Inside ThinkGeek

Mathew Honan goes inside the trenches of everyone’s favorite internet novelty product store, ThinkGeek:

In the 11 years since it was founded, ThinkGeek has become a sort of Sharper Image for sysadmins. You may have read a post on Gizmodo about the company’s Ladies of Star Wars playing cards or seen its T-shirts emblazoned with the chemical structure of caffeine on The Big Bang Theory. You may have received one of its Starfleet hip flasks at an office holiday party or spotted an Albert Einstein action figure on a coworker’s desk. For its target audience—sci-fi addicts, practical jokers, anyone who has ever worn a calculator watch—ThinkGeek inspires an Apple-like level of cultish adoration.

The company derives its playful spirit from geek and hacker culture itself, injecting it into every aspect of its ecommerce operation. When you order a product, it arrives cushioned in air packs that purport to be filled with “free monkey breath,” along with documentation explaining how your purchase was prepped for delivery by simian cyborgs. You’ll soon be able to choose from two gift wraps—zombie or robot.

As it turns out, silly novelties are serious business. ThinkGeek did $50 million in sales last year.

Love their products, and as far as novelty items go, they are top notch. But at the end of the day, they’re still novelty items. And with that said, the 2001 Monolith Action Figure, with the psuedo-Kenner logo, is ah-mazing.

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