10 of the Best Collector’s Edition of 2012

With 2012 behind us, lets take a look back at the year and sift through the many fine (and some not so fine) Collector’s Editions that fought for our hard-earned dollar. Which games made the list? Read on to find out.

With so many collector’s editions released each year, we’ve gathered together the best of the bunch, assessed on criteria such as value for money, included content, rarity and “Damn, can’t believe I didn’t buy that!” factors. Here’s ten of 2012 must-have collector editions:
Assassin’s Creed III Freedom Edition (Ubisoft) – $128 AUD RRP
Assassin's Creed III Freedom Edition

The Assassin’s Creed franchise has a tradition of delivering some of the most creative collector’s editions from Ubisoft. Collectible models are always a nice inclusion but in recent memory some figurines or statues can be sub-par, making potential purchasers a tad hesitant to make the monetary plunge. With the Assassin’s Creed III Freedom Edition, you’re pretty much guaranteed a high quality statue if the Assasin’s Creed II Black & White Editions were anything to go by.

Driving their point home, Ubisoft sent out display statues situated on EB Game store counters and if you had the chance to see the 24cm tall Connor Kenway and still didn’t pre-order, there must be something seriously wrong with you. Sizeable, well crafted and expertly painted makes it a nice addition to the display case.

The crafty devils at Ubisoft even included a cleverly designed George Washington notebook with secret pages. However due to the collectible nature of the Freedom Edition, most collectors weren’t game enough to destroy a perfectly good collector’s piece; none the wiser to Ubisoft and their cheeky ways. Bundling it all together with a stylized steelbook and downloadable content neatly housed in a chunky decorative package and it becomes an instant must-have for any Assassin’s Creed fan.

The only drawback is how many of these are available. Even months after release, you can still purchase a copy brand new and sealed. If you missed out on it initially, now would be the time to strike, much like an unseen assassin.

Call of Duty: Black Ops II Care Package (Activision) – $229 AUD RRP
Call of Duty: Black Ops II Care Package

Call of Duty: Black Ops II returns to ‘prestige’ form with the creme of the crop Care Package. Selling out in Australia in a matter of a weekend, the Care Package came with a copy of Call of Duty: Black Ops II Hardened Edition and a very cool piece of exclusive nerdy tech, your very own remote controlled MQ-27 Dragonfire Drone.

Dressed in custom military camouflage with matching display stand, the Care Package bundle was not only very limited, but also excellent value for money. The quad-rotor drone is a pretty penny in itself, but couple it with the highly anticipated Black Ops II game and a host of in-game and physical content and it becomes a must-have item. Neatly packed together in a large replica care package which doubles-up as a handy storage container for the drone, and plenty of left over space for more of your gaming collectibles.

Activision aren’t well-renown for producing stunning collector’s edition but every couple of years, the publisher puts together something really special and this Care Package is certainly special. Prices quickly rose to obscene amounts within days of Black Ops II launching but fast forward a couple of months and prices have now stabilized, in some rare cases you can pick it up for less than the retail price (not counting postage). There are still plenty of unopened copies on the open market to sink your claws into, but don’t delay too long. In the coming years ahead, it’ll become increasingly difficult to find in original sealed form.

Darksiders 2 Collector’s Edition (THQ) – $128 AUD RRP
Darksiders 2 Collector's Edition

One of the last major releases for the financially troubled THQ, Darksiders 2 Collector’s Edition turned the theme of death on its head with the Darksiders 2 Collector’s Edition. The masterpiece in this special release is none other than the life-size replica Death Mask. Expertly painted to emulate the appearance of bone, the replica can be worn (although I’m not sure why you’d want to) or placed on display with the accompanying screw-on stand. What makes the Death Mask a stand-out is the high-quality nature and size of it all. Rarely are we presented with a fine collector edition that find a happy medium between the two, but this is exactly what Darksiders 2 CE has managed to accomplish.

It not only perfectly suited the theme of the game but spoke volumes about Vigil Games and THQ collaboration to produce something truly for the fans. It wasn’t all smooth sailing unfortunately. The included soundtrack only came as a digital download token which some collectors express their unhappiness about and the outer box that housed it was made of flimsy cardboard that crumpled at the slightest of pressure exerted on it.

The good news is there was another option available. The French were lucky enough to receive the Darksiders 2 Premium Edition. Containing almost similiar contents, the Premium Edition came with a Death Mask made of sturdier material (possibly resin) and a whole other paint job. The artbook may not have been a hardcover version but the trade-off meant you also received a far higher quality external packaging that included a rigid transparent plastic overlay. Whichever edition you opt for, they both represent exceptional value that’ll make you the envy of many collectors.

