#04 - The EGO has landed!
Following on from our previous '25 Years in the Game' post, #03 XSV to EGO, it was only right that we waxed lyrical about the launch of our very first Planet Eclipse marker. The Eclipse EGO.
|Thomas Taylor giving the first custom XSV EGO some hell|
For those who don't know about our history, here's a little recap.
We, Planet Eclipse, have been in the paintball industry for over 25 years now (since 1991/92) and started life with a small store in Manchester (England) selling other people's paintball equipment, as well as playing with it. As time moved on we decided to use our expertise to design and manufacture custom parts to make other people's markers look cooler and eventually perform better, because like every other paintballer out there we used this stuff too. We understood the frustrations of inefficient equipment and had ideas about how we could improve this. We wanted to go out at the weekends, to the woods or the speedball field and focus on playing great paintball without worrying about our gear failing us.
Roll on 2005 when, after a lot of research, testing and hard work, we finally launched our very first complete Planet Eclipse marker. The EGO.
Now, some old schoolers will say 'but what about the Cockers and the EBlades?' and we understand why this is said, because the work we did on those markers was truly great and we believe we created some of the best performing, reliable and most trustworthy Cocker variants at the time. But, we were still tied to other people's platforms. The EGO was a complete Planet Eclipse marker. The design, build, development and components were sourced and controlled by us. We decided what happened to the marker, how it performed, how it looked, how it was supported and who used it. It was all in our hands. Which was terrifying, but also exhilarating. We needed to make this happen. For the company, the industry and the players.
To get under the skin of this we decided to ask a bunch of questions to the main dudes in the business to find out what the launch of the EGO meant to them. Plus, we got a few bonus questions directly from Jacko, Ledz and Jack Wood about their specific areas of the business and how it affected them.
So. The EGO. Three simple letters, one big word that means so much to where we are today. Kick back, grab a brew and maybe even a biccy to dip in your brew, and let's get into a serious Q&A session.
- Why did you decided to make a complete paintball marker?We'd been making other people's markers work much better (in our opinion) so why not put everything we know into a complete marker. So we did.
- How big a decision was it for the company to go ahead and do this?
HUGE. When you step into manufacturing markers it’s not as easy as you may think. We were very conscious that we needed to make sure the markers were supported around the world and spares were something you could get easily get hold of, which again is a much bigger task than it may seem. We had to develop new quality control systems, take on new staff, move our offices, learn new skills, etc. It’s huge, and very difficult.
- Why was the EGO so important to Eclipse?
We needed to stand on our own feet. Before we produced a full marker we made parts for other markers. Most notably the EBlade frame for the Cocker. But when you make an add-on part you are at the mercy of the original manufacturer. If they decide to change the design or stop making the marker we would be screwed, so it was time to be the masters of our own destiny.
- Let's talk names. Why was it called the EGO?The naming process back then, and even now, is a funny and weird one. When we were in the naming phase we sent a clipboard around to all the staff so people could write down the names they liked. Some were great but some were, well, amazingly bad. Flash still to this day wants to call one of our models the ‘Slayer.' One of our guys at the time, Moomin, came up with EGO. It seemed to fit, everyone liked it so we rolled with it.
The awesome XSV EGO is still a staff favourite
- How did the industry respond to a UK company bringing out such a good piece of kit?
- Being from the UK was probably a good thing. You had WDP making the Angel for years as well as running amazing NPPL events, so people expected good things from the UK. The key principles of quality design and manufacturing have been at the heart of British industry for decades and we wanted to continue this ethos. And hopefully we're still carrying that on today.
- Who were the biggest problems/rivals/threats?I don’t think we were worried about anyone else at the time. We felt that the other marker companies weren't really doing that great a job. We've seen companies distracted too much by what other people are doing and miss what they need to be doing, so we focused on making the best product we could, and still do.
- How proud do you guys feel, 12 years on, that the EGO line is still dominating?Very Proud. The team we have around all of the Planet Eclipse markers is small, but great. We all want to make the best products possible and we're still passionate about it today.
- Why do you think the EGO has such a huge following still today?Reliability has to be the number one factor. Over the years the odd marker has come out with a nice feature or gimmick that on the face of it looks better than what we had in our current model. But we try to deliver a more complete package, one that is first and foremost reliable. Back in the early 90’s you couldn’t really buy a marker and expect it to work out of the box and as players (yes, we all still play to this day) we knew how frustrating that can be. Which is why every single marker we produce, at every price point, will always work out of the box.
Even this early in its life we started to play with Fades
- We know there are still a lot of players out there that LOVE to play with their EGO. Who stands out in your mind as the greatest advocates for it…other than Flash of course.I’m sure there are many many unsung heroes that have always rocked the Ego platform but there are three current Pro players that seem to love them. Carl Markowski from Chicago Aftershock has always been a huge EGO fan, Justin Rabackoff (JRab) from Edmonton Impact was a die-hard GEO fan until he discovered the LVR and Nick Slowiak from Aftershock always has an EGO by his side, even when he's taking his Twister CS1 out to play. We also have Marcus Davis from the UK Predators shooting one now, after all those years of intense rivalry with the Banzai Bandits...but that's another story.
