Steelbooks aren’t getting enough love these days. Netflix and other streaming services make the headlines for teaming up with Disney and the like, but what about the humble metal casing that makes your extra special Blu-ray extra extra special? Following in the footsteps of our The Most Ludicrous DVD/Blu-ray Box Sets Ever and The Most Ludicrous DVD/Blu-ray Box Sets Ever: The TV Edition features comes this, 35 Of The Best-Looking DVD And Blu-Ray Steelbooks Ever Made, which celebrates the sheer prettiness of steelbook covers, and the nerdy collectors who buy them. Here you’ll see at least five things you’ll want to buy straight away, as well as reviews from collectors themselves, which are about as passionate as anyone could be about anything. You have been warned…
Robby The Robot got a fresh lick of paint for this 4000-strong limited run of Forbidden Planet steelbooks, with the original poster art enhanced to boast an altogether greener hue. Thank the Lord they kept the glorious tagline – although we’re not sure why they took the stamp-like border away – as well as the metal coil that looks like it’s bouncing out of Anne Francis’s right breast. Amazing!
You’ll recognise this front cover from the original shooting gallery poster from back in 2009. The differences are the Neill Blomkamp and Peter Jackson tags at the top, and the way the Prawn’s legs have been cut off in the Photoshopping process. The folded poster paper lines remain, however, and it seems that whoever was firing at this particular extra-terrestrial’s silhouette remains a terrible shot. Look at that bullet hole at the top left. Inexcusable, really.
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There are two Thor steelbooks out there. The first is the more readily-available one, which you can buy for £15.99 without much fuss. The second is this one, an HMV exclusive that’s now only available on eBay or other second-hand sales sites. The latter is easily the best of the two, taking the artwork seen on Empire’s cover from back in November 2010, removing the lightning bolts and placing it on a black embossed background. The other side is a slightly less impressive – essentially an attempt to bring Mjölnir to life by putting the magical hammer in amongst some broken glass – but fortunately the front is good enough that you don’t much mind.
The original Hellboy was blessed with more than its fair share of excellent poster art, from writer/creator/artist Mike Mignola’s teaser one-sheet to Drew Struzan’s take. But it was this red ‘n’ black (and yellow) number that made it to the steelbook, with the colours lightened and the position slightly tilted. It also doesn’t have the release date to remind you just how long ago it was when it came out (2004, fact fans).
Empire forumite Sharm Murugiah designed this exclusive Zavvi steelbook for Nicolas Winding Refn’s controversial carve-up, winning the opportunity on a special competition set up on this very website. You might think we’re biased, putting his work on this list, and you’d be right – but considering Winding Refn himself picked it, who are we to ignore it?
Looking at this hell-red take on the original poster, it’s a wonder why the first one-sheet for Sam Raimi’s shoestring-budget horror classic ever went for the blue background in the first place. Of course, the easier move here would have been to have just grabbed the Ash-with-chainsaw-aloft picture everyone knows and loves and stuck it on the front, but Team TED (as no-one calls them) refused to be that first base.
There are just 5000 copies available of this particular steelbook. To drive the point home, each copy is individually laser etched with a number (ideally between one and 5000), which should make you feel all the more special for having coughed up the moolah to pay for the privilege. As for the artwork, the front is very striking, but it’s rendered slightly less impressive by the back, which is just the same picture, but with the words (and massive ‘Z’) removed.
There have been many movies released this year that involve a spaceship – or large ship of some kind – smashing into the Earth, but Star Trek Into Darkness is the only one to have the galactic gonads to put a picture of the incident on its steelbook front cover. If you’re wondering where you recognise the art from, well, like many others on this list, it was first seen on a special poster but this time around it’s been tweaked so the Enterprise is front and centre. Shame Iron Man 3 didn’t follow suit, really…
Notting Hill-based indie design studio La Boca made four different posters for Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan, and all of them are stunning. You can check them out on impawards.com and see more of their other work on their website. Here, one of their one-sheets makes it to the Black Swan steelbook, and though it’s not our favourite – that’s this one – it’s still a stunning piece of art.
