Bruce Schneier Action Figure

A month ago, approached me about making a Bruce Schneier action figure. It’s $100. I’d like to be able to say something like “half the proceeds are going to EPIC and EFF,” but they’re not. That’s the price for custom orders. I don’t even get a royalty. The company is working on lowering the price, and they’ve said that they’ll put a photograph of an actual example on the webpage. I’ve told them that at $100 no one will buy it, but at $40 it’s a funny gift for your corporate IT person. So e-mail the company if you’re interested, and if they get enough interest they’ll do a bulk order.

Posted on November 15, 2009 at 10:22 AM58 Comments


uk visa November 15, 2009 12:05 PM

Are you concerned that this technology might be misappropriated resulting in criminals wearing Bruce Schneier masks carrying out a spate of crimes?
Another question, have you waived your copyright?

Bruce Schneier November 15, 2009 12:28 PM

“At $100 I’d expect the action figure to at least give corporate security advice.”

And sound chips are cheap.

Romeo Vitelli November 15, 2009 12:28 PM

Er, so basically they’re making these things by trading on your name and image and they’re keeping all the profits for themselves. Did they ask you to subsidize them as well?

Bruce Schneier November 15, 2009 12:30 PM

“Er, so basically they’re making these things by trading on your name and image and they’re keeping all the profits for themselves. Did they ask you to subsidize them as well?”

They did ask me how much money I wanted them to charge above their minimum for a royalty. I don’t think I can raise the price any higher. I don’t think it’s worth buying at that price.

DGentry November 15, 2009 1:09 PM

The site also offers a “cyborg scalp option,” which sounds fascinating. I’m imagining a Star Trek Borg-ish treatment for the figurine, but its probably more like a coat of metallic paint on the forehead.

Muffin November 15, 2009 1:21 PM

I’d buy one, but definitely not for that price. And I’ll be honest – not for 40 bucks, either

Let me know when they’re available for 10 (or 15 or so at most) on ThinkGeek, though, and I’ll definitely get one. (And it doesn’t have to be 1/6 life size, either. In fact, I’d prefer it to be a bit smaller really; 1:6 isn’t really desk-friendly.)

Bobble November 15, 2009 1:29 PM

Bruce as an action figure is strange. But Bruce as a bobblehead is funny. Let me know when there is a booblehead.

Bruce Schneier November 15, 2009 3:01 PM

“But an action figure is supposed to do something! Does it even come with a tiny briefcase I can use to keep my passwords in? A talking bobblehead would be much nicer.”

My fear is that I need to make something like 500-1000 for them to be affordable. I don’t think I have that many potential sales out there.

Bobble November 15, 2009 3:43 PM

The Bruce Schneier action figure with kungfu grip… the first Irreversible Transformer! First, Bruce is a mild-mannered cryptographer and restaurant critic. But, at the first sign of security stupidity, Bruce becomes the CryptoSquid and squeezes the sacred security cows to death with his mighty tentacles.
Nah.. the bobblehead idea is still better so I can make you nod your head in agreement.

Dave Page November 15, 2009 3:54 PM

It might be worth getting hold of John Leach, the guy behind Bruce Schneier Facts and Everybody Loves Eric Raymond. He’s got a strong following and a web shop, which might be useful for getting Bruce action figure pre-orders…

Bruce Schneier November 15, 2009 6:08 PM

“It might be worth getting hold of John Leach…”

That’s a good idea.

I’m taking with someone else who makes similar toys. Once I get an idea of what sort of quantities are required for something at a reasonable price point, I’ll post it in the comments here.

spaceman spiff November 15, 2009 10:07 PM

This is definitely a WTF moment! Bruce, there are companies that print custom TP, so we could get a roll (or entire case) of BS TP… 🙂

vanilla November 15, 2009 10:50 PM

@jed, Impossibly & Bobble … rofl. Love the briefcase for passwords idea … with a blowfish logo on it and bitty three number wheel lock … that would make it worth 40 to me.

And the visual of cryptosquid springing in to action …

I would put it with all my other desk decorations … my RCA Radiotron Electron Tube 6KM8, IEC 12AX7A, and Raytheon 6FH8, all in original little paperboard cartons … and my Hippies Use Side Door and Wicked Witch of the West magnets, to name a few.

The ultimate geek desk accessory … (g) … Sign Me Up, Scotty …


Jurjen November 16, 2009 1:59 AM

“Full head with a constant inner-neck width. Hollow inside.”
Sorry Bruce, I’ve got to ask, but aren’t you a bit offended by that?

name November 16, 2009 2:16 AM

Software or malware? Action toy or voodoo doll?
The neck is hollow so you can insert a rolled-up Schneier signature obtained at a book signing.
You can never be too careful in the world of security.

