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It’s that time of year again, when sites the web-over compile helpful holiday shopping lists to guide you into the deepest, darkest pits of retail with a map that will hopefully get you out alive. Here now, without further ado, is the 2017 FRED Holiday Shopping Guide.

(If you see anything you like, please support FRED by using the links below to make your holiday purchases - it’s appreciated!)

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While we wait through the long winter for its return sometime in 2019, pass the time with a dive back into Game Of Thrones: Season 7 (HBO, Not Rated, Blu-Ray-$ SRP), While the sets have the usual complement of audio commentaries and behind-the-scenes featurettes, the real stand-out remains the animated vignettes depicting the rich, deep history of Westeros, Conquest & Rebellion. I’ll never grow tired of those, and am delighted they continue to find their way onto these sets.

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OT Luke is all well and good, but there’s something so wonderfully Star Wars about making a high-end figure for the epic return of a classic character that lasted all of about 30 seconds on screen. So it is that Hot Toys has crafted Luke Skywalker (Sideshow Collectibles, $229.99), which perfectly captures grizzled and skeptical Luke as played by everyone’s favorite uncle, Mark Hamill. We won’t be seeing much of Luke in this white outfit in The Last Jedi, but it’s captured here in all of its Kenobian glory. Considering the limited action involved in his glorified cameo, it should come as little surprise that the figure is light on accessories, save for some swappable hands.

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It’s somewhat surprising that it’s taken this long to get a comprehensive tome about the making of Peter Jackson’s Tolkien adaptations, but when you peruse the absolutely massive Middle-Earth From Script To Screen: Building The World Of The Lord Of The Rings & The Hobbit (HarperDesign, $75 SRP), it’s easy to understand why. Packed with behind-the-scenes photos and interviews with all of the principal creatives, this is every bit the book equivalent of the exhaustive DVD supplements the 6 films are known for.

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It really is remarkable what Diamond Select has been doing with their line of vinyl statues. For a fraction of the cost of other companies, they’ve been producing some truly stellar releases that are well-designed, dynamic sculpts, a high-level of paint quality, and characters fans care about. First to drop in a series that will eventually feature the whole cast, their Gamora & Rocket (Diamond Select, $45 SRP) is everything I just described. Grab this, and be sure to get ready for the rest of the Guardians, because you’re going to want them all.

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For nearly four decades, a bootleg has floated around and found its way into the clutches of Superman: The Movie fans. When the film made its original television premiere, loads of deleted scenes were added back in to pad out its runtime, making for a 3+ hour version. It’s by no means a better version of the film, but it’s still great to see more material from such an iconic piece of pop cinema. And now, throw those bootlegs out, because the Warner Archive has decided to give fans the greatest gift of all by releasing a fully restored, high-definition version of Superman The Movie: Extended Cut (Warner Bros., Rated PG, Blu-Ray-$21.99 SRP). Also included is Richard Donner’s special edition director’s cut from 2000, featuring an audio commentary a trio of documentaries, the deleted scenes that made it back into the Extended Cut, screen tests, and additional music cues.

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Pixar’s Coco, besides being a joyful tearjerker, is also an absolutely beautiful film. That beauty also extends to the development process, which is explored in The Art Of Coco (Chronicle Books, $40 SRP), the latest in the long line of excellent Pixar “Art Of” books from Chronicle. It makes me want to see the film again.

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Almost 20 years after episodes began making their way to home video, what very well may be the final box set of unreleased episodes is here. Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume XXXIX (Shout Factory, Not Rated, DVD-$37.79 SRP) doesn’t have the usual complement of 4 episodes, instead containing a trio - Girls Town, The Amazing Transparent Man, & Diabolik - plus a 4th disc containing the host segments for the 11 remaining unreleased episodes that still remain in licensing limbo. The set has a very nice selection of bonus featurettes and the vintage Last Dance Raw documentary from the filming of the final episode, while fans who order directly from Shout also get a bonus disc sporting all of the Poopie! blooper tapes. What a long, strange trip it’s been, and kudos to the amazing licensing team at Shout for being able to clear as many films as they did. A Herculean task, to be sure.

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Providing context for the post-war enthusiasm that fueled American culture in the middle of the 20th century, Don Hahn’s Yesterday’s Tomorrow: Disney’s Magical Mid-Century (Disney Editions, $40 SRP) examines the explosion in creativity at the Disney company at the time, from animation and live action to theme parks and developing cities of the future.

