There were dancing girls, oh yes. There was an overabundance of techno and flashing lights. All of these are meant to leave an impression on you; to leave you going, “Wow!” and leave glitzy thoughts within your head. All of that stuff falls off towards the pale in the wake of this year’s new hotness: Mascots. Those damn creepy mascots. Kia actually had a damn good press display this year. By recruiting Anthony Sullivan of Pitchmen to do a faux informercial for their presentation, it was a frothy mix of funny and informative that didn’t fall into press demo territory very long without a laugh or two. I’d tell you more about it had it not been for the man-sized hamster sitting in the Kia Soul directly across from my vantage point. With his incredibly realistic, five-fingered handclaws, maniacal grin and tons of hamster mischief in his huge hamster mind, I couldn’t focus on anything else. Yeah, we get it, everyone loved the Hamsters-on-Acid commercial with the rodents bobbing their heads to some unce unce – but man-sized hamsters, great in concept, is something best left to the imagination. For Kia to bring this to life in terrifying details reminds us that, if given the chance, a mega-hamster would happily chew up your whole family and stuff them into its nasty, obese cheeks. It’s time for a little heart-to-heart before this turns into a messy tragedy: Kia,Discontinue your research into MegaHamstery and I’ll put down the Barrett. Deal? Okay, good. Let’s move on.
Next in this cavalcade of creepy is Man Shark Man. MINI had him drive their Beachcomber concept onto their faux-sand hill amongst plenty of bro love and bro dancing. (Please, don’t ask.) Man Shark Man obviously had already consumed a Coke drinker as evidenced by the detritus stuck to the inside of his gaping maw. What the hell were you thinking, MINI? The last bastion of defense we had against the constant shark threat was land! Now that you’ve cultivated a two-legged hipsterish Man Shark Man, we’re all completely fug’d. You’ll have a hell of a time selling your tiny cars when we’re all DEAD! Great job, BMW. Lastly, but sure as all Hell not least is the Molestron 9000. Nobody knows who exactly fielded this thing, but you can be damn sure it’s the strangest thing to stand next to at a presentation. At first, I thought it was some clever robot piloted by a guy in a backroom somewhere, trying to stir up some hype. I soon realized that there’s actually a PERSON inside that thing! Verne, is that you!? What I’d like to know most is what the casting process looks like for a roll of this stature: “Uh, yeah, we need someone about 4′ 4″. Loves to do ‘The Robot’. Maybe a child molester. Yeah, that’d do nice.” Standing by ‘Lil Blue Whatever, you’re instantly assaulted by rape-rays – his beady little eyes shooting straight through you. I felt the urge to knock him over and run, but I’m sure he’s friends with Man Shark Man and The Hamster, so I didn’t want to start something they’d be sure to finish. You know what, maybe I won’t be covering the show tomorrow. You guys can take this auto show thing and shove it. I’m not getting touched by a mascot.