Twinch Squad “2001 Suit” Scandal Remembered

Closeups of the famous Twinch Squad suit. The yellow version was a real standout. (Photo: AV8TORjoe)

Even after 12 years, the “Twinch Squad” name still makes fans wince with anger and/or regret. Painful memories quickly resurface regarding that company’s numerous broken promises, undelivered merchandise and unrefunded orders. To quickly recap, here are the basic facts as we know them…

Around the year 2000, a man named Jose Luis Ayuso began selling 1:6 scale custom spacesuits that were modeled after the ones seen in Stanley Kubrick’s classic sci-fi film, “2001: A Space Odyssey.” Ayuso’s initial work enjoyed mostly positive customer reviews and orders were soon flowing into the little shop in Valencia, Spain. As a result of the high volume of business, he soon found himself in over his head, and the business collapsed.

The classic silver suit shown fitted on a GijOE.
(Photo: AV8TORjoe)

That was all sad, yes. But here’s where the story takes a darker turn…Despite being unable to fill any more orders, Ayuso continued to accept money from collectors around the world for YEARS afterwards, resulting in a roster of many hundreds of frustrated buyers who would never received anything for their money—or their money back. Those few customers who did receive a suit, were often less than impressed with what they received. As”Bob” stated in 2002 over on the original Sandbox forum…

“I ordered my suits directly from Twinch Squad going on 2 YEARS ago and finally received them. Although they look good initially, the hoses crumble and the metal clips holding the belts for the oxygen control units tend to break. I got some replacement hoses from the manufacturer, but I pleaded for 5 months for replacement metal clips to no avail. I received only empty promises via email. If you enjoy being lied to, paying good money for something that falls apart, then you’ll love the 2001 Space suits from Twinch Squad.”

Closeup of one of the rare, “2001”-inspired spacesuits from Twinch Squad. Superb craftsmanship! (Photo: tflockj)

What had begun as a promising opportunity for collectors quickly turned into an actual scam. Eventually, Ayuso simply disappeared from the Internet, taking all of the money with him. Lawsuits were threatened. Comments on forums raged against Twinch Squad and Ayuso in particular. According to a 2005 post made by AV8TORjoe on the Onesixthwarriors forum…

“I’m putting together a list of people defrauded by Jose Luis Ayuso for those 2001 Space Suits. Please advise if you know of any dealers who were also screwed by Mr. Ayuso. To all other collectors, please do not write this off. We must be vigilant and go after him. I am finding guys who have sent payment in October 2000. That’s FIVE years ago!!!!!!! I also know that he’s STILL making promises to ship, or to start a new website, etc. But we’ve all heard these promises before. It’s getting silly now.”

A blue-suit with accessories. (Photo: AV8TORjoe)

A blue-suit with accessories. (Photo: AV8TORjoe)

Long-time collector and Wheezer Society member Neil Sterett, remembers these details of the Twinch Suit fiasco very clearly…

“The designer, J.L. Ayuso, named them ‘TWINCH SQUAD’ to avoid copyright disputes. Manufactured in Spain, it is rumored that THOUSANDS of pre-orders were placed, but only approximately 600 were ever delivered. The exact number of suits made in Yellow, Red, Silver and Blue has never been determined.

Manufacturing quality issues and the rising cost of production forced the designer to refund payments to hundreds of disappointed buyers. Some prepaid buyers waited over 4 YEARS for a refund! I was extremely fortunate to have ordered a yellow suit, receiving it with the first 50 that were shipped.”

Highly respected dealer and 1:6 scaler Greg Brown (now working for Cotswold Collectibles), recalls his own rocky experience with Ayuso…

Greg Brown (above), formerly of EKLYPS and now with Cotswold, had difficult dealings with Twinch Squad and its owner, Jose Luis Ayuso. (Photo: DFW GijOE Club)

“From what I gathered, and this is just my own theory, Jose started all this with the best of intentions, but then he got swallowed up in a very bad supply and demand scenario. I’ve seen it happen countless of times with customizers who came out with a great product, but then just couldn’t keep up with demand.

At the time I was dealing with him, I knew that he was having some turnaround issues, but didn’t know until months later how big the problem really was. At that time, I was still running Eklyps Custom Figures, so I was already working with other customizers, brokering and selling their wares through my site, and his product fit right in with everything else I was carrying.

I do remember that Jose said the biggest ‘time-cruncher’ for him was box and packaging assembly. So I told him that for a reduced per-unit price, I’d buy the sets unassembled, and put everything together when it arrived stateside. I also want to say that I established stringent payment terms with him on the order; something like 50% down, and 50% upon receiving the order. That seemed to motivate him to get the stuff to me.

Package shown fully assembled. (Photo: Brundlefly)

When I finally received his shipment, stuff was everywhere. Boots were in one box, gloves in another, suits in yet another, and so on. And the “monolith” boxes they were to ship in were packed flat, with no tape. I had to hot glue portions of it all back together, insert the outfit pieces into the blister card, tape it and insert it all into each box (and then hope they didn’t shake loose). All of this took me about a WEEK to do—break down, assemble, re-pack, ship out.

It wasn’t until after I took care of all my customers that stuff really hit the fan. Jose’s customers began to e-mail me about their orders with him. It got real nasty with a few. I always relayed the e-mails on to Jose, and his response was that he’d take care of it. After a while, he even quit responding to MY e-mails. From what I’ve read on the boards, Jose’s become a ghost.”

Indeed, Ayuso has keep an extremely low profile for years. He’s know that to raise his head now would simply unleash a renewed hailstorm of demands from angry customers. According to collector William Raucci over on the OneSixthwarriors forum…

Suit and accessories included.
(Photo: Brundlefly)

“I wanted more people to go after him for fraud, but only about 3 or 4 people wrote me back, so I finally dropped it. Jose did write me back ONCE, saying that he was going to ship my order very soon. But the joke was on me. I never heard from him again. He’s still in Spain as far as I know.

He knows nothing about efficient production techniques which is probably why he failed. This happens to a lot of guys in the garage kit industry. They might be passionate model makers, but to make multiple units by yourself and have time for a life is just not realistic. There’s a reason why they call it ‘mass production.’ I know. I worked in the toy industry for 20 years!”

Bottom Line: We’re sorry to say, but there is no happy ending to this story. A few collectors received their orders in the beginning, largely thanks to the efforts of honest dealers like Greg Brown, while many more did not. Interestingly, if you want one of the Twinch Squad suits for yourself, you can still find them. Over on ebay right now, there’s currently two of them listed for sale HERE. The “Buy it Now” price? A paltry $3,500.00…EACH. Go get ’em!

5 thoughts on “Twinch Squad “2001 Suit” Scandal Remembered

  1. Jim Key says:

    I have two suits – 1 yellow and 1 silver, that I got at the very beginning. Both boxes are plenty dusty, but both suits are MIB – never taken out.

    I’m willing to sell each for $2,500.00 plus shipping.

    Anyone interested should contact me at:

    Jim Key – Custom Replicas

  2. Jim Pauley says:

    I am as we speak having a “debate” (COUGH-COUGH!) with Mr Ayuso (using the name Pepe Ayuso) on the Facebook group “Vintage Action Man and His Foreign Friends”, where he is trying to sell one of his spacesuits.

  3. I got my red Bowman over 2 years after I ordered it. It was a struggle for sure and demanded 40 emails and correspondence to get it. I even contacted the Spanish Consulate to get traction. Ultimately worth it, though. It’s a great suit even if it’s off proportionally in a few areas. I think he meant well, and just got hit with problem after problem. I feel bad for everyone who never got their order.

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