5W Friday Panel: The 5W Holiday Gift Guide!

Need help finding a great gift for that special geek in your life? We're here to help! Every Friday, we will host a virtual panel session on a topic of the week, capturing The Fifth World staff having a dialogue about a given subject.  This week's topic: holiday gift buying for geeks.

Greg Morrow

https://shop.dwarvenforge.com/collections/dungeon-painted -- for the fantasy RPG player in your family. 3D modular painted miniature terrain for your favorite dwarf cleric or elf sorcerer player to adventure through. Caverns, towns, and castles, too!

Okay, that is super cool.
Miracleman vol 1-2: It has "everything you knew was wrong". It has "it was all a dream". It has a corrupt superhero. It's the story of a man who said a magic word and gained godlike powers. And even though everything I just said sounds silly, has been done before, is just cliche grimdark: Writer Alan Moore imbues the story and the script with such power, executed brilliantly by artists Gary Leach and Alan Davis, that even though you've read some other version of just about everything in here, some older, mostly younger, this remains the standard that we measure the worth of every other revisionist superhero against. Not for kids, but for that superhero fan in your life who's ready for more.

Not for kids!
http://www.priweb.org/paleopals/store.php?page=ppals_home Paleo Pals, plush denizens of the Paleozoic oceans. Who wouldn't want a cuddly trilobite or a soft, huggable eurypterid? Maybe dinosaurs and other megafauna are your thing. Try https://www.stuffedsafari.com/Stuffed-Dinosaurs-and-Plush-Dinosaurs-s/6.htm and hug a triceratops or a mammoth!

D'AWWW! (image (c) Stuffed Safari.com)


The big problem with gifting to geeks is that geeks tend to fall into two categories: financially okay, and broke as hell.  Leaving aside the several volumes of discourse about that because I'm not trying to bring down a holiday giving post, each of these states presents a challenge.

The financially okay geeks are hard to buy for because they probably already bought it.  And that too.  And the only reason they don't have the other thing is because they think it's a horrifying soulless abomination of plastic.  I know this because now that I have a decent job and security and stuff, I am really hard to buy actual geek gifts for.  The time delay between "know it exists" and "own it" can sometimes be measured in minutes.

The broke-ass geeks, on the other hand, may have very little already, but they also don't have a lot of room to store more stuff, so they need to focus on just the things they REALLY want.  That can make gifts stand out as really inferior on the shelf, and make gifts feel more like obligations.

If you're good with creative stuff, that's probably your best bet in each case.  The moneyed geeks will get something they couldn't buy, and with the broke geeks you probably have a decent idea of what sort of thing they'd love to commission if they could only afford it: art of their OC, fanfiction of their favorite ship, etc.  Crappy financial service ads aside, sometimes the gift of words really is the best thing.

"But I can't draw/write/sculpt/etc!" you might say.

AHHHHH, but here's where you can turn one gift into two, and maybe brighten the day of someone you barely know at the same time.

Buy works from creative geeks to give to your geek friends.  Help an artist friend make rent at the same time as you provide a writer friend with a painting or drawing of their main character.  Buy print on demand collections from webcomic creator friends to give to friends you know don't already read that comic, or who can't afford hardcopy collections (which usually have some content that's not available online).

Even if you're not well-connected within the creative community, it's not too hard to search sites like deviantArt or Etsy for artists looking for commission work.

(And if the artist flakes out and never delivers, here's a suggestion for the broke friends: practical "boring" gifts like socks or mass transit passes can show you care and also free up space in their budget so they can buy that thing they've been wanting for ages but didn't tell you about.)

JL Franke

Build a custom miniature at HeroForge.com.  Hero Forge offers a web interface to design your own miniature in a number of different games, from traditional D&D to sci-fi, with several genres in between.  Choose among multiple models for race, features, items, and pose.  Want to build a miniature cat person riding a motorcycle wielding a shotgun and sword, accompanied by a cat familiar?  Here you go!  Hero Forge can fabricate your miniature in plastic, steel, or bronze.  If you want to 3d print it yourself, choose the digital download option for an STL file instead.

That does look cool.
For the socially conscious comic book fan

Make a donation to two top comics-related charities, the Hero Initiative and the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.  The Hero Initiative offers financial assistance to comic book creators who have exceptional needs.  Past recipients of aid from the fund were given comfort in their dying days, rescued from homelessness, and supported in rebuilding their lives after disaster.  The CBLDF works to defend comic books and comic book professionals from censorship.  CBLDF has helped defend collectors charged with possessing obscenity, artists being sued over their works of parody, and librarians fighting book banning.

A most worthy cause!

Jason Tondro

For the Marvel fan in your life

Marvel Unlimited is “Netflix for comics.” For $10 a month, you can read every comic Marvel has ever published, going back to the 1940s. Only very recent comics are excepted. For fans, this is such a good deal, I can’t even explain it. Sure, a lot of important, popular, and famous stories have been collected over the years in trade paperback editions, but those things cost money and take up space, and your “one and done” comics readers aren’t interested in owning it forever anyway. With Marvel Unlimited, they can read every issue of every character, not just the ones Marvel has decided to pre-package for you. Howard the Duck. Man-Thing. The original death of Thanos in Marvel Two-in-One. Every comic Chris Claremont ever wrote for Marvel (or Frank Miller, or John Byrne, or whoever). An annual membership to Marvel Unlimited is $70.

But They Don’t Like Marvel!