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The period covered in Peanuts Every Sunday: 1966-1970 (Fantagraphics, $49.99 SRP) is period where the strip had fully coalesced into the strip we hold in our collective memory. Charles Schulz’s had found the beats that would define the rest of its tenure on the comics page. And it’s brilliant to see these Sunday strips printed in full color in a large, beautiful format. These volumes can’t come fast enough.

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I admit, another Cars film was probably the last thing I wanted to see Pixar do, particularly after the lackluster Cars 2, but color me pleasantly surprised by Cars 3 (Walt Disney, Rated G, Blu-Ray-$ SRP), which tells quite a mature and nuanced tale about aging and obsolescence, pulling a rather deft narrative bait-and-switch. Bonus materials include a brand new short, featurettes, deleted scenes, and more.

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If you’ve not been following what Oni Press has been doing the last few years, the cold, dark nights of winter are the perfect time to curl up and dive into some of the brilliant visual storytelling they’ve been releasing. For the most mainstream, fans of Rick & Morty can dive into the first 6 volumes collecting their comic book misadventures (Oni Press, $19.99 SRP each), featuring writing that is just as painfully sharp as its animated counterpart. Or read about the offbeat world where worst of the worst kaiju monsters are locked away from the human world in Kaijumax (Oni Press, $9.99 SRP each). And, oh gosh, how much do I love the sublime Johnny Wander collection Our Cats Are More Famous Than Us (Oni Press, $39.99 SRP)? A lot.

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Oh, you know there are spoilers a-plenty to be found within its pages, so avoid The Art Of Star Wars: The Last Jedi (HarperCollins, $40.00 SRP) until after you’ve seen the film. But then, once you do, you’ll be able to fully dive into all of the development artwork and information packed into this tome.

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Sadly, a character we won’t be seeing on the big screen again is the focal point of Rogue One, Jyn Erso. She does, however, have a few iconic outfits in the film, which means Hot Toys was able to offer two separate figures without it feeling like a redundancy. The Jyn Erso Deluxe Edition (Sideshow Collectibles, $249.99) is your definitive version, which comes packed with enough accessories to give her the bulk of her clothing variations, including a scarf, helmet, and poncho. There are also a ton of weapons and even the data drive for the Death Star plans. Ah, but equally is great is they’ve also made her Jyn Erso (Imperial Disguise) (Sideshow Collectibles, $219.99), which is a substantially different outfit and comes with both a blaster and a swappable helmeted head.

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Second only to the legendary Duck Man Carl Barks, Don Rosa’s adventures of Scrooge, Donald, and the denizens of Duckburg have been a true delight, and it isn’t until now that they’ve been collected in a single, definitive series which presents the material with the care and honor it deserves. Sadly, we’re fast approaching the end of Rosa’s output with the release of The Don Rosa Library Volume 7: Uncle Scrooge & Donald Duck - The Treasure Of The Ten Avatars (Fantagraphics, $29.99 SRP). In addition to the titular tale, the book contains 7 additional stories, plus behind-the-scenes commentary and context from Rosa.

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The Warner Archive continues to do a tremendous service for film lovers hoping for niche titles to make their way out of the vaults and into high definition, with the latest batch including the adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s The Illustrated Man (Warner Bros., Rated PG, Blu-Ray-$21.99 SRP), the 80s sci-fi thriller The Hidden (Warner Bros., Rated R, Blu-Ray-$21.99 SRP), the Gene Kelly-starring adaptation of the musical Brigadoon (Warner Bros., Rated G, Blu-Ray-$21.99 SRP), the schlock sci-fi film The Green Slime (Warner Bros., Rated G, Blu-Ray-$21.99 SRP) - which was also the film featured in the original pilot episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000, by the way - and Christopher Guest’s Waiting For Guffman (Warner Bros., Rated R, Blu-Ray-$21.99 SRP).

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A few years back, Disney Publishing released a deluxe box set featuring flip books of archival animation from Walt Disney’s legendary animators, the “Nine Old Men”. I’m delighted they decided to revisit the concept with a second set, Walt Disney’s Nine More Old Men: The Flipbooks (Disney Editions, $60 SRP), containing the works of Ub Iwerks, Art Babbit, Bill Tytla, John Sibley, Hal King, Grim Natwick, Norm Ferguson, Freddie Moore, and Ham Luske. I dearly hope this isn’t the end of this series, and it’s eventually extended to modern masters like Andreas Deja, Eric Goldberg, and Glen Keane.

