We’ve had a big year here at FrightProps. In addition to creating and carrying a record number of new products, we’ve also expanded our team. While we’re still an independent and small (almost tiny) business where every employee has about ten different jobs in one, we’re kicking ass in a way we’ve never done before.
As we grow, our customers grow with us. We’re able to offer better prices, more customizable options for building Halloween props, and newer technology. TransWorld 2014 was a landmark event for FrightProps as our awesome customers have proven to us that they like what we’re doing. Not that they weren’t doing that before, mind you.
Needless to say, we had a blast at TransWorld this year. We were able to take a few pictures and some videos of some of our products, but not NEARLY as many as we intended. Luckily, there were a handful of awesome people documenting the world’s craziest trade show on the planet for all of us. While we scrounge the internet for coverage of TransWorld, we’d like to give you our notes from this year’s killer show.
MONDAY – 3/17/2014
After a weekend of putting in some overtime, arranging products and wrapping products, we were ready to leave. Our grizzled fabricators, Max and Grant, picked up the two box trucks and backed them up to our dock. We had a fairly seamless load-out process except, of course, that we received a gigantic delivery of products at the exact same time. With the help of Ricardo, a master forklift driver from the shop next door, our two heroes forged ahead with our first accomplishment: taking two trucks to TransWorld.
TUESDAY – 3/18/2014
Tuesday was a day of putting the pedal to the metal. As we all arrived to the convention center in the morning, each of us knew that set-up wasn’t going to be an easy task. We spent the entire day constructing our cash & carry booth and getting the basic framing up for our main Transworld booth.
After a day of blasting Black Sabbath and eventually some trance music, we decided we were satisfied with what we had accomplished that day and wrapped up around 7PM. We dragged our Halloween-loving carcasses to the Over Under Cafe, where we had a good time and a good server, although most of our food was a little undercooked. Better than overcooked, I suppose. I had a burger so I personally appreciated the light touch of the grill. We all sat for a few hours and zoned out over our drinks, mentally preparing for the next day.
WEDNESDAY – 3/19/2014
Wednesday was the day we tied up all our loose ends, hooked up all of our pneumatics and tested all of our prop motors. We also decorated the cash & carry booth with tons of gory props, fake taxidermy, new Halloween chainsaws, and all of our electronic firecrackers. One of the biggest challenges we had of the entire set-up was our giant arrow sign that had probably 16 bulbs in it. Initially, we had 200 Watt bulbs in there until we realized that even though we had absolutely everyone’s attention with our giant beacon of light, it probably wasn’t a good idea. Something about accidentally lighting a gigantic sign on fire seemed like it would be a bad idea for a business that encourages DIY Halloween crafts. We toned the lights down pretty significantly to 60 Watt bulbs.
After we finished up for the day, I rushed to the airport to pick up Ellie, the daughter of our faithful leader, Doug. On the train ride home, some guy tried to sell me some pot on the sly by asking me if I was going to see the Pink Floyd laser light show, then pretending he was on the phone with a friend, talking about how he was going to “blaze” later. Funny stuff.
We all ended up meeting at one of our favorite places, The Dubliner, before heading back to the hotel. Right before bedtime, our shipping manager, Kathleen, ran into our room and informed us that she found a pool in our hotel. Our fabricator, Grant, chose to dart out of the room as fast as he could to catch a fifteen minute soak in the jacuzzi.
THURSDAY – 3/20/2014
With a line of people patiently waiting to get in, TransWorld’s opening day was absolutely insane for us in the best possible way. Myself and Grant were perched in the cash & carry steel cage of doom and immediately got blown away by the amount of interest in our new booth. Collectively, between the two booths, we had the best first day sales of any year. For me, personally, it was amazing as I hadn’t worked a TransWorld since 2011. I forgot how cool nearly every single person you talk to at the show really is.
We had a ton of interest in the new Frightsaws and the Mega Scream Box, which we had wired to a step mat. We were also selling all sorts of haunted house controllers made by Fright Ideas. But probably the thing people were interested in the most were the Flash! Crackers, Flash! Plates, and Pow! Stick.
