VGBlogger’s 2019 Holiday Gift Guide for Geeks & Gamers

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Ho, ho, ho! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, loyal readers! I know it’s been a slow and inconsistent year around these parts, but I’m back and aiming to close out the year with a bang, beginning right now with the return of VGBlogger’s holiday gift guide for geeks and gamers, our annual shopping round-up of fun gift ideas for that special someone in your life (including yourself, because I’m totally in favor of self-gifting!). Continue checking back from today on as ongoing updates will be made to this guide leading all the way up to the big day.

Disclosure: Some products featured in this guide were provided to VGBlogger.com for gift guide consideration.

Toast Custom Leather Mouse Pads — Buy from Toastmade.com:

Toast does more than just wood veneer covers for mobile devices and gaming consoles, like the ones we recommended in last year’s gift guide. The company now also does genuine leather goods, including stylish mouse pads which can similarly be customized with your own laser-engravings and inlays. Pictured above is a Slime Rancher themed pad Toast was kind enough to make up for me. I created the design layout and chose the color, and after a brief draft/approval process my gorgeous Cosmo pink Slime Rancher mouse pad had arrived in short order (and beautifully packaged, I might add). The color and texture don’t fully translate in my picture, but the leather is super smooth and supple, with natural hide variations unique to each piece, and the color has a saturated richness that really pops in person. The underneath side is a natural suede, which feels lusciously soft yet grips the desktop snuggly so the pad doesn’t slip and slide about during use. In terms of performance, the leather texture can be a little less forgiving depending on the size and material of a mouse’s feet. I’ve tested a variety of different mice with it and most glided across the surface nicely, but there was a mouse or two that seemed to move with more resistance. I wouldn’t recommend one for high-performance gaming, but for general PC use Toast’s leather mouse pads are an awesome combo of function and style. With a little personalization they become true works of art, little office desktop masterpieces that everyone will be asking where they can get one. The mouse pads are available in 10 color options and start at $39.99 for a medium 7.25″ x 9.25″ size, or $49.99 for a larger 9″ x 11″ size. Customizations run an additional $10 for a pre-designed inlay, $10 for custom text, and $30 for a custom design. Environmentally conscious consumers will also appreciate each sale contributing to environmental charities and the planting of a tree.

PDP Pikachu Edition Nintendo Switch Deluxe Travel Case — Buy from Amazon:

Pair up a copy of Pokémon Sword and/or Pokémon Shield with the latest deluxe travel case from PDP. Compatible with both Switch and Switch Lite, the case sports an electrifying Pikachu themed graffiti design on the outside with a rubbery yellow quick grip handle strap to tote it around by. On the inside there’s room to safely store the system and small accessories, plus a divider flap with slots for up to 14 game cards. Carry around your Switch. Show off your love for Pikachu. You can’t go wrong. Pikapika!

Bokksu — Buy from Bokksu.com:

Adventurous eaters are sure to have their taste buds tantalized by Bokksu, a subscription gourmet snack box featuring a variety of tasty treats sourced from family owned artisanal snack makers and molecular gastronomists in Japan. Boxes are available starting at $24.99 a month for smaller tasting boxes of 10-14 snacks up to $39.99 for larger boxes of 20-25 snacks, with variable pricing based on the subscription length. Each box comes with an assortment of authentic sweet and savory munchies straight from the Land of the Rising Sun, plus a complementary tea pairing to wash everything down. A culture guide booklet also comes included, providing information about the month’s theme, descriptions of all the included treats, and other fun tidbits to help consumers embrace Japanese culture, from language lessons and songs to recipes and regional snack maps. Once all the treats are gone, you’re left with a themed gift box too lovely to toss out. And a full, happy tummy that will be grumbling in anticipation for next month’s box to arrive.

