The holiday season is in full effect now, and it’s time to go out hunting for the perfect gifts for your loved ones. The good news is that it’s never been easier to buy for the nerds in your life, especially when it comes to the realm of home video – there have been so many new releases, specifically in the boxed-set category, that 2016 has truly been an embarrassment of riches.
We’re here to help sort you through everything, from movies (the re-release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, anyone?) to the best of TV (there might be people out there who don’t like Community, but we haven’t found them yet). Come with us as we lead you through our cherry-picked selection of the best 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray genre items out now on store shelves.
Aliens 30th Anniversary Edition
Release date: 09.13.16
On the one hand, this re-re-release of the classic Aliens is exactly the same as the one included in the 2010 Alien Anthology Blu-ray collection (and which contains both the 1986 theatrical version and the 1991 extended cut). On the other hand, however, there are several new extras, which may or may not warrant the re-purchase, depending on whether one is a collector and whether he feels the additional goodies are worth it.
First, there’s the standard special features, including an all-new interview with writer-director James Cameron and pre-production galleries, which are not on the disc proper but which can be accessed from Fox’s website. Following it up are the physical extras – an artwork-rich mini-book and high-quality glossy cards.
Back to the Future: The Complete Adventures
Release date: 10.20.15
Yes, this mega-collection is a year old, but it’s just so cool, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to list it here.
The Back to the Future: The Complete Adventures set is nine discs in total and includes not only all three films in the trilogy, but also the complete (short-lived) animated series, exclusive featurettes, and a 64-page “visual history” of Back to the Future. Oh, yeah – there’s also the nerdtastic packaging, which is a recreation of the Flux Capacitor. It’s hard to imagine a more complete – or more pop-culture fulfilling – collection, and that’s saying a lot, considering all of its vast competition on this list.
The Bourne Ultimate Collection
Release date: 12.06.16
The Bourne Ultimate Collection takes all three of the original Bourne films, starring Matt Damon as the titular Jason Bourne; packages it with the fourth entry, The Bourne Legacy, which tried to replace Damon with Jeremy Renner’s Aaron Cross; and, finally, throws in this past summer’s Jason Bourne, which sees Damon’s triumphant return. A sixth disc contains several hours’ worth of bonus materials, ranging from features exploring the action and character development of the franchise to a close-up look at Moby, who provides the series’s flagship music.
Community: The Complete Series
Release date: 08.16.16
There are few series with a production process as convoluted and messy as Community’s. Then again, there are few series as funny, either, so the tradeoff must be worth it, right?
This Amazon-exclusive collection of all six seasons is actually pretty slim in the extras department: you’ll get six hours of featurettes on the discs and a Greendale Community College Yearbook from the years 2009 to 2015 – and that’s about it. The strength – or lack thereof – of this package, then, comes overwhelmingly from its source material, and that’s it.
Downton Abbey: Complete Limited Edition Set
Release date: 10.18.16
This really is, without engaging in too much hyperbole, the definitive edition of the new TV classic. In addition to containing all six seasons of the series, there are 13 hours of bonus content – five of which are brand new – a working pull-bell, collectible hardcover book that all the discs come packaged in, an “exclusive photo-filled booklet” highlighting the show’s costumes, and “collectible” cork coasters. (For all those who are curious, the new special features consist of a 90-minute making-of documentary, character featurettes, “The Creators’ Favorite Scenes,” and a series of “supercuts,” all of which take the entire story into context, from the first episode to the last.)
Game of Thrones: The Complete Seasons 1 through 6
Release date: 11.15.16
A collection of all six seasons of HBO’s landmark Game of Thrones (seasons seven and eight will land in 2017 and ’18, respectively), this particular edition offers no set-specific special features or figurines – unlike some of the other entries in this guide – but it does collect the entire series to date in one convenient package, and features a brand-new, gorgeous design, to boot.
