By: Gentleman Jeb
ThinkGeek has emerged as the premier website to buy wild and fun geek-themed items based on various movies, video games, books, and anime. Just about anything you can imagine, ranging from a Fallout Chess Set to an Overwatch Loot Box Mood Light to a Hogwarts tie with the Ravenclaw crest is available for purchase. I had a chance to interview Bianca Ciotti, who is the communications manager at ThinkGeek.
TGG: What is the basic philosophy behind ThinkGeek?
BC: Our philosophy is all in our motto, which is “Join in, Geek out.” We really want to encourage our fans and customers to find their passion and express it. We like to do that through our unique and awesome products that you can’t get anywhere else.
We have an interesting origin story. We started out eighteen years ago as an Internet service provider. We also made funny t-shirts with branded logos, and we discovered that the t-shirts were selling better than the other services we provided so we did a big pivot and went into apparel design. We started out with one-color t-shirts, and we’ve grown to offering apparel to home goods to office supplies, to collectibles…anything you can put a Tardis on.
TGG: Do you have a limit to what kind of geekly things (franchises) will be offered?
BC: I’m sure there’s a limit somewhere, but we haven’t found it. Some of our most popular items are originals, like our Bags of Holding. These bags are made for just about any situation you may encounter, like the Con Survival Bag of Holding is specifically designed for con-goers.
TGG: I like how ThinkGeek is pushing DIY, and looking at the Fallout 76 Pip Boy DIY, it looks a bit more complicated than one might expect. Is it designed so that anyone could build it?
BC: It’s something that young kids might struggle with, but ten and up is a good range. We wanted to ensure that it was accessible to everybody. It has a “maker” sort of feel, but it comes with all of the tools you need to assemble it…and a really great instruction manual that’s actually written as if a Vault-tec employee is teaching you how to build your Pip-Boy…It’s a work of art, really.
TGG: Does ThinkGeek have anything you’re excited about for the near future?
BC: We have a lot of Fallout items that are being shown off for the first time ever, my favorite of which is the Fallout 76 line of Modern Icon Statues. These statues are entry-level items for collectors who are just starting out and balk at the idea of spending $300 on a statue. We like to focus on characters that don’t usually have their own statues, like the female Dragonborn from Skyrim and Vault-Girl from Fallout 76.
TGG: I’ve noticed a wonderful trend in that women are finally being embraced in geek culture. What is ThinkGeek doing to promote that?
BC: Our last three Modern Icon Statues have been women protagonists from games. The one that sticks out in my mind is Aloy from Horizon: Zero Dawn. We also have a huge range of women’s apparel. In fact, we’ve launched several fashion collections over the last few years aimed specifically at women in geekdom. Last year at SDCC, we debut a Star Wars business casual fashion line for women. It was subtle, but still appropriate for the workplace.
TGG: Do you have any plans for products based on the Thirteenth Doctor?
BC: I can’t reveal anything specific, but I can tell you that we’re very, very excited about her. We’ve been watching the buzz around here here at San Diego Comic-Con, so keep an eye on ThinkGeek.
TGG: How do you handle feedback from fellow geeks who have an idea for something they want to see get made?
BC: We’re always open to feedback…We want to give fans what they want. We encourage people to reach out to our customer service department, or you can send feedback to [email protected] . I highly encourage people to reach out on social media. I’m the social media manager, and I’ll read every tweet you send. Trust me, I know you want The Orville merchandise. Sometimes we can’t produce exactly what you want due to licensing restrictions, but we do our best and we’re always listening.
TGG: At this show, I heard that there are brick-and-mortar ThinkGeek stores, which surprised me. Where are these stores located?
BC: We have 40 locations all across the US. It’s just the beginning. They’re all US-based, and we’re opening more and more every year.