The Best Gifts for Sci-Fi Freaks, Fantasy Nerds, and Spy Balloon Operators

February 16, 2023 Off By Adam Rothbarth

It used to be derogatory to be called a nerd. It meant that you weren’t part of some abstract group of “normal people” who liked regular, society-approved things. But today, as cool nerds like Elon Musk and Elizabeth Holmes Bill Nye have all but taken over culture, the tables have turned. Now, it’s considered awesome to know the histories behind Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones. Shit, even Weird Al just got his own biopic (it is amazing). As people mine Stranger Things for retro sci-fi references and Final Fantasy VII content keeps self-multiplying (no disrespect, but will it ever end?), it feels like the nerds are not only taking over, but have fully turned the tides of the arts. Maybe we already have.

I say “we” because VICE is full of nerds. We love playing Elden Ring and doing weird sex stuff. We enjoy LOTR lore and mainlining Mountain Dew. As they say, it takes one to know one, so who better than us to put together a list of some of the best gifts for all you nerds, sci-fi freaks, and dungeon masters out there. May your strength remain high and your dexterity (and funds) remain sufficient.

Frank Frazetta’s sci-fi and fantasy art

The king of sci-fi and fantasy art has a beautiful art book available from Taschen, filled with over 460 pages of his pulp pipe dreams. As one Amazon reviewer writes, “One does not notice ANY pixelation whatsoever. The images appear sharp and vibrant […] buy it now while it is available, because in five [to] ten years' time, the book will be out of print, rare, and very collectible.”

You experience Muppet Feels

There are two kinds of people in this world: those who feel heartwarming, slightly bittersweet nostalgia at the mention of Jim Henson’s work, and those who deserve to go to the back of the line. This The Dark Crystal x Brain Dead collaboration celebrates Henson’s dark fantasy 80s masterpiece by featuring one of its hottest gelflings.

Sauron fans = metalheads

If there was ever a fictional fantasy character who had instant appeal to (and kindred energy with) metalheads, it’s Sauron. Not only is this naughty demi-god decked out in head-to-toe steel, but his previous incarnations included werewolf AND vampire. Wear his image loud and proud.

For aspiring dungeon masters

So you invited over a cutie from your Dungeons & Dragons campaign? Good for you, Randy. This is undoubtedly the morning ‘fit to flaunt after you lay the pipe…

… And, for day, we humbly suggest a retro-inspired D&D T-shirt.

‘Excalibur’ had the drip

The 1980s fantasy movie about King Arthur’s court was oozing with over-the-top style, from the shoulder padded armor to the futuristic, genderfluid Merlin. It inspired one of Alexander McQueen’s most epic photo shoots, so just imagine what a poster of the film could do for your living room.

History will say they were friends

Look, The Lord of the Rings is queer as hell, no doubt about it. Not only does this miniature Japanese poster for the animated adaptation have cuddling snapshots of Sam and Frodo, but it also has a yassified Galadriel and bedchamber Nazguls.

Probably the best ‘Star Wars’ novel

If you love Star Wars AND lived through the 90s, then a very [emoji handshake] to you, because you got to experience the 1996 novel Shadows of the Empire in real time. Before the Disney+ shows, before countless video games and fan fiction, there was a pretty limited (though regular) outpouring of Star Wars-tangential media. Shadows of the Empire was not only among the best of them, but was one considered the closest thing to an actual Star Wars film since Return of the Jedi. They even made a Nintendo 64 game out of it (it’s fucking sick, TBH). If you or someone you know are out here sharing Baby Yoda memes and talking about how great The Last Jedi is (it’s not, sorry) but haven’t read Shadows of the Empire, then you better get your bona fides in order real quick.

Let ‘em know who you’re rollin’ with

Maybe it was Freaks and Geeks or power metal band Rhapsody who made it cool to love Dungeons & Dragons publicly (because it def wasn’t this new movie with Chris Pine). Either way, this actually rad hat will proudly display one’s allegiance wherever they go. Circle of the Moon gang, stand up.

For sci-fi film nerds looking for the next step

So you’ve blasted through the best Star Trek franchises (The Next Generation, obviously), you’re all caught up on House of the Dragon, you wore out your Interstellar and Contact Blu-rays, and HBOMax kicked you out for watching Dune too many times? It’s time to smash that pause button on the new shit and travel back in time to one of the OG sci-fi masters: Russian film director Andrei Tarkovsky. One of his undisputed masterpieces, Stalker (based on cult novel Roadside Picnic), is a must-see for sci-fi fans of all shapes and sizes; and Solaris is the original trippy astronaut flick of your dreams (after 2001: A Space Odyssey, of course).

Epic, universe-spanning board games

Yeah, playing Elden Ring and Returnal can be a great time (or maybe you’re still hung up on Half-Life 2), but our forefathers didn’t have such technological delights. They were forced to invent out-there sci-fi board games to fill the void, and thus left an incredible legacy. 1977’s Cosmic Encounter is a timeless experience of galactic exploration and empire-building, while the newer Scythe is a freaky alternate-history game where you’re a farmer in a dystopian, post-war 1920s.

May the force be with you.

The Rec Room staff independently selected all of the stuff featured in this story. Want more reviews, recommendations, and red-hot deals? Sign up for our newsletter.