The Power of Product

Need new gear? It's time to hit up an event for the free giveaways.
The product toss is simultaneously one of the most notorious, dangerous, exciting and delightful scenarios in professional skateboarding. The premise is simple: after a video premiere or demo, skaters, along with company or shop reps, post up at the highest point of a venue (i.e.: deck of a vert ramp, top of a bank, apex of a cradle).

In anticipation of the free goods that will soon rain down upon them, a crowd of bloodthirsty skateboard enthusiasts gathers below. The term "free-for-all" comes to mind. The starry-eyed product seekers will oftentimes knock each other's teeth, eyes and self-esteem out of place--all in the name of a free sticker or t-shirt.

More so than games of S-K-A-T-E, flyouts and even Bam--nothing stokes out the groms like a product toss. In skateboarding, it's a time-honored tradition, and as skateboarders, we're thankful for it. Without the product toss, your local mongo pusher with the chipped nose and no tail might have a hard time growing into the fine young man you see schralping today. Because let's face it--not everyone's mama can (or wants to) throw down a crisp Ulysses S. on a new deck.

While it's true that other sports engage in the toss (visions of the steel frame of a BMX horse catapulting from the sky come to mind), skateboarding's version is the original gateway to mayhem. To see that the toss endures a long and infamous life, and to ensure you don't end up on YouTube with a bloody mouth, tears in your eyes and no free skateboard, we've provided you with a toss survival guide. Here are some tips.

1. Get A Good Footing/Standpoint
This is warfare. To survive, you'll need a good vantage point. Scope the park's layout and know that the product will come from above, then do some quick physics or triangulate your location within the general arc of flight. When the time comes, you'll need to be able to stand firm and hold your ground and be agile enough to maneuver within your direct vicinity. Don't waste time eyeballing every flight's path--that's what the tossers will expect. Hold down your spot while keeping your eyes on the real prize, and not the curb wax.

2. Don't Blow Your Load On Free Stickers
The toss typically starts with a confetti of stickers and gradually works its way up through more sought-after goods like t-shirts until reaching the holy grail of toss: the skate deck. Make your presence count--don't waste time with bottom feeders.

3. Pretend To Skate
While this may be considered guerilla tactics, remember that all is fair in times of war. Lurk near the toss proceedings and pretend to be uninterested. Half-heartedly skate a nearby obstacle, but make sure to only do tricks you know you can land while scoping the scene. When the time is right, kick your skateboard away from you (sending it into the crowd is your call), and rush in for the kill. They won't see you coming and you'll get to skate at the same time.

4. Throw Them 'Bos
If you do end up in the slurry of groms and overprotective dads, be prepared to get roughed up a bit and to do a bit of roughing yourself. Much like charging your way to the front row of a rock concert, tosses often require tough moves, including Luda's favorite, the elbow toss. If threatened by a potential adversary, don't be afraid to get in there, catch that t-shirt and a chunk of glory.

5. Get In, Get Out
Greed is often the downfall of man and a toss scenario is no different. Once equipped with an armful of gear, abort and go revel in your winnings. Trying to catch more freebies with a full armload is recipe for a total loss and--let's face it--you can't put your loot down, go in for more and expect the piranhas to be on the honor system.

6. Avoid Dangerous Items
While not every tosser is guilty of this, some have been known to send "dangerous" items like trucks into the mix. From a tosser's perspective, groms are the ants under their magnifying glass, and not every tosser can resist the urge to rocket perilous product through the air. If you do see trucks flying, however, do all you can to snatch them up. If you're an underage kid at a skate demo, chances are you have health and dental.

7. Never Let Go
The skate deck causes the most carnage, determination and sour grapes of any toss. If you really need that thing, grab it and never let go, no matter what. Getting dragged 30 feet across the flatbottom of a vert ramp? As long as you still have a grip, it's on. But don't go gouging for eyes and pulling hair. There's a fine line of etiquette that must not be crossed, and once a product is grasped, it's poor form to physically abuse the prize holder, but get as dirty as you want until that point.

Like real war there's strategy, protocol and real-life scenarios that play out, but ultimately, it comes down to instinct and survival of the fittest. So get down to a demo or premiere and show them what you've got. And remember kids, if you do only end up with a few stickers and not the shiny new deck you wanted--there'll be more demos.

Courtesy of From Alley Oops to X Games, we've got action sports covered.



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