VGBlogger’s 2014 Holiday Gift Guides for Geeks & Gamers: Toys and Collectibles

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Next up in our 2014 Holiday Gift Guides for Geeks & Gamers are our top picks in the toys and collectibles categories!

Read our other gift guides for more shopping and wish list ideas at these links:

VGBlogger’s 2014 Holiday Gift Guides for Geeks & Gamers: Art Books
VGBlogger’s 2014 Holiday Gift Guides for Geeks & Gamers: Comics and Novels
VGBlogger’s 2014 Holiday Gift Guides for Geeks & Gamers: Accessories, Stocking Stuffers & Other Last Minute Gift Ideas

The Legend of Zelda Collector’s Puzzle — By USAopoly — Buy From: Amazon.com

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Have a jigsaw puzzle solver who just so happens to be a fan of Legend of Zelda on your shopping list? Then you can’t go wrong with this little beaut, an authentic replica of the Hyrule world map complete with Hylian text. At 550 pieces and 18″ x 24″ in size, the puzzle is a standard size, but with so little color variation–the entire puzzle consists of black and a couple shades of brown and tan–it requires a sharp eye and careful attention to every little detail. While not nearly as difficult as trying to clear the infamous Water Temple dungeon, it’s a fun challenge to assemble. It sure looks great too. Once complete, this is the type of puzzle that is worthy of being glued, framed and hung on the wall.

Pop! Vinyl Figures — By Funko — Buy From: Amazon.com

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When shopping for a toy collector, you really can’t beat Funko’s line of adorable, big-headed vinyl figures. They’re both affordable and available in a wide range of licenses spanning the full spectrum of geeky pop culture, from TV shows like Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones to movies like Alien and Back to the Future, from classic Disney characters to superheroes and villains from the DC and Marvel comic universes. And of course there’s a full selection of video game characters to choose from as well, including the lead Assassins from the Assassin’s Creed series, Kratos from God of War, Vocaloid Hatsune Miku from Project Diva, Commander Shepard and Tali from Mass Effect, and newcomers just coming out this holiday season like Sackboy from LittleBigPlanet and Deathwing and Murloc from World of Warcraft. It’s really not a matter of if you should buy a Pop! figure, the hard part is deciding which one to get and fighting off the urge to blow your holiday shopping budget on collecting them all.

Assassin’s Creed: Unity Phantom Blade — By Ubisoft / McFarlane Toys — Buy From: Amazon.com

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Assassin’s Creed cosplayers or anyone looking to gain a deadly advantage in their backyard Nerf wars needs to have this toy replica of Arno Dorian’s hidden Phantom Blade from Unity in their arsenal of collectibles. Made of thermoplastic, the Phantom Blade is a life-size, functional replica of the iconic weapon used by those of the Assassin Brotherhood. Velcro straps secure the device to the wrist, and at the push of a button the spring-loaded hidden blade pops out with surprising speed. Compared to the other hidden blades, this one is uniquely equipped with a mini-crossbow. The bow’s limbs fold compactly in parallel to the hidden blade when not in use but are a button push away from spreading into launch ready position, at which point the included plastic dart can be fired by hitting another button. For obvious reasons, the dart doesn’t launch at high speed, but on a good shot it will travel in the neighborhood of five feet. While all the casing and mechanisms are a rigid plastic, the hidden blade and crossbow arrow, although pointed and potentially capable of putting an eye out if used irresponsibly (like any other toy), are made of a bendy plastic that’s perfectly safe to shoot at someone or press against someone’s neck when acting out the killing moves of an Assassin. Due to this flexibility, the blades tend to sag into a curve, so right out of the box you may have to spend a moment bending out any kinks so that they are straight enough to function properly, because even a small bend can cause the dart to jam or prevent the blade from thrusting out at full speed. Overall, this is a sturdy, well-crafted replica that is equally great as an authentic cosplay enhancement, a collectible display piece, or a functional toy. Like all the other tie-in products, every box includes access to a free piece of DLC, the French cavalry pistol, to unlock as a bonus in Unity the game.

Mega Bloks Sets — By Mega Brands — Buy From: Amazon.com

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LEGO may have childhood nostalgia on its side and get all the mainstream attention, but Mega Bloks are not to be ignored in the toy block construction market. Currently, Mega Bloks are available in sets based on Assassin’s Creed, Call of Duty, Halo and World of Warcraft themes. In the Assassin’s Creed line, for example, there are sets featuring Arno Dorian firing a cannon, Edward Kenway and a pirate crew aboard a gunboat, and my personal top choice (which just so happens to be the one I got to sample) a micro figure of Ezio Auditore riding Da Vinci’s Flying Machine, which has real tarp cloth for wings. I also got to play around with the Call of Duty CLAW Assault set, which features a Cognitive Land Assault Weapon unmanned vehicle with articulated legs, a hinged compartment and mounted chaingun, as well as the Halo UNSC All-Terrain Mongoose four-wheeler with functioning wheels, and I was highly impressed with all of them. The micro action figures are nicely detailed and feature a wider range of accessories and articulated movements than other minifigures. Ezio’s figure is especially awesome, outfitted with twin hidden blade accessories (one for each wrist), a sword that can be held in his hand or slipped into a loop on his rubberized belt sash, and a hood that can be interchanged with a hair piece. The Call of Duty and Halo figures similarly come with an arsenal of weapons and interchangeable components. If you’re looking for video game themed collectible construction sets targeted at an older audience, you won’t find a better selection than this.

