempts to contact Mike Allred about licensing his Madman character. 
- May 2006: Shocker announces “Indie Spotlight” line, including “characters in the Indie Spotlight include Solar: Man of the Atom, Magnus Robot Fighter, Dick Tracy, Lone Ranger, Jack Staff, Madman, The Atomics, Witchblade, Darkness, Nexus, Shark-Man, The Moth, Retro Rocket, The New Toxic Avenger, The Phantom, Sachs & Violens, The Wraith, Scud the Disposable Assassin, Isis, Victoria Secret Service, Judo-Girl, Shadowhawk, OZF5, Grim Jack, Fallen Angel, Badger, Cyberforce, Jetcat, Atomic City, Smoke & Mirror and God of Thunder.” (Characters in bold were later made by Toy Biz as part of their Legendary Comic Book Heroes line.) 
- July 2006: GWAR resin promotional statues sold at San Diego Comic Con. Indie Spotlight Series 1 revealed: Witchblade, Madman, Judge Death, and Shadowhawk. (All but Shadowhawk appear in Toy Biz’s Legendary Comic Book Heroes line the following year.)
- December 2006: On his message board, Madman creator Mike Allred states that he will allow more than one company to make action figures from his comics.  Shocker announces that first wave of Indie Spotlight will feature Rob Schrab’s Scud the Disposable Assasin, Terry Moore’s Katchoo of Strangers in Paradise, Jimmy Valentino’s ShadowHawk and David Mack’s Kabuki. 
- January 2007: An email, allegedly sent from Toy Biz to independent comic creators with whom they had licensed contracts for Legendary Comic Book Heroes, is forwarded anonymously to Action-Figures.com. It states, “We will be selling our line through all of the major mass market toy distribution outlets ( Wall Mart [sic], K-Mart, Toys R US, Target, and Diamond) And I’m confidant[sic] 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.” 
- July 2007: Metalocalypse resin statues sold at San Diego Comic Con.
- December 2007: CollectionDX reviews Metalocalypse promotional resin statues from SDCC ‘07. Includes response from Beckett. 
- January 2008: Shocker releases photos of prototypes for Indie Spotlight Series 1, now consisting of Scud, Shadowhawk, Katchoo, and Kabuki, as well as the Maxx (who will be a deluxe figure that comes unassembled). Series 2 to consist of Dick Tracy, Zombie King, Jack the lantern, Ignacia, The Tick, Lone Ranger, Jack Staff, Fist of Justice and the Wraith.   
A few final notes…Shocker announced the GWAR license in January 2006, and as of February 2008, they have yet to put a GWAR action figure in stores. They announced Indie Spotlight in May 2006 and say the figures will be in stores this quarter. I couldn’t find an official announcement for Metalocalypse, but resin statues of the prototypes were sold in July 2007 at the SDCC and the figures have yet to hit stores.
This isn’t intended to be a hatchet job on Shocker Toys. Obviously, starting a new toy company, especially in the age of rising oil prices and problems with overseas factories, is a very difficult thing–witness the demise of Resaurus and Palisades and the struggles of SOTA. Geoff Beckett seems like a genuinely enthusiastic toy fan, and if Indie Spotlight hits stores there’s a good chance I’ll at least be nabbing the Maxx.
But the time for Shocker to puts it money where its mouth is has come and gone. Beckett will have to work hard to win the (admittedly extremely fickle) loyalty of the toy collector community.
And if he’s interested, I’d be happy to do an interview session with Mr. Beckett here on PGPoA to tell his side of the Shocker story.