The horror of the year we are about to depart has been well-established, but thanks to our swag table, we at The A.V. Club were not left empty-handed. Why, we received a variety of fun items, like: A Grand Tour air-freshener for our car! Donald Trump socks! A bottle of witch’s urine! An actual cow eye! Many, many flasks for our now even-more-frequent drinking! Yeah, our 2016 swag was about as sad as the rest of the year, as the following descriptions will reveal. We’re ready to scrap it all and sell the lot to eBay, but even then, sums will be meager.
The People Vs. O.J. Simpson media guide
Promoting: The People Vs. O.J. Simpson
Relevance: If you, like my mother, spend the better part of your TV-watching combing through IMDB to figure out who an actor is and where you’ve seen them before, this will be highly relevant. A lightweight coffee-table book, it includes large black-and-white photos of each character, a useful pull-out timeline of events surrounding the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman, and production stills from some of the more tense scenes in the limited series.
Quality on a scale from 1 (instantly trashable) to 5 (worth keeping unironically): 3. Only useful if you’re a really big fan of the series or want a nice-looking timeline of a double homicide.
eBay market value: Currently $9.99, with no bids. [Laura M. Browning]
Kitten Summer Games lanyard and pins
Promoting: Hallmark Channel’s Kitten Summer Games
Relevance: This paw-printed lanyard with pre-pinned flair includes an “all access” badge that we suspect does not actually offer full access to anything. The pins each promote a different event, such as the De-cat-alon, Balance Beam, and Volleyball. It’s barely relevant to anything, even the Kitten Summer Games.
Quality on a scale from 1 (instantly trashable) to 5 (worth keeping unironically): 1. Maybe only if you have children who are young enough to be amused by cat pins (but why would they, when they can just watch cat videos on your phone?), but old enough to be trusted with pins.
eBay market value: Some hopeful cat-preneur has this listed on eBay as “RARE” and is asking $20. As of this writing, there are no bids. [Laura M. Browning]
Two bandanas and VR “immerse yourself in cute” goggles
Promoting: Animal Planet’s Puppy Bowl XII
Relevance: We haven’t been able to figure that out, because we can’t get the VR goggles to work. The “goggles” come as flat cardboard with pre-folds that you pop out into a goggle shape. When we tried to do that, the lenses fell out and we lost one. You’re supposed to download an app and then set your phone inside the goggles to watch press materials, but we were too frustrated to get that far. The kit also comes with two very cheap bandanas for your dog—neither would fit my husky’s neck, and they’re printed with the names FLUFF and RUFF, which are not good dog names. Honestly, your entire show is just adorable puppies, and this is the best you can do?Quality on a scale from 1 (instantly trashable) to 5 (worth keeping unironically): 1.
eBay market value: Neither item is listed on eBay. You might get $1 for both bandanas, though. [Laura M. Browning]
Leatherbound journal with fake JFK memorabilia
Promoting: Hulu’s 11.22.63
Relevance: Hulu’s adaptation of Stephen King’s historical/speculative/time-traveling sci-fi sends James Franco to 1960, giving him three years to decide whether to kill Lee Harvey Oswald before the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The notebook includes the scores of various sports games so that Franco’s character can do some lucrative betting, as well as some photos of the characters, a newspaper clipping after Kennedy’s assassination, and a few other items slipped between the pages.
Quality on a scale from 1 (instantly trashable) to 5 (worth keeping unironically): 4. The branding on these is fairly unobtrusive, so once you pull out the photos and other fake memorabilia, they’re pretty nice notebooks.
eBay market value: If you also have an 11.22.63 DVD signed by executive producer J.J. Abrams, the whole package could get you up to $129. We do not have a DVD, signed or otherwise. [Laura M. Browning]
Morton Salt-branded stainless steel bottle, two pairs of winter hat and gloves, viewfinder, temporary tattoos, hardcover journal, and a set of small square notecards, all packaged in a Morton Salt-branded duffle bag
Promoting: We have absolutely no idea why Morton Salt sent us anything, but it’s all in support of its Walk Her Walk campaign, “a promise to make a positive impact on the world.” The website highlights a number of people whose organizations are doing work like finding solutions for water scarcity and teaching music education to kids who need it.
Relevance: To pop culture? Very little, aside from the company’s collaboration with OK Go. To the state of the world right now? Yeah, pretty high.
Quality on a scale from 1 (instantly trashable) to 5 (worth keeping unironically): Varies, but we’ll say a 5 just because it’s all for a good cause. We’ll donate the hats and gloves and fight over this stainless steel bottle and journal. (It helps that we like the Morton Salt logo.)
eBay market value: Instead of hawking our swag online, maybe we’ll go do a good deed or something. [Laura M. Browning]
Motorized car with box
Relevance: This year the fabulous animated series Archer gave up its super-spy mission to move to L.A. and become a Magnum, P.I.-like show about private detectives for season seven. To mark the change, FX sent out this promo box with everything you’d need for L.A.: a motorized red sports car, small bottle of sunscreen, and an ARCHER license plate keychain. Seeing as the move helped rejuvenate the show, there’s a lot to love in this box. Season eight moves the team to the 1940s, so who knows what we’ll get next year: A Raymond Chandler novel and a pack of Lucky Strikes?
