Shocker Toys‘ founder and CEO Geoff Beckett has seen his company acquire some of the most coveted toy licenses in the business, including Metalocalypse, and the Indie Spotlight line, as well as the creation of several original designer toys, inluding Shockinis. However, many of these truly impressive feats for an independent company, in a world traditionally ruled by giants, have been marred by delays, feuding, and controversy. Recently, Max spoke to Beckett about his toys, the future of his company, and his reputation.
Shocker’s Indie Spotlight line is one of the most anticipated toy releases in recent memory. What about this line in particular do you think has caused such a fervor?
Well, it was a great idea from the start and original too when we thought it up in 2005, and that is why it was stolen from us. But as they say, copying is the highest form of flattery. Indy comic toys have seen light in one way or another, but never in the same universe, which is what Indie Spotlight created. We had a few issues with the line, like some creators passing confidential emails to another toy company. This caused another toyline to be created using already created toy parts, and us having to change our Series 1 pick twice. But the pick was finished, and the toyline going through a few designs was completed tooled and finally produced. Oh, just to add, Nerd City is not on our payroll. (It’s true)
Unfortunately, the toys have seen some delays. What has been the cause of these delays and when can fans expect the toys to be released?
Where to start? People think, hey, just because Hasbro or Marvel Toys can pump out figs so fast then so can we. Wrong! They have a lot at their disposal, including already made joint systems, fan-bases and other instant helping hands. We had to go through idea theft, license theft, Trade restriction, badmouthing, sculpts that needed more work, joint system design, no ref on some figures, shipping delays, funding problems and a whole lot more. Some would just say “Why bother?” Well, to that we say we are collectors and we started something, so we are going to finish it and we did. What we just started as the toyline has created a new universe where Indys can have their characters turned in to highly articulated toys. Our Smokey Maxx and Scud figures which were exclusives for NYCC ship out to customers on March 2nd. As for IS1, that ships out at the end of March. Stores who didn’t order upfront or were involved in the Diamond fiasco will have to wait until April/May.
Just to quickly explain the Diamond Comics fiasco: They listed our products using old pictures that we did not send them. Even though we sent them proper pictures, they listed The Maxx for the wrong price and they left out Katchoo, the ShadowHawk variant and Scud Variant ‘SOL’, but somehow that is our fault. Again, we are not Hasbro, and can’t guess at numbers to produce, so Diamond took forever to relist the last 3 figures and get us the the total order, then canceled the first figures they listed even though they knew we had to wait for the last 3 to get our production order in with our factory. So that, with the fact they are screwing over Indy artist with a 1k increase in sales to get their books listed, we told them to cancel everything and that we won’t be selling to you any more. So now we are with a distributor who got our listing right on the first try and supports Indys in a huge way: Haven Distribution. We are also selling to the masses through Distributoys.
You are one, if not the, most polarizing figures (no pun intended), in toys. Why do you think that is?
We don’t take any crap from anyone. In this industry people backtalk, trash talk, and degrade people, and I, Geoff Beckett, am a face they can take their frustrations out on. I have called them trolls, cyber bullies and more. They are the little kids that were never punished. Sites let them mis-behave and use filth and trash talk to violate their own forum rules. But hey, whatever gets the hits right? I am just a guy who didn’t go to FIT or work for any other toy companies. I am a guy who was tired of construction work and decided as a toy collector to make toys for a living, and I did against all odds. I am Geoff Beckett, CEO of Shocker Toys, and I make toys for a living and that is the bottom line.
What are some of the licenses/toys that have inspired you as a creator?