In E.T.A. Hoffman's The Nutcracker and the Mouse King
and its Tchaikovsky-tastic ballet adaptation The Nutcracker
, a doll with serious jaw power in the guise of a handsome soldier comes alive during a dream to protect a young girl from the invading forces of an evil rat army. With its rich musical tradition, the tale's pretty firmly ingrained into the holiday season, but imagine how awesome it could have been if the story had gone down in present day. Instead of a handsome soldier, a comic book or video game star could pummel rodents while pulling off a few high kicks and pirouettes. To date, not every licensed property has received the world-class treatment necessary to make this fantasy a reality. Still, plenty of nutcrackers have been brought to life in one form or another. The following are the nerdiest -- although that doesn't necessarily mean they are quality
nutcrackers. Just that they're nerdy. Okay?
9) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' surliest sai-welding member may be decked out in his finest Christmas gear, but that doesn't mean he has to be happy about it. Replacing his signature weapons for a gift-wrapped box seems to have pushed his capacity for holiday goofiness to the limit, making him mad enough to crack even the densest walnut. The addition of a pink skirt to Raphael's stripper Santa ensemble is also a nice touch, because why not?
8) Star Trek
While the catastrophically neckless Star Trek
nutcrackers may seem disturbing to anyone who knows anything about the franchise or its actors, there's a definite benefit to their awkward existence. Clearly the fact that fans purchase these curiosities despite their confounding anatomy and utter inability to crack nuts is a holiday miracle!
7) Star Wars
Aside form the odd ration bar, glass of blue milk, bounty hunter or Stormtrooper face, there's not many real food sources showed off in the Star Wars
films. But at this point in the franchise's expanded history, somebody's probably written a novel about the several varieties of walnut that grow on Alderaan or someplace, meaning "star nutcrackers" appear in fan fiction across the Internet. Unfortunately neither Jedi nor Sith seem up to the task of cracking said delicacies since both sides of the Force are decorative at best. While it would make sense for the "more machine than man" Vader to open up his chest cavity in the name of shell-cracking, Yoda's just as likely to moan, "When 900 nuts you crack, look as good, you will not."
Despite his occasional arm-waggling outbursts, the Muppets' level-headed and even-tempered de-facto leader is used to dealing with nuts - at least in the sense that most of The Muppet Show
's cast members and performers demonstrate unpredictable tendencies. His nutcracker, on the other hand, seems more interested in staying warm. It'd be foolish for a cold-blooded amphibian to venture into the cold without proper attire, but there it is, Kermit sans mittens. Whether or not Kermie's Santa-inspired look is enough to prevent the pull of death's icy grip is debatable, but it would have been nice to see Kurt S. Adler consider the contingency.
5) The Simpsons
With a fall season dominated by various Sunday night sports, it's easy for Homer J. Simpson to get sidetracked around the holidays. That's why this festive Oktoberfest/Christmas lederhosen seems appropriate for Springfield's Duff and donuts debutante - it's never truly out of season at Moe's. Besides, with a dog named Santa's Little Helper, the rest of the family will hardly mind the yellow man's year-long fashion statement or unstoppable appetite for nuts.
4) DC Comics
Between two nutcracker styles of Batman, an animated-style Superman and villains The Joker and Two-Face, DC is fairly well represented within the wider nutcracker population. While it's a bit disappointing that the Superman nutcracker lacks the ability to outright crush nuts into a fine powder between his mighty wooden Kryptonian fingers, Batman's confident nutcrackian glare could very well be capable of scaring nuts wide open, narrating its own existence from atop a fireplace mantle with such caption-box worthy phrases as, "You don't get it, almond. This isn't a living room... It's an operating table. And I'm the surgeon."
3) Marvel Comics
Unlike their DC counterparts, the Marvel nutcrackers have no villains to face. Lucky for them they don't need to fight evil - they can fight each other. There's been enough bad blood between the Hulk, Spider-Man and Iron Man over the past few years to result in the worst wooden battle since Marvel's "Contest of Champions III: Nutcrakers Attack" limited series that ran between "Operation: Galactic Christmas Storm" and "Maximum Holiday Season Security."
As one of the few non Kurt S. Adler products on the page, it's important to note that Mario's blend of videogame authenticity and traditional nutcracker aesthetic was the work of a fan. This particular 'cracker was sold back in 2006, but it still wins points for general fan devotion. It's interesting to imagine what became of the work of video game décor. Perhaps its owner uses it to squish certain size-altering 'shrooms.
After a list worthy of equal parts celebration and scorn, it's fitting that the final entry would house a fantastic fan-made creation. Sporting a proton pack and trap more detailed than most cosplayers' convention season attire, plus a stylized Slimer by his side, this Nutcracker is poised to cross whatever streams he has to in the name of removing nut shells, killing rat kings and looking sharp in triangular facial hair. Not only does this Ghostbusters
nutracker succeed in restoring every nerd's faith in the item's folk art roots, its exquisite blend of classic and modern concepts make all who view it hear Ray Parker's title song as sang by Burl Ives. Cracking must genuinely make this thing, and everyone in its vicinity, feel good.