Quality on a scale from 1 (instantly trashable) to 5 (worth keeping unironically): 5. We know a kid who’s going to love this red car who’s not even allowed to watch Archer. And you should always have sunscreen on hand.
eBay market value: Non-Archer motorized car will go for about $20. [Gwen Ihnat]
Promoting: Stranger Things
Relevance: Ah, the ’80s, when kids were at a loss for ways to look at pretty pictures. In a pre-Google era, if you wanted to immerse yourself in lovely shots of the Grand Canyon, you might have to trek to the goddamn library. Or, if you were lucky, you had a circular box full of View-Master reels, offering images of everything from the canyon to Peanuts to Graceland. It’s like an analog VR slideshow as you immerse yourself in the viewer. The Stranger Things images here mostly feature some great angles of Winona Ryder as she talks to Christmas lights and whatnot, but are pretty effective. Plus, all View-Masters are standard size, so you may be able to find some old reels at the thrift store.
Quality on a scale from 1 (instantly trashable) to 5 (worth keeping unironically): 3. Depending on how much you were affected by Stranger Things nostalgia.
eBay market value: The one listing we found for a Stranger Things View-Master got removed, so maybe we could get top dollar for this? [Gwen Ihnat]
Promoting: Honestly, not sure. Probably just itself.
Relevance: Promising the enjoyment of Cards Against Humanity and Apples To Apples, this card game was created by Jo and Fred Firestone, the father-daughter team that also performed a live version of this show in Brooklyn (that sounds totally Brooklyn). One player draws two prompt cards and reads them to the group. The rest of the players then have to craft a “groan-worthy pun that combines the two prompts,” according to the description.
Quality on a scale from 1 (instantly trashable) to 5 (worth keeping unironically): 5. It’s going to be a long winter.
eBay market value: You can actually get a brand-new version for $18 on Amazon. [Gwen Ihnat]
Car air freshener
Promoting: The Grand Tour, the new Amazon Prime series with Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May from Top Gear
Relevance: Did you know that the BBC’s Top Gear was once the most popular factual TV show in the world? It’s like catnip for car nuts, as the three hosts invite movie stars in to do test drives and stunts like having a celebrity chef make a salad in the back of a sports car. The hosts are also famous for challenging each other to increasingly insane dares. But once Jeremy Clarkson started throwing temper tantrums and got suspended by the BBC for physical and verbal abuse, the show had to find a home elsewhere. The trio kicked off its first new episode on Amazon by forcing Clarkson to make a bet on the speed of a certain car. If he lost, the other two could tear down his house. Clarkson lost.
Quality on a scale from 1 (instantly trashable) to 5 (worth keeping unironically): 2? It’s smaller than a coaster, but people really seem to love these guys. Might have a modicum of cool factor.
eBay market value: Or you can just get one of those little tree air fresheners for your car for under two dollars. [Gwen Ihnat]
An actual cow eye
Promoting: The Eyes Of My Mother—we hope
Relevance: Last week, a preserved cow eye arrived at our office in a plain cardboard box with no return address. We’re pretty sure it was a promotional item for the horror film The Eyes Of My Mother, which came out last week and features a scene where a young girl and her mother dissect a cow’s head. We’re not 100 percent on that, though.
Quality on a scale from 1 (instantly trashable) to 5 (worth keeping unironically): 2. It’s preserved in formaldehyde and wrapped in plastic, so it’s not stinking up the office, at least.
eBay market value: There are no cow eyes currently for sale on eBay, but they go for $3.20 apiece at Carolina Medical Supply. [Katie Rife]
Rocky Horror Picture Show virgin kit
Promoting: Fox’s Rocky Horror Picture Show TV remake
Relevance: Containing most of the standard items Rocky Horror fans looking to indulge in a little par-tic-i-pation might bring along to a midnight screening (you’ll have to BYO hot dogs and toast, though), this might actually be useful for someone attending a screening of the film for the first time. Maybe invite some fellow weirdos over if you’re watching at home, though. Singing along by yourself can be a rather lonely affair.
Quality on a scale from 1 (instantly trashable) to 5 (worth keeping unironically): 3. Just for the theater-kid nostalgia factor.
eBay market value: Rocky Horror Picture Show T-shirts tend to go for between $20 and $25 on eBay; for the noisemakers and confetti, Party City might be a better option. [Katie Rife]
Legalize Ranch swag
Promoting: The Eric Andre Show
Relevance: Fans of absurdist humor already know about Eric Andre’s ongoing obsession with ranch dressing. This handy action kit allows fans to proclaim their allegiance to the Hidden Valley with “Legalize Ranch” buttons, bumper stickers, and a ranch-scented car air freshener.
