We collect a lot of gaming merchandise at GamesRadar. While we buy some of it ourselves, one of the perks of working in the industry is that a week rarely goes by without some new item of promotional gaming paraphernalia finding its way to our desks. And generally it's a pretty even mix of awesome and crap.
So, inspired by the clutter that takes up about 75% of our working space, here's 10 of the very best and 10 of the very worst bits of gaming merchandise you're likely to find in shops, eBay, import stores and, of course, on our desks. Let's start with the goodness...
HENRY HORSTACHIO PINATA
Here's a piñata toy that no true game fan could ever smash up to get to the candy - quite aside from the fact that those cheap skates at Rare didn't fill it with any, isn't he just too cute? The character is, of course, Henry Horstachio, from the Viva Pinata series. This little horsie is a very limited edition, with only a few drifting around. So don't expect to be able to ride away with one from eBay. One thing though - is his mouth upside down?
Where'd it come from?: Given out as prizes at a Rare event at Nottingham's Game City 2007.
GEARS OF WAR 2 METAL COG DOG TAGS
These have the words 'Property of the Coalition of Ordered Governments' engraved on one of them, and the Gears of War 2 logo on the other. In the game, Cog Tags are worn by soldiers and have the same purpose as real-life dog tags - to identify the fallen.
There are 30 to collect in the first Gears game, and some require serious hunting. Once 10 have been found, Minh Young Kim becomes a playable multiplayer character in Gears of War 2. These real-life versions aren't any kind of cheap plastic - they’re proper metal for proper men. It's just a real shame that only a few were made.
Where'd it come from?: Given to the chosen few by Epic, and also at the Gears of Wars 2 midnight launch in the US.
LITTLEBIGPLANET SACKBOY FIGURE
Awww… Sackboy. What's not to love? The cheeky chappie comes in two sizes - three inches and six inches tall. He has poseable arms and the trademark irresistible grin.
One of the best gaming characters to emerge recently, despite the fact that as people design their own sackboy character, most are likely to never see him in the game. In the Asian markets there are also sackboy plushies, which will hopefully make their way to other continents soon.
Where'd it come from?: The three inchers were given out with pre-orders and the six inchers to the press.
BIG DADDY FIGURE
This little big guy is the result of democracy at work. When BioShock was first released there wasn't a Collector's Edition of the game. However, when fans of the game posted an online petition on the 2K web site asking for one, a 2K staffer actually took notice. The powers at 2K responded to say that if there were 5000 signatures, a Collector's Edition would be forthcoming. In the end there were almost 20,000.
The fans were then given a choice of what they wanted in the Collector's Edition, from a variety of options including a Big Daddy figurine, soundtrack CD, cloth poster, steelbook DVD case, 'Making of' DVD, and an art print with all the team's signatures on it. In the end, Big Daddy, the soundtrack CD and making of DVD won.
Where'd it come from?: Only available as part of the BioShock Collector's Edition.