Loot Crate was, if not the first, at least the first successful monthly box of random geeky items. It’s spawned more than its fair share of imitators and competitors, and you’ll find that their contents are very similar. One thing that brings together most of the many nerdy boxes out there: the inclusion of Funko products. Funko’s Pop! line of vinyl figures, more than anything, tend to feature in the advertisements for these subscriptions.
If you read my Loot Crate reviews here on TVGB, you know that I’m a collector of Pop! figures, and that Loot Crate has featured exclusive ones on multiple occasions. So at some point, Funko must have seen all of this and thought “hey, what if we get on this action ourselves?” Thus, they teamed up with Disney for a subscription service called Marvel Collector Corps, a bimonthly subscription box only filled with exclusive Marvel items, including at least one exclusive Pop! figure in each one. And that must have been successful, because now, Funko and Disney have started an equivalent subscription for Star Wars items, called Smuggler’s Bounty.
The theme for the inaugural November box was originally reported as “The Force Awakens,” which is sensible given the timing. But shortly before the boxes went out, the theme became more specific, focusing on antagonists the First Order. Going in, we knew that there would be two exclusive Pop! figures in the box, and the rest remained a mystery (for the most part anyway). So, what was in this first bounty?
Pop! Figure: Captain Phasma (Chrome)
A Pop! figure of Captain Phasma went on sale with all of the other The Force Awakens figures on Force Friday, but what we have here is a very cool variant. The figure is chrome plated, meaning it’s extremely shiny and reflective. It’s definitely a good look for the captain, whose shiny metal armor makes her stand out from the stormtroopers she commands. Like all Star Wars Pop! figures, this one is a bobblehead. And unfortunately, my copy has her head turned to the right. This is why I generally prefer my figures to not be bobbleheads, but it’s not so bad that it ruins the figure or anything. While variations of these figures are nothing new, this is the first time I’ve seen a chrome one, so I’m very happy with it.
Pop! Figure: First Order TIE Pilot
I mentioned in my review of October’s Loot Crate that sometimes Funko will include not just exclusive variants of Pop! figures in their boxes, but also completely exclusive characters. Such is the case with the First Order TIE pilot; you can get the old Imperial version normally, but at least so far, this guy is unique to Smuggler’s Bounty. There are actually two versions of this guy being distributed; most boxes featured the normal one, but a very small group of people got the Special Forces version, which has red stripes on the helmet. It’s a very small variation, but given the rarity and exclusivity, people are selling it for crazy prices on eBay. It’s sort of a shame that they did it this way, since the pilot is kind of boring. He’s all black, apart from the control panel coming from his helmet, and I think it’s silly that they held back the more interesting version. Still, the design is very sleek, and even in cutesy form he looks pretty formidable. So even though it isn’t one that I’d go out and buy, it’s still a pretty cool Pop! figure, and being a completely exclusive character makes it that much better.
Pop! First Order T-Shirt
I can’t be more specific with the title on this one, because each box featured one of four different shirts. Each one features some villain from The Force Awakens in the same art style as the Pop! figures. The possible characters are Captain Phasma, Kylo Ren, a First Order Stormtrooper, and the one I got, a First Order Snowtrooper. I feel like I got the short end of the stick here with the Snowtrooper, but all four of these shirts are cool. They’re pretty basic, featuring the character in a more interesting pose than on the figure boxes, with the movie’s logo on the bottom. The artwork is all very high quality, and I like seeing this style of artwork used with more dynamic pictures. Some are better than others, but all of the characters are cool. For fans of this aesthetic (which is presumably everyone who would subscribe to Smuggler’s Bounty), these are top notch.
Pin and Patch
Like Loot Crate and many others, each Smuggler’s Bounty includes a pin and an iron-on patch. I never even mention the pins in my Loot Crate reviews, because they’re low quality and not all that interesting. But when it comes to Smuggler’s Bounty, they really went all out. The small pin is shaped, rather than just round, and features Kylo Ren and the Star Wars logo. It’s made of thick metal and is well printed. It does say “Smuggler’s Bounty” on it, but only in the Aurebesh writing system commonly used within Star Wars-related media. That means it’s not right in your face, which makes the pin good for any Star Wars fan. I’ve amassed a decent collection of various pins over time, and this is already one of my favorites. They’ve turned what would be immediately forgotten in another subscription box into something exciting in its own right, which is most impressive.
The patch, meanwhile, is bigger and features the Special Forces TIE Pilot (not in the Pop! art style this time) and the Star Wars logo. It says “First Order” and, like the pin, says “Smuggler’s Bounty” in Aurebesh. I know I sound like a broken record here, but again, it’s a cool item to include. It’s an iron-on, so it’s easy to apply. Granted, I don’t have much use for patches, but I appreciate it either way. I might even put it on one of my bags, which would make it the first time I’ve ever actually applied a patch to something.
I’ve saved the worst item for last. Really, Smuggler’s Bounty? A lanyard? Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good lanyard; it features Pop!-style Stormtroopers with various weapons, and I’ll probably end up using it for conventions. But was it really worth including here? There’s a reason Loot Crate stopped including things like this; even though the other items are definitely worth the asking price, and this is just present to fill it up a bit, it feels like there must be something better they could have included. What really makes this disappointing, though, is that the Smuggler’s Bounty website repeatedly says the boxes contain “No fluff, no fillers!” This looks like a filler item to me. Granted, again, the box is worth the asking price without this, and it might have felt a bit too empty without something in this slot. But almost anything would have been more interesting than this. Personally, I’m already drowning in lanyards; whenever you go to a convention, you get at least one for free. I would have even preferred a poster or something like that. It doesn’t ruin the box or anything, but it is an unfortunate inclusion.
Despite the lanyard, and some minor issues with the other items, I’d say that the first month of Smuggler’s Bounty was a success. The exclusive figures are more than just simple repaints, as you’d often get; one is an entirely exclusive character, and the other has a completely new finish. The TIE pilot isn’t the most interesting character they could have gone with, but it still looks awesome and fits well with Captain Phasma. The shirts are quite nice as well, featuring chibi-style characters in cool action poses. Even the items that might be throwaways in another box, the pin and the patch, are excellent collector’s items in their own right. Really, the only item I don’t like is the lanyard, and even it isn’t terrible. So while it isn’t perfect, it’s clear enough that the Force is strong with Smuggler’s Bounty.
If you want to get your own slice of the bounty, click here . It costs $25 plus shipping and handling for a box every other month, or $150 plus shipping and handling for an annual subscription. For those doing the math, it means the monthly cost is approximately equivalent to that of Loot Crate, but each box is more expensive. The next box is coming in January, and it’s themed with the other side of the conflict in The Force Awakens: The Resistance. I’m hoping to see something related to everyone’s favorite rolling droid, BB-8. He is featured on the box, but Kylo Ren is on this month’s box, and there’s only a one in four chance that you’d get an item related to him. In any case, the contents will likely be similar to what we see here, including at least one Pop! figure.
The power of the dark side
Smuggler's Bounty comes out of the gate with some awesome stuff. The exclusive Captain Phasma figure really stands out, with chrome plating fitting the character perfectly and being something they've only done a few times with Pop! figures. The TIE pilot is very cool as well, and it's awesome that they included a character you can't get anywhere else in Pop! form, but I kind of wish it was a more interesting character. The shirts are excellent, featuring some excellent artwork with the Pop! aesthetic. The monthly badge and pin are off to a great start as well. The only thing that really keeps this box down is the lanyard, and again, even that at least has some use.