December 2012: For two, maybe three years, humanity has dreaded its approach, thanks to a highly selective interpretation of the Mayan calendar exploited by New Age types and makers of crappy blockbuster films starring John Cusack. And now it’s here. So if the world is fated to end on December 21, what’s the point of holiday shopping? The A.V. Club doesn’t have an answer for that. But we do have a selection of gifts sure to please pop-culture fans of all types—and, mindful of the looming doom that awaits us all, we’ve also assessed said items’ value in the apocalyptic wasteland awaiting those unlucky enough to survive The End. It’s just our way of saying “Happy Holidays”—and then looking askance like we know something you don’t, slinking out of the room, and leaving you to wonder, in the precious little time left to you, whether you’ve wasted your life caring about frivolous things.
Item: Uncle Milton Star Wars Science Darth Maul Edition lightsaber room light
Pre-apocalypse function: Designed to resemble Darth Maul’s double-bladed lightsaber from The Phantom Menace, this wall-mounted room light—code for “night light”—is sure to delight prequel-loving youngsters who want to fight off their fear of the darkness in the most badass way possible.
Post-apocalypse function: Honestly, it’s pretty useless. Unlike a real lightsaber, it can’t cut anything, and in any electricity-free post-apocalyptic scenario, it wouldn’t even offer low-wattage illumination. It might be useful in fending off any brain-damaged survivors who could be convinced that you’re the real Darth Maul, however.
Pre-apocalypse cost: $29.99
Post-apocalypse barter value: Truly committed Star Wars nerds might trade an ear of corn for one.
Did we get one? No. But online reviews range from “My partner loves it” to “WORST LIGHTSABER EVER.”
Item: A Doctor Who-inspired dress in the shape of the TARDIS
Pre-apocalypse function: A perfect dress for a costume part—or, in the words of the Hot Topic website, “as a daily sign of your love for all things Doctor Who,” presumably for wearers prepared to field off inquiries about whether they’re bigger on the inside than the outside.
Post-apocalypse function: Nothing suggests that the TARDIS dress has any of the functions of the TARDIS, whose space- and time-traveling abilities would allow apocalypse survivors to escape the hellhole that Earth will no doubt become.
Pre-apocalypse cost: $26.50
Post-apocalypse barter value: Though made of a durable-sounding cotton/spandex blend, it’s also a short, sleeveless little number that appears to offer little protection from the elements, and will probably have little value outside of the nerd brothels destined to spring up from the ruins of the San Diego Convention Center.
Did we get one? No. The dresses were sold out when last we checked, and we lack the ability to bend time to our will and retrieve them from the past.
Item: Official How I Met Your Mother premium grey silk Suitjamas
Pre-apocalypse function: If the revelation that Barney Stinson—Neil Patrick Harris’ womanizing clothes-horse character on How I Met Your Mother—sleeps in a suit made of pajama material struck you as more aspirational than amusing, here’s the perfect item for your Christmas list. Now you can also wear a set of “Suitjamas,” right down to the “sleeping cravat.” Will you? Probably not. The Suitjamas honestly don’t look that comfortable. But enough people have ordered them to make them the No. 1 seller on Amazon’s “Clothing > Novelty & Special Use > Exotic Apparel > Men” chart, where it edges out “Dreamgirl Unisex Pajama Pant #3863.”
Post-apocalypse function: Though obviously a gag, this looks like it might offer substantial protection against the elements when paired with an overcoat or HazMat suit. It also features a condom-ready Emergency Contraceptive Pocket, perfect for those who want to roam the inhibition-lowering wastelands without worrying about long-term consequences.
Pre-apocalypse cost: $99.95
Post-apocalypse barter value: Should be worth at least one donkey pelt.
Did we get one? Sadly, no. Hopefully our spouses won’t be shouting “Suit up!” at us in the boudoir anytime soon.
Item: Community Christmas figurine set
Pre-apocalypse function: What’s Christmas without a physical reminder of Community’s “Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas” stop-motion episode? Not Christmas at all. This seven-figure set features the Community cast as it appeared in Abed’s clay-based fantasyland, from Jeff In The Box to Snowman Chang. (Strangely absent: Baby Shirley.)
Post-apocalypse function: Made of “hard plastic,” these might be somehow incorporated into the mortar of the impromptu structures built to keep out roving gangs of marauders. Maybe.