The jury’s still out on whether this is technically a steelbook, but it’s made of metal so we’ll give it a pass. Inside the petrol can – which you have to open from the top, like a biscuit tin – is a matchbook-like inlay and a series of art cards. Due its clunky shape, this one of the hardest things to put on your shelf, but it’s still something you’re going to want to show off at every available opportunity.
It’s a simple concept, well executed. A silhouette of the septet of sword-swingers set against the Red Sun, and on the other side, a katana you definitely wouldn’t want to be on the wrong end of – all designed with the Japanese brush effect many fell in love with thanks to The Wolverine’s recent poster efforts.
Disney have never been afraid of a re-release – see their seemingly infinite ultimate/collector’s/platinum/diamond editions – but their steelbook range really stands out. As you’ll see elsewhere on the list, Pixar takes precedence, but five or so animated classics from earlier in the 20th century also make the cut, including this enchanting Ariel design here. They resist using arial as the actual typeface, mind, but you can’t have everything.
It doesn’t actually glow, but with the embossing and the shiny finish, you can just about convince yourself this really is the arc reactor frame from Iron Man 3’s Mark 42. Notice the neat scorch marks around the edges, as well as the dents and scuffs closer to the centre. It’s a shame the look’s not continued around to the back of the book, which instead plumps for a titleless version of the Malibu Mansion poster. In other words, we’re impressed and we like it – but it’s not as good as this IMAX one-sheet.
In our Best Movie Posters Of 2012 round-up, this underused IMAX one-sheet stood tall above the others, with our use of the word ‘palace’ to describe the Houses of Parliament still ruffling feathers in the forums to this day. Finally getting the recognition it deserves, the silver 1965 Aston Martin DB5 is the star of the steelbook here, and Bond knows it.
Begone, water-based boilerplate section from the original Drew Struzan masterpiece – enter, an amped-up version of David Hong’s Lo Pan and more blue sky at the top. In fact, you could take any of Struzan’s work – apart from Cowboys & Aliens, perhaps – and it’d make a good steelbook cover, as the next example proves beyond a shadow of a doubt…
This is the Goonies poster you know best, but there were others. Well, one other, in the form of this torn-map-and-pointing-adventurers number is the artist behind the Empire Of The Sun one-sheet, most of the Lion Kings, Batman Returns’ triple header, Beauty And The Beast’s glowing dance, E.T., Blazing Saddles and the Little Mermaid art seen earlier on this list – and though not as well-known as Struzan, still worthy of his own Goonies steelbook, which you can check out here. Expect more Alvinesque artwork later – the next page, in fact.
It’s a clever thing the steelbook designers have done here. In John Alvin’s original one-sheet, Stripe has a red crayon in his hand because he’s crossed out the words “Cute. Clever. Mischievous. Intelligent. Dangerous.” from the first Gremlins poster and written “WE’RE BACK” above it. On this steelbook, however, he’s no longer bursting out of a box in Billy’s hands, and the logo has gone from white to red, thereby explaining the crayon. And while we’re on the subject, here’s a top tip for steelbook collectors: don’t get them wet (it’s bad for the disc) and don’t feed them after midnight (that would be weird).
Guillermo del Toro’s stunning horror-tinged fantasy has inspired much fan art over the years that there’s a page at DeviantArt dedicated to housing it all. But no matter how much effort an amateur might put into their work, they’re not going to match Drew Struzan here, whose key art is so striking it even superseded this beautiful image of the Pale Man many steelbook aficionados thought would win out.
The two most memorable images from David Fincher’s Seven follow-up, The Game, are the life-sized clown doll that pops up in Michael Douglas’s driveway and the poster key art of Douglas’s noggin as it turns into a jigsaw puzzle. This re-release’s designers didn’t want to play by those rules, however, going for this oblique image of a wooden artist’s mannequin having its strings pulled. MD going to pieces, meanwhile, is relegated to the sports section, and the clown’s eye ends up inside the steelbook itself. It’s not often that you can’t work out a film from its Blu-ray’s front cover, but if there’s going to be one, it makes sense that it’s The Game.
