Collider’s Gift Guide 2014: Movies, Books, Toys, and More Worth Checking out This Holiday Season

     December 12, 2014

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There are only fifteen shopping days left until Christmas, but that’s still plenty of time to get yourself or the significant geeks in your life something cool.  The amount of stuff out there can be overwhelming, so Matt, Adam, Perri, and Evan have each chosen three items that you should consider picking up this holiday season.  Each writer has chosen a low-priced item ($10 – $50), a medium-priced item ($50 – $200), and something high-priced if you’re feeling like a big spender ($200+).

Hit the jump to check out some neat gifts you may want to get this holiday season.  Also, in case you missed it, here are some charity organizations we recommend as well.

Matt’s Recommendations

Y: The Last Man, Book 1, Collector’s Edition

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It’s not really fair to label this as a low-end gift.  Sure, it only costs $20 for a nice hardcover, but really you’re going to end up buying all of the volumes after you tear through this volume and then start hunting down everything else writer Brian K. Vaughan has ever done (I recommend Saga, Pride of Baghdad, and The Escapists to name a few).  As I say just about every time we’ve reported on the now-failed Y: The Last Man movie (the rights recently reverted back to Vaughan and artist Pia Guerra), this is the comic that made me a fan of comics.

The story is about amateur escape artist Yorick Brown, who is the last man on Earth following a plague that wipes out every animal with a “Y” chromosome.  Yorick must work together with the Culper Ring’s Agent 355 (she refuses to divulge her real name) and traverse the globe to find a way to save the human race.  The story is funny, thrilling, emotional, smart, and everything I didn’t know comics could be until I was privileged enough to have this put in my hands.

If you’ve never picked up a comic book, this is a good place to start.  If you’re a regular comics reader and have yet to get around to this one, quit being ashamed and start reading it now.

Batman: The Complete Television Series (Limited Edition) [Blu-ray]

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Set aside the fact that this set’s existence is a minor miracle considering all the rights entanglements that caused some people to say this classic TV series would never come to DVD let alone receive a Blu-ray transfer.  This set looks like it’s well worth the wait, and something that any self-respecting Batman fan should own.  Yes, it’s campy as hell, but that’s what makes it so much fun, and also a bit of a tonic to the grim and gritty Batman of the 21st century.  The 1960s Batman TV series isn’t just fun; it’s also joyously insane.  Just look at the way Batman goes to the Batcave:  He doesn’t go down stairs or an elevator or even a slide.  He presses a button in the bust of William Shakespeare and then slides down a pole.  Every kid who watched this series growing up wanted this contraption in his or her own house.  Some of us still do.  In the meantime, we can settle by revisiting this packed set and remembering when punches generated words.

LEGO Star Wars Sandcrawler (Ultimate Collectors Series)

lego-sandcrawlerIf you’re a regular reader of this site or follow me on Twitter, you know I’m a LEGO fan.  They’re very relaxing to build, they’re high quality, and they’re nice to display on your shelf.  There are plenty of worthwhile sets on toy store shelves (Benny’s “Spaceship, Spaceship, SPACESHIP!” from The LEGO Movie is a particularly fun build), but for the serious builder (i.e. adult with disposal income and free time), there’s the LEGO Star Wars Ultimate Collectors Series Sandcrawler.  This bad boy has 3,296 pieces (roughly 15 hours to build) and has jawas.  Jawas are awesome.  And if you need more convincing, here’s video of all the cool stuff it can do (Ootini!):

 

Adam’s Recommendations

Fantastic Mr. Fox (Criterion Collection) (Blu-ray + DVD)

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This is basically one of those can’t-lose gifts, unless the person you’re buying for has no soul.  Quite possibly the most delightful picture in filmmaker Wes Anderson’s delight-filled oeuvre, Fantastic Mr. Fox was finally given the Criterion Collection treatment earlier this year.  It’s hard not to be grinning ear-to-ear throughout the entire runtime of this stop-motion animated film, and throw in some gorgeous animation, inspired voice performances, a killer soundtrack, and a whip-smart screenplay and you have yourself a genuine new classic.

The Criterion packaging for Fantastic Mr. Fox is spectacular (not that we expected anything less), and the extras included on the dual Blu-ray/DVD set provide hours of content for your cinephile friends to thumb through.  The bonus features are also wide-ranging in nature, as they include footage of the actors voicing their characters outside in real locations as well as an hour-long documentary on author Roald Dahl.

The Magicians Trilogy

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I say this without an ounce of hyperbole: author Lev Grossman’s The Magicians trilogy is one of the most satisfying and wholly engrossing storytelling experiences I’ve ever had.  Crudely described as “the adult Harry Potter”, the books revolve around a precocious, introverted young man on the cusp of entering college who finds himself admitted to a secretive and exclusive college of magic in New York.  His time at the school is not unlike that at most normal colleges—new friendships, burgeoning romantic relationships, debauchery—but he still finds himself yearning for adventure and happiness when he stumbles upon a secret that promises something much bigger, darker, and dangerous.

