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Jager saves Jon from skunky beer's Ka-Pow-BQ 2005
by Mr. Stinkhead

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Having completed it's third incarnation, the summer BBQ is only getting bigger and flashier. Originally called the Tiki Jam way back in 2003 (when we actually barbecued something), we've since moved beyond your standard summer get together. We've lost the grill, and—hell—we actually lost the heat and moved indoors to enjoy the air conditioning. The folks at the 'Cue even recommended we use their stage. Complete with built in sound, fancy lighting, and my image on every TV screen in the joint, it was a beautiful sight. We doubled our prizes, we upped the games and activities, and we downed more beer than ever before.

If you'd like a quick run-down of the purpose/history of the Ka-POW-bq, read this.

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Kate tries her fate
We throw this bash once a year at a bar, Olde Towne Firehouse Cue in Gaithersburg, MD, to celebrate the summer, the good friends, and help share all of the cool free stuff we've been accumulating. Sponsors pitch in and give us even more stuff to give away, and it all culminates in a giant game-show to get everyone going home with something cool to make them feel better about the hang over they'll have in the morning.

This year we'll run through the memorable moments and activities that made this Ka-POW-bq unique.

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The Toad earns that kiss from Melissa
"Climbing Wall" Photos
Last year we posed in front of the large Ka-POW banner for pictures of us decking each other out with Talking Hulk Hands. This year we have the super-hero climbing wall. Styled after the 1966 Batman TV show, this simple illusion lets it look like you're defying gravity and scaling tall buildings with skill and ease. Actually it's two banners set up on a stage with a rope tied off to the side. You pick up the rope, we turn the camera side-ways, and voila, you're a super hero. Drop the rope and touch the floor with your fingers, and you'll look like Spider-Man. Next year we'll require flashy helmets, and more mini-skirts. Hot-cha-cha-cha.

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Who is the LEGO Maniac-iest of them all?
LEGO competition
LEGO was generous enough to donate a large amount of Star Wars-themed LEGO sets. We handed out the Anakin-into-Vader playset to 10 volunteers and gathered around a large table. Each one opened their box on the mark and had to complete it from scratch, elbow to elbow with their competition, and their pile of pieces getting dangerously close to each other. People were on the floor, fingers and tiny bricks were flying, and the bar's strobe lights didn't contribute at all. Barely 3 minutes passed by before The Toad held his completed set up to our LEGO expert Lando da Pimp for inspection. Lando had just finished inspecting Toad's set when Ben popped up with his. Jaws dropped and people panicked to get that remaining third place spot. It was tough, but John (the Doc) was successful in turning his set in before the remaining competitors.

I want to point out that these photos were taken with a flash... otherwise it was dark with strobing colored stage lighting. Twice the fun!

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Doc, Ben and The Toad
The LEGO Winners
John got to keep his Anakin-and-Vader set (the other competitors needed Ziplock™ baggies to get theirs home), and also scored the scout walker building set from Episode III. Ben, our second place winner got to keep the Vader set, a scout walker, and Anakin's starfighter. Toad, the quickest of them all, got all of those plus the Clone Troopers transport set. A good time was had by all, except for the band that had the stage after us that had to keep digging LEGOs out of the panties thrown on stage.

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Tuxxer is getting ZZZOTT!-ed
Shocking Tanks!
Jumpin' Banana actually sent me this set of remote control tanks earlier in the summer. I had been holding on to these, practicing at the wee hours of the morning, trying to gain the advantage. You put the two tanks on the floor, and square off against an opponent. The remote actually gives you quite a bit of control for going forward, backwards, to the left and to the right, with pinpoint accuracy. Press the fire button to shoot an infrared blast towards your opponent. If it's a hit, your opponent's remote control delivers a mild electric shock. But be careful—if you're close enough to hit them, they're close enough to hit you right back. Each tank has six LED lights on top that mark each hit. Once they're gone, your tank goes out of commission. To take it a bit further, there's a High and Low button on each remote. If you switch it to "high", your remote will shock you quite a bit more. (We're talking about arm tingling for about a half hour or more). Why on earth would you do that to yourself? Because if you're volunteering more pain, you can also cause more damage. Shots from your tank will get rid of two lights on their tank in this mode.