Quality on a scale from 1 (instantly trashable) to 5 (worth keeping unironically): 3. We’ll wear the buttons, but the air freshener is gross.
eBay market value: The closest thing to this kit currently available on eBay is a homemade “Legalize Ranch” sticker pack for $6. Someone did make a homemade pillow in the shape of Eric Andre in a green-screen suit, though. That’ll set you back $44.99. [Katie Rife]
Promoting: The Love Witch
Relevance: A witch bottle, as explained in Anna Biller’s The Love Witch, is filled with bunches of herbs, nails or some other sharp object, and a witch’s urine. It’s then sealed and placed wherever someone might need protection. It apparently keeps the bad spirits away. We’re pretty sure the promotional witch bottle from distributor Oscilloscope Labs is filled with regular old water, but we’ll keep it sealed just in case.
Quality on a scale from 1 (instantly trashable) to 5 (worth keeping unironically): 5. If it works, great. If it doesn’t, it looks creepy sitting on our desk, and we’re into that.
eBay market value: Witch bottles promising everything from love to protection from the law tend to go for about $15 on eBay. (Their urine content is unknown.) [Katie Rife]
Relevance: Lotería is an Italian game that was popularized in Mexico, but is played throughout Latin America. And Fred Armisen, who created Portlandia with Carrie Brownstein, is half-Venezuelan, so there’s a chance he played this bingo-like game growing up. Since Lotería uses iconic images—a mermaid, a crescent moon, a drunk—your “A-O Rivers!” and Portland Mayors are arranged in rows in place of numbers.
Quality on a scale from 1 (instantly trashable) to 5 (worth keeping unironically): 5. Games of chance are bound to be more popular than ever over the next four years. Besides, Lotería is always fun.
eBay market value: Two dollars, but only if Portlandia devotees are bidding. These sets can go for as little as $4 brand new, so resale isn’t particularly lucrative. But fans will presumably enjoy landing a “bingo” with a Fred, Carrie, and Mayor. [Danette Chavez]
Small whiskey bottle and flask
Relevance: In this TV Land show, Michael Rosenbaum plays a hard-drinking gambler who dons the clergy collar to evade a couple of loan sharks. But the fact that he’s doing this in small-town Oregon is likely what drives him to drink that mini-bottle of whiskey, followed by whatever he stores in that flask. The T-shirt’s probably a bad idea, because it’s a giveaway, but they can’t all be winners.
Quality on a scale from 1 (instantly trashable) to 5 (worth keeping unironically): 4. The whiskey will be imbibed, whether or not it’s during an Impastor catch-up marathon. And we could always use another flask and T-shirt.
eBay market value: The little whiskey bottle goes for about $3, so the complete kit should list at $5. It is a branded flask, after all (It says, “To err is human; to drink, divine.”) [Danette Chavez]
1970s-themed lunch box, thermos, and assorted goodies
Promoting: Double Fine’s Headlander game
Relevance: Headlander takes place in a space-future setting with a 1970s aesthetic, so the throwback tin lunch box and vintage thermos with lid cup fit nicely into the picture of space-dwellers.
Quality on a scale from 1 (instantly trashable) to 5 (worth keeping unironically): 5. This is a quality lunch box and thermos guaranteed to be used in the future. The knick-knacks included—space ice cream, a sweet vintage patch, magnets, toy raygun, USB port, and candy—will also be eaten and played with.
eBay market value: Vintage tin lunch boxes go from $10 to $30, while a thermos’ll set you back somewhere in the $10 to $20 range. That’s not even including the other items included. [Caitlin PenzeyMoog]
Avocado-half stress ball
Promoting: All Our Wrong Todays book
Relevance: We get a ton of advance copies of books for review consideration, but rarely do they come with swag. All Our Wrong Todays, however, came with this avocado-half stress ball. According to the novel’s description, the book takes place in a sci-fi future “where avocados never go bad.” So, sure, it’s cutely relevant.
Quality on a scale from 1 (instantly trashable) to 5 (worth keeping unironically): 2. At first I kept this on my desk just because it looks cool, but I do find myself frequently squeezing the avocado.
eBay market value: Unsurprisingly, there are no avocado stress balls listed on eBay, but stress-ball grapes go for under a dollar. [Caitlin PenzeyMoog]
Candy from a fake wedding
Promoting: You’re The Worst season 3, episode 11
Relevance: Shitstain and his girlfriend, Jaclyn, celebrate their elopement in this episode, which features long takes of the camera meandering around the party where everything is going to shit. The candy—bubblegum, chocolate, and rock candy minus the stick—are presumably party favors.