Stephen B November 16, 2009 4:35 AM

You’re all mad! You better be buying one – if you consider yourselves Security Minded. I’m going to order a dozen, and append them with with printed slogans from:

These will be strategically placed at ingress and egress points on the network, and on the desk of the MD. That way, no freakin haxorz will be able to hack in to our network and steal our stuff: You Don’t Mess Wit Da Bruce!!

yt November 16, 2009 4:59 AM

I’ve been on the Internet for a long time, and I’ve seen a lot of strange things, but this is quite possibly one of the strangest things I’ve seen on the Internet yet.

Brent Longborough November 16, 2009 7:25 AM

What a disappointment. I was hoping for an action figure of Bruce eating a Giant Squid…

yt November 16, 2009 7:51 AM

@Galw: I’ve seen the “dragons and cars” images. That’s probably THE strangest thing I’ve seen on the Internet. This is up there, though.

matt a November 16, 2009 8:14 AM

Bruce Schneier Action figure??? What’s your target audience 9-12 yr old security experts? On the other hand, I think a Bruce Schneier Decoder Ring or X-ray glasses would be extremely funny and have a lower price point…

spaceman spiff November 16, 2009 8:55 AM

@matt – Yeah. I think the decoder ring would be Da Bomb! Of course, it would have to at least be capable of decoding AES and Blowfish secret messages.

vedaal November 16, 2009 8:59 AM

A simpler much less expensive item might ‘sell’ in the crypto world,

  • A Bruce Schneier Solitaire deck”
    with choice favorite imagesand/or crypto quotes

vedaal November 16, 2009 8:59 AM

A simpler much less expensive item might ‘sell’ in the crypto world,

  • A Bruce Schneier Solitaire deck”
    with choice favorite imagesand/or crypto quotes

Bob November 16, 2009 9:53 AM

@matt: “What’s your target audience 9-12 yr old security experts?”

Oh, bosh. At 51, my home office contains mixes volumes of Knuth, Apostol, and Rudin with action figures from the 2004 World Series-winning Red Sox. And my wife, also a mathematician, software developer, and sometime violinist, has a J. S. Bach action figure.

I’m actually considering adding this to my collection, along with a “Knuth is my Homeboy” t-shirt.

sysadmn November 16, 2009 10:06 AM

“This package includes Bruce Schneier’s custom action figure head mounted on a matching DiD or Dragon action figure body”

Sadly, “Dragon” is the company name, not body type.

“Do not meddle in the affairs of cryptographers, for you are crunchy, and taste good with ketchup”.

George November 16, 2009 11:02 AM

I hope the fabrication process for the actual figures renders your beard better than the images on the website. An emasculated Bruce Schneier would not make sense as a Security Superhero!

greenup November 16, 2009 12:01 PM

I think it would be more fun to get the head and stick it on the end of one of those super-small USB drives, loaded with truecrypt, etc.

Again, not for $100…

I noticed though, that $100 isn’t far from their price for ANY custom human. $100 will do any custom human HEAD; +$small for a body, or $30 from them.

Here’s a question: how long till someone tries to use a fake head (/doll) like this to try and fool a face recognition system to gain access to someplace they don’t belong? (like kids using magazines for cigarette vending machines, but slightly better)

Clive Robinson November 16, 2009 12:40 PM

@ Bruce,

I guess most of the cost is in the tooling for injection moulding the “head” (as the body sounds like a stock part). I’m not sure how the price of that can be reduced a lot.

I did have a naughty though re a re-tred on a Chuck Norris head (just kidding 8)

@ DGentry,

‘The site also offers a “cyborg scalp option,” which sounds fascinating. I’m imagining a Star Trek Borg-ish treatment for the figurine, but its probably more like a coat of metallic paint on the forehead.’

Hey it would be Bruce with a “Tin Foil Hat” option 8)

@ sysadmn,

“Do not meddle in the affairs of cryptographers, for you are crunchy, and taste good with ketchup”.

From what I read so are “rat” and Dwarf Bread 😉

dadog November 16, 2009 3:11 PM

Youl need a young ward in green leotard and black briefs as well as a squidmobile transformer, work with the brand and make secondary cachevache market.

PJ November 16, 2009 3:44 PM

Briefcase big enough for a microSD card (to hold your passwords in). Or maybe mini-Bruce’s head comes off and you can plug it into a USB port as a mass storage device. Sound chips are indeed cheap, and filling one with good security advice would be a fun addition. And put in just one random cool squid fact.

Peter E Retep November 16, 2009 7:14 PM

This is like an on-line product design conference.
The Bruce Schneier Action Figure needs
“a tiny briefcase big enough for a microSD card
(to hold my passwords in”
“with a blowfish logo on it
and [an itty] bitty three number wheel lock “,
a flash memory inserted in each leg
[just slip off the action boot],
so it can be used to boot-leg security data [irony],
and under the black [hat] hair
“a USB port as a mass storage device”,
so that there’s a memory driver for the micro-speaker
to give a security trouble-shooting interactive advice
through the micro-speaker audio interface.
“Sound chips are indeed cheap,
and filling one with good security advice would be a fun addition.”
Plus a roll-up posture sheet included
to allow squid-mime communication
that is Speed of Light and Chosen Line of Sight only,
with a Squid on a Leash
“And put in just one random cool squid fact”.
Then you could still end up in the White House.
Sounds like fun!