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Jacob wins GTA: San Andreas
After some light sparring, we organized duels to give away the PSP and X-Box games generously donated by Rockstar Games. Jacob actually won the now-controversial Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, and Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude by Vivendi Universal.

Just a note, if you pick these up, these are a fantastic party game. They get even more fun as you drink. But, the infrared doesn't work in bright, direct sunlight. We tried these outside and they didn't work too well. But we brought them right back inside and they worked great.

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Andrea gets her rack ready
The Billiards
Firehouse Cue is known for its great food and load of pool tables. They were generous enough to give us two tables to use that night. They also, as of this year have an air hockey table. We tried to organize a tournament, but I couldn't get together enough quarters. Next year! Get your wrists in practice. I recommend daily training.

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Jessie doesn't know which sack to grab
The Gameshow
Styled after Let's Make a Deal, we call for contestants out of the audience. Someone comes up and we hand them an unwrapped prize. Now they can go sit down with that prize, and be done with it. OR they can take what's in one of the bags!!!!! (I'm yelling quite a bit when I explain this). It's great fun for all, and people even got to come up more than once. In fact, we were on the stage just a little too long, and needed to exit quickly to enable the upcoming band to set up. So we started a mass give out, where people just came up and started grabbing what was tossed into the crowd. It was bedlam. I rarely use the word bedlam, because I've rarely witnessed it. But this my friends, was most definitely bedlam. It strongly represented those scenes of U.N. Aid workers handing out food from the back of truck in the middle of the Sudan or something. Craziness.

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I'm yelling something about Nasser
The people like it because they get free goodies. I like it because I get to yell a lot. But I wouldn't have that much fun yelling if it weren't for the people there cheering back. Thanks you guys.

The Prizes
For the most part, everyone went home happy. Here and there people got jealous that someone won the Charmed Season 1 DVD box set, or that the one die-hard Star Wars fan in the audience didn't get the baggie of Qui-Gons. (Seriously, we had a baggie of like six identical Qui-Gon Jinn).

Oh I almost forgot. The first year one of the prizes was The Meat Handbook, it's an Army manual for cutting and preparing all kinds of meat. It's got some great illustrations inside. Anyway, Bffer won the Meat Handbook, begrudgingly, and brought it back this year to give to some other lucky soul. Obviously she's the one with all the luck because she won it right back! Hoo-ray!

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Almost there Jeff's Jeff made the trek to come see us, and he came baring gifts. Actually, some of the pricier prizes in the pool were from Jeff. The Fantastic Four Mr. Fantastic bust was snagged by Firehouse Cue's beloved manager Bubba. And our lovely waitress Amber took home the "tooned-out" Peg Bundy statuette. (Which I believe may be taking up permanent residence at the bar?)

Now the first year, there were some stinker prizes put into the pool. It added to the excitement. You could very well be turning down a sweet collectable for a Dollar Tree My Little Pony knock-off. (What a sucker that guy was!) We didn't have as many sponsors contributing But this year, things went from cool to cooler. Not too many bad ones though. (Well maybe the McDonalds' Happy Meal prizes of The Dog). Anyway, there were a few things that impressed people more than anyone expected. I'd say 80% of the crowd that actually comes to these things are not die-hard collectors. So you hand someone a con-exclusive vinyl AdFuncture Rubble figure (with the hologram!) and they don't always know what they just got. But that brings us to the

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Lando gets slimed
Unexpected Hits
I, personally, am a big fan of all things squishy and I was blown away by the two mighty boxes sent to us, full of squishy stuff from Play Visions. We had squishy rubber bubbles full of rubber eyeballs, or maggots, or cock roaches. There was always a squirt or two of blood thrown in for good measure. There were also floppy flying discs that looked like eyeballs, but made for great indoor frisbees. (And can be squished in your pocket!) There was also their new slime vials. Each one comes with some slime and is packed full of dismembered body parts or bugs. Lovely! I love this stuff. But I didn't expect everyone else to as well. But they did. Things with names like "Icky Yicky Maggot Ball" were being grabbed up, by hot ladies, none-the-less. People were tossing the flying discs all over the bar. There were people asking me where to get more squishee stuff. It was awesome. It felt like I let the world into a secret all at once. *wipes tear* Anyway, you should check out our Toy Fair coverage of Play Visions (and their image gallery) to see all the cool new squishy stretchy stuff that's coming your way.

