8 special editions that are actually special

Long before unboxing a “Special” edition meant netting anything from a Master Chief helmet to an Altair action figure, the act usually consisted of cracking the shrink wrap on a tin case to discover a miniature art book or making-of DVD. While scooping up these limited releases has gotten more exciting – and expensive – in recent years, this season’s offerings seem to be scaling back. Some publishers seem to think downloadable extras are an acceptable substitute for cool swag, and Activision’s even shelving their annual Call of Duty Prestige Edition – you know, the one that previously gave us working night-vision goggles – for an all-digital Modern Warfare 3 Hardened Edition.

Above: Avatar items are not the same as getting an action figure, no matter how much they might look like one

While we appreciate the trend towards giving consumers more playable bang for their buck, our inner fanboys still crave those tangible toys. Extra maps, exclusive weapons and character skins are all well and good, but we really can’t display those things on our bookshelves, now can we? Thankfully, some publishers continue to embrace excess over practicality (read: boring), packing their SEs with molded-plastic playthings, concept art books and other goodies that, while not for everyone, can’t help but get the most faithful fans’ pulses racing. So, in the grand tradition of impulse-buying stuff we don’t need but must have, here’s a peek at the season’s best special editions.

Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception Collector’s Edition

This one’s not called a “Collector’s” edition for nothing. In addition to kicking it old school with a steel case, Drake’s third outing comes with a relic-y looking box, a drenched-in-detail statue of the globe-trotting hero, and replicas of his belt buckle and that mysterious ring he wears around his neck (pity this set arrives the day after Halloween). At $99, it’s not for casual adventurers, but Drake’s most dedicated followers – like anyone who’s waited in line for a Nolan North autograph – will want to clear a spot near their Phurba dagger for this treasure chest full of goodies.

Gears of War 3: Epic Edition

Containing more collectibles than you can shake a chainsaw bayonet at, Gears 3’s $149.99 Epic Edition ups the universe-expanding ante. Forgoing the usual pamphlet-like art book, this baby includes a beefy 96-page hardcover that dives deep into the series’ art and design. The real prize, though, is the towering (well, 11-inch) Marcus Fenix statue; sporting down-to-the-dimple details such as the Locust Horde-hater’s signature scars and tattoos, nothing says “stay away from my cubicle” like this scowling super-soldier. If you really want to freak out your co-workers, however, be sure to also display the included COG flag and Octus Service medal.

Batman: Arkham City Collector’s Edition

Containing a utility belt full of wonderful toys, this super-heroic set seems to be making up for the lame plastic Batarang bundled with Arkham Asylum’s Collector’s Edition. On top of an art book, soundtrack, and Batman: Gotham Knight – an original DC Universe animated movie – the $99 edition comes in a glossy cardboard case that doubles as a display diorama for the included Dark Knight statue. Crafted by acclaimed toymaker Kotobukiya, the sculpt displays a menacing pose that could effectively make your Kratos action figure crap his loin cloth. Some in-game extras and collectible cards round out this Bat-tastic bundle. The one drawback? The game disc’s “case” is the art book (which fits snugly into the back of the display case) making it difficult to properly shelve Arkham City alongside your other games without clearing some substantial space first.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition

Bethesda’s special editions never disappoint (we still proudly display our Vault Boy bobblehead from Fallout 3’s Survival Edition), and this year’s no exception. Laughing – or perhaps dragon-shouting – in the face of all other so-called collectible art books, Skyrim’s SE packs a 200-page, coffee-table-consuming tome brimming with color sketches, illustrations, and concepts. If that’s not enough to get Elder Scrolls fans to shell out 149 gold pieces, then the 12-inch Alduin statue should do the trick; you’ll need to display your Drake, Fenix and Batman statues close to this bad boy just to balance out its evil karma. When not frightening small children with the “World Eater,” though, you’ll want to check out the included making-of DVD.


  • Squander - November 7, 2011 2:53 p.m.

    really miss the Sonic Generations special edition here!
  • Yeager1122 - October 20, 2011 10:14 p.m.

    Never bought a collectors edition andd never will to expensive although ill be damned if i said i didnt want those statues,
  • AshLynx - October 20, 2011 4:21 p.m.

    I thank you for this article! Seeing how I didn't already have a Wiimotion + remote or add on, finding out about this was my solution! And I get an awesome Zelda themed golden remote out of it too, for only $20 more, yay!
  • jackthemenace - October 20, 2011 12:53 p.m.