There’s no doubt that this would be the route to go for all those who have yet to witness Thrones and absolutely want to dive all the way in, but for those collectors who are looking for something more substantive, we’d recommend waiting until the show finishes with season eight in just a few years and buying that complete complete-edition.
The Hunger Games Complete 4-Film Collection
Release date: 11.08.16
Cancelling the 4K Ultra HD edition of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2 earlier this year and replacing it with this box set, Lionsgate is hoping to have a much bigger impact on the lucrative holiday market than it otherwise would have.
Here’s what you get in the collection: the four movies, starting with 2012’s The Hunger Games and ending with the aforementioned Mockingjay, Part 2 from last year, with the first two releases getting Dolby Atmos audio. Seeing as how the regular Blu-ray discs that come in the package are identical to the ones previously released, all those special features carry forward, and are complemented by one new extra: an exclusive audio commentary with some of the (minor) crew.
Independence Day 20th Anniversary “Attacker” Edition
Release date: 05.03.16
Although Independence Day: Resurgence didn’t end up becoming the huge, blockbuster, sequel-spawning success that 20th Century Fox clearly wanted it to be, the studio nonetheless released this special edition of the 20th anniversary re-release of the original film. Brandishing a “newly restored” copy of both the theatrical and extended cuts of Independence Day along with a few extras – a brand-new half-hour documentary called “A Legacy Surging Forward” and a collectible booklet – the real draw here for fans is the “replica” of the series’s recognizable alien ship.
The League: Complete Series
Release date: 06.14.16
Only available on DVD (sorry, 4K/Blu-ray fans) and not available in a shiny package or with much in the way of bells and whistles, The League: Complete Series is nonetheless a chance for all those who missed the semi-improvised comedy series on the FX networks to get caught up on all seven seasons of what has become a bonafide sleeper hit. (The deal is even sweeter when one stops to consider that, as of right now, Amazon is selling the box set for more than half off.)
Legend of Korra: The Complete Series Limited Edition
Release date: 12.13.16
What makes the “limited edition” version of the Legend of Korra box set all that limited? Well, as it turns out, just one item: the Legend of Korra: The Art of the Animated Series book, which will have “exclusive selections” inserted into the gift set.
The rest of the Complete Series collection will simply be a re-boxing of the previous individual season sets, all lined up together. Considering just how great the television show was, we’re certainly not complaining, mind you.
Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers: The Complete Series
Yes, this is the original 1993 Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers series. Yes, this is not the first time the show has been collected on DVD. And, yes, this particular re-release – timed to coincide with the new movie that’s currently in the works – features some exclusives that you won’t be able to find anywhere else.
Here’s the lowdown: in addition to the main TV show, there’s also the 10-episode Alien Rangers miniseries and two discs’ full of supplemental material, including “rarely-seen archival material” and all-new special features, such as interviews with the original cast and crew and, but of course, select mega-fans who grew up with the characters.
Prison Break: The Complete Series
Release date: N/A
One of the more (cult) popular shows in recent television history, Prison Break gets the “complete series” treatment in time for the holiday season this year.
Unfortunately for the home video junkies out there, this set is – like a few of the other entries on this list – just about as barebones as one can get: there is no exclusive bonus material, no special packaging, no collectible goodies. In fact, Fox simply took the individual releases of the five seasons and simply bundled them together – and that’s it.
Still, the show is the show, and the convenience of the package makes it nice for all those who want to take the prison break with the characters – especially if it’s their first time.
Star Trek: Beyond Exclusive Amazon Set
Release date: 11.01.16
This Amazon-exclusive edition of the third modern big-screen Star Trek outing contains the movie in multiple formats (4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray, and Digital HD), along with an USS Franklin collectible to proudly display in your nerd trophy case. Just a quick note about that starship “collectible,” however: unlike other versions of other films with similar offerings, the Franklin doesn’t double as a fancy storage case, nor does it boast other features, such as lights or sounds – it’s simply a basic toy. Make your purchasing decision between this and other Beyond editions accordingly.