K’NEX Sets — By K’NEX Brands — Buy From: Amazon.com

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Here’s another construction toy line to consider. Like Mega Bloks, K’NEX offers licensed video game sets, but here the demographic skews younger with sets themed after Mario, Angry Birds and Plants vs. Zombies. Except, of course, for the exclusive Titanfall series. K’NEX aren’t the typical brick-based building toys, however. They’re much more technical and model-like, using a system of rods that snap into web-like connectors to form skeletal structures and foundations for larger set piece components. For example, the Pirate Seas Plank Walk set in the Plants vs. Zombies category consists of a cardboard floor piece slotted into the foundation of K’NEX rods, and a battery-powered motor that vibrates the base and causes the zombie figures placed in each lane to shamble toward the other end guarded by a pair of Plant figures, which have actionable firing mechanisms to catapult little plastic balls at the encroaching zombies. The Cone Mech set is also motorized, using two AA batteries to turn the zombie’s traffic cone robot into a wired RC vehicle that can walk forward and backward. And then there is the grand daddy of them all, the Titanfall Angel City Campaign set, a nearly 1500 piece replication of the game’s Angle City map complete with Pilot and Spectre action figures (six in total), turrets with working projectile ammunition, and two Titans each standing over 10 inches tall. For collectors, the set’s worth it just to build the Titans, which, once built, are every bit as detailed as many standalone action figures. They have articulated joints in their arms, wrists, hands and legs (though the joints aren’t rigid enough to support a lot of different stationary poses for displaying on a desk or shelf). They have armor plating which hides much of the skeletal structure of multi-colored rods and connectors and can be dressed up with provided stickers. They have huge guns that fire plastic laser projectiles with surprising distance and force. And they each have a cockpit hatch with a sliding chair for a Pilot figure to sit in. The full Angel City set is impressive and also expensive, running over $100 at full price (though you can find it significantly cheaper on Amazon), but fortunately the Atlas and Ogre Titans can be purchased separately for a whole lot cheaper if you just want the figures.

My only caution with the K’NEX sets is that I think their advanced level of construction exceeds the minimum age ratings on the boxes. I just cannot see very many kids from 5-8 years old being able to assemble any of these sets without adult help, which actually is kind of the point, to get parents and children interacting together in a family play time capacity. Even for me some of the pieces required a lot of physical force to snap into place, and the instructions weren’t quite as clear as I would have liked. It’s easy to accidentally slot a rod into a connector at the wrong angle, which you may not realize is incorrect until a couple steps down the line when additional pieces won’t fit together properly or joints are looser than intended. (Pro tip: Always read multiple steps ahead in the manual!) But don’t let that scare you off. K’NEX are great construction toys for all ages, just be aware going in that they are better suited to more advanced builder types and, for younger users, will likely require adult participation.

Tetris The Card Game — By Fundex Games — Buy From: Amazon.com

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When the need for a Tetris fix arises and there’s no computer technology around to play the actual video game (or you simply want a break from staring at a screen or monitor), here’s a fun and different way to enjoy the puzzle gaming pastime of Tetrimino stacking. Designed for up to four players, the card game adaptation of Tetris is a race to be the first player to clear 10 lines. Each card in the deck has a Tetriminio shape on one side and a unique Matrix configuration on the other side. As a new Matrix card is drawn each turn, the current player with a maximum hand of two Tetrimino cards sees if they can play one of their blocks to fit the displayed Matrix and score points equal to the number of lines cleared by the move–or receive a penalty for playing a Tetrimino that fits the Matrix but does not clear a line. A simpler solitaire ruleset is also provided for solo players, in which 10 Matrix cards are laid out and, in order to win, the player must play a line-clearing Tetrimino on all Matrixes without having to discard. If desired, total lines cleared can be tallied after a successful game and kept track of like a personal high score. The game couldn’t be any easier to learn for players of all ages, the rule guide taking no more than a couple minutes to read and fully comprehend. Now you’re covered when you have to play “just one more game” but don’t have a video game device on hand.