Fortnite Squad Mode Victory Series Action Figures — Buy from Amazon:

Hey there, Fortnite fans. Put the game down for a moment and check out these super-sweet action figures. The Squad Mode Victory Series comes as a 4-pack of 12″ (they’re actually more like 11.5″) figures, each fashioned after Epic and Legendary cosmetic outfits from the game, including Black Knight, DJ Yonder, P.A.N.D.A. Team Leader, and purple Skull Trooper. When you first pick one up, the figures do feel lighter weight than anticipated given their size due to the hollow plastic used in their construction, but they’re actually very well made and nicely detailed with textures and paintjobs that authentically bring the costumes to physical life so that they are instantly recognizable to fans. With seven points of articulation–the heads swivel side to side, the hands rotate at the wrists, the arms have a full 360-degree range of motion, and the legs kick straight forward or sideways–the figures can also be manipulated in a wide range of fun and dynamic poses.

KontrolFreek Performance Thumbsticks — Buy from Amazon or KontrolFreek:

Will a holiday season ever go by without a KontrolFreek gift guide recommendation? Nope. Sorry. Not going to happen. And why would it? KontrolFreek’s Performance Thumbsticks have been and continue to be a gaming staple around here, and they should be in every gamer’s household, too. Oh, and they just so happen to be just the right size and price point to work out as the perfect gamer stocking stuffer. So what’s new on the KF Thumbstick tip for 2019? Well, two of the hottest models are sure to be the Borderlands 3 and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare designs. Strangely, both are mid-rise thumbsticks rather than the high-rise style that’s more ideal for first-person shooters. However, the high-rise sticks do require more of an acclimation process for gamers who may be KF virgins, while the mid-rise sticks offer a more accessible and versatile entry point, so in the end it makes sense for these licensed themes to hit the broader audience. In addition to the extra grip and aiming precision, both models hit their game-themed designs head on. Inspired by the Ground War mode, the Modern Warfare sticks feature a unique hex shape which offers a larger surface area tailored to the needs of any combat encounter that you might come up against in the game. The Borderlands 3 sticks are a must for the Claptrap grip etching alone–I almost want to have them on my controller for aesthetics alone, and then swap them out for another pair when it’s game time so I don’t wear down that cute robotic face. The bottlecap style edging is a nice touch as well. A couple other non-licensed sticks worth checking out are the Rush and Icon X models. Available in five color options and featuring a hybrid convex/concave surface, the Icon X sticks are a solid choice to be “gamer’s first KontrolFreek” this holiday season. The Rush sticks are especially unique, featuring a raised lip around a concave middle, which allows the thumb to stay centered on the grip without slipping over the edge. They contour to the thumb beautifully for a soft, smooth control feel that is super comfortable.

KontrolFreek Performance Grips — Buy from Amazon or KontrolFreek:

I first reviewed KontrolFreek’s debut iteration of controller Grips four years ago (wow, has it really been that long!?). Now, in 2019, the Grips line has expanded to offer multiple thicknesses. These adhesive wraps can be placed around the handles of your trusty PS4 or Xbox One controller to provide added comfort (foam padding and moisture wicking for the win!) to get you through those long, sweaty-palmed gaming sessions, as well as increased grip thanks to the honeycomb surface texture. The OG Performance Grips are the happy medium–not too thick, not too thin–while the newly introduced XT and XP models allow you to go either extra-thin, for grip without the added bulk of padding, or extra-padded, for double the pillowy comfort. Also new are Performance Grip Strips, small pieces of the same honeycomb polymer and foam padding designed to work across a variety of platforms, including PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC hardware, and mobile devices. Each pack comes with 28 strips pre-cut into different shapes for mouse buttons, keyboard keys, controller trigger buttons, and more. A handy diagram sheet comes packaged inside to provide instructive labels for each grip strip’s intended device application. The only small concern I have is with potential residue left behind by the adhesive when the grips inevitably wear out and need to be removed. They’re not supposed to leave any stickiness behind, but I took off the previous grip I had on one of my DualShock 4s to try out a different thickness, and there was a lot of residue left stuck on the handles. It didn’t really matter since I was replacing the grip with another one, but be forewarned that if you ever intend to remove a grip outright you may need to have some cleaner and a rag handy to scrub off residual sticky goo.

