2007 was the year that Blagman took to the road, raiding the Spring Fair, Autumn Fair and Toy Fair generally grabbing every free sample in sight, and telling the truth about them on these very pages. It was also the year of the sidekick where we gave presents to anyone who had the guts to apply, asking for your feedback on just about any mysterious product we sent your way. In amongst all of this we received our 100th, 150th and 200th free product, got a free Birthday and Christmas, and even found time to appear on Kerrang Radio, BBC TV News and in the Times 2 newspaper.
Even in amongst all of that I somehow managed to graduate University, get engaged and start a new job, so 2007 was a year of vast achievements but even in amongst all of that a few blags have stayed in my mind throughout the year. So it's time to look back and reflect on the best and bizarrest products that I attained for free in 2007, before we see what wonders 2008 will bring:
Show of the Year: Toy Fair 2007
Sure it meant a trek to London but there's no denying how much fun this years toy fair was. Around one corner you'd see a giant Sonic, around another a transforming Darth Vader figure and what's that over there? A Stegosaurus made of Lego? Pure madness, but definitely something I'd do again, at the very least it's a great way to see all the Monopoly's, digital pets and Nintendo toys a good 8 months before some of them come out.
Most Expensive Blag: Jack Daniels Chess Set (£200)
It didn't look like I'd top last years £150 Cirondo but in the 11th hour I managed it with a £200 Jack Daniels chess set landing on my desk for free. Play.com deserve the kudos for this, and they'll probably make their money back easily if only one of you buys one so it seems everyone's a winner. Sure it has some strange choices for pieces (since when was a safe something you associate with Jack Daniels?) but it'll be an antique someday... maybe.
Most Useful Blag: simplehuman Bin
You can't argue with the practicalities of this simplehuman Bin. Taking a prime position in my kitchen (between the cat bowls and the kettle) it's something I use every day (heck sometimes more than once). The swinging lid isn't without its annoyances, as if you don't have a hand free to open it you'll smear whatever you're holding over the top, but it shines up nicely with a good polish and adds some class all round.
Most Enjoyable Review: Button up Shawl
Okay so I've never worn it since the review, but it was the most fun I've had finding stupid uses for an unusual product. As an interesting fact the pictures you see in the article were all taken on a self timer by balancing my camera on a DVD stand. This gave me even less time to pose for each of the photos, helping add to the spontaneity of the review. An odd one for sure, but it killed a few minutes and sometimes that's all that matters.
Least Enjoyable Review: Claritweeze
How can I top waxing my legs in 2006? How about plucking my eye brows in 2007? That's what the job required for the Claritweeze from JML. Whilst Marie confirmed it was a very practical product it still hurts yanking hairs from your eye brow. Thankfully something I'll never need to do again, but hopefully it helped a few people to know the product worked.
Limited Edition Blag: K-Swiss
Most of the stuff I blag can be found in a vast number of retailers, but the K-Swiss Lozan II Punk trainers I snagged could only be found in Harvey Nichols and Selfridges. What're more they were made in very limited numbers making it bizzare that I managed to get a pair all to myself. Oh and the £100 price tag made them a the natural choice. Well and they sent them in my size as well, which is a step up from the wrong sizes and single trainer Puma sent in 2006.
Strangest Blag: Purple Gerbil Comic
One of my online shames is reading web comics such as Penny Arcade, VG Cats, and White Ninja Comics, so when I discovered that a brummie had made his own comic I decided to take a peek. What I found was Purple Gerbil.com which made me laugh on a regular basis. So when we hit our100th blag I knew I wanted them to draw a comic for us to mark the occasion, and they came through with not one but two comics suited to the art of blagging.
Biggest Blag: AZBO's
Although also a strange blag, the AZBO's definatelty win this award for quantity alone. When 10 figures turned up worth £10-£12 each I was pretty sure they'd be recalled, but the AZBO team were nice enough to let us keep the figures and give them a really good detailed write up. What we found were brilliant pieces of satire ranging from videogamers, to pot smokers, chubby men to tarty women. Nice, if unusual gifts.
Product of the Year: Pizza Maker
Whenever I tell people what I do I always get asked the same question “So what's the best thing you've blagged” and for 2007 my answer has always been “a Pizza Maker”. Sure it's not the most expensive or the coolest product but by god does it do the job well. So much so that I've had two parties based solely around the thing, with people bringing their own ingredients and really experimenting. Sure it sometimes leads to inedible BBQ sauce and tikka chicken combinations but that's really part of the fun. By far and away this is the product that defines what we set out to do,; exposing useful products that may otherwise be overlooked. Well make sure you don't overlook this one.