The best gaming and movie toys and collectibles we’ll never sell
Popular culture fandom handles numerous types. Whether it be cosplay, fan fiction, or simply fanatically gathering an entire lot of things, there are a diverse wealth of manner ins which individuals can fly their geek flag high and happy.
After gathering the assemble of our preferred physical media recently, we got to questioning: “What about all this other cool stuff we love, does this stuff count as physical media? Because it’s great stuff.” In the interest of not frustrating readers with a list including over a bajillion entries jointly splitting hairs over the taxonomical meaning of what certifies as “media,” we’ve seized the day to commit today’s post entirely to popular culture antiques and souvenirs.
Here are a few of Polygon staffers’ preferred popular culture antiques. Yell off and program of your own collections in the remarks!
Nier Automata music box
You discover a lot about yourself when an intoxicated motorist crashes into your office at 2 a.m., ruining almost whatever you’ve built up over the previous thirty years. Initially, you’ll inspect to see if everybody’s OK. You. Your household. The motorist. All safe. Then you’ll take a look at the debris and start to browse, intuitively, for what matters most. In my case, I tried to find wedding event pledges, composed by my better half on 2 scraps of hotel notary, which she had actually framed for me as a present.
When you discover the most essential thing, your brain instantly picks the 2nd essential thing. And the 3rd essential thing. For a minute, working my method through this vetting of years of things, I acquired a severe understanding of which ownerships mattered, and understood the response was “not much.” I would be OKAY without all this scrap. Unfortunate, however OK. Stuff-less.
The one piece of computer game ephemera I did my own from the wreckage, approximately around 4 a.m., and utilizing the flash on my iPhone, was a music box. Branded for Nier Automata and approximately as big as 2 bite-size Snickers, the mechanical doodad still played its mechanical performance of a tune about life after loss. I didn’t get it for this pseudo-poetic factor. Naturally not! I got it because, like Nier, and I took a trip midway around the world to go to the main Nier symphony and bought the music box as my memento. Little and thick, it endured the effect.
Now I keep the music box on my nightstand, a totem with brand-new significance, advising me of that blissful clearness. —Chris Plante
A total set of The Huge O mini figurines
As a guideline, I tend to enjoy all things retro-futuristic and neo-noir. So I’m a huge fan of The Huge O, the 1999 mecha anime series developed by director Kazuyoshi Katayama and designer Keiichi Sato (Huge Robo: The Day the Earth Stood Still). Set in Paradigm City, the last remaining bastion of civilization in the wake of a cataclysmic event which destroyed the rest of the planet and seemingly erased the memories of all those who survived, the series followed Roger Smith, a former military police officer-turned-freelance negotiator who solved disputes and crimes with wit and a giant steampunk robot with humongous pistons for arms and eyeballs that shot lasers.
Having watched and loved the series from its initial run on Cartoon Network’s Toonami back in 2001 and its Western-produced second season on Adult Swim in 2003, and with no access to DVD set or Blu-ray at the time, I knew I wanted to have something of it to proudly proclaim my fandom. I came across two figurine sets featuring most of the show’s principal cast produced shortly after the series’ first season a couple years ago and quickly snatched them up. Nowadays I keep most of them in storage, with the sole exception of Roger Smith and the Huge O itself standing front and center of my monitor stand next to my Bloodborne Hunter figurine and my Funko pop of Westworld’s Dr. Robert Ford. In the words of Marge Simpson, “I just think they’re neat!” —Toussaint Egan
Life-size cutout of Elizabeth Swann, Pirate King
I am an adult with a full-time job and a salary, and that means I can purchase items that I only dared dream of as a child. I’ve already spoken at great lengths about how deeply obsessed I was (and am!) with Pirates of the Caribbean, specifically Elizabeth Swann. As the heroine of the franchise, Elizabeth is brave, daring, intelligent, and resourceful, and she unapologetically goes after what she wants. She’s also played by Keira Knightley, whom I love. Right around the time I rewatched all three of the good Pirates movies last summer, I decided to indulge my childish whimsy and searched to see if a cardboard cutout of Elizabeth Swann existed online. Turns out, it did and it was much cheaper than I anticipated.
My life-size cardboard cutout of Elizabeth Swann, as seen in the Pirate King outfit she wears at the end of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, is directly positioned behind me during my workday. She joins Zoom calls (though I tend to move her out of the way for new interviews, because she is definitely a talking point). When I feel sad or lost, I look toward her for guidance, and she gazes upon me with her dark brown eyes and lets me know that I too can rise up and be a Pirate King. There is something so joyful about walking into my home office every morning and seeing Elizabeth waiting for me to start my day. She gives me strength, all for the pretty low price of $35.99 plus shipping and handling. —Petrana Radulovic
Two Spartans (from Halo: Reach) handcuffed together
I know almost nothing about the origins of these toys, neither how I acquired them or when I acquired them. But I’ve kept them around over the past 10 years not only because Halo is my favorite franchise of all time — I used to be the kind of person who played Halo games and only Halo games — but because what they represented has evolved over the years. Particularly, how they got permanently tied together by that tiny set of handcuffs.
My now-spouse and I went to an arcade for our first date; he’d driven a few hours to meet me. It was snowing, and it was a three-hour drive for him. We were the only people in the arcade because it eventually became a surprise blizzard. We won enough tickets to get a prize. Unfortunately, we didn’t win enough tickets to get anything very good, so we settled on the best we could afford: a few pieces of candy and the tiny handcuffs. When we got back to the house, I attached the handcuffs to my two Halo: Reach Spartans, a way to keep myself from losing the prize.
