I hate shopping for gifts. By that I mean, physically showing up at the mall or a conglomerate of stores, fighting traffic, looking for that one thing I’m trying to find and then doing it all in reverse. I’m far, far happier clicking the mouse a few times and then getting what I need in a day or four. With that in mind, I’m constantly searching the net for cool things to get fairly cheap, for people who are interested in stuff this site covers. I post some findings to Google Plus, but I’ve been quietly compiling them as well.
First, there’s the 60 games and geek goodies for (mostly) under $20 post. I put together a yearly list of inexpensive yet fun to awesome things you can get, and this year we’re up to 63, with a few more honorable mentions as well. I’ve found a few more neat things from around the web and I thought I’d add them in to a new post for your edification, and possibly to help out folks looking for good gift ideas. Click the pictures to get to the product. On top of that, Geeks Explicitly #24 is all about the gifts. 15 more ideas there!
Yes, a chunk of them are from Amazon.com, and yes they are affiliate links. We use what money we raise from affiliate links to help support this site. It doesn’t cost you any more but it certainly gives us a boost!
First, let me introduce you to Dragon Chow dice bags. Lyndsay is one of us – a geek who loves gaming. She gets it. She also makes some really fantastic products. She is in no way affiliated with us but I can say I own a couple of her bags and I love ’em! They’re sturdy, look awesome and hold my 40ish dice without issue. It also rocks that Dragon Chow is a small business with a big idea and a great product. Check it out.
Dominion! The game that launched the deck building revolution! Or at least, the deck building sub-core of hard core gamers. I love this game – tons on tons of replay potential here, fast game times for 2-4 players and a very solid game rules-wise.
You are a monarch, like your parents before you, a ruler of a small pleasant kingdom of rivers and evergreens. Unlike your parents, however, you have hopes and dreams. You want a bigger and more pleasant kingdom, with more rivers and a wider variety of trees. You want a Dominion. In all directions lie fiefs, freeholds, and feodums. All are small bits of land, controlled by petty lords and verging on anarchy. You will bring civilization to these people, uniting them under your banner. But wait. It must be something in the air, several other monarchs have had the exact same idea. You must race to get as much of the unclaimed land as possible, fending them off along the way. To do this you will hire minions, construct buildings, spruce up your castle, and fill the coffers of your treasury. Your parents wouldn’t be proud, but your grandparents, would be delighted.
Quarriors! Think deck building, but with bags of dice instead! If you know someone who games and who loves the feel of a fistful of dice – this game is for them! Quarriors, published by Wiz Kids, follows a now-familiar model of deck building, but dispenses with the deck and uses dice instead. This changes the game in a number of ways. It does add an additional random element to game play. It also allows you to stuff your ‘deck’ into a cloth bag and shake it about, a process that deck-building game owners abhor, as I can attest by trial and error, and having to buy people a number of replacement games. In Quarriors that kind of thing is okay though. Shake away my friend, it’s all part of the fun! Here’s my full review of this game.
Wicked Lasers. Whenever you look at a laser pointer you think… cool! When you see a laser pointer with a visible beam of light, you think… lightsaber! When you see a laser with a 24 mile range, the ability to pop balloons, that you need special protective goggles to operate and which can be see for miles around, you think Wicked Lasers. I owned the Krypton brand green laser and let me tell you, it was freaking amazing. We took it out one Halloween and people were wandering over from blocks away to find out what that cool laser thing was. They even offer the Saber model, which is, well, a light saber! I should caution you that these aren’t really toys – they’re powerful, can burn things, blind people and get you in a mess-load of trouble if you shine them at or in the wrong things. But just like life-sized trebuchets, if you treat them with respect and use them responsibly, they’re a hell of a lot of fun.
The Goonies! Possible the best movie from my childhood that didn’t have Harrison Ford in it! As a bonus, it’s been $5 on Amazon for a while now. Stocking stuffer, nostalgia bringer, truffle shuffle inducer – this movie has just about everything. Evil real estate developers, pirates, bank robbers, pirate skeletons, a band of kids surviving in an underground death maze by their wits, gems, and a song by Cyndi Lauper. You may be surprised to discover that the director of the Lethal Weapon movies and scary horror flick The Omen, Richard Donner, also produced and directed this classic children’s adventure (which, by the way, was written by Donner’s screen-wizard friend Steven Spielberg). Then again you may not. The Goonies, like Donner’s other movies, is the same story of good versus evil. It has its share of bad guys (the Fratelli brothers and their villainous mother), reluctant-hero good guys (the Walsh bothers and their gang of friends), and lots of corny one-liners.
