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Web-alicious Way to Build 'Austin' Empire

Cybertainment

June 18, 1999|ERIKA MILVY | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

More powerful and awesome than the Austin Powers Enlarger is the "Austin Powers" publicity machine. Everywhere you turn your head, there's Mike Myers grinning those awful teeth from umpteen magazine covers, posters and advertisements galore. Austin-mania engulfs the nation as kids who haven't a clue what genre Myers is actually spoofing go gaga over shagadelia.

And the Internet is right there spinning Austin-philia out of control.

Before diving in, familiarize yourself (if you're of a tender age) with the Austin Powers milieu. At http://home.clara.net/digger/sixties/, you can brush up on British pop culture of the '60s that is satirized in the Austin oeuvre. Read about the likes of Peter Sellers, Twiggy, Sean Connery and "The Avengers." Discover the origins of Myers' fetish for all things mod.

Next, start spending. Thanks to auction sites like EBay and its competitors, collector items are now piping-hot commodities. Pop culture, retro culture and things that spell kitsch are worth hard cash across the Internet, and if you play your cards right you can purchase Austin merchandise and unload it for big profits, all with sleight of keyboard.

Start out at one of a slew of movie merchandise sites such as bige.com's Shag Boutique at http://www.bige.com/bige-austinpowers/. Or scoot over to the Warner Bros. Studio store (http://www.wbstore.com/). Or, if you prefer, head over to New Line's Austin Shop at http://www.newline.com/austinshop/. Wherever one chooses to shop, rest assured, Mike makes a nice profit.

Some of the outlandish merchandise that can be found at these sites include a set of British bad teeth ($12), a Die Cast Replica of the Shaguarslick mobile for $38 and a "Giant Motorized Standee" (the cardboard cutouts used in theater lobbies) at $300 a pop.

Sure, you can get T-shirts, posters and hats, but no doubt the stuff that'll be worth something in a few years are the odd items such as inflatable furniture, talking watches and bobbing heads. At EBay, certain mint-condition bobbing head figures go for as much as $400 apiece.

Currently, there are 815 "Austin Powers" items at EBay (http://www.ebay.com/). There are 47 Austin items at Amazon Auctions (http://auctions.amazon.com/). But the true mania of it all is that there are Austin dolls going for $80 at the Amazon auction that you can get just a click away from the studio stores for $20. As the whole phenomenon around "Austin Powers" is part of a retro cult, folks are forgetting that this merchandise is actually new.

Still, there are some items available for auction that New Line or Warner Bros. won't be selling. Both EBay and Amazon have been offering what they describe as the first draft of the script for "The Spy Who Shagged Me" for about $20.

And, of course, if you're high on Austin-mania and low on cash, there's still opportunity to satiate your lust for items shagadelic.

At the official "Austin Powers" Web site (http://www.austinpowers.com/), you can give your browser a groovy make-over, download psychedelic wallpaper and Dr. Evil screen-savers, or download an Austin clock that utters various Austin-isms on the hour ("Oh, behave!").

Linked to this site is togglethis (http://www.togglethis.com/), a Web site where you can sign up to receive by e-mail 12 episodes of interactive Austin. The little bugger will walk across your desktop and respond to your clicks. Get randy with the little fella and he's likely to moon you.

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Erika Milvy can be reached at erika@well.com.

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