Christmas Gift Guide 2015: Blu-rays, games and books

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Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit

The Hobbit Trilogy - Extended Edition


For those who think Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit trilogy was about two films too long, an hour of extra footage is hardly going to silence their orc-like moans. But for Tolkien devotees, this is an essential purchase. Watched as one, The Hobbit is now a nine-hour movie; when you factor in the thirty hours of special features, the only unexpected journey you’ll be taking is to the deep vein thrombosis ward of your local hospital.


die hard nakatomi

Die Hard - Nakatomi Boxset


Limited edition novelty box sets are rarely as vertiginous as this, which brings the greatest action movie of all time together with its two decent sequels and the two we don’t talk about in a skyscraper scale model. If you want one, you’ll have to go out to the coast (and possibly have a few laughs) – currently, it’s only available in the US.

Amazon US

Planet Earth

Planet Earth


The young people in your life will look baffled and confused when you attempt to offer them gifts of physical media. DVD? Blu-ray? Whatever, Grandad! Helpfully, the BBC are attempting to stay ahead of the curve by offering HD downloads of classic TV shows from across their enormous archive – and you can’t go wrong with Uncle Attenborough.

BBC Store


James Bond - 23 Film Premium Collection


This latest “complete” package of 007 adventures wisely avoids using the word “complete”. Spectre – not yet on Blu-ray – is conspicuous by its absence here, with a ‘space reserved’ in the packaging. Nonetheless, Bondoisseurs will still hanker over this immaculately presented premium collection, which comes with a staggering 120 hours of special features, plus a book on the series. Oh, James.



Babadook Special Edition


Last year’s most memorable horror featured a ghoul from a pop-up storybook which, when read, came to life and haunted some hapless Australians. In perhaps the most shrewdly obvious special edition Blu-ray, this disc features an actual pop-up storybook of said top-hatted demon. Don’t read it alone. Or perhaps, to be on the safe side, at all.



Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase Two Collection


Marvel is developing a knack for special edition box sets that nerds can devour like manna. Their Phase One collection took the form of the steel briefcase holding the tesseract, not unlike the MacGuffin at the heart of The Avengers. Phase Two sees another glowing infinity stone – this is the one filched by Star-Lord – as the centrepiece of the 13-disc set. Completists: assemble!

Amazon US

Walking Dead

The Walking Dead Season 5 - Limited Edition Blu-ray


If you’re the sort of person who feels like your house doesn’t feature enough rotting corpses, this could be the just the decorative ornament you need. For the fifth season of AMC’s zombie-infested hit, they’ve got a bloodied walker emerging from the depths of the five-disc set. The perfect gift for the necrophile in your life.

Amazon US

The Wire

The Wire Complete Collection


David Simon’s small screen masterpiece finally made its debut on Blu-ray this year. The legendary HBO drama was originally broadcast in 4:3; in a painstaking process, genius creator David Simon went back to the original film stock to remaster and resize, in glorious, high definition 16:9. The result? Sheeeeeeeeeeeeeeet. The best television show of all time just got better.



Fallout 4

Fallout 4 Pip-Boy edition


Fallout 4 is the the game on everyone’s nuclear-charred lips at the moment, and it’s hard to not to take notice of a special edition extra like this: an actual wearable Pip-Boy, the on-board wrist computer featured in the game, memorably described by comedian Conan O’Brien as “Microsoft’s version of the Apple Watch”. Will come in very handy, should you suddenly find yourself in a nuclear winter.


Guitar Hero

Guitar Hero Live with Guitar Controller


Remember Guitar Hero? That game you became briefly obsessed with ten years ago because it gave you the tiniest hope, vain though it was, that your dreams of being a rock star could still be fulfilled? Well, it’s back, in shimmering HD, with real-life crowds of actors replacing those fuzzy pixelated crowds of yore, to once again offer futile hope to talentless millions. Rock on, good buddy – but don’t give up the day job.


Mad Max

Mad Max Post-Apocalypse Edition w/ Blu-ray and License plate


The best film of the year also produced one of the year’s better spin-off games. And like its mumbling leather-jacketed anti-hero, this special edition is simple yet brutally effective in its execution: there’s no fancy toys, no plastic figurines, no elaborate art cards. Just the film, the game, and a license plate. As Max might say: “mmm-hmmm”.

