We all know the trials of finding the right holiday gift for your loved ones can make December a horrible, ulcer-inducing time of the year. That’s why we’ve put together a list of some of our favorite animation-related goods that will brighten anyone’s miserable winter day. Here’s to the hope of you finding an item or two that will help you cross a name off your list, or perhaps treating yourself to something that Santa and his elves couldn’t possibly find during their busy month.
Bikini Bottom Gastronomique
What would the holiday season be without the kids screaming aimlessly around the house, asking you to find them something to do? Well, this year we can tell you about SpongeBob’s Kitchen Mission Cookbook [Wiley, $16.99]. Our favorite yellow character and his feisty crew at Bikini Bottom have put together a wonderful cookbook that will encourage all your budding Top Chefs in the household. With over 50 mouth-watering recipes for fancy dishes such as Salty Sea Cucumbers, Sponge Cake and Fruit Shakes, Yummy Gummy Jellyfish, Eggs Evil Side Up and Itty Bitty Bread Boats, the little monsters are going to be busy and well fed all year round. After all, who doesn’t need to consult with an animated sponge and all of his sea-dwelling buddies when planning nutritious meals for the whole family?
A Tintin Treasure Trove
Now that Steven Spielberg’s dazzling new movie The Adventures of Tintin has re-introduced Hergé’s intrepid boy reporter to fans all over the world, there’s a slew of new merchandise featuring the comic books’ unforgettable characters. Why not surprise that special Hergéphile on your list with a stylin’ new T-shirt featuring Tintin, his dog Snowy or Captain Haddock? Better yet, get them the classy 12-month calendar or the irresistible Snowy Ty Beanie Baby for only $7.50 or a 10-inch Beanie Buddy for $15.99. The online Tintin store has even fancier items such as the Moulinsart plastic figurine of our young hero holding up the Unicorn ship—which, mind you, is an exact replica of the image on Page 5 of the book—priced at about $30. If you’re shopping with a smaller budget (and who isn’t these days?), we suggest the I Heart Tintin mugs, which can brighten up any old kitchen or office cubicle. Visit store.tintin.com to find details on all of these cool trinkets.
Mr. Joyce Presents
It’s always exciting when a talented artist or animator experiments in a new medium. This year we had children’s book illustrator and animation and TV writer/producer William Joyce (Meet the Robinsons, Robots) set up a new shop called Moonbot Studios which delivers new interactive projects and Apps for the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch. Thanks to exposure at various festivals, fans already know about the animated short The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, which also has a beautifully produced App. Now you can get a new Holiday App version of the release for $4.99 at the App Store. Then, you can check out the short as well as a doc about the making of the short. The holiday app features falling snow from the changing seasons page and enhanced versions of two existing games. (The hand out game includes Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol book, and the cereal bowl game allows readers to rearrange letters to form words and add marshmallow emoticon!) If you want to make your gift even more special, you can order a Morris Lessmore-branded DODOcase in red leather available for iPads at www.dodocase.com/moonbot. This will set you back about $65, but that’s the price you pay for having exquisite taste, right?
Platinum: Not Just for Jewelry
What discerning lady doesn’t love unwrapping a shining trinket this time of year? But if your lady (or fella) is more of a squash-and-stretch than gold-and-gems type, why not gift them the exquisite Looney Tunes Platinum Collection: Volume 1 Collector’s Edition box set? Featuring 50 fantastic, re-mastered Tunes, the set is available in two packaging styles: a limited and numbered collector’s box with memorabilia ($79.98), or standard sized Blu-ray Book sans collectibles ($59.96). Both sets include a Blu-ray Book full of rare images and a cartoon guide by toon historian Jerry Beck. Most of the shorts include commentary and/or alternate audio, and 11 behind-the-toon featurettes are included. A third bonus disc celebrates the life and work of Chuck Jones with documentaries, a greeting from Chuck, a Grinch pencil test and two additional nine-cartoon collections. Your loved one will get much more enjoyment out of this Platinum Collection than an overpriced hunk of metal—even the sparkliest bauble gets boring to look at after a while!
