This Year's Top 10 Gift Sets5 Dec, 2013 By: Thomas K. Arnold
1. Dexter: The Complete Series Blu-ray Collection (Paramount/CBS): One of the hottest and most-talked-about TV series ended its run this fall after eight seasons, and Paramount has packaged the entire show in a cool wooden slide box inspired by the one Dexter himself uses to catalog his kills. The 25 discs come in individual one-sided jewel cases decorated with a huge blood spatter on the other side. The box is a bit pricey at $460 for the Blu-ray Disc version, but it’s readily available at retailers in the low $200s. And at that price it’s a deal. There’s also an Amazon exclusive gift set, packaged in a white human head, for a C-note more, but I’ll take the slide box anytime — less money and more compact for storage.
2. Breaking Bad: The Complete Series (Sony Pictures): This is the other hugely popular TV series that ended its run this fall, and my hunch is there are very few people out there who wouldn’t appreciate finding the complete series — packaged in a “money barrel” — under their tree. Again, it’s quite pricey ($300), but could be had at a steep discount ($209 at BestBuy.com), although word on the street is it’s nearly sold out and may no longer be available by the time this story runs (Amazon already had it only through its secondary marketplace, where sellers were listing it for at least $500).
3. X-Men: The Adamantium Collection (20th Century Fox): At an average street price of $130, this one’s a real bargain: You get all six “X-Men” films on Blu-ray Disc, including the recently released The Wolverine, in a package topped with a replica of Wolverine’s claw. There’s also a bonus disc and an extra slot in the case for the seventh “X-Men” film, X-Men: Days of Future Past (scheduled to open theatrically in May 2014).
4. James Dean Ultimate Collector’s Edition (Warner): I love Warner’s stuff — the studio consistently outdoes itself with its premium “Ultimate Collector’s Edition” line, and this $99.98 SRP boxed set (around $70 in stores) commemorates the brief career of the fabled actor who has come to symbolize 1950s cool with Blu-ray Disc versions of his three films — East of Eden, Rebel Without a Cause and Giant) — as well as a glorious 48-page photo book with lots of behind-the-scenes photos.
5. The Dark Knight Trilogy: Ultimate Collector’s Edition (Warner): Another of Warner’s new UCEs, this one packages all three films of Christopher Nolan’s Batman reboot in a $99.97 SRP boxed set that also includes two new features and exclusive collectible memorabilia, including Mondo art prints, three toy vehicles (the Tumbler, the Batpod and the Bat) and a behind-the-scenes booklet.
6. JFK: Ultimate Collector’s Edition (Warner): Yet another Warner UCE, this one centers on Oliver Stone’s controversial film about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, a conspiracy-laden thrillfest that makes you question everything you’ve ever heard about the notorious killing. The timing couldn’t be better (Kennedy was killed 50 years ago), the set sells for less than $50, and there are all sorts of cool collectibles, including reproductions of the late president’s inaugural address, a campaign poster and various photos and correspondence. There’s also a photo book and six postcards.
7. Anchorman Ultimate Blu-ray Fun Pack (Paramount): In a brilliant marketing ploy, the genuinely funny original has been repackaged into a Walmart-exclusive gift set on the eve of the theatrical debut of the sequel. The package costs less than $20 but includes not just the spruced-up “Rich Mahogany Edition” two-disc Blu-ray Disc edition, but also a T-shirt, a 16-page booklet and coupons for a free pint of Ben & Jerry’s Anchorman Scotchy Scotch Scotch ice cream and a movie ticket to see the sequel in theaters (it opens Dec. 18).
8. Twilight Forever: The Complete Saga (Lionsgate): A great compact gift set that includes the entire teen-vampire saga, spread out across 10 Blu-ray discs (or 12 DVDs) with ample bonus content, including a comprehensive multi-part documentary. If you’re a “Twilight” fan, I can’t think of a better gift — even if someone you know already owns all the movies, it’s worth the upgrade, given all the extras. And the price won’t bust your wallet: the DVD set is readily available at retail for less than $40.
9. Futurama: The Complete Series (20th Century Fox): One of the greatest animated series of all time is presented here in its entirety — all 124 episodes, plus four feature-length epic adventures, for more than 50 hours of whacked-out hilarity from “The Simpsons” creator Matt Groening. And while I liked the robot head packaging that came out in 2009, this neat rectangular box is so much easier to stash away in the movie closet. It’s priced below $200, but for diehard Futurama fans — my three sons included — price really doesn’t matter (especially when dad’s paying for it).
10. Beverly Hills, 90210: The Complete Series (Paramount/CBS): I was addicted to this show — essentially a soap opera about high schoolers growing up in ritzy BH — until my own kids started being born and I had to wean myself away from primetime TV, and honestly have been waiting for a complete-series set for years. It finally arrived last month, a dozen years after the original series went off the air, in an elegant white-and-fuchsia boxed set filled with 72 discs and 215 hours of drama. The list is $350, but I’ve seen it go for about $150 on Amazon and elsewhere.