Titty Twister’s star performer, Santánico Pandemónium, so vividly brought to life/undeath by Selma Hayek, isn’t in the film for long, but she makes such an impression that you can understand why Robert Rodriguez’s steelbook team plumped for a picture of her instead of, say, Tom Savini’s codpiece revolver.
Roger Kastel’s poster of posters was originally the cover of Bantam Book’s paperback edition of Peter Benchley’s novel. Spielberg and Universal liked it so much they put front and centre of the film’s marketing push, making it a merchandising phenomenon in the process, epitomised by this steelbook here (and that Jaws slurpie cup tucked away somewhere in your attic).
You might know Jock from his comic-book work on Judge Dredd, The Losers, Batman and Wolverine, or you could know him from this specially-commissioned Raid piece that first appeared in Empire. Since its 2011 debut, it’s hit Mondo and now the steelbook edition of Gareth Evans’ blistering action spectacular. Fingers crossed he’ll be called upon for the sequel’s posters, but in the meantime, be sure to check out the trailer for The Raid 2 – AKA The Raid: Berendal – here.
There’s a small part of us – a very small part, admittedly – that wants the long-forgotten flying bed poster from Terry Gilliam’s dystopian satire’s original release to grace the steelbook edition, but this newly-designed neon Jesus look will have to do instead. Turn it over and you’ll see a glorious shot of Jonathan Pryce, fully silver-suited and bountifully bewinged, coming right at you, arms raised high. It’s a picture worth the price tag alone.
At no point does Humphrey Bogart whip out a pair of “blazing automatics” and prove their explosiveness in The Maltese Falcon. He’s shot at by other people, and he’s threatened by bad ‘uns with guns, but there is no real opportunity to verify the tagline 1940s marketeers cooked up for Dashiell Hammett’s seminal noir over the course of the film. Still, it’s a damn good-looking piece of art – even if part of it turns cyan where the original was white – and at under a tenner, it’s hard to resist.
Say what you like about The Place Beyond The Pines – not enough Baby Goose, not enough stunts, not enough Bradley Cooper with his top off – that line of lines really is one hell of a line. So it makes sense that “if you ride like lightning, you're gonna crash like thunder” is on the back of the steelbook, a delightfully unsubtle contrast to the delightfully subtle sunglasses-centric drawing on the front. The fact is, Ryan Gosling is a very cool cat, no matter how many times you point and laugh at the bubblebath scene in The Notebook, and this is the steelbook that proves it.
But… it’s… landscape. How could they do this? Our steelbook collections are ruined! Sure, it’s going to make shelving a little bit tricky, but if there’s any film that warrants an unusual perspective, it’s Metropolis. Released here in high definition, you can enjoy the 150-minute reconstructed and restored 2010 version (including 25 minutes of footage previously thought lost to the world) on Blu-ray, as well as a 56-page booklet and a 53-minute documentary. In other words, what’s inside makes it well worth it being in langscape (so sorry).
It was set for release on December 1, 2013, but a couple of months earlier it had already sold out – such is the power of seeing everyone’s favourite not-all-that-villainous villain, Wreck-It Ralph, in 8-bit form on the front of a steelbook. On the back is a ‘scene’ from the game, with Fix-It Felix holding his magical golden hammer aloft and Ralph himself looking like he’s about to wreck something in the very near future. Inside is a picture of the candy-themed Sugar Rush game seen in the movie, which is the very definition of ‘shocking pink’, but don’t let that put you off.