EB Games

Mario Amiibo

Super Mario Maker Special Edition w/Amiibo


Toys aren’t just toys anymore. These days, for kids to be interested, toys must come equipped with sophisticated NFC technology that can communicate wirelessly. At least, that’s the idea behind Nintendo’s Amiibos range. This pretty package pairs a pixelated Mario Amiibo with the superb Super Mario Maker - ideal for highly technologically literate children. So, all of them.



Bloodborne: Game Of The Year edition


It may have been announced as ‘Game Of The Year’ three months before the year was actually finished, but Sony’s grand proclamation does not come as a surprise. Only Metal Gear Solid V and Journey scored higher on Metacritic this year, and of the three, Bloodborne jostles to be the best, deftly blending Lovecraftian horror with crisp next-gen RPG action. This edition includes the expansion pack The Old Hunters, offering literally weeks worth of bloody, violent gaming. A gothic treat.



Borderlands: The Handsome Collection Gentlemen Claptrap In A Box Edition


Newcomers to this gorgeously rendered RPG/first-person-shooter series would do well to go for this limited edition set, which comes with the original game, the 2011 sequel and “pre-sequel”, plus a smartphone app-controlled CL4P-TP unit. You too can be Handsome Jack! (Handsomeness not included.)




Terry Pratchett - The Complete Discworld

approx £300-400

This year, the peerless Terry Pratchett sadly departed to the great L-space in the sky. But his astonishing body of work lives on. Forty-one books in the Discworld series were published, and though no official collected anthology exists, dedicated Ankh-Morporkians can easily gather the complete series together, one-by-one. In total, Discworld amounts to roughly three and a half million words, which should last you until at least next Christmas.

Terry Pratchett Official Website

Civil War

Marvel’s Civil War - collected edition


Civil War is coming: next April, with Captain America 3 (aka “Avengers 2.5”) hitting the big screen, all the talk will be Iron Man this, Spider-Man that. Perfect time, then, to delve into Mark Millar’s comic book original, which reads like a blockbuster movie in print form, Marvel’s finest going head-to-costumed-head. Time to pick a side...


Harrison Ford In Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Star Wars: The Force Awakens - A Visual Dictionary

£14.99 (available from December 18)

You’ve got your ticket to the first midnight screening of Star Wars. You’ve got your Star Wars action figures. You’ve got Star Wars: Battlefront (and you’ve already completed it, twice). You’ve got your remote-controlled BB-8, your Star Wars Lego set, your Star Wars lunchbox, duvet set, tape dispenser... Now, if you just get this comprehensive visual dictionary to the new film, maybe you’ve got the set. Maybe.


Roy Batty in Blade Runner

Blade Runners, Deer Hunters, and Blowing The Bloody Doors Off: My Life In Cult Movies - Michael Deeley


What links The Italian Job, Blade Runner, The Deer Hunter, Don’t Look Now, and the David Bowie alien movie The Man Who Fell To Earth? Answer: Michael Deeley. You may not know the name, but Deeley is a British uber-producer behind some of the greatest cult movies of all time. This fascinating and often very funny memoir sometimes reads like the novelisation of Lost In La Mancha.



The BFG (30th anniversary edition) - Roald Dahl


Steven Spielberg is currently beavering away on his big-budget adaptation of this whizzpopping classic - making now an ideal time to return to Roald Dahl’s cherished original novel. This zippfizzing 30th edition features a smart gold slipcover, Quentin Blake’s gorgeous original illustrations, and Dahl’s unimprovable words: “gobblefunk”, “scrumdiddlyumptious”, “squiff-squiddled” and “babblement” all coined for the book.

Roald Dahl Official Website

Game of Thrones

A Knight Of The Seven Kingdoms - George RR Martin


While Game Of Thrones goes from strength to strength on HBO, fans of the original novel series are getting increasingly worried about George RR Martin’s workrate. With two very long books still to come in his A Song Of Fire And Ice series, Martin continues to dilly-dally, insisting on doing interviews, lectures, conventions, ‘holidays’, whatever that is – and prequel novellas like this one, set a century before the first book. Yes, yes, it’s all very nice, George, but WHAT HAPPENS TO ARYA? TELL US WHAT HAPPENS, GEORGE. WE’RE NOT GETTING ANY YOUNGER, GEORGE. PLEASE!