Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Product Review – December 2014 Loot Crate

Preface: Sorry this is so late. Honestly, after I opened this thing up I forgot all about it. Then I saw something about Loot Crate on Facebook and I was like, “Wait – I got one of those…” and had to go look for it. There’s really no point in reviewing it because it’s not like you could get one even if I had posted this the day it came. But I guess this can give you a pretty good idea of what to expect from the service if you’re thinking about subscribing.

I had been wanting to try one of these services for some time. I tended to think of them as “box of crap” subscriptions, but every once in a while I’d see an item from one that seemed pretty cool. And for less than the price of a six inch scale action figure, the risk really is minimal. 
 
Early in December I misread somewhere that the month’s Loot Crate was going to be themed for the 75th Anniversary of Batman. That didn’t just appeal to me, it seemed like something I simply couldn’t pass up. A whole box full of Batstuff, with Exclusives that would only be available as part of this? YES.

Naturally, within a day of placing my order I saw a thing online that made it clear that this was just a general anniversary theme, not specifically Batman. I was disappointed, but there was still potential awesomeness. And I knew there would be at least one Batman item.
I awaited delivery of that Crate with anticipation that I hadn’t felt since I still cared about the Masters of the Universe Classics line (I kid, I kid). I followed the tracking number, I got updates texted to my phone, I watched for smoke signals. Finally, one day when I was at work I got the e-mail stating that my potentially precious package had been delivered. I left work even more excited than usual to be departing that wretched hive of boredom and misery. As I pulled up my driveway I spotted a black box perched on the wall beside the carport. I parked and jumped out of the car, finding a Loot Crate that would best be described as “smashed as fuck”:

Additionally, the tape holding it shut had come off and it was just sitting there, open.

While this is clearly the fault of the United States Postal Service, Loot Crate is also responsible. This thing should have an exterior shipping carton. After posting that picture online I discovered that this is not an uncommon occurrence. My question is this: Why do you keep getting Loot Crates? The first thing I did after opening mine was to send an e-mail with attached pictures and cancel my subscription. Oh, and by the way:

Cancelling your Loot Crate subscription is a pain in the ass.

It’s clearly designed to be time consuming and difficult so that people will not cancel their subscriptions. You have to compose an e-mail and submit it to them, and then wait for a reply. There’s not just a button to click or anything. I’d admire their cleverness if I hadn’t been so irritated.

So far my experience has not been super. Maybe the goodies inside will make it all worthwhile.

As I describe the contents, I will track two different values for this thing – my estimate of the retail value and the value that I, personally put on the items. As in, “This is what I would pay for this thing”. I just want it to be clear that I get the perceived value of the thing even if I don’t agree with it. I won’t however, be looking any prices up; only because I think it will be more fun to guess. Or maybe I’ll put a full list at the end if I’m not sick of writing about this thing by then.

First Glance

Well, it’s certainly the box of crap that I expected. Supposedly each Loot Crate is at least forty bucks worth of stuff. Just looking at the open box I can’t imagine how that’s possible. That Pop! figure is worth ten-ish, though, so maybe there’s a twenty dollar gift certificate to Hot Topic or something.

Packaging

The Loot Crate arrives in a black box with “Loot Crate” printed on it. It’s made out of a cardboard that I would describe as “not sturdy enough to ship things in”.

The interior of the box is fucking delightful, though. I don’t know if they all have a theme like this, but December’s box folds out into a neat-o and adorable Batcave diorama. I had to fold the little Batcomputer piece down, but otherwise it was ready to go. I sat mine on top of the Pop! figure box to give it height. This portion of the Loot Crate is wonderful and a nice touch that I would consider “above and beyond”.

Too bad it’s all mashed up and torn. While I am pleased with the interior design, this is packaging. Furthermore, it’s packaging that the Loot Crate company didn’t even deem valuable enough to protect.

RETAIL VALUE SO FAR = ZERO DOLLARS
PHANTOM VALUE SO FAR = ZERO DOLLARS

Contents

This is all of the stuff. While I suppose this is technically well over forty dollars’ worth of goods, what I really see is the contents of a bin at the bottom of Hot Topic’s Clearance section that should have a sign over it reading “Buy One Get Two Free”.

Except for the Funko Pop! figure, which is a nice Exclusive and clearly the belle of this ball:

Funko Pop! The Joker Batman Vinyl Figurine

This is silly and great. I stopped reading the main Batman book, so I’m not sure if this is an actual thing or if it’s just a neat, odd variant. Either way I like it. If the rest of this stuff feels like five bucks worth of stuff I’ll be happy. I will say, however, that I would not have bought this at retail.

