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Classic CES Gaming Treasures
by Michael Thomasson & Bill Kunkel

The below items were distributed during the classic CES (Consumer Electronics Shows) shows in years past, prior to E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) being formed. The CES shows being held primarily in Chicago (summer) and Las Vegas (winter) and were closed to the public and only available to those parties involved within the industry. Most of these items were hard to come by, even to those that fit the CES attendance requirements. Take a look - You'll be impressed!

The famous safari-style jacket which Activision presented to favorite outsiders and employees in conjunction with it's party to support Pitfall at Winter CES in June of '83 The party itself was everything that had come to be expected of Activision's WCES Hyatt Regency bashes (they held their opulent Winter Las Vegas parties at the Desert Inn). Tickets were sought after and often sold, but Activision rarely had the heart to turn anyone away. Guests marveled at the jungle setting in the hotel's largest hall, complete with exotic birds and card counter and Pac-Man strategy book author, the late Ken Uston was there with his very own monkey (and yes, he'd let you touch it). The bubble had not yet burst, the party was still in full swing, and this may well have been the high noon of the Atari 2600 Age.
One of the oldest game-giveaways was this Bubble Ghost glass paperweight which was distributed by Accolade in 1982-83. Accolade also gave out a bottle of soapy water and a bubble blower with a Bubble Ghost wrapper. Accolade has always had great promotional items and their pieces are favorites among collectors.

The limited edition sculpts of the ship designed by Syd Mead (best known for creating the visual look of Blade Runner, the movie) for the game Cyber Race and reproduced in miniature form by publisher Cyberdreams. A total of 475 were cast and these are extremely rare. The second photo shows the underside of the sculpt, signed and numbered by Mead.

Bowling pin distributed by Segasoft along with a Brunswick bowling bag for its game, Three Dirty Dwarves.
A miniature gold Slinky (in a blue velvet pouch) is a most unique item. I have no idea why Sega produced them, since they don't seem to fit with any of the games the company was producing -- at that or any other time. Nonetheless, it's a keeper.
EGM, Interplay and Microprose are among the companies who have used yo-yos to merchandise products. Given the nature of the game industry, this is a very appropriate item indeed.
This promotional item started a trend for jigsaw puzzles-in-a-bottles as game giveaways. It is believed that this Myst entry was the original.
Activision broke new ground when it gave away a real skateboard festooned with the logo and illustrations of the game star Radical Rex. Hopefully, it was never actually used as a skateboard by anyone or it surely would have inspired some radical wrecks. This is a close-up of the illustration which appears on the underside of the board.
A faux-leather motorcycle jacket attached to a keychain was a seldom-seen giveaway to celebrate Road Rash 2, EA's excellent (and extreme) motorcycle sim. This item was found sitting on a table at the back of the room at a press party which, as recalled, was held by Virgin. Whatever, I LOVE this piece.
This Urban Strike helicopter could actually be launched by hitting the white button. Very popular item among collectors.
The logo has begun to fade on this Primal Rage paperweight, which was produced to celebrate the release of the PSX version of the game.
After giving away a pair of flip-flops for its Heat Wave game, Accolade pushed its "Games with Personality" campaign with... a pair of socks and a shoelace!
Here is the first known Excalibur-style letter opener offered by a game company. Accolade's lead was followed for Sierra and several other companies, but this is the first.
A MIP (mint in package) pack of Lara Croft trading cards which Eidos gave out at the trade show. The show also featured several models in full Lara gear who were even more memorable than these cards.
One of the coolest game watches ever offered as a CES or E3 premium was Nintendo's Game Boy watch. A little clumsy to actually wear, but it looks great tacked to a display wall.
This is a hand-held, assemble-yourself glider which Dynamix produced for its WWI air combat sim, Red Baron.
A Mortal Kombat keychain from Acclaim, which produced a staggering selection of MK-related items, but this is one of the nicest.
This oversized plastic monstrosity is still one of my favorite watches. It isn't about telling time, it's about SONIC!
Pocket knives are popular items among game-related collectors. Iron & Blood is one such knife. Did you ever think about why the Swiss, who are eternally neutral, need an army, anyway?
The development group Crave wanted the press to think about them, so they distributed these logo-bearing, squeezable rubber brains. That's using your heads, boys.
One of the many game-based watches, Activision offered this one inspired by the remake of Pitfall.
This is one of the oldest items displayed on these pages. As you can see, it is somewhat chipped. When Accolade introduced the early computer game, The Third Courier, they gave away this miniature "spy" camera to press and distributors
Hockey pucks with game logos have always been popular, but this one from Sports Time's Superstar Ice Hockey from Mindscape was one of the first, along with one produced by Activision to celebrate its 2600 game, Ice Hockey.
This classy and rather austere-looking watch is a Sega classic. Sega now sells a line of logo watches at retail, but this baby was for the tradeshow.
A game exec (probably Mike Katz) surprised me at CES one year by giving me a set of Japanese plush figures based on the Sonic characters. They were sold > at retail in Japan but never made it to the States. I have three or four > different characters but Sonic still rules.

E3 Collectables from the private collection of Bill Kunkel

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