click for largerPlan B Toys was kind enough to send us some figures from their Call of Duty, WWII themed action figures. These things are beautiful. They have the attention to detail, accessories, and amazing articulation as their Special Forces line of figures. Well this recent line of historically accurate figures featured some German officers. Though not looking like your traditionally thought of, Indiana Jones-fightin', SS officer; they were Nazis none-the-less. Retailers were carrying these on their shelves until some parents complained, and they were pulled. They're now next to impossible to find. So we had a whole box to give away! The funniest thing was that most of the people there wanted to check out the Nazi figure, but not very many people wanted to be seen grabbing the unwrapped Nazi. (If they found out they had just won a Nazi, they were as pleased as punch).

click for largerArt Asylum sent us a huge box of Minimates (which went quickly, even to non-collectors), and a couple of their con-exclusive Jump Tribe Yaboo. Jump Tribe is a series of plush toys based on the art work of horror movie master Clive Barker. The Yaboo in questions was only available at the summer conventions. People couldn't wait to see what was in the big plain white box. And a few people muttered That would be great for my niece or something to that effect; but once they got their hands on one, they said My niece can get a job if she wants one. Her legs aren't broken. I love that moment of discovery when someone realizes a toy can be for them and not just for kids.

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They need a wheel barrow!
We had sooooooo many prizes this year. We had around 120 wrapped prizes, and a Target-style Tupperware tub full of unwrapped prizes. There were DVDs, there were T-shirts, there were squishy eyeballs, there were poly-resin busts, there was designer vinyl, there was clearance Phantom Menace toys. It was a veritable cornucopia of stuff.

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Put something in my hands!
Last Call
Well we'll have a tough time topping ourselves next year, but we plan on doing it. It's actually easy to consistently find a line, and then step way over it. Be it taste, intoxication, or basic self-control. We're ready to be bigger and louder than we should have any reason to be.

On to the gallery of pics (loads more)!

We couldn't have done this with out our sponsors who donated prizes. We love these guys. Check them out!

  • Olde Towne Firehouse Cue— this really is a cool place to hang out. You can find quiet atmosphere, or a kickin' band. Plenty of big screen TVs, and local bands a couple of times a week. Formerly Buffalo Billiards

  • Art Asylum—gave us the hook up with con-exclusive Jump Tribe plush, and lots of cool Minimates.

  • Brians Toys—kept us giving out Star Wars toys out the Naboo

  • DarkHorse Comics—had some sweet trade paperbacks for the readers in our crowd. One was even autographed.

  • D/K Publishing—gave us some beautifully illustrated books on Star Wars, Batman Begins and the Transformers

  • DNS Toys—also contributed a Fett-load of Star Wars toys and collectables

  • Free Bento—has a great selection of Japanese imported collectibles

  • Jumpin' Banana—provided the revered (and feared) Shocking Tanks

  • kidrobot—is a great place to get designer vinyl for the artsy elite and casual collector

  • Kraven's Toys—has great prices and selection on all kinds of action figures. A great place to get started.

  • LEGO—provided the LEGO sets for our building competition. Next year we'll either have more light, or go with blindfolds.

  • Mad Cat Toys—specializes in classically styled tin and wooden toys for the discerning collector

  • Plan B Toys—is the maker of those wonderful squishy balls and guts and bugs that everyone clamored for

  • Play Visions—is the maker of those wonderful squishy balls and guts and bugs that everyone clamored for

  • Rock Star Games—provided GTA: San Andreas and Midnight Club Dub Edition for X-Box, PS2, and PSP

  • SideShow Collectibles—makes incredibly detailed collectibles at affordable prices.

  • Wapsi Square—Paul Taylor's web comic follows the day to day stories and relationships between a group of five post college friends and a school teacher turned bartender. Paul kindly donated two copies of his book, one of which was autographed.

  • Wheaty Wheat—the studio responsible for MAD*Ls and the Cosmic Quigly plush.

  •—has been taking care of us for a while now. Their selection and service are top notch. I'd be surprised if they didn't have what you needed.

  •—was kind enough to make the trip to check us out, and even came baring some of our more high-end prizes. Thanks guys!

  •— most reliable and affordable hosting I could find.

Article, all images ©2005

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