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Where did Corx Come From?

Corx was launched at Paul Smith, Covent Garden, London, in August 2000. It had been over two years since Rob and I had invented the game on a drunken evening in Kensal Rise, London.

There's a saying that accident is the name of all genius and that's certainly what happened on the night that Corx was invented - it was accidental, but it didn't take us long to realisethat we had something remarkable on our hands.

We didn't set out to invent a game. It just happened. We wouldn't claim to be genius's, but we did have enough guts to take a massive gamble and venture into a world that we knew nothing about.


Rob Manley

Robert Vincent Manley was born in Manchester and lived in Chorlton-cum-Hardy until the age of 21 when he moved to London to pursue a career in the music industry.

Jon Unsworth

Jonathan Unsworth was born in London, but moved to Manchester when he was 10, eventually living in Chorlton-cum-Hardy - although long after Rob had left.

JON We became friends at a Manchester nightclub called the Hacienda - perhaps known to some of you reading this. For those of you that don't, it was probably (definitely) the best nightclub in the world for a while and we were there... so there! Anyway, many years later after we'd met we were both going through a turning point in our lives. Rob had become a senior A & R man at Virgin Records and although his most significant signing, The Chemical Brothers were riding high on success, Rob wasn't.

ROB I was in freefall from splitting up with the mother of my child and was very unhappy... the music business had consumed me and I was far too 'rock and roll' for my own good or the increasingly corporate post Branson Virgin Records.

JON I'd decided to move to London. It wasn't an easy decision, I loved Manchester and despite a comfortable liftstyle, boredom and frustration had set in. To pursue a career as a director of pop videos (and then hopefully into film) I had to live in London rather than just work there as I was currently doing. So despite having a young child and a new baby, I sold up and took the leap...
I'd spent most of my life being (fairly) sensible and the more people told me I was mad the more determined I was to go. I wasn't ready to settle down and be conventional. Anyway I did move to London, but I never directed another video. I can only imagine what some people back in Manchester thought when I told them that I'd invented a game based around 2 corks and was going to manufacture it and sell it.
It was on one of my house hunting trips to London that I stayed with Rob and we invented Corx. Rob was chaos, but usually good fun chaos. I think he wouldn't mind me saying that his life had spiralled out of control: he was no longer at Virgin and no longer at his family home. I think it would be fair to say that neither of us knew what was going to happen to our lives at that point. We both kind of enjoyed our time in the music industry, but there was a sense of disillusion and uncertainty at what lay ahead. Anyway... after opening a bottle of wine, I challenged Rob to drop the cork onto the table and make it stand on it's end. He couldn't do it.
The natural instinct is to hold the cork upright and drop it as low as possible, but cork is so elastic it bounces all over the place. The 'trick' is to drop the cork horizonatally with a slight angle. It's something my dad showed me as a kid. Although I'd shown the trick to a few people over the years, the simple delight of seeing the cork bounce and flick onto it's end appealed to Rob's childish sense of fun.

ROB Ever since I was a kid I'd always been capable of creating fun out of nothing and this was yet another example of something from nothing. After dinner my mind immediately raced back to the cork trick that Jon had shown me and natuarally I challenged him... the first one to get the cork to stand up 10 times. Silly little skill based things are the things that appeal to most... I can remember as a kid challenging friends to games involving throwing pebbles into a bucket on a beach.

JON We got really intense as we played... I'm incredibly competitive and so is Rob. The game was strangely hypnotic and a lot of fun. We were gradually getting better at the 'trick' before I had the inspired idea of playing with two corks, another bottle of wine was immediately purchased and the game was now well and truly ON!

ROB A double... good idea I thought, "but it can't be done" I told Jon (secretly wanting to be the first one to do it) when bam!, Jon pulls a double... the room exploded.

JON It genuinely felt fantastic... the tension had gradually built as we both tried and failed. The joy I felt at the moment they both stood up caused me to jump from my seat and leap into the air which is so not me, but I felt elated. And then we both pissed ourselves laughing... at what?... our reactions: that something so daft could bring that much fun.

ROB The night didn't stop there... we'd gone from one cork to two corks and the realisation that one end of the cork was smaller than the other (the end that was compressed into the bottle) and consequently more difficult to stand.
As it was red wine the thin end was naturally stained red and off I ran to get my sons' crayons to colour the fat end black- casino colours. A scoring system was quickly devised and we played well into the small hours.


JON Guess what? The next morning and sober the game was still fun.

ROB The dreaming and scheming started. My old boss, Ashley Newton, once told me that there are some things in life that you can't train for or plan, you just have to be ready to spot them when they pass under your nose. Corx was undoubtedly one of those things. I felt weird. I'd always been enraptured by stories about simple inventions such as cats eyes and allowed myself to daydream that this game could be something that could be played around the world... and we'd invented it!

JON We began to imagine the finished product... chunkier precision engineered playing pieces, an ergonomic carrying case with shot gun style chambers... However it was still very much a pipedream, but we kept on playing, and the more we exposed the game to others we became more and more convinced that the pipe dream was worth pursuing.


The toy and game industry is massive, multi billion dollar industry. Companies like Hasbro won't even entertain looking at ideas unless you have been vetted by agents who assess your game. If these agents then think your idea is any good they will help you present it as a feasible idea to a toy or game company.
If you're lucky the toy company may offer you a royalty of between 2-10% per game of wholesale price of the finished product. The agent will take as much as 50% of your royalty. Sounds great doesn't it? Could we do it ourselves? We knew nothing about the industry, but we could visualise how the game would look,who it would appeal to and we had enough faith in our ability to learn fast.
Necessity is the mother of all invention... so we decided to go it alone. It was the single most important decision we made. The destiny of our game was now firmly in our hands.


ROB We knew nothing about manufacturing or product design.

JON I think our blind faith probably helped. If we'd known how involved, time consuming and costly a project like this would become we may have given up. But it was our baby. We'd always been involved at a secondary level at being creative on someone elses product. This was ours... so it was different. The more time we put in the more we couldn't afford to let it fail. We knew we had a great game, but we had to make it a great product and then we had to sell it.

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Buy Your Corx Now

Limited Edition Corx Boy Corx Girl Set Just £7.99
Including Free UK Postage & Packaging.