Pre-apocalypse cost: $39.99 (slashed from $99.99)
Post-apocalypse barter value: Might be worth something to Community fans wanting to remember the pre-cataclysm Alison Brie, before she charmed survivors into allowing her to become the pitiless ruler of The Republic Of New Los Angeles.
Did we get one? Surprisingly, no.
Item: Funko Gangnam Style POP! vinyl figure
Pre-apocalypse function: The folks at Funko are in the business of turning beloved pop-culture characters into big-headed toys, making cute desk ornaments out of everyone from Spider-Man to Michael Myers. But if you want to make your 2012 holiday gift a true relic of 2012, what could possibly be better than a vinyl figure of Psy, the Korean recording artist who made “Gangnam Style” an inescapable earworm? Nothing, that’s what.
Post-apocalypse function: Might be used to frighten off superstitious mutants.
Pre-apocalypse cost: $12.99
Post-apocalypse barter value: Let’s not kid ourselves: Anyone who holds on to this after the apocalypse doesn’t have much interest in surviving.
Did we get one? No. We gave one. To everyone. This is the gift to give this holiday season.
Item: Tarantino XX: Celebrating 20 Years Of Filmmaking 10-disc Blu-ray box set
Pre-apocalypse function: It’s a space-saving marvel, collecting Quentin Tarantino’s entire directorial output (minus Django Unchained, plus True Romance, which he wrote but did not direct) in a package that only takes up the space of two DVDs. It also includes 15 hours of bonus footage, and is thus a fantastic time-suck.
Post-apocalypse function: When all of the Blu-ray machines have failed, having choked on the dust sprayed by Earth-destroying comets, future civilizations will be able to re-create Tarantino’s stories using the artwork in this package as a guide. It’s a six-panel foldout illustration of his biggest characters, complete with quotes from the movies.
Pre-apocalypse cost: $120
Post-apocalypse barter value: Priceless, much like the Bible in the Denzel Washington movie The Book Of Eli. Don’t trade it for food, use its power to control the masses who yearn for meaning.
Did we get one? Yes indeed. Goodbye special editions of Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs, hello more shelf space.
Item: The Onion Book Of Known Knowledge: A Definitive Encyclopaedia Of Existing Information
Pre-apocalypse function: Nothing short of collecting all of humanity’s knowledge in one place, and disseminating it to those willing to part with a few measly shekels.
Post-apocalypse function: To maintain the world’s knowledge for future generations, so that they may rebuild in the image of the greatest civilization the universe has ever known (probably).
Pre-apocalypse cost: $29.99 suggested retail, but cheaper if you aren’t a dum-dum.
Post-apocalypse barter value: You’d need to get at least six full sets of the most recent Encyclopedia Britannica—books, none of those useless CD-ROMs—to make a solid trade here.
Did we get one? We share an office with The Onion, so we just stole one.
Item: David Cross and Damian Abraham bobbleheads
Pre-apocalypse function: Showing people you have hip taste in music and comedy via, ummm, toys with heads that bobble. A company called Aggronautix makes limited-edition bobbleheads of indie and punk heroes like J. Mascis, Andrew W.K., and Jello Biafra. Its latest two are pretty nice: comedian/actor David Cross and Damian “Pink Eyes” Abraham of Fucked Up. Both are dangerous in their own way.
Post-apocalypse function: These aren’t your run-of-the-mill plastic bobbleheads. (Oh yeah, they’re actually called Throbbleheads, because they’re kind of extreme.) They’re made of a polyresin that’s actually pretty sturdy—sturdy enough to clock a squirrel or rabbit in the head, then cook it over your meager fire, which you deliberately keep low in case of bandits.
Pre-apocalypse cost: $19.95 each
Post-apocalypse barter value: Since these could theoretically be used as either weapons (in the short term) or idols (somewhere in the future), it’s probably best to hold on to them for yourself.
Did we get one? They didn’t have the Damian and David ones ready for our deadline, but Aggronautix did send us Andrew W.K. and the third edition of its G.G. Allin Throbblehead, which is called the “condensed carnage edition.” (In case you were wondering: “G.G. is accurately sculpted right down to the tattoos, blood, and filth.”)
Item: Harold & Kumar Ultimate Collector’s Edition Blu-ray box set
Pre-apocalypse function: Collecting all of your Harold & Kumar discs in one place, particularly the sucky one you didn’t own before (Guantanamo Bay), but now will be forced to re-watch. This set also gives you the chance to own these movies in a metal box that’s shaped like a Zippo lighter, and also includes air fresheners and coasters.
