Day Four of the infamous PopCult Gift Guide finds us staring in the face of three things we can all use more of in our everyday life: Monkeys, Apparel, and Superman.
With Peter Jackson’s remake hitting the big screen soon, interest in the story of King Kong is at it’s highest since 1976, the last time someone tried to re-do this classic. To commemorate the release of the new Kong, the folks at Turner have put together an amazing package that includes a restored print of the 1933 film, King Kong, along with two documentaries about the film; “lost” sequences; commentary from legendary stop-motion animator Ray Harryhausen; a 20-page reproduction of the original souvenir program; postcards depicting scenes from the movie; and a mail-in offer for a movie poster, all housed in a collectible tin. This is a great gift for the movie buff, monkey aficionado, or big hairy guy on your Christmas shopping list.
You may want to consider a different option, though. If you think your giftee cares more about the movie than the packaging and extras, for the same price, you can get a 4-DVD set that has the same discs as this set, but also throws in the sequel, Son Of Kong, and the related film, Mighty Joe Young, in which master animator Willis O’Brien, who brought Kong to life, was joined by a young Ray Harryhausen, who took the craft of effects animation to new heights. All the films have amazing restoration jobs, with the prints looking better than they have since their original theatrical release. The 4-disc set doesn’t have the extra goodies or tin box, but it does have two more movies. Either way, King Kong is a must-have for the simian cinema fan on your list.
Zippy The Chimp Look-a-like
$19.95 plus shipping from The Vermont Country Store
Zippy the chimp was a beloved fixture on The Howdy Doody Show, and for years after that show went off the air, toy versions of Zippy were a popular toy all over the world. My kid sister had one of these, and she was born long after the Doody gang had shuffled off the airwaves. Millions of kid had this faithful companion, with his monkey grin and ever-present banana. To clarify, this is the Zippy the Chimp from the Howdy Doody Show, the one who wears the yellow shirt with red suspenders. There were other, different Zippy The Chimps, including one who painted abstract art, and another who appeared on many TV shows during the 1950s and 1960s, and may have possibly been a Gabor sister. This is not a licensed copy. His shirt doesn’t say “Zippy” on it, but otherwise, it’s a perfect replica of the classic toy. If you know somebody who grew up with one of these toys, this is the perfect gift to take them back to the days when they liked to monkey around.
$5.95 plus shipping, from Archie McPhee
Smoking is a nasty habit–one of my pet peeves, in fact. So what better way to illustrate how horrible smoking is than to have a monkey–an animal known for throwing and flinging all sorts of nasty things around–demonstrate how silly an addiction tobacco is.
Well, not really. Monkeys are just funny. And a monkey wearing a fez is even funnier (a fact of which Archie McPhee is well aware). So when you have a ceramic monkey in a fez with a butt going, well, it’s pretty funny. The tiny monkey cigs are not real demon tobacco, they’re just incense wrapped in paper, so you don’t have to worry about giving cancer for Christmas. This is a cheap little stocking stuffer that’s guaranteed to put a smile on someone’s face. If you know somebody with a really twisted sense of humor, you might want to try the Smoking Baby!
Indiana Jones Hat
$100 plus shipping from Miller Hats 1-800-789-0839
I started wearing hats this year. After seeing myself in the audience on the IWA East Coast DVDs, I came to grips with the fact that I am fairly, well… bald. Now, it’s not pure vanity, or displeasure over my missing hairline that has me wearing hats. You see, having no hair means that I no longer have to worry about HAT HAIR! I’ve always liked hats, but whenever I wore them, once I removed the hat I looked like that mug shot of Nick Nolte. Not anymore! Now I can wear any kind of hat available, and not worry about mussing up that what ain’t there no more. If you have someone on your shopping list who has been liberated from worry about their hair, you might want to consider giving them a hat. You can’t go wrong with a fedora, and the coolest fedora is the one worn by Indiana Jones in Raiders Of The Lost Ark. Miller Hats is the world’s largest online hatter, and aside from the Indy hat, they carry tons of headgear, from bowlers to gauchoes. This is the perfect gift for hat-wearer on your holiday list.
