14 malls across the US will be hosting this event between February 5th and March 20th.
This past weekend it was our turn here in Silicon Valley as Oakridge Mall in San Jose hosted the tour.
This lead to a discussion between my wife and I as to how a mall gets chosen for this sort of event, because Oakridge is not the biggest, fanciest, or most centrally located of the malls in Silicon Valley. Certainly Vallco Mall seemed like a more likely choice to host such an event, it being uncluttered by actual retail establishments. Our thought was that having a GameStop and a movie theater were minimum requirements.
For the event, there was a meta activity, a search for Pokemon stamps for your Pokemon Black & White brochure.
Each of the stamp locations had a large marker sign above it, just in case you missed the swarm of people wearing Pokemon apparel and holding the aforementioned brochures.
Each of the stamp locations also had focus. One of the rally points (Oshawatt) was out in front of GameStop, where you could also download a special event Celebi.
We now have half a dozen Celebi across as may copies of Pokemon.
Another stamp location happened to be at the Pokemon sales kiosk setup in the mall, where you could buy all sorts of Pokemon goods.
They had shirts featuring the key new Pokemon featured in Black and White… and, of course, Pikachu.
We ended up with a Pikachu T-shirt and a plush Zorua and Pikachu.
One of the stamp locations was co-located with an information booth, though the only information they seemed to be giving was how to get free tickets to see the new Pokemon movie, Zoroark: Master of Illusions, which was being shown on the big screen at the mall theater. It is otherwise a direct to video feature here in the US.
The next stamp location had a big walled off area where you could stand in line for a long stretch to actually play Pokemon Black and White for a little bit. Being sold on the game already, we declined to stand in that line.
Then the final stamp location, where we actually started, is co-located with the prize booth where you collect your gift for collecting all five stamps.
The line to spin the prize wheel was the longest we encountered. When we walked into the mall at a little before 11am, it was only a few people deep, but the first wave of Pokemon fans was still out collecting stamps. By the time we got back, the line was, if you know the mall, from Target to Cheesecake Factory, which probably put it at 100 people long.
We waited our time in line and my daughter spun the wheel and got Pokemon phone charm which, considering she had her hopes pinned on a plush Oshawatt, she was surprisingly satisfied with.
The line grew throughout the day. We went off to have lunch (At Cheesecake Factory, which oddly enough, did not have its usual line) and by the time we were done the line had grown considerably. They were laying down lanes with tape on the floor to direct people and to keep them from blocking the entry to stores. All in all it was quite an event.
They were also showing episodes from the Pokemon TV series and there were Pokemon characters with whom you could have your picture taken (we did not get in line for that) and the mall was literally crawling with Pokemon fans. We’re surprisingly easy to spot.
At lunch we sat next to table with three boys who had come down from San Francisco for the event. They had Pokemon Diamond out and were running around in the underground, the Wi-fi zone in that version, so my daughter and I both grabbed our copies and ran around with them until their lunch showed up. I hope Black and White have something similar, as something like the underground was one of the great omissions from HearGold and SoulSilver.
Anyway, it was worth a Saturday morning to attend this event.
If the Pokemon Black and White Tour is coming to a mall near you, my only advice is to get there early.