Effective May 2004
ESOX Design, Inc. was incorporated in the State of Michigan on Nov 23, 1994. Terminator Muskie Lures is a registered trademark of ESOX Design, Inc. The first Terminator ever made was a T3 Titty Dancer©. Back then Titty Dancers© looked like the present version except they were yellow with an orange back stripe. The name comes from a dancer I met in a titty bar in Washington, DC. She was wearing these yellow and orange leapordskin pattern panties and bra - until she took them off and put them over my head. I told her I would paint a lure like her underwear and name it after her but then I forgot her name ha ha. I still have that first Terminator.
The first official Terminator customer was Danny Chimelak at Lakeside Fishing Shop in St. Clair Shores, the order was for 78 T3s, and I hand delivered them on January 31, 1995. Out of a total of about 5300 made as of May, 2004 I have had to replace only nine under warranty - and three of those were mercy replacements due to the lure getting lost. I have never had anyone tell me they lost a fish because a Terminator broke.
A small number of Terminators have been purchased by big game fisherman for use in the ocean. The biggest fish I know of being caught on a Terminator was a 650-700 pound (estimated) BLUE MARLIN. Another regular customer caught a 400+ pound grouper on one. He couldn't get it in the boat but HERE is one about 250 pounds that he did get boated. In addition to the usual muskies, pike, bass, walleye, sturgeon, etc., I have also heard of Terminators catching other saltwater species including bluefish, mahi mahi, mackerel, shark, barracuda, wahoo, and tuna.
- T2 - 1" dia x 6" long. Jointed. Currently in production. Approx 500 total produced.
- T3 - 1" dia x 7.5" long. Jointed. Currently in production. Approx 3500 total produced.
- ST3 - 1" dia x 7.5" long. Straight. Currently in production. Approx 450 total produced.
- TX - 1.25" dia x 10" long. Straight. Currently in production. Approx 375 total produced.
Collectibles and Ripoffs
- KB No. 3.x - 1" dia x 7.5" long. Jointed and straight. Pre-production versions of T3 with minor differences. Designated model 3.0 through 3.4. 75 total produced. I have at least one of each still. Model 3.4 jointed and straight became the T3 and ST3.
- T3 S/E - 1.125" dia x 7.5" long. Jointed. Developed concurrently with T3 as a fatter body version. Approx 80 total produced. All had the words "Special Edition" or "S/E" inscribed on the lip under the stamped "Terminator T3". Some had hook hangers. Discontinued due to wood supplier going out of business and not being any better at catching fish than regular T3s. I have a couple left and some unpainted blanks.
- T3 SS/E - 1.125" dia x 7.5" long. Straight. This was the predecessor of the ST3. Approx 160 total produced, sold at Buckeye Outdoors and web site. All had the words "Special Edition" or "S/E" inscribed on the lip under the stamped "Terminator T3". Discontinued due to wood supplier going out of business. I have about 15 left and some unpainted blanks.
- T4 - 1.5" dia x 10" long. Jointed. Based on S/E scaled up by 133%. Approx 100 total produced. All made from maple. All had "Terminator T4" inscribed on the lip. Discontinued due to wood supplier unreliable and introduction of TX. I have 1 or 2 left.
- ST4 - 1.5" dia x 10" long. Straight. Based on SS/E scaled up by about 133%. Approx 10 total produced. All made from maple. All had "Terminator ST4" inscribed on the lip. Discontinued due to extreme difficulty of tuning, wood supplier unreliable and introduction of TX. I have 1 left.
- ST2 - 1" dia x 6" long. Straight T2. Approx 10 total produced. Discontinued due to requirement to machine non-standard lip slot angle. I have 1 or 2 left.
- Viper - 1" dia x 10" long. Double jointed. Experimental triple segment version of T3. Approx 5 made. When it runs it looks like a snake in the water. I have 1 left.
- TX/J - 1.25" dia x 10" long. Jointed. Based on T3 scaled up by exactly 125%. This was the original TX concept and it was designed for use when muskies are hitting standard jointed Believer and Swim Whiz size baits. Approx 35 made. I have 16.
- T6 - 1.5" dia x 12" long. Straight. Experimental big deep diver. Only 1 made (color $9 Perch).
There are some inactive model Terminators still in circulation. These occasionally come up for sale on eBay and may or may not have collectible value. I have also seen counterfeit fake Terminators for sale on eBay so watch out. If you question the authenticity of lures being represented as Terminators here are a few things to look for. All Terminators ever made have glued-on reflective eyes and glued-in clear Lexan lips. The vast majority of Terminators have the word "Terminator" (with or without the model number) stamped into the lip. There are NO plastic Terminators and NO Terminators originally made with painted lips. If you see a questionable one send me pictures and I may be able to determine if it is real or counterfeit.
One last thing; sometimes Terminators sell on eBay for more than my own selling price. I can't do anything about what people are willing to pay for them. However, I make Terminators for people to catch fish with, not to buy from me and sell at a profit on eBay. If I catch you doing it you will NEVER get another Terminator from me. Period.