Quality on a scale from 1 (instantly trashable) to 5 (worth keeping unironically): 4. This is perfectly decent candy that will get consumed, likely within a day at our office.
eBay market value: Each bag is a pound or so, and each could be comparably bought on eBay for $10, bring the market value for this package up to $30. [Caitlin PenzeyMoog]
Apocalypse survival kit
Promoting: You, Me And The Apocalypse, a show about the small group of apocalypse survivors and how they became survivors in the first place.
Relevance: The show isn’t about the disaster-prep people, but there is still an actual end-of-days scenario where this stuff would come in handy. There’s the Guide To Emergency Wilderness Survival how-to book, a water filter straw that filters out pathogens, a length of rope, a very handy multi-tool, heat-reflective “blanket,” 9-volt battery flashlight, earplugs (for the bunker), matches in a waterproof container, a “multifunctional” scarf, spicy protein Bacon & Cheese Crick-Ettes (i.e., real crickets), and emergency rations that you can pretend is Lembas bread (it actually tastes pretty good).
Quality on a scale from 1 (instantly trashable) to 5 (worth keeping unironically): An unambiguous 5: This stuff has real value, and might be the most practical swag we’ve ever received.
eBay market value: An estimated $105. Not bad for promotional material. [Caitlin PenzeyMoog]
Seeds, watering can, gardening gloves, notecards, calendar, puzzle, and map
Promoting: The Nat Geo Wild channel, specifically the Yellowstone, Cougars Undercover, and Deep Blue specials
Relevance: The Yellowstone topographical map is the most relevant to Yellowstone; the mini sprinkler, real prairie seeds, and gardening gloves are relevant to the great outdoors; the puzzle, notecards, and lions calendar are simply promotional.
Quality on a scale from 1 (instantly trashable) to 5 (worth keeping unironically): We love puzzles, making this one a very unironic 5; the rest gets a 3, as we’ll probably use the cards and calendar and gift the watering can, gloves, and prairie seeds to a lucky mom who loves to garden.
eBay market value: Maybe $30. Real prairie seeds are expensive, and the gardening gloves are legit. [Caitlin PenzeyMoog]
A professional padfolio
Promoting: Killing Reagan, National Geographic’s adaptation of Bill O’Reilly’s book of the same name
Relevance: This is a padfolio—a word we learned after Google-searching “professional notepad thing”—that is not hard to imagine in the hands of some Republican politicians and aides.
Quality on a scale from 1 (instantly trashable) to 5 (worth keeping unironically): 2. The kind of item you feel bad throwing away that you could give to your father-in-law. (We do not use these sorts of things at The A.V. Club.)
eBay market value: $12. [Caitlin PenzeyMoog]
Promoting: Riverhead Books’ fall catalog
Relevance: These operate much in the way cover images do, hinting at a book’s subject but not revealing too much. The pins act more like icons, reducing the book downs to a single object.
Item quality on a scale from 1 (instantly trashable) to 5 (worth keeping unironically): 5. These are classy and understated and can work independently from the books that inspired them. We hear that Brit Bennett’s debut The Mothers is excellent; it was named one of the National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35 for the year.
eBay market value: It doesn’t appear that any of these particular pins have sold, though lapel pins such as these might go for $1 to $5 apiece. That camper one is certainly cute. [Laura Adamczyk]
Promoting: Debut season of Shut Eye, Hulu’s new drama about the world of fortune tellers
Relevance: It’s a set of tarot cards, one of the key tools for the faux psychics on the show, so it’s an apt piece of marketing. Plus, each episode is named for one of the cards in the deck.
Quality on a scale from 1 (instantly trashable) to 5 (worth keeping unironically): 3.5. They’re not exactly the fanciest cards, but they’re sturdy, get the job done, and don’t say “Shut Eye” anywhere, so they’re usable as actual tarot cards.
eBay market value: The average deck has 78 cards and sells for $17.98, whereas this only contains one for each episode of the 10-installment season, meaning it’s only worth about one-eighth as much. $2.25 sounds about right, then. [Alex McCown-Levy]
Loud On Planet X 7-inch
Promoting: Loud On Planet X, a rhythm-based shooter game done arcade-style
Relevance: One of the game’s main appeals is that it features indie music, from the likes of Tegan And Sara, METZ, Metric, July Talk, Fucked Up, Purity Ring, and more, so yeah—pretty relevant.
Quality on a scale from 1 (instantly trashable) to 5 (worth keeping unironically): 5. It’s a nice vinyl release, and the original score for the game, featuring compositions from members of Fucked Up, Broken Social Scene, and Warnake, means music you can’t get elsewhere.
eBay market value: It’s currently up with an asking price of $35.43, which seems a bit pricey. [Alex McCown-Levy]
Auto tool set
Promoting: Season three of the Esquire Network’s Car Matchmaker, hosted by former Seinfeld writer Spike Feresten
Relevance: Given that Car Matchmaker is a show about cars, this set is a pretty solid promotional fit. It’s a car thing for your car for a show about cars. The accompanying press kit even comes on a USB drive that looks like a key fob.
