Plush toys are wonderful things. They’re like pets that you don’t have to feed or clean up after, and that you can play catch with without fearing injury to them or yourself. If you’re a parent, the odds are pretty good your kid(s) have quite a few of them.
The only problem is that, for GeekParents, the selection of plush toys at most stores is pretty mundane. There’s only so many stuffed bears, dogs, horses, and such that a geek can take. Things have improved a bit in the past couple of years with the advent of Webkinz and other web-enabled toys, which are at least mildly geeky, and Uglydolls, which are definitely geekier than your average doll but not quite enough for me, at least. So, as a service to geeks everywhere, here is a list of the geekiest plush toys available online. Buy them for your kids, buy them for yourselves, or put them on your winter holiday wish lists for your less geeky relatives to buy for you. If you know of any I missed, please leave a comment.
1. Cthulhu – H.P. Lovecraft’s Great Old Ones have never been cuddlier. There are so many plush Cthulhus out now it’s hard to pick just one: There’s a screaming one, a blue velvet one, a superhero version(!), a wall trophy, and lots more. These may not be the best gifts for kids, unless they’re in on the joke, since they are a bit scary (well, as scary as a plush toy can be) on their own.
2. The Vorpal Bunny (or, the Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog) – This one truly holds the possibility of frightening small children, as it looks like a perfectly ordinary stuffed bunny…until you open its mouth. If you’ve ever seen Monty Python and the Holy Grail (and, if you haven’t, why on earth haven’t you?), you know the scene, and further explanation would be unnecessary. I will mention, though, that if that version isn’t frightening enough for you, there is a version with fake bloodstains all over it.
3. Microbes – You may have already seen the Giant Plush Microbes, but they’re too cool not to mention. They are very clever, with shapes derived from the actual shapes of the microbes they represent, and humorously-chosen color schemes (for instance, I love that the Mad Cow Disease ones are white with black spots). How else could you give someone Herpes and have them think it’s funny?
4. Internal Human Organs – There’s something a bit creepy about a gall bladder with a face on it, but the I Heart Guts toys are definitely weird enough to earn a place in any geek’s cubicle. They’d be perfect for a friend who’s in medical school, or for a kid who’s learning anatomy. And imagine the fun of saying “Go upstairs to bed, sweetie, and don’t forget your pancreas!”
5. Subatomic Particles – Want to teach your kids a bit about nuclear physics? Want to explain what the CERN scientists are looking for with the Large Hadron Collider? The plush toys from Particle Zoo probably won’t help much, but they’re still a lot of fun. I think the quarks are a bit ordinary, but the force carriers and theoreticals (especially the tachyon) more than make up for them. They (obviously) don’t look like their real counterparts, but they are weighted according to their counterparts’ mass, so that’s a decent dose of reality.
6. Godzilla – We have it on good authority that, so long as you don’t have a plush Tokyo in your house, this plush Godzilla is perfectly safe to own. There’s even a Space Godzilla and a Rodan, as well as quite a few others in the genre.
7. Fuzzy d20s – What could possibly better advertise your geekiness than hanging a pair of fuzzy d20s from your rear-view mirror? Well, OK, you could wear an Imperial Stormtrooper helmet everywhere you go, but it would be awfully hard to drive like that (I imagine).
8. The Harry Potter Monster Book of Monsters – Any kid or grownup (in age if not in spirit) who likes the third Harry Potter movie will love this. Anyone who doesn’t will probably think it’s pretty funny, anyway. My kids haven’t seen the movie yet (they’re not quite old enough), but I can imagine them running around the house pretending to make the book bite one-another.
9. Star Wars – OK, the Yoda one is just odd-looking. But the Chewbacca and Vader ones are cool, and just the idea of a Darth Vader plush toy is so awesomely bizarre it has to be included. Awww, what a cuddly little dark lord of the Sith!
10. Gollum / Smeagol – Quite possibly the ugliest plush dolls ever made, which, considering this list starts with Cthulhu, is an accomplishment. These dolls also talk, which makes them nearly twice as geeky. These would make an excellent test for geekiness in others: Put one in your house and show it to people–if they say “Cool!” they’re geeks; if they recoil in terror, they’re not.
[This post originally published in September of 2008]