    For me, just adding in an action figure or statue doesn't make the extra £30. For me, it has to MEAN something- That's why I loved getting the £60 limited edition Gears instead of the £100 version with the statue. The Octus Medal Feels like it REPRESENTS something, instead of just some rock shaped like a chacratcer- The LOTR: War in the North seems to be pretty sweet if they're sperarate arrows, and not just a statue, but stuff like Skyrim's limited edition charge an extra £30 for something that's not even that amazing :/
  • miguel3638 - October 20, 2011 12:22 p.m.

    Best Special Edition version of a game i have ever bought would have to be for GTAIV. Common a duffel bag,a key chain,a art book a CD soundtrack, and a working lockable deposit box to hide things...nuff said.
  • Bawheidbob - October 20, 2011 11:25 a.m.

    I wont lie if i had the money i would buy all of these but i don't so i wont.
  • MyCoolWhiteLies - October 20, 2011 9:08 a.m.

    I wish they would keep doing special editions in the $70-80 range. I just have no use or space for the larger collectibles that push some of these prices to the $100+ range.
  • DHokat - October 20, 2011 8:38 a.m.

    What about borderlands 2 which is taking suggestions for the special edition?
  • egregious - October 20, 2011 7:40 a.m.

    I have Skyward Sword preordered but the one that just comes with the music CD and not the Wii remote. It looks nice but I don't need it. Skyrim's is pretty neat, too.
  • bamb0o-stick - October 20, 2011 6:53 a.m.

    I heard from a friend that the Uncharted statue is actually the same weight as the idol in the beginning of Raiders of the Lost Ark. For those who haven't seen the movie, the reason why that is clever is because Indiana Jones needed to swap the idol with a bag of equal weight to get it without tripping the pressure plate. Can anyone confirm this?
  • litaljohn - October 20, 2011 9:29 a.m.

    ..... how in the hell would anyone be able to make the claim stick? the weight was never specified and has only been guesstimated. Further more we don't know the entire makeup of the idol, (could simply be gold plated stone or ceramic) and so at best estimates would have to come from the counterweight sand indy uses. And we all know what happens next so we know that guessed weight to be wrong. so no, your friend is an idiot. without having an exact weight it is impossible for anything to claim it is identical in weight.
  • Shadow Of Death - October 20, 2011 5:57 a.m.

    Damn, I really want all of these. I already have the Skyrim one pre-ordered for the PC...I'm hoping that the Arkham City one has a PC version for North America (the last bit made it sound like the PC Special Edition wasn't available in Australia, but still available in NA). If not, then I'll just get the regular edition on Steam (20% discount for owning a related title).
  • ultimatepunchrod - October 20, 2011 5:10 a.m.

    I have the uncharted collector's edition pre-ordered.thanks for helping me assuage my buyer's guilt.
  • potpan0 - October 20, 2011 3:59 a.m.

    Fallout: New Vegas had the best special edition I've bought. It had a poker chip for each casino, a pack of cards with a character on each one, a prelude comic, and a making of dvd.
  • inkyspot - October 20, 2011 2:39 a.m.

    Really wanted the batman one, but decided not to, because it was in black and white. The GOW statue looks cool too, but the price is too much. I wouldv'e bought the Uncharted, but No PS3 at the moment. Oh well.
  • Hobogonigal - October 20, 2011 2:09 a.m.

    The Aussie version of the Saints Row 3 Smooth Criminal Edition at EB is much cooler. I mean an ice tray for bullet-shaped ice cubes, saints row cuff-links, sunglasses, soundtrack and DLC. The Quiver in the LOTR edition looks cool as well.
  • CitizenWolfie - October 20, 2011 12:55 a.m.

    I really, REALLY want that Arkham City one. Even if the case is crappy like the collector's edition of Arkham Asylum. And I want the Uncharted one. And the Assassin's Creed one. And Zelda. FML.
  • Fuzunga - October 19, 2011 10:11 p.m.

    The Zelda CD is not the soundtrack (though I wish it was). It's a collection of music recorded from the upcoming concert tour.
  • Elitepwnsface - October 19, 2011 9:57 p.m.

    Really the only one worth getting is the skyward sword. Just because its cheaper than buying the game and a wiimote plus separate. I found after buying a few collectors edition games, that it wasnt worth it. Hate clutter, and the Halo Legendary edition opened my eyes to the amount of clutter that can be built.
  • garnsr - October 19, 2011 9:16 p.m.

    I have no interest in statues with my special editions, in-game bonuses are all I really want. I'd really rather just get everything in any game I buy, instead of having to sort through all the versions and figure out what the hell they're giving me. So I guess I don't mind if special editions come with stuff I don't want, since I know they don't have the stuff I do want.

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