Gift Ideas For Fans That Won’t Break Your Bank

The deadline for buying a decent gift is approaching fast. OK you’re on a budget, or the secret Santa list gave you someone you’re not close to but know that he or she is a genre fan. Sure you’d love to gift some kind of toiletry gift set or a desk calendar, but let’s be real here. He or she will really geek out for that super expensive Batman statue by Sideshow Collectibles or anything along that vein. But we’re on a budget here or you just don’t feel like breaking your bank and there’s no way you can reasonably afford to get the ultimate Jurassic Park trilogy Blu Ray gift set that comes with a T-Rex statue.

However, it’s not too hard to get by with gifts costing $25 or less. Here are some ideas. Ornaments Hallmark puts out the best ornaments and have catered to genre fans. This year has many offerings, but forget the spaceships, they cost more than $25 and aren’t very interesting except for die-hard collectors. (They consist of a little seen Romulan ship from the original Star Trek and a second version of Boba Fett’s Slave I ship.). So that leaves the character ornaments. Unfortunately the Star Trek ornaments aren’t too interesting (generic looking Spock ornaments, one that is out of the price range), while the Star Wars stuff aside from a LEGO Darth Vader seems repetitious (yet another Yoda ornament, and a costly Han Solo/Greedo diorama that doesn’t adequately answer the question of who shot first) Hallmark put out some reasonably priced cool stuff that could be collectible. First up is a Cylon ornament from the original Battlestar Galactica that features that infamous electronic speech pattern from the robots. There’s also the Nautilus submarine from 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, a cute Gizmo wearing a Santa hat from Gremlins (already selling out so run out and get it, there are more fans of that film than you think), and a good selection of super hero figures. The Spider-Man and Batman ornaments are kind of bland but there are ornaments of Green Lantern and Thor that look good and the original Batmobile is a classic. If the person on your list is more of an animation fan, there are dozens of ornaments priced under $25 featuring characters from Disney, Pixar, Peanuts, Dreamworks, and the Rankin-Bass holiday classics like Rudolph and Frosty. If Hallmark doesn’t suit you, many companies put out their own ornaments themed after popular genre characters. Take Target or the Disney Store for example, they put out ornaments that are just as good as Hallmark. Blu Rays/DVDs This is easy, find out what his or her favorite film and see if they have it in their collection. If the film is not there, then voila! Run over to Best Buy or Wal-Mart and pick up the DVD or Blu Ray. DVDs priced from $5 and up are everywhere, while Blu Rays are starting to come down in price. If they just bought a Blu Ray player and need to upgrade then that’s a no-brainer. Practically all of this year’s genre offerings are available including Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, Super 8, Thor, Battle: Los Angeles, and even obscure fare like Another Earth. Statues and Figures It’s true that most statues are mega expensive, but a quick look at sites like eBay and Amazon will yield very good results. For instance if you’re not too discriminating just look at the clearances, Amazon has this bust of Venom from Spider-Man 3 for under $10. And if you’re intended is into anime then the sky’s the limit with the available choices. You also can’t fail with bobblehead figures and even action figures. DC Direct and Marvel put out some terrific well-detailed and affordable figures that don’t have to be played with, they look great just plastered up in their display boxes. Though that kind of defeats the purpose of a toy, then again these are intended for grownups, um, never mind. Books and Collections Good choices here, find out what author they enjoy and get them the latest work. Amazon had Stephen King’s 11/22/63 for under $20 and his other stuff on paperback for half that price. It’s best to get nice, thick novels that take a while to read. Better yet, if they have tablets, then get the digital versions, the prices are great. The same goes for comics. Graphic novels and collections of story arcs are perfect and usually affordable. A nifty trend tailor made for gifting are the Vault books. Part memorabilia collection, part coffee table book, they include looks at Star Trek, Batman, Spider-Man and more. Usually they’re called for example Alien Vault and are sealed. They run a bit high on price but if you have time, you can find some for the $25 range with some careful shopping. Gift Cards The ultimate fall back and in many ways the best gift. Get your in-law or co-worker or buddy who has everything a gift card from any merchant and let them run wild. Even the larger comic book stores will sell their own gift certificates. Just be a little creative in the wrapping to make the gift more memorable. No matter what, it is pretty easy to get a gift for a genre fan. Annette DeForester

The Science Channel: A Successor To Syfy

Just look at the current schedules of both The Science Channel and Syfy. True most of the programs on The Science Channel are science based like How They Do That but any casual viewer will notice shows geared to sci-fi fans. The most recent example is a two-hour show called Trek Nation where Gene Roddenberry’s son examines the cultural impact that Star Trek has made. Other shows of note include Michio Kaku’s fascinating Sci-Fi Science, Mars Rising that explores how to get to the red planet and Prophets Of Science Fiction. Add to that the channel is also airing reruns of Firefly and ReGenesis.

Clearly there is an effort by the channel’s programmers to attract more serious sci-fi fans.

Now look at what plays on Syfy, a channel supposedly devoted to science fiction. What is found are wrestling shows and reality shows about a bunch of guys running around in the dark looking for ghosts. This is an exaggeration of course. Every Saturday night Syfy runs sic-Fi movies. Unfortunately they’re these zero budget craptaculars about giant mutant animals and disasters and feature actors whose fame are rapidly fading.

It seems that once the channel canceled more serious minded shows like Battlestar Galactica, Caprica, and Stargate: Universe it gave up. Most of their current actual genre shows are formulaic, lightweight affairs that aren’t engaging. Does anyone honestly think that Warehouse 13 will be highly regarded years from now?

There was a time that the average fan could look forward to running home and finding an oasis in the television wasteland.The channel actually catered to genre fans with fondly remembered programs like Farscape, MST3K and they commissioned new episodes of canceled shows like Sliders. Syfy or rather Sci-Fi, as it was called in it’s heyday, even had documentaries, reruns of classic shows, and making-of specials.

Well all of that is gone now. Sure they have those terrific Twilight Zone marathons and an occasional movie but it’s clear the channel is a shadow of it’s old self. It is evident that the channel will transition away from it’s original programming just like MTV. Syfy should just hurry up and do this. The way things are any real fan can find quality programming all over cable. BBC America has a Saturday night block devoted to genre programs like Doctor Who and there is The Science Channel.

With shows like Firefly on it’s schedule it won’t be long before more sci-fi shows will find a home in the channel. Don’t be surprised if Fringe or one of the Star Treks winds up on The Science Channel. And seriously they will nicely complement the thought-provoking shows like Prophets Of Science Fiction that examines the lives, inspirations and impact of giants like H.G. Wells, Philip K. Dick, and Mary Shelly. It’s very easy to imagine Michio Kaku hosting one of these sci-fi shows as he does with Firefly. This viewer cannot wait for that moment.

Lewis T. Grove