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
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
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
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
Batman: Arkham City Collector’s Edition
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
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.