Under the Radar’s 2022 Holiday Gift Guide Part 5: Collectibles and Geek-Friendly Books | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Tuesday, June 25th, 2024  

Under the Radar’s 2022 Holiday Gift Guide Part 5: Collectibles and Geek-Friendly Books

Action Figures, Statues, Pop-Up Books, and More From LEGO, Kidrobot, Diamond Select Toys, Fun.com, Hasbro, Abrams Books, Insight Editions, and More

Dec 19, 2022 Photography by Mark Redfern Bookmark and Share


Welcome to Part 5 of Under the Radar’s 2022 Holiday Gift Guide. Whereas we previously highlighted DC and Marvel collectibles and toys, in this installment we look at products tied to other corners of the geek universe, including trips to Middle Earth, Hogwarts, and anywhere in time and space (if you have The Doctor’s TARDIS). While the main focus is on collectibles and toys, we also added in five geek-friendly books.

Also check out the other parts of our 2022 Holiday Gift Guide: Part 1 on tabletop and board games, Part 2 on video games, Part 3 on DC and Marvel collectibles and toys, and Part 4 on technology.

Collectibles and Toys:

Optimus Prime Transforming LEGO Set (LEGO/Hasbro)

RRP: $179.99

Nine-year-old me would lose his mind over this toy. “So you’re saying it’s a LEGO version of Optimus Prime that actually transforms?!” As a kid Transformers were a big deal, both the TV show and the toys themselves. I also had lots of LEGOs, although back then the coolest sets you could get were the Space LEGOs—they didn’t have any branded characters in the toy line. In 2022 you can get LEGO sets for all sorts of characters, movies, and TV shows, from Batman to Minecraft to Harry Potter. This set is more for adults (18+) than kids, but parents and children could build it together. As advertised, Optimus Prime, the heroic leader of the Autobots and the most iconic Transformer, can actually be turned from a robot to a truck, as if he was a regular Transformer toy. We’re talking 1508 pieces and in robot mode he stands 13.5 inches tall. Optimus Prime returns to the big screen next summer in Transformers: Rise of the Beasts, once again voiced by Peter Cullen. (Buy it here or here.)

Labyrinth Jareth Mini Epics Vinyl Figure (Weta Workshop)

RRP: $59.99

David Bowie wasn’t known as a children’s entertainer, but his one foray into family movies was very memorable—playing Jareth the Goblin King in Jim Henson’s classic Labyrinth. The film wasn’t a big hit upon its release in 1986, but later found an audience on VHS and is now beloved. Over the years there has been plenty of merchandise connected to the film and now Weta Workshop has made this cool Jareth statue. They aren’t aiming for photo-realism, this Jareth has an animated feel to him while also looking like Bowie. It is a 6.5-inch tall vinyl figure. Also available is a different Jareth statue where he’s wearing a cloak, two featuring Sarah Williams (as played by Jennifer Connelly), and one with the lovable Ludo. (Buy it from Fun.com here.)

The Lord of the Rings Gandalf Deluxe Action Figure (Diamond Select Toys)

RRP: $29.99

The world of The Lord of the Rings returned in a big way in 2022 thanks to the Amazon Prime series, The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, which is one of the most expensive TV series of all time. Interest in J. R. R. Tolkien’s books may have waned, however, had it not been for Peter Jackson’s acclaimed movie trilogy (the third of which won the Oscar for Best Picture). Diamond Select Toys have a fantastic range of deluxe action figures based on the movies. Series 4 of the figures features Gandalf the Great. Eamon O’Donoghue designed the figure, which was sculpted by Gentle Giant Studios. Gandalf features over 16 points of articulation and comes with a hat, a sword, and, of course, his staff. “You shall not pass!” (Buy it here.)

Doctor Who Tom Baker 4th Doctor Ornament (Kurt S. Adler/Fun.com)

RRP: $12.99

For many TV viewers of a certain age, Tom Baker is The Doctor. He played the lead role of the time and space traveling Time Lord The Doctor in Doctor Who for seven years, from 1974 to 1981, the longest tenure of any actor who played the part. In America he was a fixture on PBS and when you think of classic Doctor Who (prior to the modern incarnation that started in 2005) an image of Baker’s Fourth Doctor in his hat and impossibly long scarf immediately comes to mind. Now he can come to your Christmas tree via this ornament from Kurt S. Adler. It’s five inches tall and features The Doctor tipping his hat, his Sonic Screwdriver in hand. (Buy it from Fun.com here.)

