The holiday season calls for gifts to loved ones. And is there a better way to show your love than by giving them something they love? (We'll wait.)
Here are some especially thoughtful gifts for those who love pop culture.
For the young magician who wants to code ... Kano Harry Potter Coding Kit: Swish and flick, then assign the proper number values so that the sparks you create glow the right shade of red. Coding is a valuable skill for children to learn, and gamifying the education through the magic of a Harry Potter wand is surprisingly effective. Using an approachable program available on computers and tablets, kids (and adults) can program a physical wand to make magic happen on their screen. $99.99 — B.P.
For the nostalgic '90s video game fan ... PlayStation Classic: Taking a cue from Nintendo's holiday hits over the last couple of years, Sony is looking to cash in on nostalgia with the PlayStation Classic. Featuring 20 games from the '90s, this miniature console has the power to keep you occupied for dozens of hours. While the list of titles isn't the cream of the crop (in fact, it's missing some huge hits you might have played growing up), it's got several powerhouses including Metal Gear Solid, Final Fantasy VII
For the Disney bad guy at heart... Villainous: Why should good guys have all the fun? This new card game lets you take control of a classic Disney animated villain (such as Maleficent, Captain Hook and Jafar) in a competition to see which of the two to six players can be the
For the one who has to catch 'em all ... Pokemon Let's Go! with Poke Ball Plus: It's been a minute since Pokemon Go hit mobile phones and took over the world, but pocket monster popularity has been going steady since the series debuted in the mid-'90s. Pokemon Let's Go! on the
For the cinephile with an existentialist streak ... Ingmar Bergman's Cinema: The Criterion Collection has long been a worthy home for Bergman films on DVD and Blu-ray. This time, they've outdone themselves with a 30-disc Blu-ray set that includes several restorations (including a 4K restoration of his most iconic film, The Seventh Seal). The set comes with copious extras and a gorgeous book full of essays, including a few by Bergman biographer Peter Cowie, who also consulted on the project. It's all enough to keep a Bergman fan inside for a cold, dark winter of the soul. $299.95 list price; $239.96 from criterion.com. — C.V.
For the ironical British Invasion nostalgist ... The Kinks are the Village Green Preservation Society (50th-anniversary deluxe box set): Amid brutal turbulence in the band and in the outside world, the Kinks released this fond, folky but still serrated songwriting gem. Not particularly appreciated when it came out, it has grown in stature significantly in the ensuing half-century. This is a Rolls-Royce of a reissue, including stereo and mono LPs, a 2018 stereo remaster, five CDs of previously unreleased tracks and alternate versions, a hardback book and a bunch of nifty original album artwork and memorabilia. All that and a happy ending: Thanks to the reissue, the album just went gold for the first time. $156.98 list price. — C.V.
For the history-hungry hip-hop head ... Contact High; Houston Rap Tapes; The History of Gangster Rap: These are boom times for books about hip-hop, an art form that has matured to the point of claiming its own history. These are three to keep your head nodding. Vikki Tobak's Contact High ($40, Clarkson Potter) is a unique visual chronicle, featuring contact sheets from some of the most notable photo shoots in hip-hop history. Lance Scott Walker's Houston Rap Tapes ($29.95, University of Texas Press) provides an oral history of the H-Town scene, including interviews with luminaries including Scarface and Paul Wall. And Soren Baker's The History of Gangster Rap ($24.99, Abrams Image) traces the arc of hip-hop's best-selling subgenre, from its Philadelphia roots with Schooly D to the current reign of Kendrick Lamar. — C.V.
For anyone who wonders when women started making movies ... Pioneers: First Women Filmmakers: Continuing its excavation and restoration of classic silent cinema, Kino Classics has teamed up with the Library of Congress to present this Blu-ray collection of more than 50 features, shorts and classics made by women who worked alongside the likes of D.W. Griffith and Cecil B. DeMille. You'll find the earliest surviving film from Alice Guy-Blache, the stop-motion wizardry of Lois Webber and a collection of ethnographic films by author Zora Neale Hurston. As the set's executive producer Illeana Douglas writes in the foreword to the accompanying booklet, "This collection reminds us that we have too often been reading film history books written by men, curating the films of men." List price $99.95; $74.96 at kinolorber.com. — C.V.
For fans of stories from the fringe and haters of cold feet ... MrMiSocki: Everyone needs socks. If you have to wear them, they might as well entertain you. Enter MrMisocki Volume 2.2. It's a sock subscription service with a backstory that comes in the form of a limited edition comic book with each set you get. A sock goes missing and ends up down a rabbit hole doing laundry suds with the sock mafia while trying to stay raveled. Oh, and the socks themselves are seamless. When you buy a pair, the company gifts a pair to someone who needs them. $15 and up, per pair; subscribe for $15 every three months. mrmisocki.com. — D.M.B.
For those who want to get this birthday party started right ... Batman: The Animated Series: Comics titan DC is stepping into Batman's 80th year in a big way with a "deluxe limited edition" of the seminal early '90s animated television series, remastered for the first time. They're so extra: The set also comes with three mini-figures, Batman, Harley Quinn and Joker, and movies Mask of the Phantasm (fantastic) and Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero. Fans can find a lot to disagree about in the Bat universe — yes, DC really held a fan phone poll that killed off Jason Todd's Robin — but most hold this particular treatment of the titular hero as the best ever, animated or live-action. Kevin Conroy as Batman. Forever. SRP: $112.99. — D.M.B.
For those who don't want to see a good thing end ... everything Game of Thrones: The HBO drama doesn't have to end when they say it does. It can, and will, live on in all sorts of paraphernalia, including socks, wines, tarot cards and candles. But if you want to have a dragon's egg of your very own, Insight Luminaries comes to the rescue with candles in the shape of Daenerys' unhatched babies at $24.99 for a set of three. And then PopCraft has amazing, handmade pop-up greeting cards that are almost too beautiful for these words and definitely won't be stuck in a dusty old drawer ($10-$18). Oh, and the beauty that is Monopoly: Game of Thrones, complete with a card that plays the theme song, will have you buying one for posterity and one for playing while you watch the prequel starring Naomi Watts. — D.M.B.
For those who want to stay stylishly hydrated while showing their true colors ... S'ip by S'well collection: Even superheroes and magicians need to drink water (I'm looking at you, Aquaman). Sadly, the King of the Seven Seas is not represented, but popular water bottle maker S'well has new partnerships with the Justice League and Harry Potter (who always looks thirsty, I guess, because he's always running). Collectors' items? Or thirst quenchers? You decide. $19.99. sipbyswell.com and other retailers. — D.M.B.