Quality on a scale from 1 (instantly trashable) to 5 (worth keeping unironically): 4.5. There’s some degree of chintziness to the items—the socket set keeps coming loose, with its little pieces rolling everywhere—but overall, this is a solid item to throw in your trunk and forget about until you actually need it someday.
eBay market value: This exact item has never sold, but you can pick up a slightly better kit for about $15. If you really want to go nuts, there’s this 90-piece set for $97. [Marah Eakin]
Narcos season one Blu-ray, disposable camera, fake Narcos bucks, and a photo album
Promoting: Narcos season one on Blu-ray and DVD
Relevance: The accompanying press release says this kit includes all of Pablo Escobar’s “favorite things,” but there’s no cocaine in the box. That may have disappeared in the months since this came in the mail, but in reality Lionsgate was probably just too chickenshit to mail out hard drugs to journalists. What the fuck?
Quality on a scale from 1 (instantly trashable) to 5 (worth keeping unironically): 4. The photo album and the dollars are a throwaway, but we’ll use the disposable camera if only for the novelty value. The Blu-ray is nice, too.
eBay market value: The actual kit hasn’t showed up on eBay, but you can nab the Blu-ray for $15.99. Two disposable cameras are $13.49. [Marah Eakin]
Black Diamond Spot LED headlamp
Promoting: Season three of the Esquire Network’s “extreme endurance racing series” Boundless, a show that none of us have ever seen but that sounds compelling. It tasks extreme athletes with racing through treacherous terrain on legendarily hard course, like the Arctic Circle’s XC ski race, and Australia’s Great Kindrochit Quadrathalon, which makes racers swim almost a mile, run 15 miles over seven mountains, kayak seven miles, and cycle 34 miles. We’re tired just reading about this show.
Relevance: Again, we’ve never seen the show, but it seems likely that the extreme athletes featured probably have headlamps on them as they’re battling the odds. They’re probably also wearing GoPros, but we didn’t get one of those. Maybe next year, Esquire?
Quality on a scale from 1 (instantly trashable) to 5 (worth keeping unironically): 5. This little headlamp has 4.5 stars on Amazon and retails for about $40. It’s bright as hell and even comes with batteries, lest we be forced to actually purchase something ourselves. It’s also waterproof.
eBay market value: $39.95, about what they go for on Amazon. Those probably don’t come in a wooden box full of fake moss, though. [Marah Eakin]
A cardboard VR viewer and a promotional DVD
Promoting: Season two of Rock This Boat: New Kids On The Block on Pop TV
Relevance: The viewer comes with instructions as to what app to download so that, once your phone is placed in the VR viewer, you’ll feel like you’re onboard a cruise ship with Joey, Jon, Jordan, Donnie, and Danny. While press materials claim the content “gets you closer than you could ever imagine,” it’s not like you’re merged with Donnie Wahlberg’s DNA or anything, so maybe think about walking that phrase back a little next time, publicists.
Quality on a scale from 1 (instantly trashable) to 5 (worth keeping unironically): 1. These cardboard VR kits are a dime a dozen these days.
eBay market value: Some unscrupulous journalist is selling theirs for $29.99 right now, though they’re also accepting lesser offers. [Marah Eakin]
Two Powerpuff Girls games
Promoting: Cartoon Network’s Powerpuff Girls reboot
Relevance: Nothing will ever capture the pure fun of watching Powerpuff Girls, but these games come close. Pop ‘N’ Race is basically a generic version of Trouble, complete with a Pop-O-Matic bubble. Saving Townsville Before Bedtime: The Game is a cooperative game that involves taking down villains and evaluating your superpower levels. The description sounds a little confusing, but given that it’s billed as for players “ages six and up,” we feel confident that we could probably figure it out.
Quality on a scale from 1 (instantly trashable) to 5 (worth keeping unironically): 5. We’re playing these things ASAP.
eBay market value: You can pick up Pop ‘N’ Race for $11, but Saving The World Before Bedtime will run you $20. [Marah Eakin]
Legends Of The Hidden Temple figurine
Promoting: Nickelodeon’s recent Legends Of The Hidden Temple adaptation
Relevance: The figurine in question is the dreaded Silver Monkey, whose shrine was somehow bewilderingly vexing to middle-school-aged children on the original game show. The character also features prominently in the new movie, so the tie-in seems pretty solid.
Quality on a scale from 1 (instantly trashable) to 5 (worth keeping unironically): 4. The statue’s pretty cute, but if you pop off the monkey, a cheap USB drive pops out. We’re thinking the smart move is to just toss that and then use the storage space for a couple of joints or something. Don’t tell our moms.
eBay market value: One sold recently for $20.50, though it appears to be the only one ever listed on the site. If you’re looking for something more attainable, there’s always this Silver Monkey pin set Nick was peddling at New York Comic-Con. [Marah Eakin]
Three Oasis screen prints
Promoting: Supersonic, the documentary about the quibbling Gallagher brothers that hit theaters this fall
Relevance: Pretty relevant. Oasis had fairly graphic concert posters, and these are certainly graphic. As a bonus, these also work as movie theater advertising. There’s a genitalia joke on one of them, too, and knowing the Gallaghers, that seems about right.
