I picked up a copy of the rare The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Collector’s Edition on the game’s New Zealand launch day. The box was as big a a house and whilst I unpacked I took some photos to share on stateofplay.co.nz.
I’m a big fan of The Elder Scrolls series, well, Morrowind and Oblivion at least. I notched up over 160 hours playing Oblivion, but never finished the main quest line. Instead, I did what the box told me to do, life another life in another world.
I wandered, explored, fought and quested across the Province of Cyrodil, and loved every minute of it. The Oblivion Collector’s Edition was the first game that I bought for my Xbox 360 on the console’s launch night and I consider it to be the best game that I’ve played on the Xbox 360.
When I heard about the Skyrim Collector’s Edition and that is was going to be a rare as rocking horse shit over here in New Zealand, I set about on my own personal quest to secure one. EB Games had only a handful coming into the country, allocated an a bizarre random fashion to individual stores. My local EB was only getting one collector’s edition in and it was a Ps3 version. My personal preference is usually Xbox 360 unless a game is a Ps3 exclusive (that’s just how I roll). JB Hi-Fi Wellington were very happy to take my pre-order for the Xbox 360 CE, in fact they were so laid back about it that I really doubted that they would be able to fulfill my order.
JB Hi-Fi did come up with the goods and my apologies for doubting them. Big up for Wellington JB!
What follows is my photographic record of unboxing what really is the most extravagant collector’s edition that I’ve ever got my mitts on. I’ve tried to be as detailed as possible with the photos, but the fading evening light necessitated using the flash which didn’t always give me the best results. If I get a chance, I may update some of the shots later.
The first thing to note is just how big the box is. If you can’t see from the photos, imagine two Xbox 360 (or PS3) boxes taped together and you’ll not be too far off. It’s a big ‘un.
The packaging has a has a classy wrap-around illustration of a snowy Skyrim vista, overlooked by a lone swordsman. It just screams epic right at you.
Opening the box reveals the plastic wrapped art book (more on that later) under which is the game package, itself. It is just a cardboard box, but the black colour gives a more prestigious feel, like you’ve got something special.
With the book and the game occupying only the top third of the box, the rest is taken up by yet another box branded with the Skyrim dragon logo.
It was only after opening the lid of this box within a box that I realise just how bloody massive the statue of the dragon Alduin was. The model comes in two pieces, the finely detailed dragon and the more plasticky looking wall mounting.
Although there was a blurry black and white photo included in the pack, supposedly showing the mounting points, I had a devil of a time trying to find the proper way fit the two pieces together. I’m still not convinced that I’ve got it right.
No matter how I try, it still looks like Alduin the World Eater is actually going to slip off his wall.
Regardless of his footing, Alduin looks like a fearsome beast thanks to the incredible level of detail. This high level of detail is due to the dragon being created directly from the 3D model files used in the game. This make the statue an almost exact replica of the dragon that you with encounter within Skyrim!
Slipping out of fanboy mode for a moment, it isn’t all rosy. Close inspection of the dragon model does reveal some moulding imperfections, a barely noticeable scratch in the paint on one of his wings and a few bits of chipped point on the tips of his talons. All the protective packaging afforded the statue on his trip around the world to the shores of Aotearoa, didn’t help it during some obvious bad-handling in the Chinese factory that made it.
Like all these exclusive figurines, the dragon is really no more than a mass-produced bit of tat rather than the exquisite, finely crafted collector’s pieces that the marketing men would have you, the unsuspecting fan with more money that sense, believe. If you are happy with that fact, as I am, you end up with a nice bit of fairly scarce gaming memorabilia.
It’s also worth noting, whilst I’m on a downer, that as impressive as the dragon model is, it still looks like one of those pewter dragons that new-age hippies buy from crystal shops, rather than the sort of thing a die-hard gamer would have on his (or her) shelf. Whilst I like it loads, I wouldn’t necessarily admit to owning it, other than writing all about it on this website, I suppose.
Moving on. My first glance at the cover of the art book though the plastic cover was, “for gods sake, the thing’s damaged”. Pulling it out, I was relieved to find that the whole book has been made to look like its bound in stressed leather. And it, in fact, looks rather nice.
The cover is embossed with a runic border and a raised blackened silver Skyrim dragon motif in the centre. I love it.
Inside Skyrim’s game director, Todd Howard introduces the book by way of a forward explaining the visual process involved in creating the game world, in particular the work of Adam Adamowicz, Ray Lederer whose images the book contains.
The Skyrim art book is beautiful and on its own, in my opinion, worth the exorbitant price of the collectors edition. You will have never seen a video-game art book like this. Rather than one of those little cheap-looking palm-sized books you find in other special editions, it’s a proper coffee-table edition sized book.
Each page is full of concept illustrations and brief descriptions giving a valuable insight into the creative process that brought us the game. Everything you’ll see in the game is detailed in the book, from weapons, monster, races, architecture and the landscape of Skyrim itself, it’s all here.
The game, itself, is in a rather unremarkable cardboard wallet within a cardboard slipcase. What is it with these packaging designers? They go all out to provide all these extra goodies for the more discerning gamer and then plonk the game itself in a nasty bit of cardboard. That tacky cardboard wallet contains the game disc as well as another DVD featuring the Behind the Wall making of Skyrim documentary.
Behind the game manual is a fold out map of the Province of Skyrim printed on what maybe some sort of cloth or embossed paper. I’m not sure but I’m not going to try a rip it and find out.
All in all The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Collector’s Edition is a very nice package. At $250 my usual “for fans only” caveat applies. The dragon whilst it has loads of detail and will look cool or your shelf (especially if you are a new-age hippy) doesn’t bear up very well to close scrutiny, as it is really just a couple of painted lumps of plastic. The faux leather-bound art book is beautiful and almost justifies the eye-watering price tag. The map’s a nice touch, but I wish the game disc was in a more robust case. I’m glad managed to get hold of the collector’s edition of Skyrim which, if early reports are anything to go by, could be the game of the year.