Rubber Road joins forces with Shepperton Design Studios for Original Stormtrooper merch

Rubber Road continues to expand its relationships with key players in the world of movies to grow its portfolio of merchandise for all things, pop culture, videogame, comicbook and TV related, by kicking off 2022 with a new partnership with Shepperton Design Studios.

In a deal brokered by Golden Goose, Rubber Road will develop an extensive range of Original Stormtrooper themed merchandise landing later this year to meet the demands of the IP’s many fans.

The new deal will see Rubber Road designing, manufacturing and distributing a range of official merchandise with its creative design business, Numskull Designs.

Liam Taylor, Commercial Director at Rubber Road, says: “We are ecstatic to be working with Golden Goose and Shepperton, whose Original Stormtrooper is a fantastic property that complements our portfolio no end. We’re looking forward to a great partnership. This deal sees a fantastic range of Stormtrooper merch in the works at our design studios and we can’t wait to release them to fans later in 2022.”

Rubber Road is known for producing merchandise for some of the leading global brands in entertainment including Universal, Warner Bros, Netflix, Xbox, Sony Pictures, Sony Playstation, SEGA and Hasbro. Franchises in the portfolio include Minions, Harry Potter, DC Comics, Sonic the Hedgehog, Back to the Future, Stranger Things, Jurassic Park, Star Trek, Ghostbusters, Lord of the Rings, Friends and Resident Evil.

Rubber Road extends partnership with Warner Bros Consumer Products

Culture sculpture: Beer Buddies and the fine art of merchandising

A two-man operation working out of a headquarters in Wheal Vor, in Cornwall, Beer Buddies has started to make its presence known on the pop culture licensing and merchandise scene through its range of best-selling Motorhead, Iron Maiden, and now Original Stormtrooper bottle openers.

Using traditional sculpting methods put to use from its Cornish workshop, this is a company that has not only struck upon a unique angle within the traditional licensing space, but continues to champion an artisan approach within the sector, finding and bridging that gap between today’s demand for pop culture merchandise and the consumer’s desire for artistry.

Here, grabs a quick five minutes with Beer Buddies co-founder Richard House to talk about the firm’s foray into licensing, its successes, and what’s on the horizon for the UK business.

Hi Richard, good to catch up with you. To start, can you give us a bit of history on the Beer Buddies company? How did this all come about for you guys, and what was the moment that got you into the licensing space?

Beer Buddies is just two people: myself and Seamus Moran. We both did design based degrees and formed Beer Buddies 10 years ago, we’ve worked together ever since moving to Cornwall from the Midlands in 1988.

Buddies started almost by accident when we were asked to design and produce a Green Man wall plaque. Seamus realised that a bottled opener could be incorporated into the mouth and I came up with the name Beer Buddies. We came up with a few more designs, made them in our workshop and began selling, as demand grew and the range increased and we moved the manufacturing to China.

We had never considered doing licensed products until Jens Drinkwater of Global Merch introduced himself to us at a trade show about three years ago. Motorhead bottled beer Road Crew was selling strongly and Jens suggested a bottle opener would be a great addition to Motorhead merchandise line.

The trail went quiet for about 12 months and then out the blue we got the green light from Global and six months later the first Beer Buddies licensed product was on sale. It immediately opened our eyes to the potential of the licensing world. Motorhead sold more than the rest of our range put together.

You pay homage to a real artisan aspect of creating Beer Buddies. How do you guys strike that balance of bringing the artisan to the licensing space? What do you think this brings to the licensing space itself and is it proof that artistry and merchandise can work together?

The artisan element of our working methods probably has much to do with our age. Seamus is a sculptor in his own right and totally at home working with traditional modelling materials such as clay and plaster. Neither of us are of the Cad era. Seamus has a meticulous modelling style and an eye for detail that is unique to him and that translates into the designs and brings a very human element to the work that a computer generated design can’t.

We look for brand icons that will translate into what we do without making too many compromises to the original concept. Also, because this is so new to us having good support from the licensee is very important. Global has been fantastic in this regard and Jens has introduced us to new customers and spread the cost of royalty fees when our cash flow has been tight.

What has reception been like to the Beer Buddies’ licensed roll out to date? 

The response to our licensed roll outs to date has been very positive. Motorhead and Iron Maiden are our biggest sellers. Original Stormtrooper arrived late due to the chaotic situation at UK ports but the initial signs are that it’s going to be very strong .

How has business been for you guys over the course of 2020? With lockdown keeping people in their homes for longer, has Beer Buddies spotted an opportunity here?

Like virtually all businesses this year, Covid-19 has caused us problems. Most of our trade accounts have been closed for 25 per cent of the year and some may have closed for good. We probably won’t know the full extent of the damage until next year. On the plus side our own website sales have more than doubled as lockdown has sent online shopping go off the chart .

What’s the next big move for Beer Buddies, what can we expect from you guys in 2021?

Next year we hope to get some more Heavy Metal under our belts with Metallica, they have the right look and like Motorhead and Iron Maiden already have a licensed beer and a huge loyal fan base.

Cornwall’s Beer Buddies details launch of Original Stormtrooper bottle opener range

Cornwall’s own Beer Buddies – the designer and distributor of character wall-mounted bottle openers – is preparing to launch its fourth licensed product taking the form of the Original Stormtrooper from the first ever Star Wars film.

The launch arrives as the latest addition to Beer Buddies’ ICON range, a collection that to date features the likes of Motorhead, Iron Maiden, and Judge Dredd Beer Buddies bottle openers.

The range was set to launch earlier this year, but suffered delays owing to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The company has now confirmed that its Original Stormtrooper line will launch on December 4th.

Based in Helston in Cornwall, Beer Buddies has become synonymous with the men’s gifting sector, and has been met with a surge in demand for product over the course of the year.

“We’ve been inundated with Star Wars fans wanting to know the release date,” said Richard House of Beer Buddies. “They don’t have long to wait now, December 4th is the day.”

 Like all Beer Buddies ranges,  the artwork for the packaging has been executed by the Falmouth designer and illustrator Elly Jahnz of Foxcub Studios.

“The packaging itself is very important to us for ecological reasons, we use virtually all cardboard and keep polystyrene and plastic to a minimum so its easily recyclable,” said House. “Once again, Elly from Foxclub Studios has done a brilliant job.”

The Stormtrooper project has taken a year to get this point as the company has had to work with extended production deadlines and transport delays due to the Covid restrictions.

“We think the wait has been worth it,” House concluded.