The Witcher and Legend of Zelda Board Games — By Fantasy Flight Games and USAopoly — Buy From: Amazon.com (Here and Here)

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More and more it seems that video games are crossing over into licensed board games. Last year Plaid Hat Games gave us the excellent BioShock Infinite: Siege of Columbia board game, which is still totally worth getting if you missed it before. This holiday, there are two standout releases to consider. Alongside the jigsaw puzzle we told you about earlier, USAopoly is offering a special Legend of Zelda themed edition of the greatest board game ever, Monopoly, which for some fans may just be worth getting for the collectible set of play pieces modeled after things like a Triforce, Hylian Shield and an Ocarina. In addition to a digital adaptation released on PC and mobile devices, The Witcher Adventure Game is also now available as a physical tabletop board game from Fantasy Flight Games. Unfortunately I haven’t had the chance to try either of these games out in person, but I can’t imagine that fans of each respective franchise would be disappointed unwrapping one of these on Christmas morning.

Indie Game Merchandise — By Fangamer.com

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Fangamer is a great site to visit if you’re looking for more niche collectibles and apparel, particularly in the world of indie gaming. There’s actually an Indie Gaming Merchandise Shop set up where you can find things like Shovel Knight t-shirts, an Octodad plushie, Faster Than Light pins/magnets, Papers, Please passport notebooks and Spelunky mini figures. A lot of really cool stuff you won’t find elsewhere. Even the gift cards have a collectible quality to them, as there are eight different designs to choose from and each one comes with a matching sticker.

Terraria Toys — By Jazwares — Buy From: Amazon.com

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Based on Re-Logic’s uber-popular sandbox action-adventure crafting game, toy maker Jazwares has launched a new Terraria product line for the holidays, including an array of 3-inch action figure packs, a 24-inch replica Night’s Edge Sword, and plush toys like a Skeleton Prime with red eyes that light up, an Eye of Cthulhu which makes in-game sounds when pressed, or the more snuggable Terrarian Bunny. I’m honestly not familiar with Jazwares products so I can’t speak to their quality from any firsthand experience, but these look faithful to the source material and should go down a treat with younger Terrarians.

The Elder Scrolls Online Symbiotes — By Symbiote Studios — Buy From: Amazon.com

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Need more cute vinyl figures to choose from? You can never go wrong with the offerings of Symbiote Studios. Following up on the menacingly adorable Skyrim Dragonborn figure from a couple years ago, this year Symbiote has worked with Bethesda again to release a pair of figures based on The Elder Scrolls Online, including the Nord warrior of the Ebonheart Pact as well as the Fighters Guild Journeyman figure and his Pony Guar companion. Each figure also comes with a code to download a unique DLC pet in the game itself, so that’s like two gifts in one for an active Elder Scrolls Online player.

Figma and Nendoroid Action Figures — By Good Smile — Buy From: Amazon.com

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Anyone into collectible Japanese import toys is sure to love Good Smile’s action figure lineup, the Nendoroids for their sort of chibi cuteness, the Figmas for their higher attention to detail and realism, and both for all of the cool little accessories, interchangeable expressions and stands that allow for customized action poses. They range anywhere from as low as $30 or $40 up to $70 or more, which is a bit pricey for figures of such small stature–Nendoroids are around 4 inches tall, Figmas maybe two or three inches taller–but premium quality products come at a premium cost. You get what you pay for, as the old saying goes. Character choices are also abundant: Wind Waker Link, Skyward Sword Link, Samus Aran, Sonic the Hedgehog, Hatsune Miku, Luigi, Kuma/Teddie from Persona, the list goes on. In other words, there should be a figure for everyone.

Fallout Vault Boy Plush — By Gaming Heads — Buy From: Gamingheads.com, Bethesda Store, or Amazon.com

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Celebrate your post-apocalyptic love for the Fallout series with this cutie patootie plush figure of the Vault Boy mascot. Standing a foot tool, smiling with his infectious ear-to-ear grin, and giving his iconic thumbs up gesture, the Vault Boy plushie has what it takes to become the stuffed teddy bear of gaming. He even has an internal skeletal structure to allow for additional posing possibilities. Just look at that little fella. Doesn’t he just fill your heart with pure joy and happiness?

Amiibo Figures — By Nintendo — Buy From: Amazon.com

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Nintendo’s answer to the Skylanders video game toy craze isn’t compatible with many games and doesn’t offer a whole lot of useful functionality for the games it does support at this time, but strictly as collectible figures the amiibo are fantastic. At such an affordable price of $12.99 a pop, the build and paint quality is surprisingly great. (I’ve certainly spent a whole lot more on figures that may have little accessories and whatnot, but compared side by side don’t look any more detailed or expressive.) I can’t speak to the universal quality of the character designs and paint jobs, but based on the lone figure I do currently have in my possession (that would be Mario), I’d say every Nintendo fan should have at least one amiibo in their toy box, whether they plan on using it for its intended purpose or not. Just beware that once you buy one, you may not be able to stop until you collect ’em all.

Disclosure: Free samples for some of the products featured in this gift guide, including Assassins’ Creed: Unity Phantom Blade, Mega Bloks, K’NEX, and the Mario amiibo, were provided to VGBlogger.com for review.

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!