Kinky Friedman Campaign T Shirts
$20-$25 plus shipping from Kinky Friedman.com
Kinky Friedman has been a comedy country balladeer, a best-selling mystery novelist, and now, he’s campaigning to become the next Governor of Texas. You can support Kinky’s quest by marching over to his website and snapping up one of his 20 or so campaign T-Shirts. They sport some pretty funny logos and slogans–my favorite is “Why The Hell Not?”–and they’re a great way to interfere in the politics of somebody else’s state. Your support may help Kinky ascend to the top spot in Texas government, and then, maybe he can rinse the horrible taste out of the country’s mouth that was left by a certain other Texas governor. Bop around his website and you can get an idea of Kinky’s platform, and take a look at his other fund-raising merchandise, like the talking Kinky Friedman action figure. Do you have people on your list who have become disillusioned and depressed over the state of politics in this country? Well, you can buy all of them Kinky Friedman T-shirts. I think they give bulk discounts.
Wicked Cool Wristbands
$4 to $10 from Wicked Cool Stuff.com
Do you have a cool, yet sweaty person on your shopping list? If so, you should head on over to the Wicked Cool Stuff.com, and snap up some of these nifty wristbands that feature a variety of pop culture images. My favorite, pictured in the middle of the photo at right, is Meatwad, from Aqua Teen Hunger Force. You can also find wristbands featuring The Muppets, Invader Zim, Family Guy, various superheroes, and other pop icons of the modern age. And they’re really absorbent! Who wouldn’t want to wipe their brow with Davey and Goliath? This is a good, cheap stocking stuffer with a coolness factor that can’t be matched by any other perspiration-inhibiting device.
Superman 13 Inch Deluxe Collector’s Figure
$89.99 plus shipping from Entertainment Earth
Ninety bucks may seem like a lot to spend on an action figure, but this is one very cool action figure. This 1/6 scale Man Of Steel has many points of articulation, and sports some incredibly-detailed sculpting. Not only do you get the Last Son Of Krypton, but you can also dress him in his Clark Kent outfit, which is included in the package. The cool thing is, once you dress him as Clark Kent, nobody can tell that he’s also a Superman action figure. He looks totally different! Superman comes with two sets of interchangeable hands, the Kent clothes and glasses, a “steel” girder that he can bend, a copy of the Daily Planet, and breakaway chains. There are plenty of Superman fans out there, and if you have one on your holiday shopping list, this is a great toy for them to put on their shelf. Then when no one’s looking, they can hold it and run around the house making “whoosh” sounds.
A few weeks ago, I sang the praises of the television show Smallville, and one great way to catch up with this terrific retelling of the Superman legend is with the DVD collections. Each DVD boxed set contains an entire season of the show, and you’ll get to watch them with crystal clear DVD quality, instead of the really crappy local broadcast signal that we get. This is the story of a high-school aged Clark Kent, as he learns of his Kryptonian heritage and great powers. Long time fans of Superman will get a kick out of this fresh re-casting of the legend, and they’ll really enjoy the foreshadowing and in-jokes. You can find these sets at a variety of prices. Season Four has just been released, and will cost the most, but many stores are discounting the earlier boxed sets to as low as twenty dollars each. This is perfect for the Superman fan on your shopping list.
The ideal stocking stuffer for the super-hero fan on your holiday list, All Star Superman is what happens when DC Comics decides to clear away all the convoluted continuity and back story from the current comics, and allow the top creative talents in comics to tackle iconic stories featuring that pre-eminent superhero, Superman. Grant Morrison has been one of the top writers in comics for years. He managed to bridge the gap between Vertigo-style modern Goth, and DC’s standard superheroes. After becoming a sought-after commodity in comics, Morrison was hired away by Marvel, and spent a few years taking The X Men to new heights. Now, he has returned to DC, and brought his X Men artist, Frank Quitely, with him. The result is wonderful. This is the most fun Superman story in ages. Lex Luthor is trying to kill Superman. No pretenses, no convolution. Superman is a good guy with a secret identity, who fights to protect the world. The writing is sharp, the artwork is gorgeous. This is what Superman is supposed to be. At three bucks, it’s a great, inexpensive gift.
On Friday, we wrap up the gift guide with PopCult picks for Movies, Art Books, and General Weirdness.