Day three of the larger-than-life PopCult Gift Guide brings you gift ideas for three things that will enrich your life: Toys, Chocolate, and Comedy
G.I. JOE ADVENTURER Limited Edition Reproduction
$43 or $79 from the G.I. Joe Collectors’ Club
(817) 448- 9863
Full disclosure time: I am a member of the G.I. Joe Collectors’ Club, and I write for their website. The reason is that I’m a die-hard, unrepentant G.I. Joe collector. The club produces some of the best reproductions of classic toys in the world. For the past few years, the club has treated us to top-notch reproductions of the Adventure Team G.I. Joes, complete with accurate packaging, and authentic materials. These toys are near-perfect copies of the toys we had (or wanted) from our childhood.
This year, the club has stepped up a notch and has given us the “Adventurer” (commonly known among collectors as the “Black Adventurer”). This African-American figure was produced in small numbers, and is very hard to find in decent condition today. I don’t remember even seeing them in stores when I was a kid. Examples in mint condition, still with their packaging, can run hundreds of dollars, or more. This club edition features a perfect copy of the original figure, complete with the flocked afro, shoulder holster and pistol, and Adventure Team dog tags. The reproduction box also includes copies of all the original paperwork.
As a bonus, you get an enamel pin depicting the Adventure Team’s trademark Yellow ATV. The reason there are two prices listed is because these are produced for club members only. If you aren’t a club member, then you have to join to get this item, and your membership is included in the price. This is a great gift idea, because, not only do you get a really cool gift to wrap and put under the tree, you also get a monthly reminder of how cool G.I. Joe collecting can be, with the club newsletter and Mastercollector Magazine and other benefits. The G.I. Club figures are a rush of nostalgia for the person who had these guys as a kid, and it’s much more affordable to buy this reproduction than it is to lay out the big money that the vintage figures command on eBay.
EVEL KNIEVEL SUPER STUNT SET
$39.99 plus shipping from Back To Basics Toys
Speaking of cool toy reproductions, Back To Basics Toys has an exclusive set featuring a reproduction of the Evel Knievel Stunt Cycle, one of the best-selling toys of the 1970s. This set includes a figure of Evel, his famous motorcycle, the crank-operated launcher, and an assortment of ramps and obstacles. Plus you get a ring of “fire” and a brick wall, into which you can propel your miniature daredevil. Each set is individually-numbered, and comes with a booklet explaining the history of the toy. Anyone who had this toy as a kid knows how much fun it can be to make the much-injured Evel jump over the furniture, bounce off walls and crash into the grill on the front of the refrigerator. This could be a great bonding gift for a father and son. Maybe you’d better buy two, though. Some dads aren’t going to want to share.
HOT WHEELS CLASSIC TRACK SETS
$6.99 to $24.99 only at K Mart
You know, maybe I should have called this the “cool retro boy’s toys” category. This recommendation for your Holiday shopping list is yet another blast from my past. Mattel has gone back to the halcyon days of the late 1960s and recreated the original Hot Wheels experience. K Mart is the only place you can find these Hot Wheels Classic race track sets, with the original bright orange track. There are a variety of sets available, including the basic set with five feet of track and clamp to hold it onto a table, and the elaborate Mongoose & Snake Drag Race Set (pictured). You can also find the famous loops and ramp stunt sets. Coolest of all, Mattel recreated the original box graphics, with the then-cool mustard yellow motif, and great paintings of the toys in action. Next March, I’m expecting a new nephew to be bounding about, and it’s great to have an excuse to stock up on cool toys for him. Of course, I’ll have to try them all out, first.
48-PIECE G COLLECTION GIFT BOX
$125 plus shipping from Godiva Chocolatier
Well, the toy category was dominated by gifts for the guys, so to make it up to the ladies, here’s some Godiva Chocolate. A huge, expensive box of Chocolate, to be exact. For this very high price you get 48 assorted pieces of fine Godiva Chocolate, the kind for which women are known to kill. There’s a lovely presentation box with a ribbon, so if you want, you can be a total cheapskate and keep refilling it with Brachs Candies that you bought at Fas Chek. Offer it to your guests and they’ll tell you how much they love Godiva Chocolate, and how this is the best they ever had. You can get smaller assortments, but why be cheap when you’re being so extravagant?