The Best and Brightest
If you’ve been around animators often enough, you know that they are very picky about their comic artists and graphic novels. Each year, around this time, Houghton Mifflin puts out a handsomely produced hardcover titled The Best American Comics ($25), which can easily satisfy the biggest comic snob in your life. The 2011 collection is edited by Alison Bechdel (Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic) and offers a healthy sampling of various styles, artists and subject matters. This year we get Brendan Leach’s Pterodactyl Hunters about a fictionalized 1904 New York City; Chris Ware’s Jordan W. Lint to the Age 65, Joe Sacco’s historical piece Footnotes in Gaza, Joey Alison Sayers’ witty Pet Cat as well as a great excerpt from Kevin Mutch’s Fantastic Life and Eric Orner’s Weekends Abroad. Not only are most of these offerings cleverly drawn and beautifully observed, but they also show how fortunate we are to be living in this renaissance period of the art form. If more animated feature producers looked at this fertile ground to find inspiration for their projects, we’d see less CG-animated nonsense about loud and annoying critters in our movie theaters.
DVD Stocking Stuffers
The December TV animation DVD releases offer a range of gift options for every taste and budget. Topping our list is The Simpsons: The Fourteenth Season on DVD ($49.98), Blu-ray ($59.99) or in the limited collector’s edition with molded head of Kodos (or Kang, who knows?), also $49.98; the two-disc Futurama: Volume 6 set (DVD $29.98, BR $39.99); three-disc Family Guy: Volume Nine ($39.98); or the four-disc SpongeBob SquarePants: The Complete Seventh Season with over nine hours of spongy goodness ($26.98). In the features camp, the little kung fu masters in your life will flip (or chop, or flying high-kick) for the Kung Fu Panda Three-Disc DVD Box Set which boasts both movies plus an all-new adventure, Secrets of the Masters. Each of the three discs also offers fun bonus features, giving you a lot of bang for your $42.99. Any of these options would be a delight to find under the tree—plus, those rectangular boxes are a cinch to wrap.
Source of Inspiration
There are times when the muses of artistic inspiration simply refuse to knock on your door. That’s when you run to your local library (if they still exist in your neighborhood) or bookstores (if they haven’t gone bankrupt) and spend a few hours looking at the masterful work created by the true artists and geniuses behind our favorite animated features. We’ve written about the Walt Disney Animation Studios Archive Series in previous issues, but we just wanted to remind you that the 2012 edition Layout & Background is bound to put a big, fat smile on any toon lover’s face. With 300 copies of original artwork, the fourth book in the series features fantastic drawings by the likes of Eyvind Earle, Maurice Noble, Art Riley, Brice Mack and Serge Michaels—for movies as wide-ranging as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to this year’s Winnie the Pooh. (The Disney Editions books’ listed price is $50, but you can find it for about $32 on Amazon.) Only a Cruella de Vil type would turn up the nose at this one.
A Winning Case
If your parents finally broke down and bought an iPad recently and have been thinking about buying a fancy iPad case for themselves, tell them to wait until after the holidays. That’s because you are going to head over straight to the Powis iCase website (www.powisicase.com) and get them a Design Your Own cover. After all, who wants a tired old case that everyone can order from the Apple Store? You can create a special image that perfectly matches the gift recipient’s tastes (How about a case with the image of Mr. Burns from The Simpsons saying “I am the 1%” or a favorite Miyazaki character?) or use the photo of a favorite relative or pet to design this personalized, durable cover. Do it now before the next big tech thing comes along and makes all of their cool tablets obsolete!
Forbidden (and Totally Awesome) Planet
Those of us who have been following the career of artist Michel Gagné, who has worked as effects animator and designer for features such as Iron Giant, Osmosis Jones, Ratatouille and The Incredibles, are not really surprised that his new game Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet is such a dazzling visual feast. A joint venture with game industry veteran Joe Olsen, Planet is both fantastic to look at and awfully fun to completely lose yourself in. As a player, you become an alien living in a distant planet who has to travel deep into the unexplored regions of a threatening shadow planet. As you travel deeper and deeper into this world, you get access to more mysterious regions that that were previously closed to you. There are also crafty enemy bosses, who are described as “Tim Burtonesque, terrifying and mesmerizing at the same time.” Seriously, it makes all the other games in town so pedestrian! Find out more info about this classic side-scrolling Xbox 360 game and check out the cool eye candy for yourself at www.gagneint.com.