Grossman’s trilogy is masterfully told, touching on subjects like depression, maturity, and relationships with a depth and complexity you may not expect to find in a book about a secret world of magic.  Each novel in the series doesn’t simply pick up where the last one left off, giving the reader more of the same—no, Grossman delves deeper and deeper into the world of The Magicians with each book while maintaining a primary focus on character above everything else.  For the certain someone in your life who enjoys compelling, emotionally affecting, and just flat-out great stories: I cannot recommend this trilogy enough.  And if you do decide to buy this item, I’d strongly encourage you to support your local bookstore by purchasing it there.

The Sopranos: The Complete Series (Blu-ray + Digital HD)

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It’s been a long time coming, but quite possibly the best television series in history is now available in its entirety on Blu-ray.  David Chase’s HBO drama The Sopranos changed the television landscape forever, and its impact is felt in a variety of current shows, from Mad Men to True Detective.  Moreover, the series is highly rewatchable, which makes the Complete Series Blu-ray set a fantastic gift for the Sopranos fan in your life.  Relive the tension and humor of “Pine Barrens”, or marvel at the gusto with which Chase went all-in for the dream episodes “Join the Club” and “Mayham”.

Not only does the Blu-ray set include all 86 episodes of the show in stunning HD, but it also has the exclusive 45-minute featurette “Defining a Television Landmark”, which includes new interviews with Chase, James Gandolfini, and even Steven Soderbergh.

Perri’s Recommendations

Funko POP! Figures

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At a loss for what to get someone for the holidays?  Everyone has a favorite movie and/or TV show and there’s a good chance that a Funko POP! figure has been made for one of them.  Some personal favorites include the characters from American Horror StoryThe Nightmare Before ChristmasThe Boxtrolls and The Guardians of the Galaxy dancing Groot, but there’s loads of other options from Game of ThronesThe Walking Dead, other Marvel movies and so many more.  Getting hooked on these things does run the risk of creating some serious desk clutter, but if you can keep the collection in check, POP! figures do really brighten up a workspace.

Slasher Nesting Dolls

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I bought a set of these for a friend for his birthday and it took everything in me not to just keep it.  The version pictured has Jason, Michael, Ghostface, Leatherface, Freddy Krueger, Hannibal Lecter and Regan from The Exorcist, but TheNestingPage on Etsy offers custom orders as well so perhaps you could throw in Trick ‘r Treat’s Sam, The Babadook, Jigsaw or whatever notorious killer your heart desires.  They’ve also got some great Marvel designs worth checking out, too.  (If you’re looking for a more affordable version, VeleCruce sells a great slasher nesting doll set on Etsy as well.)

Movie Props

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This was a pretty expensive habit to get into, but I’ve got to say, it’s pretty cool to own a piece of your favorite movie.  Scream 4 isn’t really a personal top pick, but the original is and I’ve got a cat named Dewey so I’m pretty pleased with the Deputy Dewey name tag I picked up from the fourth installment.  You can buy authentic props on sites like eBay, but I tend to stick to one I trust to ensure I’m getting the real deal, Premiere Props.  You might want to pass on some of their newer options like the ones from 7500Dolphin Tales 2 and The Giver, but if you scroll down a bit further, there are some great items left from Inglourious Basterds and Silver Linings Playbook.  Apparently they’ve also got props from Big Eyes and Django Unchained on the way, too.

Evan’s Recommendations

The Terminator [Blu-ray]

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This bad boy was recently remastered in 2013 (avoid the earlier disc like the plague  and serves as the perfect reminder to any fan of the franchise (including those looking forward to Terminator: Genisys) that there is absolutely no beating the original film.  None.  Even the quite good Terminator 2: Judgement Day doesn’t even really come close.  I recently saw this on the big screen and was blown away by how well it works, and I’d love for casual fans to rediscover its glory once again.

Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th

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If you’re at all into horror, or have ever had any kind of passing interest in the almost pastoral sense of nostalgia you can gleam from the first four entries (and the creative insanity of the remaining films) in the Friday the 13th saga, you owe it to yourself to get the hardcover of this book.  It’s the ultimate in horror coffee table necessities.  Written by Peter Bracke, this is the book that took my fandom of these films from “casual” to “all-time obsession.”  I can’t recommend it highly enough.  Throw in the newly released Blu-ray for good measure while you’re at it.

Standing Treadmill

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If you’re anything like me, you’re on the internet a lot.  Maybe you browse Collider from an office (in which case consult your HR rep or boss before installing one of these), or maybe you browse from home.  But, either way you slice it, you likely spend at least 6-8 hours a day sitting in front of a computer doing whatever it is you are paid to do.  And you know what?  That’s extremely unhealthy.  Now, do I have one of these?  Not yet.  But I plan on getting one at some point when my wallet’s a little fatter.  If you’re ready to take the leap now, this one seems halfway decent.  Let’s enjoy the internet together without dying from heart disease.  It’s also better for your neck, arms and back.

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