Quality on a scale from 1 (instantly trashable) to 5 (worth keeping unironically): 5. These are nice screen prints and could easily be framed and hung in any Oasis nerd’s place of residence.
eBay market value: These haven’t actually popped up on eBay, but you can buy a few graphic posters featuring the actual lyrics of “Supersonic” over on Etsy for about $10 a piece. [Marah Eakin]
Demonic beer stein
Promoting: Season two of Mr. Pickles, the Adult Swim cartoon that asks, “What if Lassie was Satan’s messenger on earth, but still intensely devoted to his owners?” Answer: A lot of visual gags involving death, dismemberment, humping, and other late-night-friendly subjects.
Relevance: From its black-and-bone glaze to the optical illusion that forms Mr. Pickles’ face (and/or a screaming skull) out of several smaller skulls, this thing is pure evil. And like the network it promotes, you could get high and stare at it for hours.
Quality on a scale from 1 (instantly trashable) to 5 (worth keeping unironically): 5. But only because the scale doesn’t go all the way to 666.
eBay market value: They were given away as carnival prizes at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, but Mr. Pickles steins now fetch anywhere between $50 to $70 online. (Here’s one that sold for $60.) Though, for one desperate Rick And Morty fan, the true price is a Mr. Poopybutthole body pillow. [Erik Adams]
Bag, beach towel, rubber bong, iPhone case
Promoting: Swiss Army Man
Relevance: Swiss Army Man begins with a suicidal Paul Dano on a beach, where he’s stopped from death by the corpse of Daniel Radcliffe—so the beach towel makes sense. The iPhone case does, too, since Dano’s character’s phone plays heavily into the plot. Nice cloth beach bag? Sure. But the inclusion of a silicone bong threw me for a loop: First, I didn’t know what it was. Second, I don’t remember any pot-smoking in the film. Are they trying to imply that you need to be high to enjoy Swiss Army Man? It might help—it’s pretty trippy—but I don’t think it’s a necessity. But now I know that portable silicone bongs exist (made by Roll-Uh-Bowl), so that’s something.
Quality on a scale from 1 (instantly trashable) to 5 (worth keeping unironically): 4. I could see taking the towel to the beach. The bag is nice. Somebody around here will want the bong. I didn’t like the movie enough to have it on my phone case (I don’t like any movie that much).
eBay market value: The towel alone has sold on eBay in recent weeks for $30, so add everything else in there and you might make a pretty penny. [Josh Modell]
Black light, whiskey flask, sage, mask, scarf
Promoting: Schitt’s Creek
Relevance: This box is billed as a “motel survival kit,” because (apparently, I haven’t seen it) the characters of Schitt’s Creek live in a motel. So we’ve got a black light to check for nasty stains, some sage to get rid of bad smells, and a flask to house the juice that keeps you sane. The show has a solid cast led by Eugene Levy and featuring Catherine O’Hara and Chris Elliott, though I couldn’t say if they’d actually use any of this stuff.
Quality on a scale from 1 (instantly trashable) to 5 (worth keeping unironically): 3. It feels like quality-ish crap, but nothing that’s terribly useful from day to day. I don’t really want a black light, because I don’t want to know what’s on the sheets at a motel. And the whiskey flask and scarf seem of reasonable quality.
eBay market value: There’s not a lot of buzz about Schitt’s Creek. (We gave it a positive review though.) That means that branded junk isn’t going to get much online play, so—and this is just a guess—I’ll say $15 total, when broken down for parts. [Josh Modell]
Branded wooden box with old-timey snacks
Promoting: Hap And Leonard
Relevance: I’m not sure about the wooden box—maybe its heartiness signifies Texas—but the treats contained within are the very same treats enjoyed by Leonard Pine, played by Michael K. Williams of The Wire, in this Sundance TV series. They are—get this—Nilla Wafers and Dr Pepper. Crazy, right? I think there was also a book included with this package, specifically one of the Joe R. Lansdale books that gave birth to the hard-living heroes of this show.
Quality on a scale from 1 (instantly trashable) to 5 (worth keeping unironically): 1 and 5. Who needs a little wooden box that could maybe hold some cassettes? Nobody? How about some sweet treats? Everybody!
eBay market value: One of these very boxes recently sold for the very reasonable price of $12.99, including the book that we don’t have. The show has been renewed for another season, so it can only go up in value. Act now! [Josh Modell]
Fake VHS case and campaign swag
Promoting: Season two of Documentary Now! on IFC
Relevance: With Documentary Now!, Fred Armisen, Bill Hader, and Seth Meyers created a comedy series that’s pitched directly at people who spent significant time either working at or frequenting a video store. Here’s an artifact from the show’s parallel universe, promoting the War Room parody “The Bunker” with box art, faux-campaign memorabilia, and era-appropriate candy that evinces the microscopic attention to detail of the show itself.