Post-apocalypse function: The varied components of this box—minus the useless discs—could come in handy. The end of the world, filled as it surely will be with rotting corpses strewn nearly everywhere, will have a great need for air fresheners. The coasters could be used for games, or perhaps burned as fuel. Best of all, the metal box could protect the sad reminders of your past life—wedding ring, love notes, pictures of loved ones who were infected or blown up or whatever’s gonna happen.
Pre-apocalypse cost: $50
Post-apocalypse barter value: Pretty high. You’d want to get at least one deer carcass for something this solid, plus maybe a can of Sterno.
Did we get one? Yes, they gave it up smooth.
Item: Weird Al: The Book
Pre-apocalypse function: To gather the existing knowledge of the world’s foremost song parodist into coffee-table-book form, pair it with words from The A.V. Club’s Nathan Rabin, and enlighten the world about an important historical figure.
Post-apocalypse function: Blunt weapon (non-lethal), fuel for campfire (potentially lethal—the pages are nicely coated).
Pre-apocalypse cost: $29.95
Post-apocalypse barter value: Assuming the surviving nerds of the world will be in power—they probably prepared—something like this could get you into their bunker.
Did we get one? We got a few, actually. We know a guy.
Item: Mission Impossible: The Complete Television Series box set
Pre-apocalypse function: To replace the gigantic Mission Impossible: The Complete Series box set you bought a scant three years ago. This one somehow has nine more discs, and much more importantly, comes packaged in a case that looks like a bomb, complete with a fuse. Round cases slip inside; they’re supposed to look like film canisters or something. Oh, and you can watch all of the episodes of the ’60s spy show on the discs, too.
Post-apocalypse function: Decoy bomb. Set it in front of the invaders’ headquarters to distract them, then enter through the back and steal their complete X-Files set.
Pre-apocalypse cost: $370
Post-apocalypse barter value: A trader with some skill might get a couple of cans of hardtack from a hoarder who likes shiny things and knows he has more than enough food to live out his life.
Did we get one? Not yet, but supposedly they’re sending us one. Let’s hope it didn’t self-destruct in the mail.
Item: Rush’s 2112 Super Deluxe Edition
Pre-apocalypse function: To celebrate the negative-100th anniversary of when the free thinkers rose up against the Solar Federation, inspired (probably) by the death of a guy who was just excited to play some acoustic guitar. Which is to say the 36th anniversary of Rush’s classic 2112, a conceptual album inspired by Ayn Rand, but nevertheless totally listenable. This new version comes with a regular disc and a Blu-ray, and in the “Super Deluxe Edition,” a 40-page hardbound book, with comics illustrating each song. And you thought Rush fans were geeks.
Post-apocalypse function: The discs themselves could theoretically be broken into pieces and used as cutting instruments. The songs, should they survive, might bring light to a universe that will certainly one day be controlled by communists who hate music, and by extension, Canadian prog-rock trios.
Pre-apocalypse cost: $60
Post-apocalypse barter value: Little to none. Some paper, some cardboard, some plastic—there should be plenty of that around.
Did we get one? As of press time, they were trying to rush us a sample from the manufacturer, so no. But someday.
Item: Rancid Essentials 7-inch box set
Pre-apocalypse function: Celebrate Rancid’s 20th anniversary with all of the band’s albums and EPs, including the acoustic version of 2009’s Let The Dominoes Fall, spread across 46 7-inch records. The box set comes in three limited-edition colors: red, white, and white with red splatter for toughness. Both white vinyl pressings come with a flexidisc of two cover songs, while the white pre-order version comes with the flexidisc and a numbered Rancid baseball bat. Less flush fans can buy the 7-inches individually, or individual records in 7-inch form, for a listening experience unrivaled in audio quality and hassle.
Post-apocalypse function: While the pre-apocalypse function may be suspect, this item is full of post-apocalypse uses. The 46 records could easily be assembled into some form of shelter, while the baseball bat can help keep the roving hordes away from your treasure. And if it’s a zombie apocalypse, all those records have even more important applications.
Pre-apocalypse cost: $275, or $325 for the set with a bat
Post-apocalypse barter value: This is where collectors will see a real appreciation on their limited-edition numbered Rancid baseball bat, as weapons will replace currency in the wasteland.
Did we get one? No. But the label did offer us a discount on reliving that one month in high school.
