As of May 23, 2005 Action Markers has ceased operation. While we regret having to make this decision, we are doing so for several reasons.
As many of you who read this will know, paintball has grown from its humble, grass-roots beginnings to a very popular activity. Along the way there have been many pioneers who have strongly influenced the design of modern-day markers as well as the style of modern-day play.
Anyone that knows the history of paintball will realize that it has been individuals and very small companies that have innovated all of the features of the modern marker. As with any market it was inevitable that once the paintball market reached a certain monetary threshold large companies would step in to reap the profits. Unfortunately, unlike the smaller companies and individuals who loved and actively played the game, the large companies have only one goal - to maximize profits for their shareholders.
Over the last several years the paintball market has become owned by a few large companies. It is also embroiled in what appears to be an endless loop of litigation. Practically every major company is suing, or threatening to sue, someone. As a result we have come to the conclusion that it is now virtually impossible for a small company like Action Markers to ever penetrate the market enough to be profitable. Because of all of the litigation, or threat of litigation, it wouldn’t matter how good of a marker someone comes up with. Unless you have the time and money to fully protect it with a patent you can bet that one of the large companies is going to sue you over it. Unfortunately too many times it doesn’t matter who is in the right - it simply comes down to who has the most money to fight it. With major companies like K2, Brass Eagle, etc. in the ring no small company has any chance of fighting them.
On this page you will find a link to the most recent “threat” letter from the attorneys representing K2/Brass Eagle/WGP/….. (One of paintball’s pioneers, Glenn Palmer will definitely want to read it).
As is most often the case it’s not necessarily the “best” products that win. It is the “best marketed” products that win. For example, in our opinion (and the opinion of many people we have talked to) the Autococker (© ® K2/WGP) is a technically inferior and obsolete design by today’s speedball standards. (We know that this statement will anger some of the diehard ‘Cocker fans out there but it is an indisputable fact that the ‘Cocker (© ® K2/WGP) cannot match the performance of a modern Electro-pneumatic like the Diadem.) Yet it still enjoys a certain amount of success due to the “hype” and “marketing” surrounding it.
Most people who have bought AM products are quite impressed with them. Our Illusion marker, for example, consistently ranks as one of the best in the world. Many people and sites have ranked it superior to the Sniper (© ® K2/WGP). The Illusion’s internals are unique to any other pump marker, yet K2/WGP is determined to make sure we can’t produce it.
So that our markers could live on, we recently approached Tippmann Sports, K2/WGP, and National Paintball to see if any of them would be interested in acquiring AM. Unfortunately, none of them were. In fact, the result of a recent meeting with K2/WGP was the threat letter that is posted here.
The big corporations will capture the customers. However, we will always have the satisfaction of knowing that the AM Diadem is technically superior to, and out-performs most markers on the market. And it does so at a fraction of the cost of the big-name electro-pneumatics.
As we said earlier, it’s not always the “best” products that win it’s the “best marketed” that win. We can’t match their marketing budget and no small company will ever be able to.
Now that most of the small guys have either been acquired or driven out of the market it will be interesting to see where paintball goes from here. One thing is almost a certainty – new innovations will be few and far between. But don’t despair - there will still be plenty of hype and superficial cosmetic changes to keep you coming back to them.
We don’t want to leave our loyal customers hanging. For those people that own AM products, we will continue to supply spare parts until our existing inventories are depleted. We will also continue to provide out of warranty repairs on a time and material basis. Warranty claims for manufacturing defects will be supported - provided the marker is still in warranty. Spare parts can be ordered on-line at actionmarkers.com. We will soon be disconnecting our phone lines. In the future all contact with AM will need to be done via email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Over the last several years we have made many, many new friends and have really enjoyed the ride. Unfortunately we got to the party a little late. We sincerely appreciate all of the support that so many of you gave us and truly regret having to leave the market.
We wish all of our ‘baller friends the best.
The Staff of Action Markers, Inc.