RETAIL VALUE SO FAR = TEN DOLLARS
PHANTOM VALUE SO FAR = TEN DOLLARS

Before I get any further, this is the Loot Crate Magazine:

Loot Crate Magazine Issue 17

This serves as a mini-zine and also as a packing list. There are a couple of interviews inside, a description of the Mega Crate that you didn’t win, and the list of products in this month’s Crate.

The interviews are with Stan Lee (it’s pretty good) and the guy that does the “things made of words” pictures on the front. He’s holding a bunch of t-shirts, but there’s no shirt in this month’s Crate. Or if there is, it was taken out of mine, which is entirely possible since it the seals were broken and it was open.

This is branded as a magazine, but it’s really marketing material and a packing list masquerading as a pamphlet masquerading as a magazine.

RETAIL VALUE SO FAR = TEN DOLLARS
PHANTOM VALUE SO FAR = TEN DOLLARS

Time to look at the rest of the stuff.

These are the items that I consider pure garbage, with a value of less than a dollar (to me):

Garbage

The candy cane arrived broken. The air freshener arrived fine, but it’s a fucking air freshener. The button says “Loot Crate Anniversary”, but as you might have guessed by now I will not be wearing a Loot Crate button anytime soon. That piece of paper is for a free trial of Crunchyroll. Free trials are worthless anyway, but even if they weren’t this is no good because Crunchyroll has something to do with anime and you guys know how I feel about anime.

I’ll give the button a one dollar value and assume the air freshener is from the higher end of the scale for such things and assign it three. The free trial and the trisected candy cane get NIL.

Honestly, it boggles my mind that people buy air fresheners. I have owned many in my life and they have all come free as part of some sort of bundle of crap.

RETAIL VALUE SO FAR = FOURTEEN DOLLARS
PHANTOM VALUE SO FAR = TEN DOLLARS

This is a paper fucking wallet:

The Simpsons Tyvek Wallet

It is embellished with beautiful art depicting characters from The Simpsons and it has tons of pockets:

But it is a paper fucking wallet.

I’m sure it’s sturdy and I’m sure it does exactly what this little card says it does:

And “wears in” (loses all of the color and pictures) and “takes on the look of a well loved wallet” (“well-loved” meaning the owner will have to have sex with it because no guy that carries a paper fucking wallet will ever get his penis anywhere near a vagina).

This is probably the hardest item for me to gauge. I have no frame of reference for paper wallets. I feel like the absolute maximum price a sane person would pay for this is five dollars. I also know full well how stupid people are and how much some will jump at gimmicks, especially if they have one of these on them:

So it’s possible this thing could retail for as much as fifteen dollars. I’m going to play it safe and split the difference – ten dollars.

RETAIL VALUE SO FAR = TWENTY-FOUR DOLLARS
PHANTOM VALUE SO FAR = TEN DOLLARS

Baby Groot Socks

These are baby Groot socks. I have nothing bad to say about baby Groot socks. They’re a little thin – as novelty socks tend to be – so I’m not sure if they’ll fit my size thirteens. But I won’t hold that against them.

These are a perfectly good item that I’d say would retail for about eight bucks. Like the Pop! figure, though – I would not have bought these at retail.

RETAIL VALUE SO FAR = THIRTY-ONE DOLLARS
PHANTOM VALUE SO FAR = EIGHTEEN DOLLARS

That means even with just my personal value I’ve gotten more than my money’s worth. Retail value-wise we’re at double what I paid.

Tetris Stickers

This is probably the item that reminds me the most of the Hot Topic Clearance section. It’s not that these stickers aren’t neat or they don’t have value, but this is exactly the sort of gimmicky crap that we got in every month, sold two of, and then marked ten down to 75% off before marking them out of stock. 
 
These are neat and I’m sure some folks will have a blast with them. I am not those folks. They just look like a headache to me. These might retail for about three bucks, but could be as much as six, I suppose. I’ll say four.

RETAIL VALUE SO FAR = THIRTY-FIVE DOLLARS
PHANTOM VALUE SO FAR = EIGHTEEN DOLLARS

Ghostbusters Doorknob Sign

This probably should have gone in with the garbage since it’s the sort of thing somebody would hand you at a Con, but I just can’t bring myself to call something with the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man on it garbage. Since I’m a grown man with no roommates I have no use for such a thing, but I’ll give it a dollar value for retail.

I do find this slightly disturbing because the Stay Puft side is suggesting that Mister Stay Puft wants you to fuck him.

Personally I can’t give it any value because I wouldn’t spend even a penny on such a thing.