Item: 26-pound Edible Gummy Party Python
Pre-apocalypse function: From the self-proclaimed “purveyors of curiously awesome products” at online retailer Vat 19, the Gummy Party Python is nothing but ludicrous attributes: Fully unfurled, the ultimate gummy worm measures just shy of 8 feet in length. Additionally, listings for the gooey monstrosity claim it contains 306 servings totaling 36,720 calories.
Post-apocalypse function: In other words, that’s 18 days of sustenance on a typical 2,000-calorie-a-day diet—though given its reported yearlong shelf life, citizens on a reduced, post-apocalyptic diet could make the Party Python stretch out even further.
Pre-apocalypse cost: $150
Post-apocalypse barter value: A high-ticket, life-sustaining item such as this should be traded for only the most precious objects: Working transportation, for instance, or freedom from the labor camps run by the local militia leader.
Did we get one? We’re still waiting for a response to our request for a sample, but if Vat 19 could provide a Party Python to Anderson Cooper’s canceled talk show, surely it could send one to a publication that boasts The A.V. Club’s tremendous reach and influence in the junk-food game.
Item: Twilight-inspired reborn baby doll
Pre-apocalypse function: Reborn babies—lifelike dolls painstakingly repainted to look like actual living infants—ostensibly exist for adults who want the baby equivalent of a Real Doll, though hopefully without the sexual angle. Some buyers use them for comfort after the loss of a child, but others just like to have them around because they’re weirdoes. This little vampire doll is perfect for scaring the shit out of anyone who might peer into a stroller or Baby Bjorn without being invited.
Post-apocalypse function: The same function, but with the added bonus of being able to scare anyone who’s trying to steal from your cave or shack.
Pre-apocalypse cost: $650
Post-apocalypse barter value: Not great. When rivers of fire cover the land, the only people who would really want to own a lifelike faux-vampire doll are probably the kind of people you don’t really want to meet, let alone conduct business transactions with.
Did we get one? We didn’t even ask. Since someone put hours and hours of their time into this thing, asking for one just so we could make fun of it seemed a little déclassé. After all, we can do that without actually having to see it in real life.
Item: Dillon Panther rally girl T-shirt
Pre-apocalypse function: Letting the world know you’re a Friday Night Lights fan, excellent at making cupcakes, and willing to do anything for the Dillon Panthers.
Post-apocalypse function: Beyond just being clothing, it could be torn into strips and used as bandages, or perhaps as a flag for a particularly nerdy new colony.
Pre-apocalypse cost: $15.99
Post-apocalypse barter value: Minimal. Considering how cheap and disposable most clothing is nowadays, it’s hard to imagine there’s going to be much demand for T-shirts after the world ends.
Did we get one? We did, and Genevieve Koski is proudly wearing it right now.
Item: Los Pollos Hermanos bucket full of meth-like rock candy
Pre-apocalypse function: This tote of sweets impresses fellow Breaking Bad fans and satisfies intense sugar cravings.
Post-apocalypse function: It’s entirely possible that, like in colonial times, sugar will become a hot commodity post-apocalypse, making rock candy almost as valuable as meth. Throw in the bucket to tote water from a local river, and this novelty becomes a necessity.
Pre-apocalypse cost: $19, including shipping from the UK
Post-apocalypse barter value: Given the item’s multi-purpose nature, this thing would probably fetch a pretty good price post-apocalypse. Maybe we could trade it for a cow.
Did we get one? Absolutely, and our teeth—the ones that haven’t fallen out because of our constant meth use—have been sugary every since.
Item: “You’re a virgin who can’t drive” prayer candle
Pre-apocalypse function: Besides providing light and trace amounts of heat, this candle serves as a memorial to the late Brittany Murphy, who lit up our lives as Tai in Clueless.
Post-apocalypse function: As sad as it is, it’s probably unlikely that after the death of millions of people, we’ll still be mourning Murphy so intensely. Thus the candle will only be good for light and maybe, when all the wax is gone, as some sort of drinking vessel.
Pre-apocalypse cost: $12
Post-apocalypse barter value: Candles will probably be pretty sought-after in the end times, at least until everyone figures out how to render fat and make them on their own. Thus we’ll have to sell this right after the end of days, before everyone gets wise to the new reality.
Did we get one? Yes, and we’re buying them for our respective Dionnes and Joshes this Christmas, too.
Item: My Little Pony winter hat
Pre-apocalypse function: Like any good winter hat, this one keeps heads warm and dry. It also tells the world that you’re a sensitive being who likes puffy cartoon horses.
