Gaming for Grown Ups
6th September 2013 09:00:00
Posted by James Marshall

Top Ten Collector’s Editions of the Past Generation

If this generation can be remembered for one thing – and, to be honest, it will be remembered for many things – it’s the rise and escalation of the Collector’s Edition. Highly sought after and frequently snagged by vindictive eBay merchants, Collector’s Editions have always had a presence in the games market but it wasn’t until this marathon generation that they became a fixture on release calendars. From steelbooks to statues, chests to cheap crap, Collector’s Editions embody everything amazing and naff about gaming today. Here are ten of the most memorable money-vacuums to hit shelves this generation. Nail that wallet shut and tremble at their majesty:

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Halo 3 Legendary Edition
Price today: £39.99 - £199.99

Case Zero in this generation's inflation of Collector’s Editions, the Halo 3 Legendary Edition began our sordid love affair with the plastic and mildly embarrassing paraphernalia. With a replica of Master Chief’s iconic helmet that looked much bigger in the marketing than it did in real life, the Legendary Edition also offered a few DVDs containing precious insights into life at Bungie. Oh, and ‘totally remastered’ footage from Halo and Halo 2. Which actually turned out to be sub-sub-HD footage ripped from what looked like a VHS tape was forgiven thanks to funny commentary from Joe Staten and Marty O’Donnell. All in all, this was a nice set for Halo fans – for collector’s editions, however, it was just the beginning.
Fun Trivia: America had a Mountain Dew Edition, wherein 711 of these babies were individually numbered. And that’s it – nothing else different. Where’s the matching Doritos Edition?

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Grand Theft Auto IV: Special Edition
Price today: £58 - £124

You can always rely on Rockstar for a substantial, thematically coherent special edition. Not included on this list are the Max Payne 3 edition featuring a strident statue or the upcoming GTA sequel, complete with cap and security deposit bag. The forefather of these beasts has to be the GTA IV safety deposit box, with Rockstar branded duffel bag, logo keyring, artbook and CD soundtrack. Never before has a black box been so sought after – well, outside of air accidents. Made of metal strong enough to withstand a few hammer blows – or one, if it’s a sledgehammer – it isn’t the strongest of safe boxes but the embossed logo and secret-diary set of keys make up for any genuine security. Perhaps the best part of the set is the link to GTA’s crime-addled ways – like a Breaking Bad boxset showing up with a baggie of blue meth, it fits the subject of the game. More like this please – unique, tangible and pretty neat.
Fun trivia: The CD Soundtrack – physical, not a lame download code – featured music specifically recorded for the game. It would be the last we’d see of physical releases for GTA soundtracks.

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Uncharted 2: Among Thieves Fortune Hunter Edition
Hands up who has one of these? You do? Then I’m insanely jealous. Only a few of these were produced and none were for sale. Instead, they were prizes on the PlayStation Blog and through giveaways from Naughty Dog. Included was an exact replica of the Phurba dagger and the whole shebang was signed by Naughty Dog fellows, making this the gem of any collection. No official retail release means no price to gauge its increase in value but with one enterprising eBay shill trying to sell it for £5,927 (and £88 postage) then you can estimate how it’s an exceptionally rare find.

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Bioshock 2 Special Edition
Price today: £29 - £59

I’m a sucker for soundtracks – see my previous Top Ten Soundtracks You May Have Missed, as well as some spangly interviews – and if they come on physical media that’s even better. If CDs are too new-fangled for your liking then how about Garry Schymann’s majestic Bioshock score on 180g black vinyl? Flat, shiny awesomeness and you get a CD and vinyl as well – rejoice, fans of outdated, archaic media! Couple that with an artbook that isn’t your usual thirty page pamphlet and rolled posters and you’ve got one of the best special editions of this generation. Shame about the game, to a degree (although there are the supporters out there) but the art deco style box and fantastic contents more than make up for the limp return to Rapture.
Fun trivia: It took a few months to discover, but some eagle-eyed so-and-so shone a blacklight on the posters, revealing secret messages denouncing Andrew Ryan. Superb attention to detail, there!