Guild Wars 2 Collector’s Edition (QV Software) – $198 AUD RRP
Guild Wars 2 Collector's Edition

Seven years. That’s a hell of a long time to wait for a sequel but thankfully NCSoft delivered the goods with Guild Wars 2 in more ways than one. The Guild Wars 2 Collector’s Edition is the pinnacle of packages for the MMORPG fan, and it is one bloody big package! Even the higher than standard asking price of 198 AUD RRP couldn’t stop the collector’s edition from selling out at an alarming rate. Packed together with a 10-inch (25cm) painted Rytlock figurine doesn’t sound too large, until you realise just how big and wide that translates to in figurine terms. Hand-painted, high quality and dare I say, maybe even too big. The Rytlock is a beast in every respect.

Guild Wars 2 is renown for the amount of concept art produced for the sequel and owners of the Collector’s Edition get a handsome slice with a 112 page Making of Guild Wars 2 hardback book loaded with gorgeous artwork. If that wasn’t enough, there’s even a custom art frame, portfolio and five carefully selected art prints included for display, Guild War 2 tunes loaded onto a soundtrack CD and of course the game itself.

MMORPGs aren’t complete without exclusive in-game digital download items and there’s a solid helping included. Everything bar the figurine comes in a collectible metal box with custom print. Although very nice, I can’t help but think ‘cookie tin’ everytime I see it. Is that just me?

Hard to come by nowadays as there aren’t many willing to give up their copy. Even if you do find one, more so than not the downloadable content has been used and the package has already been opened and played with. And why wouldn’t you? With the Guild Wars 2 Collector’s Edition, you’re not only getting a brilliant collectible package but one of this year’s best PC experiences.

Borderlands 2 Ultimate Loot Chest Edition (2K Games) – $148 AUD RRP
Borderlands 2 Ultimate Loot Chest Edition

Remember Uncharted 3 Explorer Edition from 2011? 2K Games takes a page out of the Naughty Dog handbook with 2012’s answer to a collector’s edition with a packed-in chest. Despite industry professionals claiming the original Borderlands had been sent out to die, Gearbox Software proved the naysayers wrong, producing one of 2009’s best success stories.

If the promise of a sequel wasn’t exciting enough, 2K took things one step further with the Borderlands 2 Ultimate Loot Chest Edition. Usually when a CE is branded as ‘Ultimate’, it really isn’t but this loot chest proved to be hugely popular and sought after. Selling out in couple of days, prices soon skyrocketed to more than double the retail price.

Apart from being limited, the Borderlands 2 Ultimate Loot Chest Edition came packed together with all the things gamers and collectors want. Numbered Certificate of Authenticity? Check. Steelbook? Check. Digital In-Game Content? Check. Game? Check. Propaganda? Check. The icing on the cake came in the form of a Marcus Kincaid Bobblehead and the massive replica loot chest that housed it all. Surprisingly larger than most expected and certainly higher quality than I was expecting, it hit more right notes than wrong to make it one of 2012’s must-have purchases. Did I mention the game itself wasn’t too bad either?

Diablo III Collector’s Edition (Blizzard) – $138 AUD RRP
Diablo III Collector's Edition

For all the things Diablo III did wrong gameplay-wise, Blizzard did get things right on the CE side of things. Let’s face it, Diablo III Collector’s Edition was always going to sell out. A twelve year hiatus between Diablo 2 and Diablo 3, plus Blizzard’s reputation for producing some of the best collector’s edition in recent memory, why wouldn’t it? And sold out it did. Hunting for one of these right after release was a fruitless exercise and frankly quite demoralizing to have every salesperson you spoke with ask you why you didn’t pre-order.

Of course if you did place your order in time, you would have delighted in opening the hefty cardboard packaging to find enclosed a copy of Diablo III, a chunky hardcover artbook filled with concept art and Diablo lore, a soundtrack CD, exclusive cross-title content and a cleverly created Diablo skull USB pre-loaded with digital copies of Diablo II and the Lord of Destruction expansion, stored on the removeable brimstone lodged in the demonic beast.

Months onwards, Diablo III Collector’s Edition has lost some of its lustre for its less than desirable gaming experience, however for a collector bears little consequence since many of these will never have the factory shrink-wrap removed. Prices shot through the roof initially, but has since stabilized.

Not everyone may agree with Diablo III Collector’s Edition making the list, but it certainly earned extra points for its creativity, high quality inclusions and if nothing else, you got a copy of Diablo II to tide you over.

Scribblenauts Unlimited Special Edition (Warner Bros.) – $58 AUD RRP
Scribblenauts Unlimited Special Edition

Everyone’s favourite rooster-hat wearing scribe returns with Scribblenauts Unlimited. Although the Wii U version is superior to the portable release, WBIE produced an often at times overlooked product, the Scribblenauts Unlimited Special Edition for the Nintendo 3DS.

It’s hard to top the rooster hat bonus from the original Scribblenauts, but WBIE certainly had a good crack. Instead of dressing yourself up like a rooster, why not dress your 3DS instead? Packed with a limited edition silicone skin with a smiley Maxwell on the cover, the Nintendo 3DS never looked so good. Also included is a delightfully cute oversized pencil stylus to help get the creative juices flowing. The Scribblenauts Unlimited Special Edition features everything all packed in a cardboard packaging.