Post-apocalypse function: Post-apocalypse, pretty much the same thing, but without the puffy cartoon horses. It’ll be important to keep warm when the only heat comes from fires and fellow lonely souls.
Pre-apocalypse cost: $30
Post-apocalypse barter value: While winter hats certainly aren’t hard to come by, the fact that this one is made of fleece might make it slightly more valuable than one made of yarn, which has the potential to unravel. On the other hand, it also has a dumb unicorn horn on it.
Did we get one? We didn’t. Given that the Etsy seller is in Israel, maybe the cost of shipping us a pony hat was just too daunting.
Item: Blade Runner 30th Anniversary Collector’s Edition Blu-ray and DVD box set/Blade Runner whiskey glass
Pre-apocalypse function: Repackaging a film that’s seen more releases than there are Replicant models, the Blade Runner 30th-anniversary set has the exact same material as the previous five-disc “Complete Collector’s Edition,” but adds a slim book of concept art and behind-the-scenes photos, a pretty cool lenticular print, and a toy Spinner car. Numb the feeling of being suckered into buying this stuff all over again with Firebox’s Blade Runner whiskey glass, an exact replica of the handmade, mouth-blown crystal tumbler Rick Deckard slugs from in the film.
Post-apocalypse function: The obsessive breadth of the Blu-ray set will serve as a heartwarming reminder of a time when the stakes were so low, people could spend their days debating the merits of slightly different cuts of the exact same movie. And even if you probably won’t waste the hand-crank generators on watching the actual film again, the photo book will allow you to compare your present dystopian reality to Ridley Scott’s imagined one, and maybe get some fashion ideas, at least. More practically speaking, the whiskey glass can also hold potable water (if you can find it), while the Spinner toy is a choking hazard, should you decide to take the easy way out.
Pre-apocalypse cost: Blu-ray set, $64.99/whiskey glass, $152.29 for a set of two
Post-apocalypse barter value: The whiskey glass should be worth at least two gourds or a sturdy bucket, but the Blu-ray set—much like it is now—will be totally superfluous.
Did we get one? Yes, obviously we got the Blu-ray set, because we are nerds who will gladly buy it repeatedly, because it’s Blade Runner. See you again in a few years, when it’s repackaged with the sequel.
Item: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Complete Classic Series DVD box set/Masters Of The Universe: 30th Anniversary Commemorative Collection DVD box set
Pre-apocalypse function: Indulging nostalgia for TV shows designed to sell toys, these DVD sets flip the script on the original animated adventures of the Ninja Turtles and He-Man, selling the series by packaging them in toys. Or replicas of toys, at least: All 23 discs of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Complete Classic Series are housed in a case that resembles Playmates’ original Party Wagon accessory, while the Masters Of The Universe DVDs sit pretty in a miniature Castle Grayskull.
Post-apocalypse function: Weaponry, thus confirming the worst fears of alarmist parents concerned that children of the ’80s would come to emulate the violent actions of Leonardo, Man-At-Arms, and friends. Combining both sets makes for an arsenal of 55 potential projectiles. Masters Of The Universe: 30th Anniversary Commemorative Collection, meanwhile, provides a promising “sword accessory.”
Pre-apocalypse cost: Blue Book value on the Party Van is $99.98, the same for a down payment on Castle Grayskull.
Post-apocalypse barter value: Even though these aren’t technically toys, irradiated youngsters who’ve never known playthings could be persuaded to part with several large rocks for one or both of the sets.
Did we get one? The Ninja Turtles set has been providing kitschy clutter around The A.V. Club HQ for weeks, while we’re still waiting for a chance to poke our eyes out with the Masters Of The Universe Power Sword.
Item: Billy Reid Bond peacoat
Pre-apocalypse function: American designer Billy Reid gave menswear blogs an easy Skyfall peg when his contribution to the movie’s wardrobe became available to the public, where it can warm the hides of Anglophiles and 007 devotees alike.
Post-apocalypse function: Warming the hides of whoever comes across it; intimidating anyone with a memory of who James Bond was.
Pre-apocalypse cost: $695
Post-apocalypse barter value: Depends: In a nuclear winter, this trim-fitting item will be as good as gold, but even a fellow as raggedy as Albert Finney’s Skyfall character wouldn’t trade a scrap of iron for a coat in an extreme global-warming scenario.
Did we get one? No, but not because of the price tag: According to Reid’s website, the Bond Peacoat is backordered through January 20, 2013.