Quality on a scale from 1 (instantly trashable) to 5 (worth keeping unironically): 4. As a candidate for governor of Ohio, Ben Herndon doesn’t inspire much enthusiasm—but the image of Hader in Carville drag sure does.
eBay market value: No current listings, though Criterion Collection DVDs of The War Room run anywhere from $9.95 to $35.61. [Erik Adams]
Mountain Dew Kickstart and T-shirt
Promoting: Mountain Dew Kickstart’s Super Bowl Commercial
Relevance: #Puppymonkeybaby was Mountain Dew’s stab at a viral hashtag during the 2016 Super Bowl—the idea being that a puppy monkey baby combines three great things, just as Mountain Dew Kickstart combines the three ingredients of juice, caffeine, and “dew.” The shirt features a picture of the hybrid beast plus the hashtag; the can of Kickstart contains 16 fluid ounces of a truly midnight-purple-colored beverage. Relevance is high.
Quality on a scale from 1 (instantly trashable) to 5 (worth keeping unironically): 1. The half-life of a piece of viral marketing is not long, and shirts are, theoretically at least, made to last, making this viral-marketing shirt a Moreau-like gene-splicing abomination more depraved than the #puppymonkeybaby itself. While a can of Mountain Dew Kickstart could probably withstand an atomic blast, its flavor, at least in the “energizing midnight grape” assemblage offered here, contains a combination of carbonation, acridity, and juicelike undertones normally relegated to cans with the word “Loko” written on them. It also left a thick film in the taster’s mouth. Avoid.
eBay market value: You can get about five cents for recycling a can. The commercial did not make enough of a viral impact to be worth resale ironically, but other Mountain Dew shirts sell for around $8. [Clayton Purdom]
Two velvet pouches full of magnets
Promoting: Magiswords, a Cartoon Network animated show
Relevance: Apparently there is an item in the Magiswords universe called the Magnet Magisword, so relevance is high there. However, there are also such items as the Bacon Magisword, Carnivorous Plant Magisword, Mega-Drill Magisword, Sharkblade Magisword, and the Waffle Magisword, all of which sound like more fun than a bag of goddamn magnets.
Quality on a scale from 1 (instantly trashable) to 5 (worth keeping unironically): 3. The magnets appear to work. If someone needed magnets and liked Magiswords, these would hit two birds with one stone.
eBay market value: Other promotional magnets on eBay run for $8. These could fetch $5. [Clayton Purdom]
Talking cardboard “book”
Promoting: Stan Against Evil
Relevance: It fits in nicely with the story’s lore, in which the titular Stan finds an old book in his dead wife’s belongings, which he must then use to fight a swarm of demons. Here the book is rendered through moderately thick cardboard, with a trailer for the show that plays automatically every time you open it, infuriating officemates. The book once contained a thumb drive that contained two episodes of the show, but that has been lost to time.
Quality on a scale from 1 (instantly trashable) to 5 (worth keeping unironically): 1. It’s a piece of cardboard. The promotional copy inside of it can be found, almost verbatim, on the internet, and the trailer it begins playing every time the book is opened to the increasing consternation of your co-workers is just the one that was shown at New York Comic Con.
eBay market value: A complete version of the set—containing the thumb drive—has attracted one bid for $26.69 on eBay as of this writing. Sans thumb drive, it is probably unsellable. [Clayton Purdom]
Votive candles and 3-D books
Promoting: Ash Vs. Evil Dead votive candles and 3-D books
Relevance: It’s par for the course that anything Evil Dead-related is slightly over the top, and these promotional items for the Starz series Ash Vs. Evil Dead are no exception. While Ash and his cohorts are immortalized on the assorted religious votive candles, it’s the 3-D books that really seal the deal. When opened, a voice croaks out, “Ashy Slashy,” which is annoying but fits perfectly with the show’s tone. Similarly, the 3-D books feature both texts and images, allowing scenes to jump off the page in the kind of campy, schlocky way that has always made Evil Dead so endearing.
Quality on a scale from 1 (instantly trashable) to 5 (worth keeping unironically): 3. These candles are worth keeping around, but the books are pure novelty. Because of that, this gets placed right in the middle.
eBay market value: These items mostly seem to be floating around in giveaways, so resale value probably isn’t very high. That said, you could probably make a cool $10, all told. [David Anthony]
Promoting: Epix Road To The Winter Classic documentary series
Relevance: The Winter Classic is one of the NHL’s greatest traditions, when two teams play outdoors, just like in the olden days. Epix has documented many of the recent outings into a miniseries that shows players training for the unorthodox game. It’s pretty on-the-nose to make the promotional item a hockey puck, but there’s only so much that can be done with a documentary series about an exhibition hockey game.