Well, now you’re in a bit of a pickle. Because DC Comics has not yet engaged with the Netflix model, and there’s no equivalent service for DC. However, you still have a really interesting option for your comics fan, especially if they’re the independent sort…  Comixology Unlimited. Comixology is a digital comics service that hosts comics online, and their version of “Netflix for comics” focuses on so-called “indy comics,” comics which non-comics fans may never have heard of, but which are a growing and exciting voice in the comics field. Comixology Unlimited hosts about half as many total comics as Marvel Unlimited (in other words, only about 10,000!), but they include some important and influential creators: Stan Sakai’s entire Usagi Yojimbo, Mike Migola’s Hellboy, The Walking Dead. $5.99 a month.

Dungeons & Dragons?

If you know your child, sibling, or parent plays D&D and you’re looking to get them something they don’t already have, may I recommend Adventures in Middle-earth. This is a rulebook for how to play D&D in the world of Lord of the Rings. I have run this game myself for my local friends and it’s phenomenal. It has all the love and respect for Tolkien that you want, married to an easy to play set of rules that your D&D fan already understands. Gamers have been using D&D to play in Middle-earth for over forty years; this book shows you how. Start with the Player’s Guide and, if you have a DM in your family, the Loremaster’s Guide. Safest Christmas bet ever made.

Chris Maka

Shopping for holiday gifts geeks is a challenge, because we tend to be so intensely into whatever we're into that the really cool stuff we've already bought for ourselves already. So the first thing I want to talk about is how you, the geek hoping to receive pleasurable gifts, can make life easier for your gift-giving friends and family.

Make a Special Amazon Wish List

Make a private wish list called something like "Super Secret Wish List" and then share it with only a small number of your closest friends and family. Load that sucker up with a vast array of stuff you'd like to get but aren't going to buy yourself anytime soon (and if you do -- after the holiday season, please! -- be sure to remove whatever-it-is from your special list).

Drop Hints With Friends

Basically use a close friend or two who are known to your gift-buyers and use them as organic wish lists. :-)  Tell them, "Hey man, I'd really like to get X, Y, or Z for Kwanzaa. Next time we're hanging with my husband/boyfriend/mom, can you casually drop a hint and clue them in?" This works surprisingly well, and in the future they'll just start asking said friend themselves.

Okay, let's get back to the gift-shoppers hoping to buy something cool for that special geek in their life. The above might seem a little too calculating for the spirit of the season for some, so you want to just shop on your own and you're look for good, original ideas. I got you. I do have some hopefully useful suggestions.

Gift Receipts

Let's just get this out of the way up front: never forget, whatever you get, gift receipts are your friend!

Lesser Known Geek Shirts

Anyone can find a Batman or Star Trek t-shirt on Amazon or at Target, but find a shirt from one of the fan-made sites that not everyone already has and you've got a special gift.

For example, check out www.allposters.com and search under their tees. Here's an example of a Jaws t-shirt I got. https://www.allposters.com/-sp/Jaws-Chalk-Jaws-Posters_i4272609_.htm?UPI=F2JKRL0 It's the chalk drawing Captain Quint makes during the city government meeting where they're trying to decide what to do about the shark. I can't tell you how many compliments I've gotten about this shirt since I bought it. 

"I'm talkin' about workin' for a living! I'm talkin' about sharky! ARRGGHGH!"

Etsy, We Love Fine, and Tee Fury are also great places for unusual, uncommon, geek shirts and hoodies and similar apparel. Just pick a movie, or comic book, or tv show that your geek is into and buy 'em a shirt or hoodie or whatever that fits their style or sense of humor.

Cool/Expensive Action Figures

This depends on your gift buying budget, of course, but a lot of geeks who buy action figures stay away from some of the best out there because of price. The best action figures out there, IMO, are currently being made by Japanese companies, and fortunately they don't just make anime figures (although those are super cool). You can find a lot of these at your local Barnes & Noble or online at Amazon at a discount.

The first term you want to search for is "Bandai Tamashii Nations". You'll find some badass model kits and some really cool action figures. My favorites are the Star Wars and Marvel Superhero action figures that are done in a feudal Japanese style (Darth Vader or Iron Man as armored samurai warriors!). Too cool.
The next term you wanna search for is "figuarts". Also made by Bandai, these incredibly detailed and poseable action figures include Star Wars, Marvel and DC Comics superheroes, and of course lots of manga and anime characters.

I mean check out this Justice League movie Wonder Woman action figure for cryin' out loud!  https://www.amazon.com/Bandai-Tamashii-Nations-Figuarts-Justice/dp/B074C8YZ8C/ref=sr_1_16?s=toys-and-games&ie=UTF8&qid=1512145887&sr=1-16&keywords=figuarts
Now THAT is an action figure.
Ebay Is Your Friend

A lot of cool stuff is out of print or no longer manufactured, but available for reasonable prices on eBay. You can find actual shooting scripts for movies or TV shows. Things like collectible glasses for Star Wars, or unopened packs of collectible cards for Star Trek, Star Wars, Batman the Animated Series, and so on. 

Anyone else remember thesse gems? Love that artwork!

As always, it's the thought that counts. Here's hoping everyone has a merry and geeky holiday season!

5W Friday Panel: The 5W Holiday Gift Guide! 5W Friday Panel: The 5W Holiday Gift Guide! Reviewed by Chris Maka on Friday, December 01, 2017 Rating: 5
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