MORITZ GERMAN MILK CHOCOLATE ICE CUBES
$12.95 plus shipping from The Vermont Country Store
You know, some people go nuts over the Godiva stuff, but for my money, the best chocolate in the world is good old ICE CUBES. These used to be found almost anywhere candy was sold, but lately you pretty much have to resort to the Internet to track down these tasty little morsels. You can get a bag of 28 of the double-thick Ice Cubes from The Vermont Country Store, which has a lot of other cool antiquated brands of food, candy and cosmetics. They also carry about 400 things made out of maple syrup. It is Vermont, after all. Ice Cubes are a great little chocolate treat, and if frozen and smashed, they make the best chocolate-chip cookies you”ll ever cram sideways into your mouth.
FOX’S U-BET CHOCOLATE SYRUP
Around $2.50 at many area grocers
So you need a stocking-stuffer for a choco-holic, eh? Well, Fox’s U-Bet Chocolate Syrup is just what you’re looking for. I first heard of this on a Food Network show about Egg Creams, and when I found it in a local store, I picked it up to see what all the fuss was about. This is, quite simply, the best chocolate syrup you’ll ever taste. It’s perfect for homemade milkshakes, egg creams, hot chocolate, and particularly creative romantic evenings. This stuff is so good that I want a blender now, just so I can make more milkshakes, and I don’t even like milk! It’s just a U-Bet syrup delivery system for me. It’s cheap. It’s chocolate. What more do you need to know?
THE COMPLETE MONTY PYTHON’S FLYING CIRCUS 16-TON MEGASET
Around $150 where DVDs are sold.
If you don’t like Monty Python, then you don’t like comedy. This gigantic 16 DVD set contains all 45 episodes of the original Monty Python television series, plus 1982’s “Live at the Hollywood Bowl,” 1989’s “Parrot Sketch Not Included,” and 1998’s “Live In Aspen.” You also get all the extras from the original 14 DVD Megaset, interviews, behind the scenes features, and the infamous German-language program. I could start reeling off the classic comedy sketches contained in this set, but I’d be here all day. Suffice to say, this set is the perfect gift for the Python freak in your life. In addition to the pure joy of simply owning this set, you also get to stop watching the show on BBC America, with the 8-minute commercial breaks. This set preserves the shows uncut, and uninterrupted. It’s like the Encylopedia Britannica for anglophile comedy geeks.
FULL BOTTOM NOT ANOTHER HALF-ARSED DVD SET
$26.97 from Amazon.com
Unless you’re an anglophile comedy geek, you may have never heard of BOTTOM. Maybe you’ve heard of The Young Ones, the hit Brit comedy that MTV brought over in the mid-1980s. Well, Rik and Vivian from that show were portrayed by two British mainstays of the Alternative comedy scene, Rik Mayall and Ade Edmonson. BOTTOM was a series that ran from 1991 to 1995, and basically told what happened when Rik and Vivian grew into middle-aged losers and were forced to live together because nobody else could tolerate them. They have different names in this series, but they’re essentially the same characters. Rik Mayall is Richard Rich, the creepy twit, and Ade Edmonson is Eddie Hitler, the dangerous lunatic. This is crude, outrageous fun, and you’re likely to hurt yourself laughing. Don’t expect anything highbrow here. BOTTOM is like a live-action Ren and Stimpy with every cheap laugh possible wrung out of the material. After the series ended in 1995, Mayall and Edmonson continued playing the characters in a series of live tours (preserved on DVD) and a feature film, none of which have been released legally in this country. If enough people can rush right out and buy this set, maybe we’ll finally be treated to the DVDs that tell the rest of the story, farts and all.
LENNY BRUCE: THANK YOU, MASKED MAN
$11.98 plus shipping, from Concord Music Group
Without Lenny Bruce, comedy today would be vastly different. This guy blazed the trail that made Richard Pryor and George Carlin possible. He was rude, profane, controversial, and brilliant. This collection of routines recorded in clubs from 1958 to 1963 captures this tortured comic genius at his peak, with classic riffs on Tarzan, Jazz musicians, Superheroes, and of course, the Lone Ranger. The real treat of this enhanced CD is that, in addition to the audio content, you can slip this sucker into your computer and watch the classic cartoon, “Thank You, Mask Man,” with Bruce doing all the voices. This cartoon played on the midnight movie circuit for years before disappearing from sight in the mid-1980s. It was last seen intact on USA Network’s “Night Flight” in the early days, before they started censoring their programs. The obscure and soon-to-be-ex network, Trio, made a big deal out of showing this cartoon during their “celebration of free speech” festival last year, but they bleeped the more offensive words, which sort of defeated the purpose. On this enhanced CD, you get the full, uncut cartoon. Any fan of edgy comedy will love this CD.
Tomorrow, Day Four of our epic journey through your wallets continues, with gifts ideas centered on Monkeys, Apparel, and Superman!