Doctor Who Fluxx Card Game (Looney Labs/Fun.com)

RRP: $19.99

Looney Labs’ Fluxx card game is all about change, so it would make sense that there’s a Doctor Who iteration, since the lead character Regenerates every few years into a new actor. Next year David Tennant briefly returns, this time playing the 14th Doctor (after previously being the 10th Doctor) and Ncuti Gatwa will follow soon after as the 15th Doctor. Doctor Who Fluxx features the first 12 Doctors, various companions, and a slew of adversaries (from Daleks to Weeping Angels), but you can also buy an expansion pack featuring Jodie Whittaker’s 13th Doctor. Fluxx is a card game in which the rules constantly change. Beyond Doctor Who, there are also Fluxx games based on Star Trek, Firefly, Batman, and even Monty Python. (Buy it from Fun.com here.)

Star Trek Data 8” Phunny Plush (Kidrobot)

RRP: $16.99

Kidrobot’s adorable Phunny Plush line of stuffies based on well-known characters has now beamed up several Star Trek icons from various eras of the show. We were sent Data, everyone’s favorite android from Star Trek: The Next Generation. He’s clutching Spot, his beloved orange cat. Spot actually has a complicated continuity on the show. Originally the cat was referred to as a male, but then changed gender when the writers decided that they wanted Spot to have a litter of kittens. Spot lasted all the way through to the series finale and all four Next Generation movies. Deleted scenes from the final Next Generation movie, Star Trek: Nemesis, reveal that Spot ended up with Worf after Data sacrificed himself to save the Enterprise. The Data Phunny Plush is technically 7.5 inches tall. (Buy it here.)

Star Trek: The Next Generation Locutus of Borg (Picard) 8” Phunny Plush (Kidrobot)

RRP: $16.99

Star Trek: The Next Generation fans were positively shocked on June 18, 1990 when at the end of the season three finale it was revealed that Captain Picard had been turned into a Borg named Locutus. The episode ended on that powerful cliffhanger and Trekkies had to muddle through an entire summer wondering how in the world things would be resolved when season four premiered on September 24, 1990. These days, with the internet spoiling everything and most people watching shows via streaming services, sometimes months or years after episodes first premieres, it would be hard to pull off such a creative feat. In 2016, The Washington Post declared it the greatest cliffhanger in TV history and the two episodes routinely appear near the top of lists ranking the best Star Trek episodes. Even after he shed his Locutus identity and implants, Picard had PTSD about the whole experience, which still affects him in the current Star Trek: Picard show. Kidrobot’s Phunny Plush of Locutus is strangely adorable, despite the Borg being so scary and disturbing. (Buy it here.)

Harry Potter Marauder’s Map Adult Sweatshirt (Fun.com)

RRP: $39.99

For my nine-year-old daughter Rose and a lot of her friends, it’s all about Harry Potter right now. During the pandemic we showed her all the films and the Fantastic Beasts ones, but now she’s ready the first Harry Potter book (Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone) and a lot of her friends are also at various stages of diving into the Wizarding World. Even though the first book came out way back in 1997 and it’s been 11 years since the last Harry Potter film, it’s nice that the series still resonates with younger generations who weren’t even alive back then. Fun.com have a long track record of producing cool Christmas sweaters and other clothing connected to beloved films and TV shows. Add to that this Harry Potter Marauder’s Map Adult Sweatshirt. Its design is adorned by the map of Hogwarts that shows not only the whole school, but also secret passageways, and reveals the location of everyone in the school, even ghosts. The two-tone sweatshirt is available in adult sizes XS to 3X. (Buy it from Fun.com here.)

Godzilla 1954 Tin Titans Lunchbox & Drink Container (Surreal Entertainment/Fun.com)

RRP: $26.99

Godzilla has made a big comeback in recent years with three well-received Hollywood films that finally helped wipe away the memory of the awful 1998 American attempt. But of course in Japan he’s never really left the pop culture consciousness. This tin lunchbox from Surreal Entertainment looks back all the way to the very first Godzilla film from 1954. Its front and back is adorned with images from the film’s original poster, Godzilla breathing fire (or thermonuclear radiation), while holding a smoldering fighter jet as a city burns behind him. Black & white stills of the monster are found on either side of the lunchbox. It includes a drinks container on the inside that features the full original Japanese movie poster on one side and a cool illustrated anatomy of Godzilla image on the other side. This could work as a collectible on a shelf, a storage container for other collectibles, or a working lunchbox. However you use it, it’s super cool. (Buy it from Fun.com here.)