Patent Press Greeting Cards — Buy from www.patentpressgreetingcards.com:

Putting an inventive spin on the traditional greeting card, Patent Press offers cards displaying the drawings from actual patent applications filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Each card is 5″ x 7″ and printed on thick cover stock. For that truly official look, the card fronts also show the patent number, the date the patent was granted, and the inventor. The variety of patent artwork to choose from spans many categories, the broadest selection available in black and white, while only a limited selection are available in color. Since this is the holiday season and all, cards featuring the patent artwork for Christmas Stockings, Christmas Tree Lights, a Santa Toy Figure, or the Menorah are merry choices. For those of us geeks and gamers, there are cards for Nintendo and Atari game controllers, the Personal Computer, LEGOs, the Batmobile, G.I. Joe, R2D2 from Star Wars, and the iPhone. While the interiors of the in-color cards are totally blank, the black and white cards contain silly pre-written messages inside, some random puns, some intended for specific occasions. For example, the card for the Fishing Lure says “The way to a man’s heart is through his fly.” The card for the Hammer says “It’s your birthday get hammered.” Patent Press cards are sure to go over gangbusters with someone who happens to be a bit of an inventor or tinkerer, or anyone with a specific hobby or area of interest. Most greeting cards picked up at the local grocery or department store eventually get tossed in the garbage bin (and before you ask, no, there doesn’t appear to be a card with the patent artwork for a garbage bin or trashcan) after the holiday or occasion has passed, but Patent Press cards are so unique and of such nice quality that anyone who receives one will surely have a greater appreciation for the thoughtfulness that went into having a card personalized to his or her interests.

Gears of War: Ascendance Novel — Buy from Amazon:

Taking place immediately following the events of Gears 4, Ascendance follows Kait Diaz, Marcus Fenix, JD Fenix, Del Walker, and some other familiar faces in an action-packed story leading up to the start of Gears 5. After discovering the Swarm hive at Tollen Dam and the death of her mother, Kait, the central figure of this prequel, is plagued by nightmares fueled by feelings of grief and guilt and revenge. Eventually, after returning to New Ephyra to meet with First Minister Jinn, Kait and Marcus sneak out to help young survivors she recognizes from recon footage of her village, while JD and Del, facing the consequences for going AWOL, are promised full pardons and reinstatement of rank if they agree to investigate a monitoring station that suddenly went offline at a locust burial site out in the badlands, gathering intel so Jinn can find out if the Swarm is an isolated incident or a spreading problem. Like the games, you can expect plenty of signature Gears-style firefights, set pieces, chainsaw bayonet kills, impossible coincidences, and saved-at-the-last-second moments, but not so much when it comes to deep characterization. The author does a good job of eluding to different weapons and game elements, like active reload and cover hopping, without being gratuitous about it. Small nods to events and moments from the OG trilogy are deftly woven into the storytelling as well. I’ve played the first three games but missed Gears 4, so I was pleased with the author’s ability to make me aware enough of the events immediately prior that I didn’t feel lost. I was comfortable enough with the characters and world from the original trilogy that I was able to sink right in and enjoy the ride.

Disney Stories for Kids — Buy from Amazon here and here:

It’s never too early to introduce kids to the wonderful world of Disney, and with these storybooks you can begin your own child’s lifelong friendship with Mickey Mouse and pals from the toddler age and beyond. You’ve got two choices here. Disney Stories for 2-Year-Olds and Disney Stories for 3-Year-Olds, both stuffed with 14 different Disney tales. Disney Stories for 2-Year-Olds contains more general stories about Mickey, Minnie, Donald Duck, Goofy, and other characters engaging in fun adventures, such as decorating a firetruck for a parade, going on a camping trip, having a picnic in the park, building a treehouse, and running a pet shop. Written with just a little more complexity, Disney Stories for 3-Year-Olds contains simplified retellings of iconic movies like The Lion King, 101 Dalmatians, Aladdin, Bambi, Dumbo, The Jungle Book, and more. The illustrations are bursting with color and personality, and even though the images don’t move they capture all of the charm and heart of the classic Disney animations us older folk grew up on. Each story is paired with color-coded trim laced with white silhouette icons matching the story’s theme and characters. Each book even has a page at the front to write in who it’s to and from, perfect for personalizing as a gift.