Anyway, that was something like eight (?) years ago. We’ve been married for a few years and live together with a cat and dog. I have lost a lot of possessions in my life (including the arcade ticket my partner used to propose to me with) but I somehow managed to keep track of these two Spartans, who’ve remained permanently enjoined by the tiny set of handcuffs. I’ve moved multiple times since the handcuffs were placed, but they remain together to this day, guarding my ink collection.
Despite my partner having no interest in the Halo franchise, these two figures always make me smile, and think of our first date in the arcade, where we played Rock Band in the middle of a snowstorm. —Nicole Carpenter
Sakura Kinomoto Stars Bless You Figure
I repeatedly make poor financial decisions by buying anime figures. My room and office space is littered with figures of all kinds, from my beloved Idolm@ster: Cinderella Girls Mika Jougasaki one-eighth scale figs to smaller figures of League of Legends’ K/DA girls. My favorite figure is the one-seventh scale Sakura Kinomoto: Stars Bless You figure, which has the star of Cardcaptor Sakura floating along planets with beautiful transparent wings and a wooden base.
Despite the price, I knew I had to have this figure the second I saw it. Sakura has been an influential part of my life since I was a little girl, not only being the protagonist of the first anime series I’ve ever watched, but also because of her “invincible spell.” She tells herself that everything will definitely be alright, and she works hard to make sure things end up alright. I used to say I had access to the same magical spell when I was going through tough times. This figure sits alongside my volumes of the Cardcaptor Sakura manga and serves as a reminder that despite any hardships I’m going through, everything will definitely be alright. —Julia Lee
Being Jeff Goldblum Poster
I don’t really collect much these days due to the limited amount of space that I have in my apartment. The one thing I do have is a substantial amount of wall space. Wall space that I have covered with various prints such as my Batman: The Animated Series prints from Mondo. There is one piece I love till the ends of the earth and that’s my fake movie poster for Being Jeff Goldblum. I bought it because of the series of fake sequels for movies that never got sequels. (Being Jeff Goldblum hypothetically being the sequel to Being John Malkovich.) It is always a conversation piece when people come over and ask “ Is that real?” —Josh Rios
Fatal Fury figurines
I’ve been going minimalist recently, getting rid of a bunch of old games and consoles, so everything I care about basically fits in one drawer. And I don’t really have a favorite, but the smallest thing in that drawer is an old Ziploc bag with seven miniature Fatal Fury figures. They look 3D-printed, but are much older than that. These came from a mail-in marketing program that I think was in an old issue of GameFan — you mailed in a return envelope and they sent you a figure, or something like that. So I kept sending envelopes, and they kept sending back figures. Then I held onto them for 30 years.
Bonus: That brown circle behind Billy Kane’s head is a token for Sega’s holographic arcade game Time Traveler, which I picked up off the ground at a Sega mall tour promoting the game in the early ’90s. —Matt Leone
An original Ursula Vernon triptych
Back before Ursula Vernon was the celebrated author of the Dragonbreath and Hamster Princess children’s books, she was primarily known as a fantasy artist and the creator of the stellar, Hugo-winning graphic series Digger. And at some point in there, she auctioned off a series of original-art commissions, and I won the one for “Anything you want, as long as it’s a mouse.” At the time, she was producing lavish paintings of mice in masquerade masks, so that’s what I asked for — a series of masked mice climbing dark branches, on their way to a ball. Somehow this evolved into her painting me a triptych, which arrived in a vast, custom-made wooden box. It’s been at least a dozen years now that her paintings have had pride of place in my living room, and I get to admire them all over again every time she puts out a new book for adults — she’s currently publishing some of my favorite new fantasy novels under the pen name T. Kingfisher, and I’m both ecstatic about how her career’s developed, and ecstatic that I own my own little personal part of it. —Tasha Robinson
Storm figurine from X-Men (2000)
This figurine of Ororo Munroe, aka Storm, represents the character as portrayed by Halle Berry in the 2000 film X-Men — a widely panned performance in a film that gave the character very little to do, especially considering that she’s one of the world’s most powerful mutants. And yet that film adaptation kicked off what would become my lifelong obsession with the X-Men in general and my crush on Storm in particular.
Looking back on it now, I take issue with many aspects of X-Men (2000), especially with director Bryan Singer’s alleged behavior on and off set. But it was also a movie that came out in a time when I had finally become comfortable with my attraction to people across the gender spectrum. Even though I went back into the closet again in my 20s, when that very first X-Men movie came out, I lived a few years of blissful queer affirmation, celebrating my crushes on Halle Berry, Hugh Jackman, and James Marsden in equal measure (I didn’t so much have a crush on Famke Janssen as want to be her, and also the mutant she played, Jean Grey). My crush on Storm went beyond all the rest, which’s why my gay best friend Ryan (with whom I now co-host an X-Men podcast) bought me this Storm figurine at the time.
To me, the X-Men and their journey towards self-acceptance mirrored my own journey, which has actually had as many ups and downs and moments of self-doubt as Wolverine’s tortured backstory. Throughout it all, I’ve held onto this figurine as a pointer of a significant peak. —Maddy Myers
Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.