As Grant and I are both fairly outgoing people, we didn’t have a lot of problems engaging and interacting with customers. It was more the way our brains felt after answering a thousand questions over an eight hour period. A total brainmelter.
Another thing that blew our collective minds was this oil panting of our shop dog, Kensey, made by Bethany Marchman and presented by Rene, Luke, and Ian of Chamber of Horrors in Atlanta, GA. Probably one of the nicest and most personal things anyone has ever done for us.
After the show doors closed, we unplugged all of our power supplies and recharged all of our batteries – then went to recharge our own internal batteries at the welcome event at the Ramada. We ate, drank, and socialized to a soundtrack of Rob Zombie and Marilyn Manson.
The evening ended with us hanging around the Renaissance, watching people from a wedding downstairs walk into the hotel bar and then promptly turn around and leave. Oh well.
FRIDAY – 3/21/2014
Friday was even crazier for us. Grant and I were swimming in empty cardboard boxes and we didn’t even have ten minutes to walk away and take lunch. Luckily we had Kathleen helping us through some of the chaos and insanity. I don’t think any of us could have predicted how busy we would be at that booth.
The whole thing was a blur for me. The next thing I knew, I was sitting in the hotel restaurant nodding off over a plate of ribs. I went to bed almost immediately while Kathleen, Max, Grant, and Ellie all headed out to the Darklight City Museum party. FrightProps gave away $500 in gift cards, all hand drawn at the dinner table by our creative director, Scott Bibus.
I woke up at 4AM with our fabricator, Max, pounding on the door. When I let him in, he collapsed on the floor mumbling about how he met absolutely everyone and “made all the connections”. The next morning was pretty rough for him.
SATURDAY – 3/22/2014
For Grant and I, however, the morning was made pretty awesome by our discovery of the only good breakfast pizza that I have ever eaten, located only a few blocks away at Stefano’s. The secret? Substitute the sauce for gravy, you idiots! It’s so simple and it’s been staring us all in the face all along! Tomato sauce and eggs just don’t mix. Anyway, we ate one of those in record time before starting our day and it seriously paid off.
Saturday wasn’t quite as busy as Friday and we were thankful to have the chance for our bodies to catch up. By that point, however, we were used to the constant crouching, climbing, yelling, and blasts of giant air horns and electronic firecrackers.
Post show, half of the FrightProps crew headed over to everyone’s favorite haunt game show, The Price Is Fright! Everyone had a good time and remarked on what a great job that John and Ben did in between licking their fingers clean of chicken wings. The other half of us went to St. Louis’ infamous haunt, The Darkness, and got to see a ton of amazing props from companies like Unit 70 and Gore Galore. The Darkness does an excellent job with scenery and absolutely crushed it with the clown-themed 3d portion. We also had some fun interactions with a really dedicated haunt actor wearing a top hat and two women behind us that would basically scream their heads off at anything.
SUNDAY – 3/23/2014
We upped the ante on Sunday by purchasing two whole breakfast pizzas for the crew to enjoy. It was interesting to note that even though most people did their major purchasing on Friday and Saturday, we still remained consistently busy through the end of the show. Hell, even after all was said and done, we still had a few people stopping by both of the booths to make offers on some of our display models.
Tear-down was fairly simple for us and we had everything wrapped and prepped to be loaded on the trucks the next morning. When we were good and ready, we paired up with Travis from Fright Ideas and Sally and Adam from Poison props to grab food at a great nearby restaurant called Lucas Park Grille. I got to drink a few oyster shooters and shovel some steak tartare into myself as a reward for being slain over the last few days. Kathleen drank some sort of really old port wine that we all agreed tasted like raisins.
TransWorld officially ended in a common place for a lot of us – the Renaissance bar. Drinking tequila and sharing some of St. Louis’ signature dessert, gooey butter cake, we hung out with BJ and Aja from Dapper Cadaver before heading off to bed.