On the 24th and 25th of May 2003, Adam, Donna, a handful of Neopets artists and some of the Neopets crew made their way into London to a dinky little toy store called Hamleys for the promotional launch of the latest Neopets merchandise! Also there, fans were able to have images of Neopets drawn for them, each image unique, and signed by the artists themselves! Of course, no event is complete without its advertisements, so [Click Here for the advertisement about Hamleys] to check it out ~_^
From the general gist of things, the queue at Hamleys was enormous and waits for 3-4 hours at a time were not uncommon. However everyone reported back saying that Adam, Donna and the rest of the Neopets crew were really looking after them, listening to their suggestions, showering them with gifts and just having a good time! Below is the best report sent in and reported by Katy (tinysaiyan) about her day at the Neopets promotional launch and on the subsequent pages are another 5 reports from various other users! Most of them have images of the artist’s drawings and various other scans and they have also been included in this article. A big thank you to all who have contributed, especially Katy (tinysaiyan), Blobbi_kid, ab2002ab, Clotho, 21 and aardvark for making their way down to London and reporting back to PPT.
Feature Report – The Neopets Hamleys Promotion: I Was There!
On May 24th 2003, Neopets creators Adam and Donna as well as a giant anthropomorphic blue Lupe and two of the Neopets artists descended upon London, the lively capital city of England in the United Kingdom! From there they made their way over to Hamleys, the gigantic world renowned toy store known for its quality and quantity (and overpricing!).
Whilst their day began at around 8:45am, fans were not welcomed into the store until around 9:30am. By then (according to Adam and Donna) there were already over thirty excited fans waiting to meet some seriously cool people who created a seriously cool site! Every fan (not just one in every family) was entitled to a free custom sketch of any Neopets character they desired, from Aishas to Dr. Sloth and a meeting and rare item code signing from Adam and Donna themselves.
When I arrived at the store it was roughly 11:30am, a little late, but even though I live in North London it still takes a while to get to Central London via the Underground system and Im not a early riser at all!
When we (I was with my parents) entered the store, the first signs of Neopets that I noticed were mobile-like signs with a map of Neopia hanging from the ceiling. Underneath them lay a display stocked with Neopets Voice Activated Toys in all of the colours and species available. There were also smaller displays with the toys scattered around the store; not just on the ground floor!
When we began to queue, we were told by one of the Hamleys managers that the average wait was an hour and a half. So what? Queuing is a British tradition! However, as the artists were making every sketch unique, the queue was slow to lose its members, increasing the wait time to over three hours.
Behind us in the queue were a Canadian family who happened to be in London at the time of the promotion and we had a brief chat. I didnt catch the girls name, but she was wearing a dolphin t-shirt. In front of us were a mother and her daughter from Manchester who had come down by coach (it was a five hour journey! Talk about dedication!). They had to catch a coach by 5pm so were anxious to get their turn. The girls name was Amy and my mum and hers had a nice chat, which turned into a little rant when the queue refused to move quickly!
About two hours into the wait a guy in an anthropomorphic blue Lupe suit came walking along the queue and hugging people! He was also playing with the displays (as most of the queue were lined up in the cuddly toy department) and entertaining the younger children who were getting quite bored. He was also being mischievous and trying to steal a backpack from a family that were behind us, but they seemed a little irritated by him and tried to keep him away from it. He pretended to act rather frustrated that he couldnt steal the bag (to everyones amusement) and then he wandered away to promote Neopets in another part of the store. He came back eventually though, which was when I got my hug and my photo opportunity! He was a really nice guy unlike some of the people you see dressed as mascots and things who just hug you because they have to and then push you away like parts on an assembly line.
Obviously, you cant stand in a queue that slow without moving especially on a busy London street with lots of big-name shops, so my mother and I went along to The Disney Store while my dad held our place in the queue. He also went wandering at one point to Virgin Megastores while we held our place. After about three hours my parents abandoned me to fend for myself in a mob of crazed AOL-using Neopets fans (heh, not really, folks!) to go to a nice little cafe near Hamleys for half an hour. Adults need to recharge their batteries more often than teenagers it seems!
After that, Amy and her mother were worried that they werent going to manage to get the coach in time (they had to go to Victoria coach station, which isnt far but with public transport you have to allow extra time), so my mum went to the manager of Hamleys and he managed to get Amy a signed rare item code card and another little Neopets treat since she couldnt get herself a drawing. Shortly afterwards they left, but I have Amys username and we can talk to each other.
OK, enough babble about queuing! When we finally reached the front of the queue it was around 5.00pm. The Neopets Team had hoped to quit and get out of there by then, but they couldnt betray their loyal and patient fans who had been queuing all day so they must have continued well into the night!
When it was my turn, I wasnt really prepared, and it took a nod from the store manager to get me to go up to the artist, who Im pretty sure drew the blue Kougra on the 99Dogs t-shirt judging by the style he drew my picture in.
I asked for a fire Lupe and the girl next to me had just had a rather impressive baby Gelert drawn for her. A woman who was with her asked for a Kacheek which the guy gave a little colour to considering he had a yellow colouring pencil. It was amazing how they could just keep drawing and drawing all day!
Anyway, he only needed to sketch a circle for the head and the rest just flowed like beautiful music. He also said that he can draw any Neopets character off by heart, which I think is very impressive considering that some pets are drawn more than others! He signed the sketch and then I went to meet . . . ADAM AND DONNA, the big cheeses of Neopia!
I was the only fan there wearing a Neopets t-shirt as you cant purchase them in the UK as of yet, so my mum was adamant that Adam and Donna should sign my t-shirt, so they did! With marker even! One of the business owners of Neopets was there with a camera and he took a photograph of my t-shirt being signed!
Contrary to somewhat popular belief, Adams not a nasty troll at all! He was very willing to talk to me and ask me if I had any suggestions for the site. I had a very long list, but standing directly in front of him in all of his majesty struck me dumb! Oh well, they werent really life-threatening and Im sure that other fans suggested them!
Donna had a blue Kougra Neopets t-shirt on and Adam was wearing a dark blue top with blue stripes.
Because we had been waiting so long, Donna gave me about fifteen extra rare item code cards to compensate, which my dad almost lost being the forgetful kind of guy he is! Luckily we managed to get everything home in one piece including my wonderful fire Lupe sketch (which Adam and Donna also signed) and although we were very tired at the end, a fun and exciting day was had by all! [Click Here to See the Fire Lupe!] – Katy (tinysaiyan)