Item: The Rolling Stones 50th-anniversary whisky by Suntory
Pre-apocalypse function: Toasting the golden anniversary of a band whose members seemed unlikely to reach age 30 (no offense meant to Brian Jones) with “a blend of carefully selected malts distilled and casked in milestone years throughout the band’s 50 year history”—though, like many Stones fans, the distillery considers nothing the band has done in the last 22 years a “milestone.”
Post-apocalypse function: The accelerant that shouts “Start me up!” with notes of fruit, cacao, and espresso.
Pre-apocalypse cost: $6,300, though the crystal, lips-and-tongue logo-aping bottle must account for as much of that price tag as the limited production numbers (150 bottles, to be precise).
Post-apocalypse barter value: Given its potential as fuel, enough to touch off a Road Warrior-style race across the barren wastelands.
Did we get one? Nope, but we bet post-apocalyptic marauders will find some when they loot one of Richard Branson’s estates.
Item: Star Trek Spock oven mitt
Pre-apocalypse function: Living a long, prosperous life with hands unscarred from coming into contact with hot baking surfaces.
Post-apocalypse function: Handling radioactive materials while blending in with hoards of mutants whose extremities have become engorged from handling radioactive materials.
Pre-apocalypse cost: $14.99
Post-apocalypse barter value: Surely the cook of a local settlement will trade a free meal for an oven mitt that isn’t fashioned from the husks of dead animals.
Did we get one? No, though if the comments on ThinkGeek’s listing are any indication, some lucky so-and-sos named Martin and Pat will soon be baking like Vulcans.
Item: Rediscover classic-album jigsaw puzzles
Pre-apocalypse function: Allowing rock-’n’-roll historians to stretch their nostalgia muscles and work out any brain-teaser compulsions, these double-sided, 300-piece jigsaw puzzles depict the covers of classic albums from David Bowie, Johnny Cash, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Grateful Dead, Nirvana, and others.
Post-apocalypse function: The nostalgia factor increases exponentially after there’s no more rock music, and these will provide an hour or two of entertainment when we all lack Internet, smartphone apps, television, or videogames. But who’s going to have the time to keep track of all those tiny pieces while trying to stay alive?
Pre-apocalypse cost: $21.95
Post-apocalypse barter value: Surely some poor planner will require the cardboard-box packaging. Perhaps as kindling?
Did we get one? Yes. And provided there’s enough light, the front cover to The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s Axis: Bold As Love takes a couple of hours—or approximately three-and-a-half episodes of a Firefly marathon.
Item: The Art Of Betty And Veronica
Pre-apocalypse function: Continuing Archie Comics’ recent trend toward honoring and preserving the best of its own past, this handsome hardbound coffee-table book brings together covers, sketches, illustrations, and full comics featuring the two best gals of iconic teenager Archie Andrews: the tomboyish Betty and the ritzy Veronica.
Post-apocalypse function: Put it this way: The nights get awfully lonely in a devastated world.
Pre-apocalypse cost: $29.99
Post-apocalypse barter value: Perhaps you could trade this fancy book full of beautiful, fashionable women for a more sensible “book next door” type, then spend hours around the campfire debating that choice with your fellow survivors.
Did we get one? Yes. And we agree with the book’s assemblers, Victor Gorelick and Craig Yoe, that the work of Dan DeCarlo, Harry Lucey, and Bob Montana deserves to survive all the way through the end-times.
Item: Locke & Key: The Game
Pre-apocalypse function: Based on the popular IDW horror-adventure comic-book series by writer Joe Hill and artist Gabriel Rodriguez, this Cryptozoic card game invites players to step into the shoes of the trouble-plagued Locke family and overcome challenges both personal and supernatural, using strategically laid “strength cards” and “key cards.”
Post-apocalypse function: When combined with a copy of Ricky Jay’s book Cards As Weapons, this game could come in handy. Barring that, the game itself is super-fun.
Pre-apocalypse cost: $29.99
Post-apocalypse barter value: That depends. Do you have the Anywhere Key card in your hand? If so, draw two extra strength cards and then, properly powered-up, just take whatever you want from your trading partner.
Did we get one? Yes. And if the encroaching dark ages include Shadow Armies, we are ready.
Item: Atlas Shrugged brass money clip shaped like a dollar sign
Pre-apocalypse function: According to the description at atlasshruggedmovie.com, it’s “the perfect way to keep track of your hard-earned dollars. Look on it with pride, and remind yourself what made it possible to begin with.” Presumably they mean brass, because that’s what it’s made of.
