Kindred Game News 2/25/99

SiCo Riot kills 10, Leaves 5 Injured, 1 missing
Saturday, February 20: SiCo, producer of the "Major Dick and the Action Squad" toy and video line, saw real war when a crowd of customers became violent following the company's announcement of its plans to shut down Austin manufacturing and distribution.

Four children and six adults, four security guards, were killed in the riot. Five guards suffered an as-yet unexplained stress disorder, which has left four of them in a critical condition. Actions of two unidentified citizens saved the lives of several security guards, but police were unable to arrive in time to control the crowd.  One guard, Mark Bell, is missing; police are offering a reward for any information leading to Bell's recovery or to the identity of his abductor.

"The city just isn't a safe environment," says SiCo employee Nathan Howard. "Last month, they were after our writers. Now, we can't even trust our fans." SiCo, manufacturers of the popular Major Dick toy and video series, announced its plan to leave the Austin area Saturday. In response, a crowd of over 500 customers gathered to protest the company's plans to close its factory and distribution outlet. The protest turned into a riot as members of the crowd attacked factory employees and security guards, and escalated into a major battle when SiCo guards moved to defend themselves. Rioters armed with shotguns were seen in the crowd, witnesses say.

SiCo's problems spring from the company's popularity, Howard says. "We can hardly keep up with demand on the Major Dick line. The collector's market prices are ludicrous--the new Oathkeeper and Skippy figures run over $100. Our retailers stopped carrying product because of the shoplifting. It just isn't profitable for them." In the wake of the closing, prices of "Major Dick" videos have reached over $75. Austin School District students are asked to keep the toys at home, to avoid possible theft and reduce fighting.

While the company plans to bring "Major Dick and the Action Squad" to Austin television sets again in the future, the factory shut-down will leave 75 people unemployed.

Wednesday update: The four security guards in critical condition have been removed to home care. SiCo will give aid to their families, but doctors have not identified the source of their injury. Doctors have described their description as "nonresponsive," but are withholding further information.

Semiconductor Fire closes Faulty Factory
Advanced Microdevices' second fire in as many years has finally closed the ailing factory. AMD Fab 10, currently the oldest semiconductor fabrication facility, was evacuated Saturday, February 20 when an electrical transformer ignited at 4:25 in the afternoon. No injuries were suffered in the evacuation.

AMD Fab 10 was slated for a shut-down, executives said. Fab 10 was the oldest of AMD's production facilities, and much of its equipment was obsolete or in need of replacement. While production was halted and property damage is estimated at over $3 million, AMD executives say the public and AMD employees will not suffer because of the accident.

Police Blotter:
Two unidentified vigilantes, one male and one female, staged an attack at Mojo's coffee house near 29th and Guadalupe Saturday afternoon. Six people were assaulted, four of them thrown out of the business's second-storey window, two suffered skull fractures. The attack may have been a protest of the state's new drug laws. Many of the victims were under the influence of narcotics. Among the victims was the son of Victor Ramirez, vice president of Dell Computers. Witnesses say the two assailants shoved past them in line and were wearing ski masks. The two assailants were unusually large--says one witness, "That chick was bi-i-i-ig!" Police are working on composite sketches of the two assailants.

Austin blood bank supplies are nearing a record low. Police are still investigating a disturbing number of blood thefts, but as yet have released no information on suspects.

State and Government:

State Drug Law Draws Heat
Citizens and community leaders met at Anderson High School Tuesday, 6:00, to discuss the effects of the state's drug laws. "These new laws…are reducing the ethical standards of our state," said Allison Capps, Mothers Against Drunk Drivers member. "Since the government legalized drug use, DWI has been on the rise, there've been nearly twice as many state police arrests, and almost 10 people in this city alone died from overdose. This legislation must be overturned."

Federal funding for state highways and federal art funding has been drastically reduced in the wake of the new drug laws, which legalized the use, though not the possession, of small amounts of narcotic substances. Austin Metropolitan Ministries, a local charity network, will be coordinating another "town meeting" in March.

Advertisements for new club "The Nest" continue. Our reviewer, Reni Simmons, reports: "It looks like psychadellia is back in style to stay. You don't go to this club for the drinks, you go for the atmosphere. Wall to wall televisions, each playing to the music and not one on the same station. Movie nights on Thursdays. Even the floor gets over 40 channels. Bring $5 for the cover charge, it's worth it just to see the dead celebrity shrines."  The Nest is located on the corner of 6th and Trinity, downtown.

Art and Literature:
Writer Fredrick Koenig will be reading from and discussing his book, Outside the Wire, Saturday, February 26 at 8:00 pm at Book People. The book reflects on Koenig's experiences as a young Secret Service guard at the Bierken-Burg concentration camp and his personal quest for redemption in the years after World War II.

Still cold, forecasters predict another cold front Friday-Saturday. Bring in pets and plants.