Let’s talk about Lootcrate. Lootcrate is to the best of my knowledge the granddaddy of the pop culture bento-box craze that has been clogging mailboxes nationwide for a few years now. Only unlike real bento boxes that have Japanese take-out, these boxes have silly stuff. The premise is a simple one, you send Lootcrate money in the form of monthly, bi-yearly, yearly, or payments in perpetuity, and they send you a box each month. That box comes packed with pop culture goodies valued at least double what you paid for the box! There could be t-shirts, keychains, bobble heads, action figures, pins, patches–all kinds of funky stuff. Amazing! What a public service to be honored with parades and perpetual memberships!
Or you could look at it the way I imagine a lot of Lootcrate subscribers’ spouses see the box: an expensive way to get a lot of junk that nobody really needs. Every month.
I’ll be honest, traditionally I fall somewhere in the middle of these two sides. I have a few buddies with subscriptions, and I frequently see their t-shirts and think, “I could go for one of those. That’s a cool shirt. Of course, since James has one I can’t wear it while he’s around because that would be strange if we both showed up somewhere in the same obscure t-shirt. He might think it’s like that Single White Female movie from the 90’s where Jennifer Jason Leigh goes cra-zay and tries to take over her roommate’s life by getting the same haircut and wearing the same clothes, and sleeping with that same guy from Wings, etc. That’s what I would think if somebody just showed up wearing the same t-shirts I wear. But there are plenty of other times it would be perfectly acceptable to wear that shirt! James is a busy guy. He’s not around all the time. I should order one of those silly boxes. Maybe James has a discount code.”
My internal monologues are rambly.
I’m sure I’m part of the target demographic that loves pop culture movies and cartoons and things that are ridiculous– and I occasionally am more than willing to waste my money when the wife isn’t watching. The whole buying things sight unseen unsettles me, though. There’s an element of gambling to it. Will you get something really great and sought after and exclusive to these silly little boxes that only YOU (and the 100,000+ other subscribers) can have? Or, are you flushing 20-35 bucks down the toilet like the aftermath of a poorly prepared Chinese takeout meal from one of those shady places you haven’t been to before? With that said, the disposable income isn’t that disposable these days so I try to keep my cash-flushing and Chinese-food habits contained. Most of the stuff that comes in these boxes falls under the category of stuff I think is neat but wouldn’t really buy. Except those T-shirts. I mean, I need to wear clothes, right?
Funko makes subscription boxes, too, that are Marvel or DC related. Those are even more in my demographical haunts. Or they would be if they weren’t what they actually are. Mainly I think it’s a way for them to push exclusive Pops that can serve to get people addicted to their sub-lines like Dorbz or Fabrications, or whatnot. Most of the whatnot (outside of the occasional 4 inch action figure) I feel is pretty junky. The Funko Pops are a different story. Honestly, I avoid those, not because I don’t think they’re cool or fun or kitschy–they are those things in spades– but because there’s too many of them. I’m the type of person that if I bought one funko pop, it would turn to three funko pops, and then thirty, and then three hundred, and between comic books and action figures (and actual family members), I already have enough mouths to feed without one more nerdy addiction. If I ever did succumb, I would be all over the place. I’d have Space Ghost, Peter Venkman and Adam West Batman hanging out with Sophia from Golden Girls, Alice Cooper, Voltron and Spider-man and movie Spider-man and black suit Spider-man and… you get the point. It’s a rabbit hole. A rabbit hole with a bazillion different licenses from He-man to Care-Bears to Super-heroes…but a rabbit hole nonetheless.
Previously, I’ve ordered 2 subscription boxes before. The first was a Spider-man box through Funko’s Marvel Collector Corps brand that I bought a year or two back because, hey, Spider-man. I thought it would be cool just to see what these things were all about, and worst case scenario, at least I would get a t-shirt. It came with the following:
A pin (meh!)
A patch (neat, but who puts patches on things?)
An exclusive Spidey funko pop (cool, but…nah, that part was cool.)
A variant cover of an issue of the Amazing Spider-man (neat, but I already had the issue.)
