Since at least the 15th century, a festive nutcracker has taken on the form of a knight or king, at the ready to crack that walnut or almond. Today, a simple lever will do the trick just fine, but the figurines are still prevalent for some standard holiday fare (and even that ballet of the same name, which runs year in and year out at the Houston Ballet). That is, of course, unless you're talking about more modern interpretations of the classic design. No, these nutcrackers are different beasts entirely, almost unrecognizable as nutcrackers, inspired by pop culture, nerd-dom or just plain nutty. To follow, a few of our nuttiest finds.
6. Star Trek Nutcrackers
Captain Kirk and Spock have been immortalized on their fair share of ridiculous yet oddly collectible
crap merchandise -- bobbleheads, Pez dispensers, Legos and, of course, mugs. Add to that shopping list nutcrackers. It's all there -- the appropriate gold and blue sleek shirts for our leading men, the Starfleet symbol over the left breast, even Spock's "live long and prosper" position. The only thing missing, it seems, are their necks.
5. Storm Trooper Nutcracker
Star Trek not nerdy enough for you? How about this Star Wars-inspired nutcracker of a Storm Trooper. The stiff posture and robotic-like quality of the Storm Trooper make it the perfect Nutcracker, though there are also Darth Vader, Clone Trooper, R2D2 and Yoda versions out there, if those suit your fancy. And like the Star Trek sample above, this item comes courtesy of holiday decorations exporter Kurt Adler, who seems to have the market cornered on pop culture-inspired nutcrackers. After spending a minute on the company's Web site, you'd forget what a typical nutcracker even looked like.
4. Uncle Sam Nutcracker
Doesn't Christmas just scream patriotism? Make you want to sport some red, white and blue? Don a glittery top hat? Yeah, we didn't think so either. Though judging by this sequined Uncle Sam nutcracker by Holiday Lane at Macy's, you'd think it did. There's nothing like a Fourth-of-July-appropriate decoration in December to confuse you into thinking you're in the wrong holiday entirely, and what's the point of that? This just makes us shake our heads into our hands and mutter "Why?" over and over and over again. If it must be bought, please do the appropriate thing and save it for July Fourth.
3. Surfer Nutcracker
We generally like the decorative offerings at Target this time of year. We even picked up a tasteful berry wreath not too long ago. But in the nutcracker department, that store is cracked. Just take this sunglasses-sporting, wetsuit-donning, surfboard-toting specimen. It looks like a bad joke that accidentally got turned into an actual nutcracker. And don't get us started on that heinous white goatee.
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2. Boy Scout Nutcracker
Now, Erzgebirge-Palace, a Web site for the German-made classic Steinbach nutcrackers, makes this list too easy. In fact, there are dozens upon dozens of irreverent items to scroll through, from a Phantom of the Opera offering to one of Geppetto with a tiny Pinocchio in tow, that are the definition of random. But this Boy Scout version takes the cake for creepiness. The bugged-out eyes and toothy mouth will ensure nightmares for years to come.
1. Hippie Nutcracker
They never called it the winter of love, but this holiday season, you can celebrate with this hippie nutcracker. Yep, this exists. The long, crimped hair, red, trendy headband and plentiful peace signs give the whole hippie identity thing away. Sure, that all works as a last-minute Halloween costume, but not so much as a Christmas signifier. And we're pretty sure those aren't Christmas carols he's strumming on that guitar, either.