March 11, 2014

Five of the Most Clever Licensed Gaming Products

News flash: what you're looking at above is fairly usual fare for gaming merchandise. Action figures, plush toys, key-chains, phone covers, you know the drill. While there are a lot of truly amazing gaming-based products that fit into these categories, it can sometimes seem a bit "business as usual." After all, pretty much every form of entertainment has its various properties licensed into the exact same stuff. If you're gearing up to expand the Halo brand beyond the video game aisle, a line of action figures is obviously going to be the first idea to come up. However, clever licensed products with a bit of outside-the-box thinking do make their way to the marketplace, and they can tempt you like no other! Let's take a look at just five examples:

#1:

If I were on the prowl for a gaming-centric clock, this Tetris Alarm Clock would be a strong contender! Some time ago, I pined over a neon-lined Pac-Man clock that hung in my (now defunct) local arcade, but that was hardly as unique. I'm pretty sure it wouldn't have been able to wake me up to the dulcet tones of retro game music either.

That's right, the Tetris clock's alarm is the famous Tetris theme that pretty much everyone is down to groove to at a moment's notice. As the day rolls on, the numbers on the display are replaced by falling tetriminos, beautifully replicating the falling-brick gameplay. Overall, this hits just the right balance of "probably unnecessary but still crazy cool."

#2:

When Mega Man needs a pick-me-up, he reaches for an E-Tank. Unfortunately, the rest of us have to settle for the likes of boring old coffee or tea, but that sure doesn't keep me from pretending I'm powering up "Blue Bomber"-style with my Mega Man E-Tank Mug. The version seen above was sold on ThinkGeek for a fairly low price but is now unfortunately out of stock. If you like the idea as much as I do, you might want to consider the pricier alternative from Fangamer.

#3:

I know you're thinking that a simple Chocobo toy has no place on this list. That's where you're wrong! You WRONG! This is not just any old Chocobo. Oh, no. This is a Chocobo Rubber Ducky, son! Oh my GOD I can not contain the squees!

Unfortunately, this is another hard to find item at the moment. Play-Asia still has the product page up despite it being out of stock. Fingers crossed that another batch might be produced someday! As soon as I track one of these beauties down, my preference for showers will be changing to baths with the greatest of immediacy.

#4:

Slapping some artwork from one property on top of an already established product is hardly anything new. You want an example? I'll give you a freakin' example: Monopoly has had more "Special Editions" than any mortal can conceivably count. By mention alone, I'd have said Donkey Kong Jenga is in the same boat, but look at it! LOOK!

While the effort spent customizing the look of the game is certainly commendable, manufacturer USAopoloy really earned their spot on the list with the inclusion of a Donkey Kong-centric mode of play created just for this edition. They could have sold plenty of units off of the name and artwork alone, but they cared enough to go just a bit further. I love that.

#5:

Here we are at the final entry, and I saved one of my favorites for last: Portal Bookends! These can easily add some flair to the rather ho-hum act of holding up the likes of your art books, strategy guides, and game cases. When I first saw these, "clever" was the first word that came to mind.

Novelty bookends are hardly unheard of, but the Portal name is slapped on so much stuff these days that it's refreshing to see a product that manages to do something fitting with the game's premise and iconic imagery. If only there were more licensed products out there with such a creative embrace of their source material! These Portal bookends are pretty much perfect.

That about wraps it up. As always, if you know of anything else along the lines of these products that you'd like to point me towards, please do so in the comment section below! Thanks for reading!

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