DALLAS — As the mercury flirted with 90 degrees here and consumers worried about rising gas prices, Neiman Marcus Group unveiled its 2005 Christmas catalogue on Tuesday, reveling in dream gifts for the holiday season.
For that special person who has absolutely everything, how about a flying car costing a mere $3.5 million that looks like something out of "The Jetsons," or a private concert for 500 people starring Sir Elton John with a $1.5 million price tag?
If those are just a tad expensive, the luxury retailer is offering some items for less than seven figures, including an adult treehouse starting at $50,000, a race-car simulator for $65,000 in which the driver sits in a life-size replica of the car that won the Indianapolis 500 this year, and a backyard railroad that starts at $200,000.
"Please, don't let the weather fool you," said Brendan Hoffman, president and chief executive officer of NM Direct. "Christmas is coming."
Published since 1926, the Christmas Book has become NM Direct's highest-volume catalogue and single largest mailing, though executives decline to reveal its sales figure. At 152 glossy pages, the 2005 edition touts more than 700 gifts.
Neiman's officials are less interested in selling the fantasy gifts than in receiving attention. Among last year's offerings, Neiman's did sell a $20,000 custom suit of armor, $8,000 jeweled versions of Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head and a $25,000 package for a backstage look at the Grand Ole Opry.
This year's eye-popper is the prototype of a machine known as the M400 Skycar, "a chance to own a piece of aviation history that has been in development since the Sixties," said Ginger Reeder, vice president of public relations at Neiman Marcus Group and chief wrangler of fantasy gifts for NM Direct.
Taking off and landing like a helicopter, the mini plane seats four, can reach speeds as high as 350 mph and may also be driven like a car, said the creator, Paul S. Moller of Moller International in Davis, Calif. He said delivery of production vehicles could be as soon as 2008 or 2009.
The Elton John concert is a charitable purchase. The $1.5 million fee will go to the Elton John AIDS Foundation, which suggested the idea to Neiman's. The buyer also gets a Yamaha red player piano stocked with five Elton songs and custom-made for the singer to play at the party.
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