Nosferatu is so influential, so revered, so damn spooky that it’s the only 1922 German Expressionist horror film directed by F. W. Murnau to make it to steelbook – a rare feat indead. Starring Max Schreck as the vampire Count Orlok – but not, importantly, Count Dracula – it’s the latest release of a film that was originally ordered to be burned on the grounds it lifted its plot directly from Bram Stoker’s masterpiece. One copy survived, and this is the HD version of that one last copy. Treasure this steelbook, friends, and be sure to only watch it by candlelight.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt did not look that much like a younger version of Bruce Willis in Looper, despite the best efforts of the make-up department. And so it goes with the special artwork commissioned for the Looper steelbook release, only this time around, he doesn’t even look that much like Joseph Gordon-Levitt either. Still, the overall look is great, with the varying blues, the triple-looped infinity symbol and that massive blunderbuss more than making up for JGL’s unfortunate schnoz.
Yes, the Blu-rays inside are the special editions, complete with the extra footage you don’t really want. No, there are no plans at the moment to re-release this steelbook with Blu-ray quality versions of the theatrical cuts. But – and this is an important ‘but’ – the steelbook does look fine indeed. Inside are paintings of Han, Leia, Luke and Yoda, and on the back you can see the young Skywalker take on his father in another beautiful paint-effect version of a Return Of The Jedi still. The prequel trilogy (with Yoda on the front) also looks very good on steelbook, albeit less good on your TV.
The front cover image is that same one you know and (possibly) love from the original Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa quad poster, and that’ll do the job nicely, but it’s the back’s bold and beautiful use of a quote from the film – “I am siege face” – that really makes this worth the purchase. Why they didn’t make the Blu-ray look like a CD of Roachford's 1988 'Cuddly Toy’ is probably because… well, it’d be a bit confusing.
At this point in the list, the web commenters take over, because when it comes to DVD/Blu-ray collecting fanaticism, steelbook collectors are the cream of the crop. So, take it away, Sofiane Slimani (whose full review is so long, so detailed and so passionate we heartily encourage you to head here to read it in full):
“Now this is the way it should be. With Close Encounters of the Third Kind - Zavvi Exclusive Limited Edition Steelbook (Includes UltraViolet Copy), you get all three cuts, all remastered in DTS MA 5.1 and all have been digitally remastered. Thank you so much Mr. Spielberg because this without a doubt has to be one of your best.”
“All in all, this is a classic film with brilliant work by Richard Dreyfus, a superior actor, and a great transfer on Blu-ray. I would encourage you to purchase it. I do hope that this review has been of some help to you in deciding upon your purchase or not.”
Zavvi commenter Oleksandr Fiyalko:
“No words can describe the beauty of this Finding Nemo – Zavvi Exclusive Limited Edition Steelbook. You should touch it with your fingertips. The embossed silhouette of Bruce, volumetric letters of the cartoon's name on the front cover and the relievo frame along a contour are the most memorable details. On the back cover we see the blue depths of the ocean and they really shine in the light of the sun. The designers did not forget to present the inner artwork and it looks very enchanting. This is a very nice steelbook with plenty of fascinating details. It looks very beautiful and worth every penny I've spent on it.”
Zavvi commenter Aladdin takes this (which is one hell of a coincidence):
“Aladdin – Zavvi Exclusive Limited Edition Steelbook is the best Disney movie of all time. I am an avid Disney fan and a big steelbook collector, and this belongs in every collection. I am also very intrigued by the beautiful embossing and great glossy cover with beautiful colour. Aladdin is now the most beautiful steelbook in my collection and it will be hard to outdo this. I bought ten of them to give to all my friends and relatives to and everyone was very pleased. I hope that there are such beautiful Disney Steelbooks are to buy in the future.”
Zavvi commenter SRF Ninja:
“I can't tell you if the sound and picture quality is any good as I still have my steelbook sealed. I'm a collector so some steelbooks stay that way. Overall the Jungle Book steelbook is awesome looking, with debossing and embossing on the front and great colors. One thing I wish it had was a higher gloss look. Overall I enjoy looking at the steelbook – I give this purchase a four out of five.”
Zavvi commenter Skaadoo:
“The steelbook is amazing – much better than I was expecting. I have quite a few but this is easily top five for me especially with the embossed title and chains. Both the film and steelbook are easily five stars.”