It’s Time to Put on Makeup, It’s Time to Dress Up Right!
We know you and yours were super stoked to see the new Muppets movie that came out over Thanksgiving break, and now Disney consumer has unleashed a range of Muppets goodies that will make your dressing room the envy of Miss Piggy’s! New lines of jewelry, shoes, cosmetics, toys and electronics inspired by Jim Henson’s puppet pals offer something for everyone: Character kids’ kicks from adidas Originals ($38-$65), cool men’s and women’s tees from Threadless ($20-$24) and funky nOir jewelry pieces ($100-$175) are welcome wardrobe additions—unfortunately the ultra-luxe Miss Piggy inspired Diva Glitter Pump from Jerome C. Rousseau ($595) won’t be available until January. (Those would sure beat a box of chocolates for Valentine’s Day!) M·A·C Cosmetics selections ($15-$25) or OPI nail polishes ($8.50) make great stocking stuffers for divas young and old. For the techies in your life, iHome and PDP offer cool iPod accessories for around the house or on the go. And for the more cuddly types on your gift list, you can’t beat the super cute plush toys from Disney Store ($12.50-$39.50)—or, design your own Muppet plush at FAO Schwarz’s What Not Workshop for a personalized gift that says you appreciate that special someone for the felted, googly-eyed critter they are inside.
Real Holiday Magic
There’s been panic on the streets of the Muggle world ever since it was announced that Harry Potter: The Complete 8-Film Collection on DVD/Blu-ray (SRP $98.99, $139.99), which was released last month, would be banished back to the Warner vaults after December 29. Obviously this wickedness is the work of Voldemort, but that shouldn’t stop you from hopping on your broomstick and zipping to the nearest retailer (or hopping on your computer and trying this spell: Amazonus Dot-Comus, Buy-Nowus!) to snatch up one of these eight-disc box sets before it’s too late. If you hurry to WBShop.com, you might also be able to grab the super cool Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II Numbered Limited Edition Gift Set, which includes DVD, Blu-ray and Digital versions of the film plus a fabulous 48-page commemorative photo book ($34.99). Any Potter fan in your family will be delighted to unwrap either of these wizardly wonders, and you’ll be delighted by the way the sets’ built in enchantment feature magically makes all your over-stimulated nieces and nephews sit down quietly for most of the day while you tap into the eggnog.
The Cat’s Meow
If you have a wee budding artist in the family and aren’t too fond of scouring ink stains off of your dining room table, here’s a gift to make everyone happy: Garfield’s Comic Boom, the new kid-friendly digital comic creator from Toon Boom and Garfield creator Jim Davis. Easy to use drawing and coloring tools combine with libraries of props and backgrounds (you can even import your own images) to allow kids to create comic panels, strips or even a complete comic book. Sound and voiceover capabilities add zip to the finished product, which can quickly and easily be shared via e-mail, YouTube, Facebook or mobile devices. Plus, Comic Boom users have access to exclusive cartooning tutorials from Jim Davis himself! The software is available at toonboom.com and retails for $29—although it’s on sale now for $19. The online store also offers a special 25% discount on all Toon Boom software when you use the special promo code CARTOON25. Just think of all the lasagna you can buy with all the money you save!
Top 10 Super Geeky Gifts
- ThunderCats Mumm-Ra 14-Inch Action Figure
- Angry Birds On Thin Ice Game
- Dr. Who Cyberman Rotating Cell Phone Charm
- Mickey Mouse Pop! Vinyl Figure
- Star Wars Darth Maul Double-Bladed Light Saber
- Alien 7-Inch Action Figure
- Beavis & Butt-Head Talking Bobble Heads
- Lord of the Rings Glow Gollum Bobble Head
- Young Justice Batman & Robin Action Figures
- Wonder Woman Light Blue Mug