Give The Bond Villain In Your Life This SPECTRE Ring For Christmas

A gift both timely and timeless for that special evil someone. 

I’ve got Blofeld on the brain lately. There've been the recent rumblings of his return, and today's press announcement sure as shit didn't quiet my mind. But really, this time of year always makes me think of Ernst Stavro Blofeld - after all, he’s the baddie at the center of the Christmas-set Bond classic On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. But the holidays always bring out my Bond geekery: this is the time of year in which you’ve got the various Bond marathons on cable, a new Eon Productions press conference every couple years, followed a year after that by the opening of a new Bond film. It’s no mystery as to why my fixation on all things 007 tends to flare up around the end of the year.

So if we’re talking awesome/geeky holiday gift suggestions, shocker: I’m always gonna lean toward the Bond stuff. Luckily for Bond fans and those who buy them gifts, 007’s long associations with name brands make Bond dorks easy to shop for, and everything from Heineken to Bollinger to Tom Ford can fit whatever price range you’re looking to hit. But for the real maniacs, you’ve got companies like Factory Entertainment, who until recently had a license to kill your wallet with some great high-end prop replicas from the Bond franchise. I believe Jaws’ teeth and Scaramanga’s Golden Gun are long sold out, but for that one bald megalomaniac in your life - or for Christoph Waltz, if you guys are pals - Factory Entertainment offers a replica of the SPECTRE Ring.

Today's as good a time as any to brief you on SPECTRE, yeah? Pull up a seat. You might be surprised to learn that in the novels, SPECTRE (The Special Executive for Counter-Intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion) began as a surprisingly grounded criminal operation. It's a highly efficient, shadowy band of ruthless opportunists, less of a showy rogue's gallery and more of a 20-man supergroup of organized crime: former Gestapo, SMERSH agents, Italian Mafia, the Unione Corse, Chinese Tong, etc. Author Ian Fleming believed the Cold War would be short-lived, and created SPECTRE as an apolitical enemy for his hero to battle. Unlike the films, the literary SPECTRE’s plots of kidnapping, blackmail and assassination are all 100% about getting paid. As their leader Ernst Stavro Blofeld lost his mind across three novels, and as the films drifted from the novels, painting the group's exploits in increasingly broad strokes, SPECTRE became a more cartoonish entity, seeking nothing less than world domination.

The first glimpse of a SPECTRE ring was on the finger of the then-nameless and faceless "Number One" in From Russia With Love. It’s got a black-on-black signet that’s kind of understated compared to later editions. By the time Thunderball rolled around in 1965, the SPECTRE symbol had become more prominent (and numerous - the ring becomes a handy way for Bond to immediately spot SPECTRE agents in the field.)

Sure, a garish ring loudly announcing your affiliation with a consortium of global terrorists might seem silly now, but let’s take a moment to recall that when Bond went up against the wannabe-Illuminati of Quantum of Solace (RIP), they all wore the same distinctive Q pin (also available from FE). Let’s also consider the interminable running time of Thunderball, and maybe be a little grateful that these rings turned up to move the plot along as often as they did.

In any event, FE has wisely gone with the subtler From Russia With Love model, which has a weird/spooky octopus-as-skull design that, to me, feels more of a piece with Fleming’s creation. Why hasn’t this ring sold out as quickly as FE’s other Bond prop replicas? Is it because the sleazy Euro-thugs of SPECTRE don’t present the sexiest cosplay options in the world? Not sure. Will Waltz be rocking an octopus ring in SPECTRE? Also not sure. Either way, tell the Bond fan in your life you totally “get” the big deal about the 2015 return of SPECTRE, and drop this $200* nugget in his or her (but come on, his) stocking this Christmas. And hurry - I have a strange feeling they might be selling out soon.

*Broke, Mr. Bond? I have a hunch the Bond villain in your life won't drop you into a pool of piranhas for going for these much more reasonable cufflinks instead.

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