Kiki’s Delivery Service. I have two daughters, and with daughters comes a certain responsibility. I need to purchase slightly smaller training swords for instance. While they are into as many geeky things as other little boys and girls, they still have an unwavering tendency to drift towards bears that care, little people named after cakes and what have you. To make this trend more tolerable for my wife and I, we started introducing Studio Ghibli films to them. They ate them up wholesale, with Kiki’s being their all time favorite. It’s a coming of age story about a young witch, striking out on her own. It’s also a lot of fun for kids without being at all smarmy to watch as an adult. Kiki is an enterprising young girl who must follow tradition to become a full-fledged witch. Venturing out with only her chatty black cat, Jiji, Kiki flies off for the adventure of a lifetime. Landing in a far-off city, she sets up a high-flying delivery service and begins a wonderful experience of independence and responsibility as she finds her place in the world. Bring home Kiki’s Delivery Service from Studio Ghibli and Disney for your family’s DVD library and share Kiki’s high-flying adventure again and again.
Gallium. The most metal of metals! Seriously, this stuff is amazing. It melts in your hand, unlike everyone’s favorite candy that almost but didn’t appear in that E.T. movie. It’s probably non-toxic (although reports of prolonged exposure leading to itchy hands have been made). What geek out there would not want to show off their gallium? Don’t take my word for it, read this review! Also note that if this review were taken out of context, it would be for an entirely different kind of website. I purchased this for my husband for Christmas and he hasn’t stopped playing with it since. He loves to pull it out and show it off. METAL!
The chances of that actually happening are pretty slim though, since we’re not currently a long time ago, etc., etc. Here though, is your chance to simulate doing just that thing – and the part that really sold it for me? “A game of tactical space combat in the Star Wars universe for two players.” Seriously, that’s all I needed to hear. While I don’t own the game yet, it’s very high on my list of stuff to add to my collection. I enjoyed Battleship Galaxies a lot and think this is the logical step forward.
I’ll never be an evil villain, or a mad scientist. I just don’t have the chops for it. I don’t want to kill innocents or be the sole leader of some robotic super-army, and I hate monologues. I do have a sense of humor with a slightly evil bent however, and I’ve found that the Eviltron is a wonderful, fun and ultimately practical-joke-revenge-inducing thing. What is it? It’s the opposite of a cold war bug. You hid it in someone’s cube/office/house/car and it sits there quietly, only occasionally and randomly making some evil noise, like kids laughing, or someone saying “hey, can you hear me?” The beauty is, whatever noise it makes, it’s just long enough to get your attention but not long enough to track this little bugger down.
Dungeons & Dragons. The franchise on which many role players hung their first RPG hat. There’s no reason not to continue the tradition, especially as the D&D 4th edition Red Box starter set Bonanza Box Goblin Claw Dragon Face thing is under $14 right now. Seriously, got kids or someone not into role playing games that should be? Get them this. They’ll LOVE it. It’s chock full of everything you need to let your imagination run away from you and do all kinds of cool things while you’re not keeping a close eye on it. You’ll enjoy the experience, trust me.
I’m absolutely horrible at crafty things. My wife tried to get me to join her scrapbooking club back in the day. It’s not that I don’ t like scrapbooking, it’s that my scrap books look like they were made of actual scraps. From the dinner table. I wouldn’t have fed them to pigs. So why then is there a knitting book on this list? Partly because I stumbled on it and the title made me laugh, and partly because people who can take some yarn and build a cat are like some kind of Frankensteinian gods to me. Knit. A Cat. Amazing. So if you’re into knitting, or know someone who is, and you’d like to see them churn out a small herd of cats, this is probably the book for you.
Yes, bacon. Meme-tastic, all over the web, in your face bacon. This however is a serious bacon gift. No band-aids that look like bacon, or bacon flavored toilet cleaner or some such thing. This, my internet friends, is a bacon press! What does it do? It presses bacon! You never knew you needed this until you have it, and then it makes itself indespensible when it comes to cooking bacon. You get flat, evenly cooked, nice and crispy bacon every time, with no splatter! It’s even got a cute little picture of the pig who’s belly you’ll be gnawing on shortly! And with no splatter, you can finally cook bacon without a shirt on. Pants are still no optional though, sorry. (Extra warm holiday thanks to Keith for moving my bacon sites from ass to belly!)
Before Kevin McKidd became the only actor on Grey’s Anatomy who doesn’t habitually repeat their lines at least three times unnecessarily, he was Lucius Vorenus. Rome is an intense, realistic, maddening and wonderful glimpse into the world of ancient Rome. The production company that worked on the show for HBO did a bang-up job of recreating Rome as it most likely would have looked like, from the pedestrians to the pomp. This is not a show for kids though, it’s a violent look at a violent time when sex was used almost literally as a weapon. For the history geeks out there who haven’t seen or don’t own the series – get it. It’s a great look into a turbulent time in Roman history.
So there you have it. 12 more gifts, plus a link to an additional 70ish or so, plus a link to the Geeks Explicitly podcast where Jonathan J. highlights 15 additional geeky gifts. Hopefully this will make your holiday shopping a wee bit easier.