Books:

Matthew Reinhart: Marvel Super Heroes The Ultimate Pop-Up Book (Abrams Books for Young Readers)

RRP: $49.99

Superheroes may rule the movie box office these days, but it all starts with the original comic books. Matthew Reinhart is a New York Times best selling paper engineer and with Marvel Super Heroes The Ultimate Pop-Up Book he pulls from the MCU’s source material for a stunning 3D presentation of 75 different heroes and villains spread across various action scenes. There are six double-page spreads, each featuring different characters. It opens with Spider-Man swinging away from his various enemies against a New York cityscape. Then the Avengers assemble (Captain America, Hawkeye, Falcon, Black Panther, and Black Widow). Spread three highlights more Avengers: Iron Man, Scarlett Witch, Doctor Strange, and Hulk. Then it’s the Fantastic Four’s turn as you watch their powers activate. The X-Men battle a giant Mutant-hunting Sentinel robot. And the final, and most impressive spread, features the giant planet-eater Galactus as he battles the Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain Marvel, Thor, Silver Surfer, and more. Each page includes plenty of text as well, detailed info on each scene and character. This truly spectacular, fantastic, and marvelous pop-up book is ideal for Marvel fans of any age. (Buy it here.)

Mingjue Helen Chen: Spider-Man: The Spider-Verse Unfolds (Abrams Books for Young Readers)

RRP: $19.99

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse deservedly won the Best Animated Feature Film Oscar. There was no other film like it thanks to its innovative animation style, but it can also rival most live-action superhero epics as well in terms of action, spectacle, and emotional beats. In June 2023, four and a half years after the release of the original, we finally get the sequel, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (which will thankfully be followed less than a year later by the third installment, Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse. Abrams Books for Young Readers’ Spider-Man: The Spider-Verse Unfolds very briefly retells the plot of the first movie (kind of like the ultra Cliff Notes version, but in illustrated form). Illustrated by Mingjue Helen Chen, it’s similar to a pop-up book, except that all the popped out pages appear interconnected, telling one complete story as you flip each page. Chen’s artwork perfectly captures the feel of the film. This one might appeal to younger readers, but will likely delight any die-hard Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse fan. (Buy it here.)

Victoria Rosenthal: My Pokémon Cookbook (Insight Editions)

RRP: $27.99

Pokémon can be overwhelming for those not well versed in the property; so many different creatures, a multitude of facets to the card game. My house has been immersed in it in the last year, due to my daughter firmly embracing all things Pokémon and my wife running after school Pokémon club at our local library. When we were offered Victoria Rosenthal’s My Pokémon Cookbook for this year’s gift guide it was an easy yes. The concept is clear and simple: recipes inspired by the world of Pokémon. The book is organized by Pokémon region and then each recipe is themed to a Pokémon creature. My daughter is most excited to make Sylveon Strawberry Shortcake and Pikachu Lemon Tart. There’s also Dragonite Butternut Squah Gnocchi, Umbreon Dark Chocolate Bagels, Swadloon Tofu Lettuce Wraps, and much more in this 128-page book. (Buy it here.)

Jody Revenson, Kim Laidlaw, and Caroline Hall: Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas The Official Cookbook & Entertaining Guide (Insight Editions)

RRP: $29.99

Insight Editions have other pop culture themed cookbooks, including this seasonally appropriate one for The Nightmare Before Christmas. It’s not just filled with recipes, but also has plenty of tips for party planning, including ideas for décor, crafts, activities, and even invitations. Recipes include Jack Skellington Shepherd’s Pie, which bears a resemblance to Jack’s head, Christmas Tree Veggie Pizza With Spiders (don’t worry, they aren’t real spiders, they’re made of black olives), Oogie Boogie Pasta Worms (not real worms), Man-Eating Wreath Burritos, and Sally Patchwork Layer Cake. As The Nightmare Before Christmas encompasses two major holidays, this book is perfect for planning both Halloween and Christmas parties. (Buy it here.)

Austin Trunick: The Cannon Film Guide Volume II (1985-1987) (BearManor Media)

RRP: $59.99 (Hardcover), $49.99 (Paperback)

And finally, there’s The Cannon Film Guide Volume II (1985-1987), the second part in a trilogy of books about the infamous film company (known mainly for B-movies). All three volumes are written by Under the Radar’s own Blu-ray/DVD Editor Austin Trunick. Volume II only covers two years but features write-ups on 60 films, which displays the sheer amount of movies Cannon released each year. Included are American Ninja, The Delta Force, Over the Top (the Sylvester Stallone arm-wrestling movie), Invasion USA, Runaway Train, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, King Solomon’s Mines, and the crazy, nudity filled sci-fi movie Lifeforce. Two of the most notorious Cannon films of the era are also addressed: franchise non-starter Masters of the Universe (a live action adaptation of the He-Man cartoon that mainly took place in small town America rather than any where otherworldly) and franchise-killer Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (the last of Christopher Reeve’s movies, which had its budget slashed in half due to Cannon’s financial problems, and which led to a 19-year Superman movie drought). Trunick talks to some of the creatives behind the films and fills in the gaps with his extensive knowledge and research. Quentin Tarantino recently revealed in his Video Archives Podcast that he owns The Cannon Film Guide Volume I. If it’s good enough for one of the greatest filmmakers of the last three decades, then it should be good enough for you. (Buy it here or here.)

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