- Which team would you have LOVED to see shoot the EGO back in the day? And why?We never really went after teams and still don’t today. We have always wanted the teams to WANT to shoot our product. We're very grateful for teams like XSV, Bushwackers, and Nexus that took our first ever EGO and started to help build the legend. It was an honour to sponsor Dynasty, in fact every team that we have helped back in the day and also today. We always enjoy the time we spend with our sponsored teams. We don't try to own them or control them, just give them the best gear and support on the Planet and the freedom to be the very best that they can be.
And here's a little something extra from the holy trinity.
JACKO - PLANET ECLIPSE USA
- How did the big teams in the US react when word came out about its launch?They were excited to see a new marker, but we had to prove ourselves and show them how good the marker really was.
- XSV was the first big US team we sponsored with the EGO right? What did they think?At first it was met with a little apprehension, new marker company, new marker, no track record, but once they started to see the reliability, the build quality and understood the support they were going to get from us, everything changed for the good. For everyone.
- How important was it for a big team to be seen shooting the EGO?Very important, once people saw the Pros using the EGO, especially the likes of Rich Telford and Matty Marshall, it made a statement. The EGO was “ legit.”
- How long did it take for the EGO to start making a noise on the scene?It started making noise almost immediately. I think the fact that it worked straight out of the box was a big deal and, as crazy as this may sound, but the fact it would last a whole event was pretty unique.
- Which team never shot the EGO that you know wishes they did/could. Russian Legion.
- Your favourite EGO of all time?The SL8R. It looked so cool at the time and I loved how players called it the 'Slater' which obviously led to fun and games around AC Slater from the 90s SMASH 'Saved By The Bell.' Good times.
The SL8R was a thing of beauty
LEDZ - PLANET ECLIPSE UK/EUROPE
- Did the EGO make as big an impact in the UK and Europe as it did in the States?Not to start with. The number of sales has always been better in the States. We've always had, and still do have, a very sensitive ‘Gun’ culture in the UK and Europe which in turns means there are a lot more paintball players in the States. But it’s certainly nice to see how many people–regardless of the type of paintball they play–that now shoot Planet Eclipse markers.
- As a UK based company, did the EGO put Eclipse right up there as an industry contender?It’s never been our goal to be a big ‘industry contender’ we just wanted to make great Paintball equipment. Simple as that. We have grown for sure but I still don’t consider us to be ‘BIG.’
- Was there a turning point for success in the UK/Europe?Not sure if there was one. We work just as hard now as we did back when we started. We offer a much wider range of markers and other products these days and as the newer generation of players come through they talk and see the older guard and see what they are shooting. If it’s a Planet Eclipse marker and they are having a good experience with it then they may tell the new player to go for Eclipse, which is what we want and that’s why we try and be in as many places as possible around the world with our amazing tech support crew. I was at an event in Belgium last weekend and the ONLY tech support on offer was Planet Eclipse. So why would you shoot anything else?
- Which UK/European teams really made their mark with the EGO?I think Nexus were the big one when we started off with the EGO. Which was my team, so that was a pretty easy sell to them. The connection between Nexus and Robbo (Pete Robinson) who worked at PGi Magazine at the time gave Nexus a HUGE amount of exposure which was great for the team, the EGO and the company.
- Your favourite EGO of all time?
The latest version that we do. And not because 'I'm gonna say that' but simply because I'm always amazed at how good they are and even now when it's very difficult to improve the LV1, for example, we still manage to release updated versions that bring something extra to the table.
|London Nexus taking the EGO out for a rip|
JACK WOOD - PLANET ECLIPSE HEAD OF DESIGN/ENGINEERING.
- What were the biggest design challenges with the EGO?Getting the right balance between speed and being able to shoot fragile paint. And getting a good solenoid. And producing it in the UK at a cost that would make sure it was competitive in price in the US.
- How long did it take to research, design and develop the EGO?Well, we already had the basis for the electronics from the E2 Eblade frame, so that was pretty straight forward. The rest of the components took approximately 12 months from start to final prototype. It was a relatively fast-moving project because we weren't working on anything else in parallel.
- Does it get to a point that it becomes very hard to improve the EGO? The LV is pretty much perfect to many fans.
Of course. Every year it becomes harder. The LV was a HUGE leap forward for the EGO though, and is still the most advanced poppet valve gun ever produced. The Lever Valve will be tough to beat.
- Money no object, what would you like to do with the EGO?It would be nice to make a hoseless LV at some point, but the packaging is quite difficult to make it a "sexy" gun. It ends up quite big and bulky if you try a conventional layout. It would need something quite radical to get it to the point of it being something I'd be happy to release to replace the current LV1 line.
- Will the EGO ever die?When people stop buying them, it will…maybe.
- Your favourite EGO of all time?
Simple. I have two. The EGO05 for very obvious reasons. It will always be very special to me, and to many. And the LV1, which is such an incredible leap forward for the platform but still retains the essence of the EGO.
|The EGO has come a long way since 2005|
And there you have it. The EGO. Our first step on the ladder to becoming a legit marker company.
Thanks for staying with us, it was a long one, but hopefully something you enjoyed reading through. The EGO kick-started Planet Eclipse as one of the industry's leading lights for performance products and we're always working hard to keep it that way.
Got something to say about this post? Why not drop us a comment below, we love it when you do. As always, we fully appreciate your support and your involvement, this always helps keep the fires burning.
Until next time.