There aren’t too many sub $60 AUD collector editions on the market that packed quite as much and if you’re a collector on a budget, this is one edition worth making a note of.

This gets the thumbs up for being a value for money purchase, loaded with cute and colourful extras, and for a solid helping of extra rooster. Exclusive to EB Games in Australia, it is still readily available in most stores. Slipping under the radar due to the late in the year release and low profile launch, catch it before it blows the coop.

Catherine Stray Sheep Edition (Deep Silver) – $99.95 AUD RRP
Catherine Stray Sheep Edition

Catherine came in multiple special edition forms with both Atlus and Deep Silver having publishing rights to different territories. Atlus producing the “Love is Over” Deluxe Edition for North America, whereas here; where we’re regarded as a European PAL territory, we received the Catherine Stray Sheep Edition.

Similar but different, the Stray Sheep Edition missed out on a pair of Vincent-inspired polka dot boxers, soundtrack, artbook, pillow case and a different t-shirt altogether but we did get the Pizza Box packaging. Packed inside we received a pair of beer coasters, a RAVE T-shirt, glamour poster and a copy of the game.

Both editions have their pros and cons but given the “Love is Over” Deluxe Edition was never released here in Australia, the Stray Sheep Edition was as good as it got in terms of Catherine. Atlus and Deep Silver have a history of producing interesting, quirky special editions and Catherine is a perfect example with its bizarre adult-orientated theme. It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you want something a little bit different and limited for your collection, the Catherine Stray Sheep Edition fits the bill.

The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Dark Edition (Namco Bandai) – $148 AUD RRP
The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Dark Edition

The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Enhanced Edition, the Xbox 360 exclusive port of CD Projekt RED monster PC hit received more than an in-game makeover. PC fans may remember the PC exclusive; The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Collector’s Edition, a gorgeous package and one of the few PC collector pieces actually worth owning. Enter The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Enhanced Edition Dark Edition, the Xbox 360 exclusive equivalent… well, close to.

The Dark Edition includes its own interpretation of the wolf box, loaded with bonus content including a digital soundtrack, behind-the-scenes DVD, quest guide, world map, decals, wolf medallion and gorgeous artbook. The artbook is a standout, loaded with 200 pages of visual assets, concept art, cover renders and stories behind the art of The Witcher 2.

Chunky, well-made, with more than enough included extras to justify the price tag, although you do miss out on Geralt sculpture included in the PC collector’s edition. As most collector’s generally keep everything contained within the single package, it also looks brilliant on display.

Assassin’s Creed III Ultimate Chest (Trunk) Limited Edition (Ubisoft)- N/A
Assassin's Creed III Ultimate Chest (Trunk) Limited Edition

Towards the end of 2012, Ubisoft Australia put together an extremely limited Assassin’s Creed III ‘Trunk’ Edition for auction to the Australian public with proceeds made from the sale going to the Sydney Children’s Hospital. Only 10 examples of these were made, of which only 8 were sold off on eBay from November 30th through to December 17th, 2012.

What made these editions unique were the custom-made wooden trunks, each one stamped in gold with the Assassin’s Creed logo and individual numbering on the top, completely bounded in faux-leather for that revolutionary feel. Packed inside the oversized trunk were a host of Assassin’s Creed III collectibles including a belt buckle, notebook, postcard, pewter figurines, keychains, DLCs, custom backpack satchel, Assassin’s Creed III Liberation and a copy of Assassin’s Creed III Freedom Edition on the winner’s preferred format. Some of the included content were never available for sale to the general public making this a must-have buy for hardcore fans.

Limited in nature, officially produced by Ubisoft with more than enough included contents to justify the price tag. Of course, what it was worth at the end of the auction was completely up to you. Armed with the knowledge that whatever money you did end up pledging towards this rare piece of video game memoribilia was going to a good cause, all 8 examples were eventually sold off and shipped to their lucky new Australian owners.

Although it wasn’t available to worldwide fans and no longer being sold, there is every likelihood of this limited edition piece appearing through online avenues in the future. Great collector’s piece that looks brilliant on display, guaranteed to attract the attention of friends and guests that eye the gold Assassin’s Creed logo on the top of the trunk.

With only enough room for ten, there are naturally some releases that didn’t make the list. Honourable mention to Hitman: Absolution Deluxe Professional Edition, Final Fantasy XIII-2 Crystal Limited Edition, Mass Effect 3 N7 Collector’s Edition, NBA 2K13 Dynasty Edition, Halo 4 Limited Edition, Far Cry 3 Insane Edition and World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria Collector’s Edition.

Bear in mind this list only reflects special editions that were available in Australia. Although I would have liked to include certain special releases from overseas, they have been omitted since they were never sold locally.

A new year means more collector editions to chase and add to the collection. Let’s hope this year is a little easier on the wallet.

How many of the above do you own? Did your favourite collector’s edition make the list? Are there any that you think deserved to make the cut? Write your thoughts in the comments below.