Star Trek: The Original Series – The Roddenberry Vault
Release date: 12.13.16
CBS promises that the “Roddenberry Vault” series will offer “classic episodes from new angles and perspectives” – which, yes, means that this is (yet another) re-issue of 12 classic Star Trek installments, but with a whole bevy of new materials accompanying them, starting with the fact that the first few Blu-ray shipments will feature limited-edition packaging.
Beyond that lies the real meat. There are three new – and exclusive – featurettes, including a behind-the-scenes look at “life on the set during production” of The Original Series and an exploration of its visual effects work. New interviews with members of the cast and crew – and some special guests, such as writers and producers from such series as The Simpsons, Family Guy, and Big Bang Theory – are also included.
Star Trek 50th Anniversary TV and Movie Collection
Release date: 09.06.16
Forget the Roddenberry Vault collection of the original Star Trek series – the 50th Anniversary TV and Movie Collection is the real deal. Collecting all three seasons of the show (instead of just a dozen episodes), all six of the feature film outings, and, even, the complete animated series spinoff on Blu-ray for the very first time, this limited-edition box set is a whopping 30 discs in size.
Rounding out the collection is 20 hours of previously-released special features and a brand-new documentary, six mini-posters (one for each of the movies), and an “exclusive” Starfleet pin. Call this the motherlode for hardcore Trekkies.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens 3D Collector’s Edition
Release date: 11.15.16
Yes, Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens was already given a home video release in April, but it wouldn’t be Lucasfilm (yes, even the new, Disney-owned Lucasfilm) if the company didn’t offer multiple issues of the same movie, right?
Fortunately for everyone, this collector’s edition seems just about worth it. Across its four discs are a number of new special features, including a commentary by director/co-writer J.J. Abrams, featurettes focusing on the sound and costume design, and more deleted scenes. There’s also the pretty new packaging, and – of course – the fact that the film is offered in 3D on home video for the very first time.
The Twilight Zone: The Complete Series
Release date: 10.11.16
Here’s the deal on The Twilight Zone: The Complete Series: it’s not the first box set to collect all 156 episodes together in one package, nor is it the definitive package, as the appropriately-named Complete Definitive Collection from last decade included a veritable flood of bonus materials, including excerpts from creator Rod Serling’s audio lectures he delivered on the college circuit.
What this particular box set does do is provide the complete run of the original Twilight Zone in one affordable package, replete with a brand-new design (and on Blu-ray, no less). This makes the item not to be easily overlooked for most fans, particularly the younger or more casual ones who have yet to experience the sheer brilliance that Serling delivered nearly six decades ago.
The Walking Dead Season 6 Limited Edition
Release date: 11.01.16
Just as in previous years with previous seasons, AMC is releasing a limited edition of the latest Walking Dead home video release, and, once again, this special packaging will include a zombie figurine designed by McFarlane Toys, the toy company started by legendary comic book artist Todd McFarlane. Dubbed the “Truck Walker,” this season’s figure is based off of the iconic scene from the season premiere, in which a particularly motivated walker squeezes in between two semi-trucks in order to escape his impromptu prison in a rock quarry.
All of the normal version’s special features will be included, as well, of course, such as audio commentaries and deleted scenes.
X-Men Universe 9-Film Bundle
Release date: 11.01.16
Here’s your chance to get caught up on all the story before next year’s Logan hits theaters – or to relive all your favorite scenes for all the diehard fans. The X-Men Universe 9-Film Bundle is exactly what its name implies: a collection of every last X-Men movie, starting with 2000’s X-Men, both of the Wolverine spinoffs, and this year’s X-Men: Apocalypse and, of course, Deadpool.
That’s the good news. The bad news is – well, there aren’t any special bells or whistles to accompany the giant box set, which means that its primary audience will be only those individuals who don’t already own the films individually.