Gifts for the comics fan

McClatchy-Tribune News ServiceDecember 16, 2013 

RISK: The Walking Dead Survival Edition has a different playing field and rules than the regular RISK game.

MCT

Got a little geek or geekette in your family? Maybe some big ones? Here's the superhero gift guide for all my fellow nerds - of any size.

For local gift ideas, Time Zone Toys (2945 W. Chinden Blvd., Garden City) and Captain Comics (710 Vista Ave., Boise) are great places to start shopping for all comic book fans.

If you're serious - and related to Bruce Wayne - you might consider the most awesome gift of the year: the Stern Pinball Star Trek machine. Based on the reboot of the Trek movie franchise (the one starring Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto), the Star Trek pinball machine "puts players in Captain James Kirk's chair of the U.S.S. Enterprise, embarking on a journey to protect and defend the planets of the Federation."

So says the press release about the machine, which is as close as this ink-stained wretch will ever get to one. That's because they go for $5,395 (Pro Version), $7,495 (Premium Version) and $8,795 (Limited Edition Version).

But if you can afford it (or have a rich friend), you'll discover it isn't your daddy's pinball machine. Star Trek is Stern's first all-LED version, with colored-coded routes for six "casual" missions and 18 "complex" treks. Most of them seem to be predicated on destroying something called the U.S.S. Vengeance with, naturally, phasers and photon torpedoes. You can also collect bonus features by battling classic Trek villains like Khan, Nero and the Klingons.

Go to www.sternpinball.com for more information, and if you buy it, my number's in the book. I'll bring snacks.

Speaking of websites, there are a number of them that are geek heaven. In fact, one of the best is a site named www.ThinkGeek.com

And, oh, what a treasure trove it is! From a Doctor Who Sonic Screwdriver TV remote ($100) to a Boba Fett hooded bathrobe ($70) to an Avengers polo shirt ($33) to the classic Star Trek Enterprise pizza cutter ($30) to Game of Thrones coasters ($10), there's something for every budget. From "Big Bang Theory" to "Walking Dead," virtually every major genre or geek property is represented.

When I checked ThinkGeek.com on Cyber Monday, most of the items listed above were on sale, with free shipping. While that's probably not true anymore, once you're on ThinkGeek's mailing list they'll alert you to sales throughout the year.

Speaking of sales, I found much the same situation at www.shopdcentertainment.com, the official site for DC Comics superheroes, like Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. On Cyber Monday, a host of statues, action figures, busts and Green Lantern Power Batteries were on sale, with a $25 Cyborg action figure tossed into the deal. Sweet!

Once my wife discovered this site a few years ago, I have accumulated endless amounts of clothing - from bathrobes to boxers - with a Batman symbol on it. And I'm not complaining!

If it's Marvel superheroes you're interested in - that would be the likes of Spider-Man, X-Men and the Avengers - that publisher has posted a holiday-specific site, marvel.com/giftguide. My eye was drawn immediately to the flashy expensive stuff, like the Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase One ($200), a S.H.I.E.L.D. briefcase containing a glowing Tesseract and the first six Marvel movies, from "Iron Man" to "The Avengers." But there's wallet-friendlier fare like "Thor: The Dark World" action figures ($25), Spider-Man bedding (starting at $16.50) and the ever-popular Galactus bottle-opener ($18). Let the planet-eater help you with your meals!

Finally, Diamond Comic Distributors Inc. - which distributes the vast majority of comics in North America - also posted a gift guide available online. There are 72 pages in the Previews Holiday Gift Guide, so set aside a little time.

The vast majority of the material is, naturally, comics - collections, hardbacks, trade paperbacks and the like.

But there are games, toys, statues and apparel as well, from every major publisher, including the ones I've already mentioned. Like Think Geek, Diamond covers the spectrum of geekery.

I'm content recommending RISK: The Walking Dead Survival Edition game ($50) found therein, which is not only an interesting variation of RISK, but a unique game in its own right with play mechanics not for the faint of heart. But you'll also find the Game of Thrones Lunchbox ($19), a Batman: The Court of Owls Book & Mask Set ($25), "My Little Pony Volume 1: Friendship is Magic" ($18), "The Mighty Thor by Matt Fraction Volume 1" ($23) and the Star Wars: Boba Fett Bust Bank ($23). That covers a lot of ages and interests.

The drawback to this website is that you can't order directly; you'll likely have to go to your local comic shop and ask the friendly folks there to order things for you. If you don't know where the closest comic shop is, go to www.comicshoplocator.com.

So go ye forth, fellow Homo Nerdimus, and shop! Somewhere in all of that is the perfect gift to leave under the Bat-Signal this year.

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