Quality on a scale from 1 (instantly trashable) to 5 (worth keeping unironically): 1. Even the most diehard hockey fan probably doesn’t need an Epix-branded puck in their home. That is, unless you plan on taking it out on the ice.
eBay market value: It looks like non-Epix-branded, official merchandise can be had for as low as $7.99. For this, even $5 would be generous. [David Anthony]
Thermos, flask, and dice
Promoting: The second season of Audience Network’s Kingdom
Relevance: The show is based around an MMA gym in Venice, California, where some of its premier fighters are in and out of prison, in and out of addiction, so everything seems spot-on—a thermos for water when you “fight hard,” a fancy gold flask for when you “drink hard,” and a pair of dice for gambling your agency away with melodramatic platitudes like “Train / Fearlessly,” “Scream / For No Reason,” and “Drink / Recklessly.”
Quality on a scale from 1 (instantly trashable) to 5 (worth keeping unironically): 3. Honestly, none of this stuff is of bad quality. The dice are hefty, the flask is all right (if easily smudged), and the thermos is a stainless-steel H2Go. It’s the graphics and messaging that bring things down.
eBay market value: H2Gos like this sell for about $15, and the flask could probably pull in $3. The dice are priceless, however. [Kelsey J. Waite]
Donald Trump socks
Promoting: Foot Cardigan, which bills itself—with Trumpian fervor—as “the biggest sock subscription in all the land,” a bold claim that no one is likely to bother fact-checking.
Relevance: These are indeed some of those very socks—or “foot cardigans,” if you prefer the sort of haughty, coastal elite language that helped Trump get elected. According to the press release, which was clearly written during those playful primary days when everything was “Ha ha, isn’t this crazy?” rather than “Holy shit, this is crazy,” these socks are just one of Foot Cardigan’s many bipartisan, election-themed varieties. You can also get some with Hillary Clinton’s face on them, so that’s nice for her. It feels good just to be nominated and also get a sock.
Quality on a scale from 1 (instantly trashable) to 5 (worth keeping unironically): 1. There may have been a brief, two-week window in summer 2015—right between Trump announcing his campaign and calling Mexican immigrants “rapists”—when these could have been sort of funny, at least by the standards of novelty socks. We suppose there’s also some pathetically small joy to be found in putting Donald Trump on your feet, then stomping around on him while pouting about the looming threats he poses to civil liberties and global stability (you know, like crybaby liberals do). But while these socks do appear to be a sturdy, quality cotton/polyester blend, they’re both objectively ugly and emblazoned with a white-nationalist-spawned demagogue. So into the garbage they go, as one more ultimately futile protest. Take that, Sock Trump!
eBay market value: The Trump sock market is currently booming, and—while we couldn’t find these exact socks listed—they range from about $5 for this simple cartoon version to $30 for these ones with a fake combover. Ha ha, our dangerously unqualified president-elect has silly hair. So we’d estimate them at around $12, or equivalent to these socks with Donald Trump grabbing the Statue Of Liberty’s crotch. [Sean O’Neal]
Sweatband and wristbands
Promoting: FXX’s Thanksgiving marathon showing of all 600 Simpsons episodes
Relevance: These sweatbands, typically used for absorbing the sweat excreted during a strenuous athletic activity, such as running a marathon, have been hilariously repurposed for a television marathon—which ironically requires no physical exertion at all. Oh, we get it! We get jokes.
Quality on a scale from 1 (instantly trashable) to 5 (worth keeping unironically): 2. For a promotional gag item, these are made out of surprisingly thick terry cloth, suggesting they’d actually be pretty good for exercising in—provided you don’t mind their advertising basic cable programming, rather than a sporting goods conglomerate. Not that The A.V. Club would know, since the most strenuous thing we do is wave our reaching sticks around.
eBay market value: While these specific items aren’t on eBay, most Simpsons-themed sweatbands—of which there are several!—go for around $5. So let’s just say, oh, $7,000. [Sean O’Neal]
Promoting: TruTV’s first-ever scripted comedy, Those Who Can’t
Relevance: According to the press release, Those Who Can’t is a show about a bunch of high school teachers struggling to make it through the school day, and we guess one of them does it by drinking out of a flask disguised as a pair of binoculars or something. Seems like she could probably drink from a small, regular flask—or even a cup, if she just went to the teachers’ lounge. Or not at all, considering teachers drinking at school, while theoretically hilarious, is generally frowned upon. Anyway, they sent us three of these things.
Quality on a scale from 1 (instantly trashable) to 5 (worth keeping unironically): 2. As far as novelty flasks go, this one is okay, we suppose. It holds a decent amount of liquor, and it came with both a quality funnel to fill them and a little canvas carrying bag. But without even the approximation of lenses on either end, you’re not sneaking this past anybody. You’ll just have to pay for and consume alcohol openly, like an adult.
eBay market value: The generic version of these costs about $20, plus your dignity. [Sean O’Neal]