Post-apocalypse function: Paper money will be worthless after the apocalypse (or whenever all of our captains of industry go Galt to escape us parasites), so plan to melt it down to forge a shiv. Who is John Galt? He’s the motherfucker who’s about to stab you!
Pre-apocalypse cost: $79.95 (currently on sale for $71.95!)
Post-apocalypse barter value: As a “substitutional alloy,” brass is good for low-friction applications like gears, locks, and ammunition, according to Wikipedia. So it’s likely worth more after the apocalypse. Accept nothing less than three days’ worth of food and water, almost enough to get you to the Free Zone.
Did we get one? We knew better than to ask for a freebie from Atlas Shrugged fans.
Item: Fold-up headphones shaped like Jake and Finn from Adventure Time
Pre-apocalypse function: Telegraphing your love of an adventure-loving human boy and his shape-shifting canine companion to the world around you, while jamming out in full stereo sound to an MP3 of “Fry Song.”
Post-apocalypse function: Well, they’d do well enough as earmuffs in less temperate climes. But those who’ve absorbed Adventure Time’s colorful post-post-apocalyptic future into their hearts can imagine Finn and Jake whispering encouragement and silly nonsense into their ears as they ride out Earth’s transition into the Land Of Ooo, imagining the mathematical times to come as they go slowly insane.
Pre-apocalypse cost: $24.99
Post-apocalypse barter value: Not much, though enterprising types could claim the headphones are a crown and dub themselves Adventure Time’s newest character, Headphone Princess.
Did we get one? Oh my glob, no!
Item: Futurama plush toys, available in the form of Nibbler (plush dark-matter ball included), Bender, or Zoidberg.
Pre-apocalypse function: Mainly for hugging.
Post-apocalypse function: At 12 inches tall, these are big enough that they could be used to defend your supply cache from smaller, easily startled vermin, though larger carnivores will probably just eat them.
Pre-apocalypse cost: $29.99
Post-apocalypse barter value: Use them to bribe young children, who, having grown up playing first-person-shooter videogames, will be considerably more effective and deadly as bodyguards than anyone over the age of 12.
Did we get one? No. Why not? Why not Zoidberg?
Item: Prints of contestants from RuPaul’s Drag Race by artist Chad Sell
Pre-apocalypse function: Displaying your allegiance to one or several of the drag queens who competed in the third, fourth, and All-Star seasons of RuPaul’s Drag Race, in suitably colorful and stylized fashion.
Post-apocalypse function: The first instinct may be to use these as kindling, but why not get creative? Rustle up some candles to place around this sucker and you have the makings of an absolutely sickening shrine; faster than you can say “Shante, you stay,” you’ll be the supreme leader of your own dragalicious new religion, preaching the gospel of Latrice Royale to a post-apocalyptic society in need of something fabulous to hold on to in a dreary new world.
Pre-apocalypse cost: $6.
Post-apocalypse barter value: If you’re lucky enough to find a nostalgic drag queen looking for a reminder of the halcyon days of drag, she might be willing to trade a size-16 stiletto heel, which would make a suitable weapon.
Did we get one? Yes, three of them: Manila Luzon, Latrice Royale, and Sharon Needles.
Item: Friends: The Complete Series Blu-ray box set
Pre-apocalypse function: Reliving all 236 episodes of Friends as they originally aired on NBC from 1994 to 2004. (These are the original broadcast versions, not the extended versions found on the individual-season DVDs.) You know, like you can do any day of the week on TBS, Nick At Night, or local syndication, only with the occasional commentary track.
Post-apocalypse function: The box set’s lenticular cover can be used to start a fire using reflected sunlight, the 34-page booklet can be used as tinder, and the 21 discs themselves could be melted and molded into bowls or even plastic armor of some sort. Or you could just huck the big old thing at someone and steal his stuff while he’s passed out.
Pre-apocalypse cost: $249.99
Post-apocalypse barter value: Trade it for the 2006 Friends: The Complete Series DVD box set; better resolution means nothing when there’s no longer electricity, and the slightly heavier DVD set makes for better huckin’.
Did we get one? Not yet. Now how will we watch Friends?
Item: Transformers transforming flash drive
Pre-apocalypse function: Like any USB memory drive, this one is meant to store computer data. But it’s also a Transformers toy that unfolds into a version of Ravage, a nasty, impressively capable little Decepticon whose alternate form was a cassette tape in his original ’80s incarnation. This is a cute update on that concept—he’s still a recording device, just a more modern one.
