When Andrew and Bernadette appeared on our stand at BLE claiming to have designed the Stormtrooper for the original Star Wars movie, I have to say i was pretty sceptical. Whilst they appeared to be an otherwise unassuming couple, my first thought was that even having this conversation would probably make me vulnerable to a Disney legal suit.
Knowing the power of Disney the team and i were hesitant to take the conversation further. Having explored the detail, however, it appeared to be very clear that Andrew of Shepperton Design Studios had, while running a business making canoes and kit cars, accidentally helped create one of the most iconic instantly recognisable characters in film history.
We stepped gingerly into the role of Shepperton Design Studio's licensing agency, helping to launch a range of products that were as 'un-Disney' as possible. We took the Stormtrooper out of the Star Wars universe, sending him up for comic effect and vetoing all licensees efforts to imitate the genre. Our Stormtrooper plays football and has barbequeues, he's typically British and yet he likes pizza. Dressed in the colour of surrender he's a lover not a fighter.
Licensees loved the quick decision making and the flexible contracts of a Shepperton Design Studios coupled with a character that was otherwise unavailable to them. As one of our first licensees, we were lucky to find Thumbs Up - a gift manufacturer with over 2,000 independent retail accounts, especially as this was their first ever license. Their excellent product and packaging design set the tone for the whole licensing programme and their independent retail distribution gave us access to retailers who were selling to real fans who would appreciate the chance to own a product based on the exact same design as the original stormtrooper.
It was always our approach to start low key through independent retailers and this slow-burn start has certainly helped us to grow the programme slowly and sustainably rather than relying on just the big 4.
Fast forward 4 years since our appointment in January 2015, and there are now over 30+ licensees in place. Royalties and sales are increasing year on year and the market is beginning to recognise the difference between a toy and an accurate replica of globally recognisable intergenerational character, or as we call him, a GRIC.
Over the past year the Golden Goose team has grown significantly to help support the potential for this long-term licensing programme. Phillippa Green leads the product approvals with characteristically sharp organisational abilities whilst Mark Bezodis heads up the Commercial team in the UK, Virginie Sergent and Heiko Lammers are growing the European footprint of this eccentric character with significant sales being generated in France, Spain and Germany.
Andrew’s licensing agency Golden Goose has helped to ensure that there is clear differentiation from other licensing programmes. “We’re looking to target the demographic who adored the first film. These original fans now have the disposable income to treasure products true to this iconic design,” said Director Adam Bass.