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REVIEW / Loot Crate (January 2016)

 

Obviously, science fiction is heavily in the public’s consciousness, because January was the second month in a row in which Loot Crate gave us a box with a sci-fi theme. Specifically, the theme was “Invasion”, as in alien invasions. So, if nothing else, it was quite different from last month’s. They promised exclusive items from The X-Files, Alien, Space Invaders, and The Fifth Element this month. And unfortunately, I have no interest in any of those (except maybe Space Invaders), so I was not exactly pumped to see what was inside. Fortunately, Loot Crate has made a much requested change to how they fill their boxes, which I’ll get to later, that made sure I at least got a couple of things that interest me.


The X-Files Shirt

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Loot Crate has promised that every box in 2016 will have a t-shirt in it. I don’t know about anyone else, but I know that I only wear t-shirts on the weekends or when I go to the gym; I don’t need that many. But, apparently that’s what the public demanded. This particular shirt design is the result of a contest from Threadless, and is based on The X-Files. Timely, since the show was just revived, but again not really something that interests me personally. The design is pretty cool, I’ll admit, and the lack of any logos means that you can enjoy it without being a big fan of the show. If you are a fan, this is a pretty much perfect shirt. For the rest of us, your mileage may vary.

 

The X-Files Flashlight

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Now this is just a promotional item; it has nothing to do with the show. It’s just a keychain flashlight with the logo on it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a very good flashlight; it’s made of metal, uses LEDs and is surprisingly bright. And sometimes, you do need a flashlight. But even if we ignore the fact that most of us keep a flashlight in our pockets at all times (I’m talking about phones), this is not a particularly exciting item to include. Full marks for functionality, but a failure on being interesting. To put it into perspective, just today I saw Walgreens selling three similar flashlights in a bundle for $10, and even that seemed overpriced.

Space Invaders Vinyl Figure

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Ah, Space Invaders. If you’re reading this blog, chances are you’re familiar with this classic arcade game of the 70s. If not, first of all, you know this is a blog about video games, right? The original enemy designs in Space Invaders have become so iconic that you don’t need to be a gamer to recognize them, in any case. These exclusive vinyl figures (each box has one of three possible color schemes) feature the most well known of these designs in a translucent two color gradient. This, I believe, is meant to mimic what the characters looked like through the translucent color overlay on some of the original arcade machines. Simple though they are, I rather like these little figures.

 

Plush Facehugger

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From Kidrobot’s PHUNNY line, what we have here is a cutesy plush toy of the facehugger from Alien. This Loot Crate-exclusive version is actually even more cutesy than the normal version, because it’s smiling. It’s…cute, I guess? I should note that I’ve never seen any of the Alien movies, so I’m not the target audience here. The juxtaposition of the terrifying aliens as cute plush toys is entertaining enough, but I wish they had gone with the Xenomorph or something instead of the facehugger; it’s not immediately clear what this thing is from if you aren’t very familiar with the films. In any case, it is very high quality, so I’ll give credit there. Also clever: there’s a big yellow rubber band in the crate with no explanation. But apparently, it’s meant to be used with this so you can have it hugging your face. Clever, Kidrobot.

 

The Fifth Element Multipass Replica

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So here’s another item from a movie I’m familiar with, but have never seen. I was made aware of the Multipass by an Internet meme, but how faithful a replica this is I couldn’t tell you for sure. It looks pretty good, though, and I imagine fans of the film will be quite happy with it. It comes with a sleeve so that you can use the holder with your own ID, which is nice if you’re someone who keeps your ID (be it legal or for work) around your neck.

 

Miniature Movie Posters

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I thought Loot Crate had gone away from including cheap paper items, but it seems that they’re back to their old tricks. Appropriately for the theme, the crate contains small prints of movie posters for the Day the Earth Stood Still and War of the Worlds. They are at least very nice prints; they’re on high quality stock and printed well. But they are quite small, smaller than a piece of letter-sized paper. So these are probably better for hanging up at the office than at home. I probably won’t hang them up anywhere, because I don’t have much interest in these movies, but they could be worse. Remember the spy notebooks they gave us way back when?

 

Loot Pin

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I know what you’re thinking: there’s a pin in every Loot Crate, and I’ve never mentioned them before. Why now? Well, as I hinted at above, Loot Crate has realized that we don’t have much interest in their generic round pins. I’ve put a couple of the nicer designs on a bag, but I never considered them to really be worthwhile. Because of this sentiment, Loot Crate has completely changed their pins. They’re now much more like the ones from Smuggler’s Bounty: specially shaped metal pins with a lapel-style back, replacing the old round pins with the safety pin-style back. This month’s design is pretty cool, and as a collector of pins, I’m looking forward to getting more like this every month. I just hope that improving the pins doesn’t lead to a decrease in the quality of the other items.

 

Letter 44 Digital Comic

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Loot Crate is also tying the pins to the digital items, rather than having a piece of paper with a code. But it actually has nothing at all to do with the pins; you just go on the Loot Crate website, login, and get a code for the digital item. The pins have absolutely nothing to do with it, so I’m not entirely sure what they’re getting at. Either way, the digital item this month is the first issue of the comic Letter 44. Originally released in 2013, it tells the story of an incoming President as he learns that NASA discovered an alien mining operation a number of years prior. It’s described as both science fiction and a political thriller. It’s worth noting that this first issue has been available online for free for a couple of years now, so I can’t really give Loot Crate much credit here. It’s a nice digital inclusion, and I’m glad it’s the first issue, but it seems pretty unnecessary.


So, this crate is slightly difficult for me to judge because I’m not interested in a lot of the properties represented, but I’ll do my best. There’s definitely a lot of value here; the shirt alone would probably sell for the same price as the entire crate, and the retail version of the facehugger actually sells for more. The shirt is a very cool design, especially for X-Files fans. They might also appreciate the flashlight, but honestly that seems more like filler. The plush toy seems like something you’d either love or hate; for me, as with the replica Multipass, it falls a bit flat because I haven’t seen the movie it comes from. The standout items for me are the Space Invaders figure and the new and improved pin. Personal preferences aside, though, I’d call this a very good Loot Crate, and definitely an excellent value. Loot Crate, I think more than any other subscription box I’ve seen, gives you a lot of bang for your buck.

This month’s theme is “Dead,” referring to both The Walking Dead and Deadpool. Curiously, those are the only two properties mentioned in the teaser. We do know that there will be another shirt, as discussed, and that there will be two figures in the box. Like most people who frequent the Internet, I love me some Deadpool. The Walking Dead I’m less into, but I’ll appreciate the items more if they’re related to the comic. Either way, it sounds like this month Loot Crate will be going back to the fewer but bigger items style, which I appreciate.

 

 

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