So longtime readers will know that there is no love lost between me and Shocker Toys President Geoff Beckett. I’ve never been a fan of the company or the guy running it, and my occasional harsh reviews of their product has been met by attacks and legal threats. I preface this post with the above to try and ward off any accusations of for some reason being a company shill.
Because I talked to Geoff Beckett at NYCC last week, and saw the product that he had brought with him. Hold on to your hats: it wasn’t bad. In fact, it was quite nice! Now, he did not have the full line-up of Indie Spotlight series 1 there, nor did I see any packaged samples, or even any painted samples. I can’t judge any of that stuff (I have seen pics that show he did have some test shots there later in the show, but when I was there they weren’t out).
What he did have were the NYCC Exclusive versions of "Smoky Maxx and Smoky Scud". I was able to play with both figures fairly extensively while I talked with Geoff, and I was quite impressed with what I held in my hands. The construction is solid, the joints are nice- not too loose, not too tight. Neither one felt in the least bit breakable, and were able to hold many more poses than I thought possible just looking at the pics of them. The sculpting is polished and not the usual unfinished stuff we’ve been seeing, and both figures looked as on-model as I could expect, not being a fan of either property. But definitely as on-model as anything I’ve seen from Hasbro or Mattel. And the Maxx felt a lot tougher than any recent product I’ve seen from either of those companies. And he’s HUGE! Like I said, I’m not a fan…but I might pick up one or two of these if the final product is as nice as what I saw. And if Dick Tracy and the Phantom are equally nice I will definitely pick them up.
So that’s the figures. The harder thing to judge is that company itself. I had a long talk with Geoff, and while our previous conversations at cons have always been cordial, I was pleasantly surprised at how pleasant our talk was! Geoff was very contrite about his past behavior, and just in talking with him face to face it was hard not to believe that he truly understands how much of a problem his behavior has been for his company. There were no excuse, no justifications, just a remarkable humbleness and he was very apologetic about letting himself go overboard online. Seriously; I would never have known this guy was the same guy who runs rampant on the message boards.
But that’s also the big hurdle Geoff needs to clear these days. And he very much knows that. I’m as surprised as anyone that I left his booth wanting to give him the benefit of the doubt. But as he also knows, the only thing that can possible redeem Shocker Toys now is getting the toys on shelves AND having those toys be stellar, not just good. So here’s what he told me about that: They are just now shipping to distribution centers. When they show up in stores depends on the stores, but the target is later March/Early April. Product was delayed getting in (not sure if anything else is being show at Toy Fair, but very little was at NYCC) and they are/were taking preorders for the NYCC exclusives (show in the pics here) shipping out for delivery in late March.
Where will you be able to find the mass market toys? Good question. Diamond is no longer their distributor, but they have 2 smaller ones signed up. They will be available to comic shops and the Hastings chain, and are in talks with larger stores. Toys R Us is still interested, Geoff said, but new deals need to be made. Shocker also had their version of "Mighty Muggs" on display at NYCC, with licensed versions possible if the concept is sold. These were similar, but more articulated that MM and a bit smaller.
For something so ambitious I can at least say what I saw is much better than all the Indy toys that flooded comic shops in the late ’90s. But who knows if it’s too little, too late or just the tip of the iceberg. My final advice to Geoff was to stay offline altogether, so we’ll see just how far that advice goes. But if I got anything wrong in the article, feel free to correct it in the comments, Geoff. My memory only goes so far these days.Will these ever actually get it stores? Will people be able to easily buy them some day in the near future? I have no idea. And to be honest, I’m not holding my breath. But if they do get out there I think others like me who might have dismissed them out of hand might be pleasantly surprised.
So that’s that. Only time will tell what happens with the long running Shocker saga, but after so many missteps the real "shocker" will be if the final product actually turns out to be everything Geoff has said it would be, and more.