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Call of Duty: Prestige/Care Package Editions
Price today: £59 - £230

It’s here that special editions began their descent into ludicrous, showboating piles of overpriced tat. Call of Duty – that series in no way seen as an annual, and therefore semi-disposable franchise – saw fit to include items of silliness in their ‘Prestige’ editions. Whether it’s the pair of night-vision goggles, the remote control car with a camera or the quadrotor drone, it seems as though the lavish bonus items are there simply to cause mischief. Funny how the behaviour of the COD community can now extend into the real space, as opposed to trolling only in the virtual. Aside from these – fairly underwhelming – trophies, the vast majority of the remaining special edition was either packaging or digital goodies. The bane of the true collector, digital goodies send that resale value shooting down like a wayward AC-180. Cool toys, bro, but some of the most pointless editions out there.
Fun fact: The cycle continues with the Call of Duty: Ghosts Prestige Edition, complete with head-mounted camera!

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Gran Turismo 5 Signature Edition
Price today: £45 - £70

And now for something completely different… The inclusion of entry into a tournament to win a Merc was a nice touch, although one that adds value to one single edition as opposed to them all. Still, if it’s an expired ticket surrounded by such lovely accoutrements then you aren’t going to hear me complain. The Gran Turismo 5 Signature Edition is pure, petrol-injected class from the metal box styled to look like the bonnet of a car to the leather wallet, keyring and hefty coffee-table book all about – you guessed it! – cars. Sleek, stylish and respectful of the collector, the Signature Edition is a lovingly presented set for the car aficionado.
Fun fact: The colour of the box is SLS AMG Obsidian Black, in case there wasn’t enough car for you.

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Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception Explorer Edition
Price today: £389.90+

Ehhhhh… another box and statue (these are a dime a dozen nowadays) but it’s a classy box. Two editions that include the same items were released in America and the UK and, for once, the UK edition has the edge. Containing a statue of Nathan Drake, a replica of his ring necklace, a lenticular art card and more digital codes (sigh), the American release packed it into a wardrobe-styled travel case. It was nice – presented in a bizarre meta-unboxing by Nolan North himself – but the lacquered, weathered chest contained in the UK edition is just a little more worldly. One looks weird on your shelf – like a tiny jewellery stash – while the other would sit unnoticed in a rustic Cornish pub. I know which one I’d choose. Also, the replica ring is an excellent inclusion. Replicas are always fun.

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Borderlands 2 Loot Chest
Price today: £87 - £224

Another game, another plastic box – but when the game is all about boxes, it makes sense to release a replica of the iconic loot chest from Borderlands 2. This good sized treasure trove can fit a gamut of goodies – and a small dog! – into its lined interior, including a bobblehead (Common Trinket #23), steelbook case (Common Trinket #11), journal (Common Trinket #4) and more. So yeah, it’s full of stuff you get in loads of other special editions, but it’s all zany fun. Since its release there’s been an updated version up for sale, in a move that rather dilutes the meaning of ‘limited’ edition but the original is still a nice piece.

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Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch Wizard’s Edition
Price today: £97 - £145

There’s nothing more charming than this game from Studio Ghibli and Level 5 – check out the review to confirm that – and it’s appropriate that the special edition should be so endearing as well. The plush Drippy is cute enough but the real treasure lies in the complete printed copy of the Wizard’s Handbook. Yes, there’s a version in the game that’s far more convenient but having a localised, physical book has a special quality to it that’s pretty rare to find in the Special Edition Arms Race. Stock issues mean that this is rare to find but it’s worth it – even if the digital codes have been used as well.

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Saints Row IV Super Dangerous Wad Wad Edition
Price today: $1,000,000

Here it is – the culmination of the Limited Edition furore that has transcended trinkets and moved into publicity stunts. You’ve probably heard of this one by now, its million dollar price tag including everything from sports cars to space travel. A similar stunt by the makers of GRID 2 saw an edition contain a sports car for a meagre £125,000 – and it still has yet to be sold. Both are stocked by specialist retailer GAME – surely playing fast and loose with their money after that small blip of administration in 2012. Welcome to the limited edition End of Days, my friends.

With special editions moving more and more towards digital codes – as well as games themselves rejecting their physical forms – it’s both the best and worst time to be a collector. There’s plenty to buy in terms of merchandise, but the days of true limited editions are few and far between. There’s more on the horizon – Splinter Cell’s remote control Paladin, another Assassin’s Creed statue and the ‘this can’t go wrong’ cap and bandana from Watch_Dogs Vigilante Edition – but, like the games themselves, it’s either cheap digital bonuses or extravagant items. Will these editions survive the console transition? It remains to be seen. For now, tell us about your favourite limited editions in the comments below.

Cover photo credit to OXCGN.com