RETAIL VALUE SO FAR = THIRTY-SIX DOLLARS
PHANTOM VALUE SO FAR = EIGHTEEN DOLLARS

Batman #36 – Loot Crate Exclusive Variant Cover

Here we have a tough one. In theory, this should have a value higher than that of the regular edition of this issue. Regardless of any other factors, only the people that ordered this Loot Crate were able to obtain it. 
 
But I know nothing about comic book values. I have no idea how to estimate what this could or should potentially be worth on the secondary market. All I know is that it got mashed up along with the box and, as a result, is not even worth as much as the standard issue I would have bought from my Local Comic Book Shop.

Additionally, I am no longer buying Batman because “Zero Year” was not to my liking. But that’s my own personal thing. Technically this has a retail value of four dollars (the cover price of the issue), but nobody would actually pay four dollars for a current comic book in this condition. I honestly don’t know how to rate this one. I guess two dollars retail and zero for me since I wouldn’t have bought it in the first place and definitely wouldn’t have bought a bent-up copy.

RETAIL VALUE SO FAR = THIRTY-EIGHT DOLLARS
PHANTOM VALUE SO FAR = EIGHTEEN DOLLARS

Okay, I don’t feel like it’s fair of me to say that Loot Crate sent me less than forty dollars’ worth of stuff (though they would have hit forty if Batman #36 hadn’t been messed up), so I’m going to have to look up prices. In the event that I can’t find a price for the specific item, I’ll find a similar item. I’m also not taking damage into account, as this list is meant to reflect what Loot Crate thought the value of this collection was.

Crunchyroll Trial = $0 – This has no value, as the first thing I saw when I went to check on prices was a free trial offer that I could sign up for on the spot.

Loot Crate Button = $4 – The best I could do here was to search completed auctions on eBay. Surprisingly, past buttons sell for between one and eight dollars. So I’ll give it four.

Candy Cane = $.06 – A tub of 280 of this kind of candy cane costs $15.95.

Captain America Air Freshener = $5 – I underestimated this one, as well. It looks like this and similar air fresheners go for five bucks. Which is absurd.

Pop! Figure = $10 – All of this scale of Pop! figures retail for ten dollars, even Exclusives. But just for shits and giggles, I checked eBay to see what it’s going for – by itself without the rest of the Crate it’s going for around fifteen bucks. But it looks like a patient person could find one for ten.

Simpsons Wallet = $15(!!!) – Wow. I was right about the fifteen bucks. I checked out Dynomighty.com and that’s what this vagina repellent goes for.

Groot Socks = $5 – These sorts of superhero socks sell for four or five bucks. These specific socks are going for ten bucks on eBay, though. But I’ll stick with five since there’s no way these won’t hit retail in some form.

Tetris Stickers = $2.50 – I was surprised that I wasn’t able to find these at any sort of normal retail price. They seem like a mass market item. On eBay they’re selling for between one and five dollars, so I guess I’ll set them halfway.

Ghostbusters Door Hanger = $1 – I couldn’t find anything even similar to this through a standard retailer, which proves my belief that this isn’t the sort of thing that people buy. I’ll stick with my dollar.

Batman Comic = $3.99 – That’s the cover price of that issue.

So, all of that together brings what I believe to be the value that the Loot Crate folks perceived this to be to…

$46.55

Which is, indeed, more than forty dollars, which is all they guarantee when you sign up.

Overall

If I had to put money on it, I’d bet that the Loot Crate folks estimated a higher value than that.

Look – I know I’ve been a dick throughout this review. Because it was fun to do it that way and because this Loot Crate was, indeed, exactly what I thought it would be and what I said up at the beginning – a box of crap. Yes, some of that crap was cool. And I certainly got my money’s worth, if only for the fact that I got this post out of it (I’ve paid more for less entertaining features).

The bottom line is this – I am not telling anybody not to buy Loot Crates. I think if you’ve got the money to spend on it, it could be a fun thing for a lot of people to receive each month. It certainly lives up to the value it promises. I just wanted to give those that might be curious a fair idea of what to expect from these things. Now I know that they’re not for me.

Now to check out this “Horror Block”…

3 comments:

  1. Well now, PT, I think you're being a little harsh on the Tyvek wallet! I mean, I have their Mad Love wallet with the Alex Ross painting on it, and it's surprisingly durable, and people seem to think it's cool!

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    Replies
    1. Heh. I never said that it wasn't durable or that some people wouldn't find it cool. It's just not the sort of thing I'd ever use.

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  2. I just started getting Loot Crate in January and I was pretty happy with the first month. I'm going to cover mine here in a few days (I've got lots of stuff I want to review!). Cool to see yours, though. I would have mostly been interested in the POP! and the Groot socks.

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