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There’s a strong argument for this year to be the year of Wonder Woman, and having a book like Wonder Woman: Ambassador Of Truth (HarperDesign, $50 SRP) to celebrate it is certainly a plus, as it’s the loving tribute the character deserves, including a nifty selection of ephemera reproductions.

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Aww, geez, do I love the exquisite, almost magical skill involved in crafting a pop-up book. Combining that craft with a spotlight on films I adore makes for the must-have Pixar: A Pop-Up Celebration (Disney Editions, $65 SRP). Every film gets its own pop-up vignette, plus mini-vignettes for the company’s long history of shorts.

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And speaking of their vinyl statues, not only do they have the license for Marvel characters, but Diamond Select has also been working their way through the DC Animated characters, with the (current) pinnacle of their potential being Batgirl (Diamond Select, $45 SRP), based on her streamlined redesign from The New Adventures Of Batman & Robin. I don’t know how anyone can see her bringing the hammer down on Clayface and not instantly want this figure on their shelf.

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There’s a law - I’m sure it must be a law - dictating that every conceivable corner of the Star Wars universe will be fully explored in minute detail, which means we get Star Wars Stormtroopers: Beyond The Armor (HarperDesign, $45 SRP), which shines that spotlight on the Empire’s shocktroopers, from their Clone Trooper origins right through to the First Order, examining both the lore and nuts-and-bolts of their behind-the-scenes evolution and execution.

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I love to decorate for the holidays, so when I chanced upon a neighbor’s incredible projected window display at Halloween a few years back - featuring what seemed like very real skeletons, zombies, and a grim reaper inside their home, visible through the window - I had to find out exactly how they accomplished the wondrous feat. Well, much to my surprise, the effect was incredibly easy, as it consisted merely of a vinyl static-cling projection screen on the windows, a digital projector, a DVD/Blu-Ray player, and digital animation files crafted by the fine folks at AtmosFX. As soon as I heard that, in addition to Halloween frights, they also have a line of festive winter animations - AtmosCheerFX - I had to give it a go. With Atmos’s spiffy animations and a brilliant digital projector package (their Digital Decorating Kit Plus, $299.99), I’m now stopping traffic in my neighborhood as rubberneckers can’t avoid being drawn in by the glorious display. The biggest joy of all, though? Just how easy it was to do.

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While I can respect the craft behind them, Christopher Nolan films tend to lose me roundabout what feels like hour four. They tend to feel padded and pretentious, and I include his Batman films - particularly the last one - in that assessment, as well. So, imagine my surprise to find what a taut, unshowy narrative Dunkirk (Warner Bros., Rated PG-13, 4K UltraHD-$44.95 SRP) turned out to be, even though it features the usually bit of Nolan temporal shenanigans, but the interlocking narratives work together to bring the oft-overlooked but incredibly epic tale of the UK’s naval evacuation of troops from Dunkirk - using civilian craft - to propulsive life. Bonus materials include an in-depth behind-the-scenes look at the film’s production. Oh, and speaking of Nolan’s previous films, they’ve also released a 4K edition of Interstellar (Paramount, Rated PG-13, 4K UltraHD-$31.99 SRP) to coincide.

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Fans of Doctor Who wanting a bit of insight into the origins and evolution of The Doctor’s most fearsome foes will want to pick up a copy of Dalek (HarperDesign, $45 SRP), which details their history featuring rarely seen photographs, comics, and ephemera.

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There have been a few releases of a 1/6-scale version of the venerable, and diminutive, Jedi master in the past, Hot Toys has decided to make their definitive version of Yoda (Sideshow Collectibles, $199.99), based on his puppet appearance in Empire Strikes Back and Return Of The Jedi. Because he’s such a tiny figure, it’s allowed them to make up for the size with a few substantial extras, including an alternate closed-eyes head sculpt (for when he’s communing with the force), an elaborate mossy base, rocks and stands (for floating with the force), and a crate and lamp (with light feature).

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Digging into her unreleased archives just in time for the holidays, Carol Burnett has assembled The Carol Burnett Show: Carol’s Lost Christmas (TimeLife, Not Rated, DVD-$12.95 SRP), which contains a trio of uncut holiday episodes from the legendary show’s first 4 seasons.

