The 8 Most Blatant Attempts to Cash in on the Steampunk Fad

  • March 12, 2011
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Steampunk has come a long way from the obscure speculative fiction genre it was in the 1990s, and even further from the slightly more obscure speculative fiction genre it was in the 1980s. With the internet's amazing power to bring together people with even the most unusual common interests or sexual abnormalities, the 21st century will be remembered as steampunk's money shot (the same could be said about furries, but the less said about that the better). Steampunk conventions have been happening across the US now since 2006, and the new Panic! at the Disco video, 'The Ballard of Mona Lisa' takes steampunk as close to the mainstream as its likely to get. If you think this will bring about a myriad of steampunk profit-makers, you'd be wrong, because it started much earlier than this.


Steampunk Taxidermy

Australian born artist Lisa Black (now living in New Zealand) has made herself a career adding cogs and gears to mounted animals to give them a steampunk look. Her works have been exhibited at several New Zealand galleries as well as at Comic Con in San Diego.


We can only hope that's the creepiest thing anyone has ever done to a duck.

While most of her taxidermy mods are purely cosmetic, one piece is a crocodile with working gears instead of a heart, which is undeniably awesome. Apparently, Black's art encourages us to reconsider our definition of 'natural' and reflect on our societies technological progress. It also encourages us to satisfy any curiosities we had about what it would look like if you crossed a turtle with an antique clock:


Excuse me, I’ve got to be going as it’s half past shell.

The main cash cow of all this stuff seems to be her gilded butterflies, real butterfly wings with brass like hinges between them. While clockwork Bambi may be ubercool, if brass hinges made something steampunk, your old furniture would be a lot more trendy.


Men of Steampunk Calendar

Got $20 and have a thing for men in neo-Victorian garb? Not a big thing for them, just enough to see one per month? Then you can get the 'Men of Steampunk' calendar! Unlike some other entries on this list, the profit from these calendars goes to a good cause: homeless children. What the association between homeless children and steampunk is we don't know, perhaps a better fund raiser would be a techno-thriller version of Oliver Twist.


What marvellous contraptions will we pick pocket today? Miniature difference engines? I hope we get miniature difference engines.


'Mini' steampunk vacuum cleaner

A steampunk vacuum cleaner would actually be pretty cool, like housekeeping as envisioned by H.G Wells and, at $32, would be a bargain. This 'mini' vacuum cleaner though is 3¾ inches tall, and is likely to require dusting rather than prevent the need for it. It could be an awesome nik-nak from a steampunk hobbyist, but at the Etsy store also sells 'evil eye warding quartz' and 'luck drawing powder' we think that's unlikely.


On the plus side, the workload of a housemaid in someone's Victorian doll house has just been halved.


Disney's 'Mechanical Kingdom' pins

We could put last year’s DVD release of Disney's vaguely steampunk Sherlock-Holmes-with-rodents movie 'The Great Mouse Detective' down to coincidence, after all, the whole back catalogue of Disney films are working their way onto DVD (well, except for the really racist ones). But the same can't be said of Disney's “The Mechanical Kingdom” pins , featuring steampunk versions of Mickey and the rest of the gang. These aren't merchandise for an upcoming film, just pins you can buy in their theme park gift shops.


When was the last time this character even appeared in a film?


Steampunk p*rn

As dictated by Rule 34 of the internet, steampunk porn exists. Lady Clankington is the Steampunk persona of fetish porn model Nicotine Desire, which is the fetish porn model persona of a young woman from Pennsylvania. At Lady Clankington's Cabinet of Carnal Curiosities you can purchase some of her 'infernal devices' to use as you, er, please.



Her website includes testimonials such as “The lads and I had a go with one of these pieces of fine hand artillery. Didn't leave the cabin for five days!” by one “Lord Virgil Butterknuckles, Rear Admiral Royal Navy” either these testimonials are fake, on someone out there is taking cos play to a whole new level.


Oamaru – Steampunk Capital of New Zealand

The New Zealand town of Oamaru has long used its Victorian heritage and buildings as tourist attractions, but since 'Victorian' hasn't been hip since Victoria was actually on the throne, it’s all about streampunk now. So, in 2009 Oamaru held “The first steampunk exhibition in New Zealand” (no one told them about Lisa Black) and last year they held their first annual steampunk ball and gala. The marketing worked, the steampunk exhibition, which featured the Weta Workshops designed Dr Grordbort's infallible oscillators  was the most popular exhibition ever held at the town’s gallery.


Before steampunk, all Oamaru was known for was potatoes.


Steampunk wine

Despite being branded 'Steampunk Wine', by no stretch of the imagination are these wines steampunk. Although they might be slightly steampunk if you put them in this thing:


See what we mean about brass hinges?

According to their website. “Some of the most famous old vine vineyards date back into the 19th Century, to the Victorian-era. Yet modern winemakers are using technology and science unavailable or unknown to those 19th Century vineyardists who planted those grapes. This combination of modern winemaking with old vines sounded pretty Steampunk to us. Plus, it’s a cool name.” It’s only a matter of time before anything that has less than six degrees of separation from the nineteenth century is referred to as being steampunk.


Steampunk Palin


So here's what probably went down: A group of people at Antarctic Press are trying to think of a new comic, something that will capture of zeitgeist and sell by the truckload. “Well, steampunk is pretty cool right now” says one “and Sarah Palin is more popular than ever” says another, then their eyes light up as they realise they have hit upon their greatest idea ever: Steampunk Palin.

Sarah Palin has the solution to the worlds energy needs: steam power! Because if it was good enough for the 19th century, it’s good enough for the 21st. Of course, the big oil and big nuclear conglomerates aren't too keen on this, and bomb the meeting where she makes this announcement. Palin is injured, but rebuilt as a cyborg. A steampunk cyborg! Also, Obama is a robot for some reason. She then battles the evil organisation led by Al Gore, a man known for his love of fossil fuels. That's the first 15 pages of this comic, the following eight pages are pin-ups of steampunk Sarah Palin. Now, Sarah Palin is a former beauty queen, and there is obviously an audience for eroticised steampunk but the world already has Nicotine Desire as Lady Clankington, making Steampunk Palin pin ups totally redundant (and some are downright creepy)


See what we mean?

But, there's probably one person out there who has been waiting steampunk and Sarah Palin to come together like this, and if that person is you, this comic is actually more of the more affordable items on this list, a mere $3.99.

Written by Byron Clark – Copyrighted ©

Image Sources

Image sources:

  • - Steampunk Taxidermy:
  • - Men of Steampunk Calendar:
  • - 'Mini' steampunk vacuum cleaner :
  • - Disney's 'Mechanical Kingdom' pins:
  • - Steampunk porn:
  • - Oamaru – Steampunk Capital of New Zealand:
  • - Steampunk wine:
  • - Steampunk Palin: