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Thousands Subjected to the Experience


If you're a music, film or interactive entertainment buff and you missed the annual South by Southwest festival March 10-19 in Austin, Texas, well, you totally missed out. Not only is SXSW the premiere arts festival in the United States, and not only did Todd McFarlane design the collectible "Big Bags" for the event, but this year the road crew was on hand to wreck things. was prepped for long days on the convention floor (and even longer evenings sampling the Austin nightlife - particularly club mainstay Emo's - all in the name of, uh, research, of course). More than 20,000 people visited the trade show during SXSW and most headed over to the display, which was reportedly the most popular area at the convention center, with the possible exception of the beer stand.

    The super-custom Spawn van was pulled right onto the floor of the Austin Convention Center and surrounded with display cases, product tables and, surprise, surprise, a full-size version of the new Capcom arcade game Spawn: In the Demon's Hand.

    Also showcased were several upcoming action figures, including Bob and Doug McKenzie from Strange Brew; the Hanson Brothers, the hockey goons from the film Slap Shot; new music figures like Alice Cooper, Rob Zombie and Gene Simmons; and Austin Powers Series II.

    Also on-hand were several rare, two-up prototypes of upcoming figures, including Warlord Kabur from Ultima Online II and Malebolgia from Series 17: Spawn Classic.

    "I knew that there was something exciting going on when I saw a van on the convention floor," said Pat Charles, advertising director of Smug magazine and a contributing writer for Rolling Stone. "There were video games, contests and a lot of cool people."

    The van was retrofitted with a pull-out multi-purpose 37-inch display monitor which had a fully functional version of the Spawn arcade game as well as a demo of the Web site and a looping promotional video.

    "I thought it was one of the more notable booths," said Greg Corrao, sales representative for CMJ, "I loved the video game." even utilized the roof of the van as an impromptu stage for riling up the crowds and conducting product raffles, giving away dozens of action figures, comics and other free stuff to an appreciative audience. hosted several special events, including a display at Waterloo Records and a massive throwdown party at Atomic Café that drew more than 500 folks ready to get their groove on. The VIP party was held in conjunction with the Arizona Music Forum and you had to have a special laminate pass to get in.

    The VIP party was "the second-best highlight of SXSW next to seeing the Supersuckers," said Christopher "The Minister" Allen of Koch Entertainment. "The bags were cool, the laminates were cool, it was a cool vibe."

    "People even asked me after the party if they could have my laminate."

    One of the more popular contests was a chance to guess how many Spawn guitar picks were housed in a jar. (If you missed SXSW, there's another thing you lost out on: custom guitar picks. Oh, well, next time you see your fave band onstage, try to cop one; the road crew gave out about a million of them.)

    And the magic number was ... 753! No one guessed it on the nose, but the closest guess of 756 was made Mark Campbell of Austin, who won the grand prize of Ozzy Osbourne, Rob Zombie and KISS action figures.

    After almost two weeks on the road, the gang was tired, but pleased with the success of SXSW.

    Oh, and the Spawn arcade game? Well, let's just say we found a good home for it at the home office in Tempe, Az. Anyone got any quarters?

All stories are Copyright © and TMP International, Inc., and may not be reprinted without permission.

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