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Baseball fans hoping to re-live the excitement they must have as sports fans for the sports annual tournament will want to re-live it all with the World Series 2017: Collector’s Edition box set (Shout Factory, Not Rated, DVD-$79.97 SRP), featuring the entire run of the Los Angeles Dodgers against the Houston Astros. Speaking of the (SPOILERS!) Astros, you can follow the highlights of their winning season with the single disc World Series Champions 2017 (Shout Factor, Not Rated, DVD-$ SRP).

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With the film getting the 4K HDR treatment for its 40th anniversary, it’s no surprise that we get a complementary book, Close Encounters Of The Third Kind: The Ultimate Visual History (HarperDesign, $50 SRP), filled with incredible behind-the-scenes photos (the miniature work is still incredible, especially when you get to linger on the detail) and information.

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There are many films that slip through the cracks of time, undeservedly, so it’s always nice when one gets a chance to find a new audience, like director Elaine May’s A New Leaf (Olive, Rated G, Blu-Ray-$29.95 SRP), which stars Walter Matthau as man who is forced to repay a loan to his uncle (James Coco) after blowing through his inheritance, and schemes to do so by marrying into wealth. Bonus materials include an audio commentary and featurettes.

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Herge remains a contentious figure. Revered for his creation Tintin, which contains a fair amount of problematic material, his personal history is also particularly complicated. Largely unseen in the west, he also produced a funny animal strip that is finally making its debut here, Peppy In The Wild West (Fantagraphics, $16.99 SRP), featuring a pair of anthropomorphic bears adventuring in a version of the American West informed by movie serials of the teens and twenties. Still, it’s nice to see the artist’s early work, even if it has to be placed in proper historical context.

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All good things must end, and we’ve reached it with Tales Of The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Final Chapters (Nickelodeon, Not Rated, DVD-$16.99 SRP), which brings together the last clutch of adventures for the wonderful 2012 iteration of our half-shell heroes. And now that we’ve wrapped the show, can we finally get a high definition release of the whole series? Please? It deserves the love.

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Proving itself a powerhouse of the Great White Way, you can bring home a pair of books that document the development and legacy of the show with The Lion King: Twenty Years On Broadway And Around The World (Disney Editions, $50 SRP) and director Julie Taymor’s The Lion King: Pride Rock On Broadway (Disney Editions, $40 SRP).

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Michael Bay’s seemingly never-ending run of sound & fury Transformers films are far from good - laughably bad, even - but they are jam-packed with the kind of visuals and sound design that are absolutely perfect for impressing friends and family with the new 4k Ultra HD TV set-up you just spent a pretty penny on. With that in mind, the first four films - Transformers, Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen, Transformers: Dark Of The Moon, & Transformers: Age Of Extinction (Paramount, Rated PG-13, 4K UltraHD-$25.79 SRP each) - are now available in 4K to show off those TVs this holiday season. The new releases carry over all of the bonus features from the previous release, although none of them really do much to make any sense of what you’ve just watched.

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Translated into English for the first time, legendary European Disney comics artist Romano Scarpa’s The Return Of Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs (Fantagraphics, $19.99 SRP) is a lovely sequel to the Disney animated classic that shows a reverence for the material while extrapolating the story beyond the film. And the artwork is pure Scarpa loveliness.

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Before their April 2017 concert, one of rock’s most iconic bands had never performed what many consider their masterpiece live in its entirety. But on that date, they did, and it’s capture for posterity on The Who: Tommy - Live At The Royal Albert Hall (Eagle Rock, Not Rated, Blu-Ray-$21.98 SRP). Still blistering as a band, it’s a tour de force performance. Bonus materials include a behind-the-scenes featurette and footage from the in-house screens.

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Sometimes, either through circumstance or hubris, art gets away from the artist. While I certainly think it’s the latter, the former could certainly account for whatever led to Darren Aranofsky’s painfully self-important Mother! (Paramount, Rated R, 4K UltraHD-$34.99 SRP), which stars Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem as a couple whose lives are upturned by unexpected guests Ed Harris & Michelle Pfeiffer. And it all is supposed to be a metaphor for something profound that I was too annoyed to care about after plodding through it. Bonus materials include a pair of featurettes.

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-Ken Plume
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