Reckoning of Fallen Gods: A Tale of the Coven — Buy from Amazon:

This second installment in R.A. Salvatore’s latest epic fantasy series The Coven, successor to the excellent first book Child of a Mad God, continues the stories of Aoelyn and Talmadge as a new evil emerges and the our two heroes face new challenges. I only just started reading book two to get ready for the third book set to release in January, so I’m not far enough long yet to speak with many specifics about how the characters and story have progressed. I’ll just simply say that as soon as I jumped into Reckoning of Fallen Gods, I’ve been sucked right back into the world, and find it hard to peel myself away whenever I’m able to resume where I left off. The only thing dragging me down so far is how ridiculous Salvatore’s naming convention has become. I don’t recall having too many issues with the first book, but early on in part two I’ve encountered names and words I can’t even begin to fathom how to pronounce. That’s not uncommon for fantasy and science fiction, but I don’t know, it just seems more pronounced here. Beyond that little annoyance, Reckoning of Fallen Gods thus far is an engaging follow-up to Child of a Mad God. I’m excited to see where things go for Aoelyn and Talmadge, and can’t wait to close out the trilogy next month. Anyone with an affinity for epic fantasy should definitely give The Coven series a read.

The Making of Alien — Buy from Amazon:

Ridley Scott’s legendary sci-fi horror film turned 40 years old this year, and The Making of Alien is just the right birthday gift–or Christmas present–for fans to rip into with all the violence of a chestburster tearing through its host’s thorax. Sure, there have been plenty of books and home video bonus materials documenting the troubled production of the 1979 classic, so the most ardent Alien fans probably know all that there is to know about their favorite movie. However, I think it’s safe to say that The Making of Alien is the most extensive chronicling of just how much of a hellish nightmare the filming turned out to be. This beefy tome is loaded with over 330 pages of interviews, never-before-seen set photos and storyboards, script excerpts and drafts. Even though it is a visually gorgeous book to behold, this isn’t just another art/coffee table book with a bunch of imagery alongside a short paragraph or two of commentary. Oh no, my friends, this book is so much more than that. It is the complete and definitive story about how Alien came to be, and anyone who considers him or herself a serious fan of the movie or franchise at large absolutely needs to have this book in their library.

The SNES Omnibus Vol. 1 & 2 — Buy from Amazon:

“Whether you’re a gaming child of the 80s and 90s who simply wants to flip through the SNES archives and reminisce about past game experiences or a history buff genuinely interested in learning more about the SNES library, The SNES Omnibus books have something meaningful or relatable to offer for everyone. The books are exhaustively researched and thoroughly analyzed. As an added bonus, both volumes end with retrospective-like articles about other SNES relevant topics, such as the Super Game Boy, the history of emulation, the Super Scope and light gun games, and the original console wars between Nintendo, Sega, and NEC.” Read our full review here.

Cuphead “Don’t Deal with the Devil” Puzzle — Buy from Amazon and GameStop:

“I can’t think of another game in recent memory with a visual style I’d most want to see translated into a jigsaw puzzle than Cuphead. Well, whaddya know? USAopoly must’ve gone off and made a deal with The Devil, because my wish of a Cuphead jigsaw puzzle has been granted! Even in a static medium, the game’s expressive, vintage 1930s cartoon animation jumps to life in this 1,000 piece 19″ x 27″ (actual size is 19.25″ x 26.625″) premium puzzle, Cuphead and Mugman happily standing atop poker chip stacks in front of a grinning, looming Devil. The only thing missing is some big band jazz. You’ll have to provide the tunes on your own, just turn the game on and let it run in the background while you jigsaw away.” Read our full review here.

FiGPiN — Buy from Amazon:

“Given the size, premium construction and detail, and the inclusion of a display box, FiGPiNs outclass other pins in both quality and value. (Not that they’re in any way a replacement of course, because traditional pins are right-sized for other settings and applications.) It’s honestly hard to believe they’re comparably priced at $15 and under and not sold at a higher premium. FiGPiN characters are available in a wide range of licenses spanning many known brands of geek and popular culture, from gaming franchises and DC and Marvel superheroes to rock bands and anime series like Dragon Ball Z and Naruto.” Read our full review here.

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!