REVIEW / Loot Crate (March 2015)

 

Don’t worry: we may have missed February’s box, but our monthly coverage of the perennial geeky subscription service continues.  If you’re new around here, Loot Crate is a service that sends a mystery (but themed) box of geeky goods to your door each month.  March’s theme was Covert, so the box was full of spy and secret agent related items.  As usual, let’s go through them one by one.


 

James Bond T-shirt

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Odds are, when you think “secret agent,” you think James Bond.  So naturally, a James Bond item is a perfect fit for this month’s theme.  The shirt features a small, dejected 007 holding a martini glass with the words “This is stirred.”  It’s a fun picture, no doubt, and it works fine on the shirt.  Still, I’m not sure a shirt is really where it belongs.  There are many ways to do a James Bond shirt, and this is far from the most appealing.  Compared to some of the excellent shirts Loot Crate has provided in the past, it’s a bit disappointing.

 

“Stealth” Watch

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I’m not sure how many people still wear wristwatches; mobile phones have largely taken their place.  Generally, if you are wearing a watch, it’s something fancy.  So the audience for the rubber Stealth Watch is a small one.  As someone who wants a simple digital watch, though, I rather like it.  The display is covered with the same rubber as the band, but if you press it in the right place, the time will appear.  It’s a fun novelty, and it makes a decent watch.  That said, setting it is a real pain, as letting go of the button for too long (or pushing it in for too long) will reset everything.  Once it’s set though, it makes a useful casual timepiece.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. ID Badge Replica

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Exactly what it sounds like, this plastic ID card is an exact replica of a prop from an early episode of Marvel’s TV show.  It’s a very solid thing, and it comes with a lanyard matching the one in the show.  If you’re a fan of S.H.I.E.L.D., or need something to bring a cosplay together, it’s a cool replica.  It’s also a Loot Crate exclusive, so that’s a nice bonus.  On the other hand, it is just a piece of plastic, so anyone who doesn’t care about the show or the comics will likely not be pleased.  I’m somewhere in between; I think it’s a nice display piece, and I might wear it with my badge at upcoming conventions.  It’s definitely high quality, though, so it really feels like something special.  As prop replicas go, even though it’s a minor thing, it definitely feels like a piece of the show.

 

Spy Mad Libs

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When I was very young, I loved Mad Libs.  As I got older, though, they lost their charm.  If you’ve never experienced them, Mad Libs are basically short passages with various words removed.  One person lists the types of words needed to the other player, who provides any word they like of that type.  The first person then uses those words to fill in the blanks, and hilarity ensues.  The inclusion is strange, because it’s the only item in this (or just about any) crate that’s aimed specifically at children.  Besides, as someone else reviewing this crate noted, Mad Libs has been replaced in our hearts and minds with Apples to Apples and Cards Against Humanity.  If I had kids, they might get some fun out of these, but as is they probably won’t see any use.

 

Classified Field Notes

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If you’ve been keeping up with Loot Crate, you might remember that a few months ago the crate included a small paper notebook filled with comic panels.  This is the same sort of thing, except that the paper is lined, and there are two of them.  I honestly can’t imagine any situation in which I’d use these.  If I’m taking notes, I’m usually doing it on my phone.  Even in situations that do require paper, I wouldn’t trust something so flimsy to stay together.  These are clearly here to fill up the box, but I can’t help but wish they included a cool mini poster instead, as they did last month.

 

Paracord Bracelet

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The idea of the Paracord Bracelet is pretty cool.  The bracelet is made of a heavy duty cord, woven into a design.  When you’re in desperate need of some rope, you can easily take the bracelet apart and use the cord in a variety of ways.  Once you’re done, you can put the bracelet back together.  It’s a clever thing to have around when you go camping.  But really, it’s pretty clear that Loot Crate isn’t meant to attract outdoorsmen.  If I ever find myself in a situation where I need this thing, it’s probably too late.  Fortunately, it is a very nice bracelet in and of itself. The cords are in Loot Crate’s colors of black and orange, with a band featuring the Loot Crate logo.  I have no doubt that this thing could be very helpful if I was going camping, but as that will never happen, I have to appreciate the item’s quality as a bracelet.

 

Orphan Black comic

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By now it’s not too unusual to see a comic with an exclusive cover in a Loot Crate.  This particular one is a tie in with the the show of the same name.  The first issue follows the beginning of the show, but the series is expected to branch out from there.  The comic is nice if you’re a fan of the show, or even if you’re just curious.  If the show isn’t for you, though, the comic won’t be either.  It’s a well drawn and well written comic, but if you don’t like the idea as a show, you won’t enjoy it in comic form either.

 

Ninjak Digital Comic

This month’s digital item is also a comic, though it’s neither exclusive nor related to another property.  It’s the first issue of Ninjak, a character who originally appeared in comics in the 90s.  He’s part ninja and part secret agent, and whether that’s cool or stupid depends on the reader.  Either way, odds are you’ll enjoy one of the included comics.  I will say that this one seems like a better fit for the theme than the Orphan Black one.  This one isn’t for everyone either, as Valiant can be hit or miss, but I’ll go for this over Orphan Black any day.


 

There’s nothing too exciting in this month’s crate, but there are enough interesting items to make it worthwhile.  Even more than usual, it comes down to the recipient’s preference.  The watch is quite nice if you don’t already have one; it’s probably the best item here for me.  The bracelet is excellent for people who like to go camping, but for most, it and the shirt really depend on your style.  The Orphan Black comic and the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. badge will only really appeal to fans of the respective shows, though Marvel fans and those into memorabilia may like the badge regardless.  The Ninjak comic is a good read, but the idea isn’t for everyone.  The notes and the Mad Libs are unfortunately not going to please anyone.

Opinions will vary, but for me, March’s crate is an average one.  And considering what it could have been, average is fine with me. Next month’s theme is Fantasy, and Loot Crate has teased items based on Dungeons and Dragons, Game of Thrones, and The Princess Bride.  If it seems like your kind of thing, you can subscribe to Loot Crate for $13.95 a month (plus shipping, and with various multiple-month plans available).  Just head to www.lootcrate.com and sign up before April 20th to get the Fantasy crate.

 

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