Post-apocalypse function: Storing crucial data in the hope that it someday will be useful to distant generations, assuming they re-engineer electricity and reinvent the computer. Suggested data to store: The Bible, historical texts and classic literature, photos of the greatest artworks of mankind, and episodes of the ’80s Transformers cartoon, so the future can understand why so much of human history has been saved on a little plastic panther.
Pre-apocalypse cost: Depends on quality and drive size; Amazon lists them between 4 and 32 gigs, ranging from about $5 to $23.99. But in reviews, aficionados point out that most of these are cheap plastic knock-offs, and that the original 2-gig version with metal parts is harder to find, and pricey on eBay.
Post-apocalypse barter value: Close to nil given that it’s dependent technology in one form, and a flimsy toy in the other.
Did we get one? We don’t think so, but one of the thumb drives we did have lying around the office disappeared. Possibly it re-assumed its true robo-panther form in the middle of the night and headed off to report to its evil-robot masters.
Item: Superhero socks with their own tiny capes
Pre-apocalypse function: Keeping legs warm while reminding wearers that under their mild-mannered, everyday pants, they’re practically wearing superhero costumes.
Post-apocalypse function: Keeping legs warm while reminding wearers that once, we as a civilization had the time and money for some really frivolous shit.
Pre-apocalypse cost: $9.99 a pair
Post-apocalypse barter value: Relatively high, since they’re actual clothing, capable of keeping the owners’ feet super-warm and super-dry while they rummage through the wreckage for more wearable clothing.
Did we get one? Possibly we’re wearing them right now, but we don’t want to give away our secret identities.
Item: Remote-controlled flying zombie shark
Pre-apocalypse function: Harassing co-workers in the office with fly-bys, harassing pets and children in the park on windless days.
Post-apocalypse function: Assuming helium is still available after the apocalypse, a remote-controlled, lighter-than-air flying object might be useful for many things, like delivering messages and other small items between armed camps, or for distracting the zombies, mutants, monsters, or whatever nastiness winds up roaming the streets. If helium isn’t available, the deflated carcass might make a nice waterproof hat.
Pre-apocalypse cost: $39.99
Post-apocalypse barter value: Rather than bartering, we’re just going to use it to buzz other scavengers and scare them away from any goods we want.
Did we get one? We wouldn’t want to admit we have one, and start an arms race where other scavengers-to-be have to buy bigger flying zombie sharks to scare us away from ours.
Item: Harry Potter “throw blanket with sleeves”/Batman bathrobe/Superman/Wonder Woman “comfy throw blankets”
Pre-apocalypse function: Making people feel cool and awesome about being housebound, depressed layabouts in slankets—or in the bathrobe’s case, teaching the most unwashed comics geeks that showering can be fun.
Post-apocalypse function: These will be the only articles of clothing bulky enough to fit over eight other layers of mismatched clothing. Harry Potter and Superman will both assume Michelin Man dimensions due to all the layering, but at least the wearers will be able to ride out the nuclear winter.
Pre-apocalypse cost: $29.99-$39.99
Post-apocalypse barter value: High, since they’re warm and fuzzy and also useful for letting survivors disguise themselves as fit, muscular heroes, rather than revealing the pallid flab of people who spend their days hiding in basements, living on whatever bags of chips and boxes of snack cakes have enough preservatives to still be edible. Actually, this reason also applies to their pre-apocalypse barter value.
Did we get one? If we’re lazy enough to actually want a fuzzy fantasy blanket with sleeves, we’re obviously also too lazy to get off our asses to actually request one.
Item: Wines That Rock
Pre-apocalypse function: Billed as blending “one-of-a-kind wines with rock ’n’ roll mythology,” Wines That Rock let drinkers toast the good ol’ days with fellow aging baby-boomers who will fall asleep after a glass and a half of Rolling Stones Forty Licks Merlot, Grateful Dead Red Wine Blend, Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon Cabernet Sauvignon, or Woodstock Chardonnay. Winemaker Mark Beaman, however, appears to have had a lot of fun making them.
Post-apocalypse function: Getting wine-drunk and screaming “Gimme Shelter” into the vast emptiness until you pass out.
Pre-apocalypse cost: $14.99 each
Post-apocalypse barter value: After weapons, nothing is more highly valued in post-apocalyptic society than booze, even borderline-novelty wine, so go nuts.
Did we get one? Yes, one of each variety, which we are hoarding until after the new year, just in case.