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SALT LAKE CITY -- If there's one person the average holiday buyer fears above all others on their gift-list each year, it's the unapologetic geek.
Geeks pride themselves on being eccentric and misunderstood. They know things no normal human cares to know, like why the new iPhone camera has an additional lens, or how many hats Harrison Ford used while filming "Raiders of the Lost Ark."
They are passionate, opinionated, and the most prone to either adore or despise your holiday offerings.
So to help the non-geek shopper out this season — and with considerable effort to avoid the obvious solutions (such as laptops, tablets, movies or gaming devices) —we’ve put together a holiday guide that may help you find exactly what you need.
From the reasonable to the not-likely-to-afford-in-this- lifetime selection, here is the 2011 gifts for geeks holiday guide:
USB Plasma Ball ($12.99)
Geeks know their scientists like sports enthusiasts know their favorite teams, and Nikola Tesla is an all-star in their baseball card line-up. Only, there are no scientist baseball cards. Instead, Tesla fans have one of these somewhere in their office. And the best thing about this little plasma ball is it's powered by the ever-convenient USB port.
No, no I don't know why you would ever need a caffeinated marshmallow. But let's be honest — a normal marshmallow wouldn't do the "Stay Puft" brand justice.
Pass a box of these on to your dear geek friend as an added kick to any cup of hot chocolate, or gift it for the novel, marshmallowy-textured box that makes for a great, nostalgic decoration.
Steelseries Shift MMO Keyset ($24.99)
The PC gamer is a dedicated group, and nothing says you know their plight like a custom keyboard designed specifically for the massive multiplayer online (MMO) crowd. It's true, this gift probably ensures you'll see said friend even less than you currently do, but when you do see them, they'll know you love them.
Why give this one? Because geeks like pizza and "Star Trek." And often times, they're eating pizza while watching "Star Trek." This gift says you know that, which means this gift says you care.
The iCade ($79.99)
If you know of an iPad owning geek, this may be the perfect accessory. Built like a minerature, classic arcade frame, iCade allows you to play classic video games with all the nostalgia of an 80s blanket.
If the $80 pricetag is a bit steep, Atari released a $60 dollar competitor that lacks in design, but still allows for familiar controls and arcade action.
The “Art of” or “Making of” Book
There's not just one book to suggest here, because each geek has their own obsession. There's the:
- Art of Star Wars, Episode IV - a New Hope
- The Making of Avatar
- The Lord of the Rings Sketchbook
- Star Trek: The Art of the Film
- Disney That Never Was: The Stories and Art of Five Decades of Unproduced Animation, and on and on.
The point is, behind-the-scenes art books are always a great choice and in almost every case, they are under 50 bucks.
3-Player Chess Set ($59.95)
Three-player and four-player chess sets are an excellent idea for strategy geeks. by increasing the number of spaces and players, variations increase exponentially, causing even the most seasoned chess player to stop and scratch his or her head. Traditional chess tactics often fall flat in these games, which also means for the first few rounds, the average player may be able to sneak in a win.
Croc Doormat ($69.90)
Pitfall Harry has led the charge in both video games and television shows. But his crowning achievement, the adventure that gave him the street cred and name recognition that he currently enjoys, was his 1982 adventure for the Atari 2600. And now, everyone that goes to the door of your gift recipient will be able to live that adventure as well.
While most behind-the-scenes art books fall under $50, this is a special case. "75 Years of DC Comics," as the Amazon description states, gives "year-by-year timelines that fold out to nearly four feet and biographies of the legends who built DC (to) make this an invaluable reference for any comic book fan."
Currently "Entertainment Earth" is out of stock on this, so contact them before you order from the above link, but Amazon is also selling this replica for around $350. Both sites also carry the Dread Pirate Roberts Sword replica as well.
If your geek is a Princess Bride fan, but you're not enjoying a $300 budget this season, you may want to consider the "Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya" t-shirt.
For those "Doctor Who" fans who readily admit they'd like to dress with the same fashion sense as the Eleventh Doctor, this is their gift. The replica jacket is based on the sixth season of the show and is actually licensed by the BBC. While the jacket is pretty slick in and of itself, the price tag makes it only worthwhile for the die-hard fan.
Rivendel l ($399)
Yes, Rivendell. WETA created an open-edition collectible replica of the now famous house of Elrond. It is based on the Lord of the Rings films, and as the site says, "built by the same artists and craftsmen that work on our movies. The combined efforts of 14 people have resulted in a stunningly detailed environment that evokes the serenity and peace of the House of Elrond."
MONEY IS NO OBJECT
When people ask about the moment Apple finally started turning their brand around, most Mac fans point to the "Think Different" advertising campaign. It was obviously something they believed in, but more importantly, it caught the attention of the aspiring creative genius. Without the Apple logo and slogan, the posters are still amazing. With the Apple logo and slogan, they define a moment in geek history.
If iCade was headed in the right direction, but felt $3,000 or so too cheap, then you may want to give this "Pac-Man" arcade table a look. Built by the original creators of "Pac-Man" (Namco), the table was created to celebrate the 30-year-anniversary of the world's favorite yellow protagonist.
And if "Pac-Man" isn't enough to persuade you to open up your wallet, how about "Galaga," "Galaxian," "Dig Dug" and 8 other classic games?
The price may sound steep, but if you remember, Zoltar had the power to transform Tom Hanks from a little kid to an influential toy imagineer in "Big." There, of course, is no guarantee on wishes with your purchase, but let the receiving geek worry about that. He or she is probably just going to use Zoltar to display the Stay Puft box you purchased anyway.
DeLorean Replica from Back to the Future ($450,000)
If, to save yourself some time, you were just going to buy your geek friend a very nice home, please consider this last item instead. While a house would provide your geek friend a place to store Hot Pockets and Mountain Dew, this DeLorean replica would allow your friend to constantly quote Michael J. Fox while playfully reminding you that it would take 1.21 jigawatts of electricity to power his or her present. Just think about it is all we're asking.
To wrap this list up, remember that a donation to a loved one's favorite charity is often a cherished gift that will stay with your friend or family member a lot longer than Zoltar. Utah Food Bank, Toys for Tots, efforts for relief in Thailand, and the many opportunities coordinated each year through local church and community efforts are just a few of the great resources you can use to gift what this season is all about: peace on Earth, and good will toward men — and maybe a caffeinated marshmallow.