Another week, another chance to share the obsession.

Edition number 2 of this still brand new Merch Hunter column and I’m already gushing about something relating to Harry Potter – something I do far too frequently as it happens – as well as conveniently bending my own rules. Was never really one for rigid structures and laws and all that anyway.

This time out, I discuss the distinction between boxsets and merch, the Disney Heroine effect and attempt to prod an artist through praise to sell out in the interest of my own need to fill my shelves with pretty things. All via the medium of this week’s three essential purchase picks.

1. The Greatest Box Set Of All Time

The ultra special edition boxset is where the line between film and merchandise decidedly blurs: as far as I’m concerned, in order to qualify as both, a boxset has to be a thing of beauty and of interest to merch collectors on its own regardless of the discs inside. So if it’s a plain box, jam-packed with extras, it’s just not going to fly here (although I also buy way too many special editions as well) – it has to be something like the Harry Potter Years 1-6 Limited Collector’s Edition “Hogwart’s Castle.”

Not exactly the most stream-lined of names, but the key word in there is Limited. Like the Pixar Lamp Collector’s Edition that I have been attempting to get my hands on my stock-piling Disney Reward Points (a so far fruitless endeavor), owners can be safe in the knowledge that no one they know is likely to own one. So parting with about $500 can really be considered an intelligent investment, if the accountant ever asks.

The fact that the discs don’t matter so much is crucial here, because somewhat inexplicably the set was released to include only the first six movies of the eight chapter franchise – which sort of rules it out as an Ultimate Edition in my book. But look at it – it’s a miniature Hogwart’s castle. Forgive me for a minute while I let out a tiny girlish squeal…

It’s a goddamn triumph of miniature model-making, an artisan achievement whose ridiculous detail was initially enough to convince several Europeans that they had unwittingly become giants. Probably.

If you’re lucky, you can pick one up here.

2. Toy Story Action Figures

Not as conventional a pick as you might think, even though there are already myriad Toy Story action figures on the market (don’t let anyone tell you that buying a set for each movie is somehow a mistake), thanks to an insanely clever little hook. Not content with making the figures essential purchases for Disney collectors in themselves, the mouse house has also made sure that those collectors will have to buy the entire set by including Build Your Own character pieces in each package. So, you buy the 6″ Buzz Lightyear figure and get Chuckles’s head free – which looks quite grisly if I’m perfectly honest – with the rest of the melancholy clown’s body spread across the packages for Lotso, Hamm, Jessie and Bullseye.

Infuriatingly genius, and yet another example of how tight a grip Disney hold over the dollars of their faithful fans – they know how to spin a product over there, and it’s for good reason that despite being a comparatively poor movie, Cars has the most enviable of sales records in the merchandise arena.

Disney have been even more cunning thanks to the way they’ve split the series – I’m a completist, but even I recognize that few casual collectors are going to want a Buzz without a Woody, who is in the other half along with Rex, Twitch, Night Action Buzz,  and my personal series favourite Zurg – who combine to build a Sparks figure.

Buy them here.

3. Andrew Kolb Wooden Figures

Third up this week is a collection of art pieces that aren’t actually available to buy – at least they aren’t yet. But what’s the harm in including them here in the hope that the Merchandising Gods come to my rescue and get them optioned as some sort of Limited Edition purchases? Because quite frankly they’re beautiful things.

Kolb based the series on a realization that the entertainment world “likes to pair a short, somewhat rotund character with a more slender, taller character,” including Wario and Waluigi, The Portal 2 bots and Jay and Silent Bob. My favorites are the Lou and Andy set from the UK’s own Little Britain sketch-show and Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and his ginger sidekick Beaker.

All I need now is some high-end collectible toy manufacturer to jump in and make Kolb an offer to get them made. Regardless of price, if that happy day comes, I’ll be at the front of the queue.

Have a look at them here (and perhaps leave semi-harassing messages about getting them made and put on the market).

T-Shirt of the Week

Everyone should own at least one superhero T-shirt, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the wearer will inherently face being laughed out of bar and club queues while wearing them. Nerdy subtlety is an artform in itself, and this beautiful Fantastic Four t-shirt from SuperHeroStuff marries both a top-drawer level of nerdery and a artful simplicity that will ensure that even the most villainous of jocks won’t have a clue what the symbol means.

If you prefer it, they also have the other four members of the superhero crew, but I think there’s something to be said of choosing the leader.

Buy one here.


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