Also, be sensitive to issues of ownership of your personal image.
Otherwise someone might create a wee Kirk o’ Bruce
somewhere with you, idolized.

Have you talked to your action-figure companero?
He might notice you.
Maybe this a way of suggesting
his security is superb?

Adam Glinglin November 16, 2009 10:44 PM


Why don’t you ask around for someone that has a 3D printer? No expenses need to be made, just just need a 3D model of your head.

They can print out Bruces at the rate orders come in – you can pocket part of the profit, give some to the EFF.

To add to the appeal, print some kind of code / crypto cypher on the item that your followers can try to solve. It’s a security puzzle, a figurine, and helps good causes all at once!

RussMan November 16, 2009 10:52 PM

Reading this made me picture Bruce Schneier appearing in the next season of Robot Chicken fighting ninjas, or something. That would be excellent.

Bruce Schneier November 17, 2009 3:31 AM

From a friend of mine who runs ToyVault:

“Action figures cost about $20,000 – $25,000 in up front costs including things like sculpting, creating molds etc. Minimum orders usually are 10,000 pieces per figure at about $2.00 per figure, plus about $4,000-$5,000 in misc costs like safety testing and transportation. We’ve negotiated smaller orders in the past as low as 4000 pieces. Not sure if a factory would do that now though since it’s been 5+ years since we checked.

“Sound chips cost about $3,000 in set up fees and usually have a 20,000 minimum order and add about $1.00 in cost to the action figure.

“All these costs go down when you make 100,000+ pieces, which is why Walmart can sell figures at $9.99 retail.”

To summarize: he can make them for $5 each, but only in quantities of 10,000. He thinks he can make them for $10 each in quantities of 4000.

I don’t think there are 4000 people out there who want this thing.

I’ll let you know if bobbleheads come out significantly cheaper.

Z. Constantine November 17, 2009 3:50 AM

Would it be possible to get Springer/your current publisher to consider putting up the up-front cost with your next book? (You do have another book on the way, no?)

Seems like it could be a way to mitigate risk without forfeiting profit on your likeness.

If the figure serves a function of some sort (even a simple puzzle box compartment would be sufficient) there would be interest in the product by itself… and you could run a limited edition book + figure combo with the book release.

Clive Robinson November 17, 2009 5:43 AM

It needs to be an action figure as it needs a climbing rope worn like a sash.

After all when people ask what it is you can tell them it’s a “Skein” of rope.

adrn November 17, 2009 9:17 AM

This should be cross-posted to Slashdot. If there are 4000 geeks who would want a talking Bruce Schneier action figure, they hang out there.

Bruce Schneier November 17, 2009 6:10 PM

More from my toymaker friend:

“Anything in plastic has to have steel molds, which is costly, at least $4000 per mold. A bobblehead would probably need 2, maybe 3, molds. Also factories are unwilling to make less than 4000 of anything in plastic.

“However, if the bobblehead was made of resin, then the minimum order quantity (MOQ) would be around 2000 — maybe as low as 1000. Resin is more fragile, but it won’t break unless seriously mishandled. Costs for a resin bobblehead would go to maybe $5,000-8,000 up front fees, then maybe $4.00 per piece plus $2.00-$3.00 for ocean freight, shipping, safety testing etc. Sound would be the same additional cost as listed above.

“By the way, plush has upfront costs of $1,000-$3,000, and manufacturing costs of $3.00-$5.00 per piece with MOQs of 800.”

So maybe $15 each for bobbleheads, in quantity 1000.

I don’t think I would look good in plush.

Chris S November 17, 2009 9:45 PM

You don’t want to use injection molding and high volume processes for this product. Google and look into “polyurethane casting” and the products typically made with that process. There are companies making limited edition figures this way usually focusing on quality collectables. Silicone molds are used. It’s not so hard to do it yourself at home too as kits are available and the materials are fairly cheap. Also used for product prototyping. You still need someone to make the original model of your head/body or some way to 3D model it.

HJohn November 18, 2009 2:35 PM

Maybe these are trojan horses to target the most loyal Schneier fans. Possibilities include audio recording, Quantum Ghost Imaging, or a laser keystroke sniffer. I’m already thinking of movie plot storylines.

Congrats. I agree that the action figure is overpriced, but they wouldn’t make them if they didn’t regard Bruce as a pillar in the industry.

Aguirre November 19, 2009 7:39 AM

Are there any cartoonists out there who can provide Bruce with a drawing of our finalized design?

Brady April 24, 2010 9:45 AM

I want to use my likeness to form a musical action fi-
gure,which I hope to turn into a pre-fab band,such as
Josie And The Pussycats,The Banana Splits,The Ar-
chies and other ersatz acts of yore.Could you advise me about pitching my self-styled action figure to adult novelty stores,and how would I sell the hopefully re-sulting group to TV producers?

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Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.