A plushy Spider-man (I guess cool? I still haven’t decided after two years if I like it or not.)
And finally…a hat. No shirt. A hat.
I was devastated. I felt swindled. My favorite part, which I haven’t mentioned yet, was the actual box. It’s a really cool box, but not worth what I paid for it. It’s a shoebox, for crying out loud. I swiftly canceled any future subscription box participation. I began to think these subscription boxes might just be a scam to fool unsuspecting geeks like me from their money. I’m sure of it, actually. It’s just that usually we enjoy the experience more than I did while I whined about a stupid hat.
I’ve continued to occasionally check in on the subscription box fad, but I didn’t bite. Occasionally I’ve picked up an action figure from the interwebs where the exclusives can be had ala cart fairly affordably, and I can see what I’m actually buying. Funko occasionally puts some awesome 3 3/4 figures in their DC boxes featuring characters from Suicide Squad or classic Teen Titans.
I haven’t actually bought one until last month. I saw one of the items revealed for a Lootcrate box was an Ant-man T-shirt. Loyal podcast listeners know that I’m a big Ant-fan, especially of the Paul Rudd movies and the recent Nick Spencer run of the books. I thought that enough to warrant looking into an Ant-man shirt. Then, I saw Lootcrate was advertising that box came with TWO t-shirts. Whawhawhat?!? With two shirts, I looked at the price of the box, including shipping, but minus a 20% off code I found online, and thought, Ant-man shirt, that’s worth at least 15 bucks in my head. Another t-shirt, regardless of what it is will be kitschy and worth at least 10 bucks. Everything else is basically house money.
So I ordered last month’s Lootcrate, and it was a really nice gambling experience.
It contained the following exclusive goodies (for less than the Marvel box from Funko):
The Ant-man T-shirt (totally awesome!)
A Wasp T-shirt (also, really cool)
An Adventure Time pin (I don’t care about this thing. It’s neat looking, just not for me.)
80’s style Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Magnet set (yeah, this is something I don’t need but really like.)
A Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure picture frame (this is pretty awesome, too.)
Finally, the box has punch out Adventure Time characters (whatever!)
The T-shirts were the big (no pun intended) draw, and they did not disappoint. The Turtle magnet set and Bill and Ted picture frame both felt a little flimsy for what they are, but the fun licensing makes up for any perceived quality gaps. How quality do refrigerator magnets have to be? As long as they stick, that’s great. I felt like I definitely got my money’s worth–and some Adventure Time stuff, too.
The only drawback came with the delivery time. The box didn’t come until Saturday. Saturdays are busy for the ole’ ChaChaChadster. By the time I saw what was inside, that was after working all day and podcasting into the wee hours of Sunday morn, and then remembering that I never bothered to cancel the next box! I logged on to find that I missed the cancellation deadline…by 3 hours. It’s my own fault. Even though I ordered the Ant-man box on the last possible day, I still had plenty of time to decide if I wanted the next one or not. My late order maybe is the reasoning behind the late shipping (seems reasonable to me, logistics-wise). Still, it would have been nice to have seen box one before getting my credit card charged for box two. I cancelled the boxes moving forward, but that second one is coming regardless.
Maybe these things are a scam after all?
Regardless, it’s Monday night as I type this. Box #2 is set to be delivered by Wednesday, which gives me plenty of time to have the review up for your Sunday reading experience. There is no box #3 because I cancelled these scammy scammers before they could strike again!
I figure at least I can use this unwanted box for review purposes. I genuinely have no idea what’s coming in the box. I vaguely remember seeing something about the theme being Mayhem, but I’m not even sure that is this particular box. There’s about six million other subscription boxes out there, and I’m easily confused as is. I’ve purposely avoided any googling or spoilers because it’s not like this is something I actually wanted. It’s like back in the day, when Columbia House would make you buy the really expensive CDs to make up for the big box o’ freebees earlier. Maybe it’s something cool. Maybe it’s John Cougar Mellencamp after he dropped the Cougar and there wasn’t much left in the tank. There’s nothing I’m actively anticipating, so I might as well keep it all a surprise. