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Every year, the big home distribution companies pop out several thoughtful and intricate Blu-ray sets. Most of the big ones are adequately advertised and gleefully waited for by eager fans. 2012 was a great year, one that saw Brave get a 3D cover to match the content inside, one that saw the Avengers get a multitude of different releases with different sets of extras for different fans, and one that saw a Prometheus 4-Disc Collector’s Edition set that was to die for. In the same year that Bond turned fifty and the Dark Knight rose, there were still plenty of sets that probably didn’t get the prominence they deserved.
These under the radar sets certainly have their fan bases, and could make a great gift for the right person. Now, Cinema Blend writer Jessica Rawden is here to navigate a few of 2012’s less prominent sets, and help readers to find one that you may have missed, but that could absolutely, positively make a good gift. So, if you have a nostalgic friend or a collector friend, if you know an animation lover or a musical fiend, you’ve found the right list.
1. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Complete Classic Series Collection
Many a young child found seemingly never-ending joy in the animated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon series, airing between 1987 and 1996. For nearly a decade, we laughed at Rafael’s bad jokes, rooted for the rat Sensei to make it out of tight situations, and cringed at April’s bright yellow jumpsuit. It’s hard to imagine a set that captures the exact magic of a childhood favorite series, but the TMNT: The Complete Classic Series Collection actually achieves it. Featuring all ten original seasons housed in a classic turtle van, this set is for all lovers of the Ninja Turtles.
Pair it With: The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles live action triple feature. It was a good year for the Turtles, and this 3-movie film set comes with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, TMNT II: The Secret of the Ooze, and TMNT III: Turtles in Time. Cowabunga!
2. The Pirates! Band of Misfits Blu-ray
Somehow in the U.S., animated flicks from Aardman Animation haven’t really caught on. This summer’s attempt at bat, The Pirates! Band of Misfits is a great little animated comedy, about a group of pirates who aren’t particularly competent at their jobs. Filled with humor for adults and kids alike, you would think this one could have pulled in a little more than the measly $31 million it earned domestically. Don’t let the box office intake fool you; The Pirates! Band of Misfits is pretty awesome. To top it off, the Blu-ray set is chock full of bonus features, including some basics, like audio commentary, several short films, behind-the-scenes footage, and even a few games for the kids.
Pair it With: I’d suggest some sort of treasure hunt, but if you lack the time and energy for a project of that ilk, a good way to throw a fun set together would be to toss in some cool pirate patches, like these kid-friendly foam patches Target sells. Even if you are buying for an adult and not a child, the right person would find the patches kind of kitschy (I know this because I am that girl).
3. Little Shop of Horrors: Director’s Cut Blu-ray
Over the years, Frank Oz’s Little Shop of Horrors has become a cult classic, known for it musical numbers as much as its outlandish science fiction premise. The 2012 Director’s Cut has been brought to audiences in fully remastered glory with the original ending, which makes the dark comedy that much darker. It’s a ”must have” for fans of Little Shop of Horrors and should prove an interesting watch for anyone who’s ever caught the theatrical version of the film.
Pair it With: What else? A venus flytrap, perfect for terrarium use, and relatively easy to take care of. I personally like the Zoo Med Libraries starter plant, which looks sufficiently campy enough to be the perfect complement to the film.
4. Harold and Maude Criterion Release Blu-ray
Criterion releases are, almost by definition, a great “under the radar gift set with tons of bells and whistles. While there are the weirdos plenty of weirdos constantly looking for new Criterion releases, most of us just happen upon them on shelves from time to time, and may miss a gem or two that would be right up our alley. This year, Criterion put out a slew of great releases, including the 1954 Godzilla and the extra-filled Brazil. The best gift, however, might be Criterion’s Harold and Maude release, which tells a surprisingly touching story, comes with a sweet booklet, and drawn cover art. Most importantly, however, the flick is fully restored for Blu-ray. It's a sweet deal.
Pair it With: Another Criterion release. I gave some great 2012 suggestions, above, and if all else fails, The Royal Tenenbaums Criterion is the probably one of the best purchases I ever made. Remember, if you are buying Criterion, you’re probably buying for a film snob, and purchase accordingly.
5. Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection Blu-ray
For some reason, Universal Classic Monsters was sort of lost amidst some of this fall’s other big box sets, which include a Blade Runner: 30th Anniversary Edition box set, Bond 50, and Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures. It’s a shame, because the Universal Classic Monsters set features eight of Universal’s most prominent horror flicks spanning from 1931-1943. All are cleaned up and look great on Blu-ray, and the set as a whole features over 12 hours of bonus features and a 48-page booklet.
Pair it With: Some leftover Halloween candy, because nothing says spooktacular like re-gifted candy. Not buying my theory? It’s a great gift box filler, and besides, if you just dropped $120-$160 bucks on this gift set, your friend or family member can deal with some less than fangtastic filler.
6. I, Robot 3D Blu-ray
I know a good chunk of the population doesn’t have 3D Blu-ray players, yet, but bear with me. I, Robot has always been a fairly underdog endeavor in the world of popular sci fi movies, despite the presence of Will Smith. The big draw for this set is not the 3D movie, although if you have 3D capacity, that’s pretty cool. The big draw is the bust of Sonny that comes with the release. Occasionally, Blu-ray movies come with toys and trinkets, but this is one of the coolest by far, if you can find a way to get your hands on this fall’s release.
Pair it With: Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot. Asimov’s short works of fiction are an easy way to jump into theoretical science fiction and rhetoric, plus they are darned good stories. Your children will thank me later.
7. Marvel Knights: Astonishing X-Men Blu-ray
This year was a big year for superhero flicks, which is why something like Joss Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men full series Blu-ray release may not have gotten nearly as much notice. While not noted for its slew of extras, Astonishing X-Men does feature all four motion comic arcs and does put them into a full set on Blu-ray for the very first time. It's a good gift, and unlike the Sonny bust, it won't leave your wallet completely empty.
Pair it With: Provided you are not buying this set for a firm Astonishing X-Men fanboy, grab a copy of The Astonishing X-Men: Volume 1. Joss Whedon's writing, coupled with John Cassaday’s art work, have re-thought the classic X-Men and breathed new life into the characters, plus you’ll be able to catch this one for like 10 bucks.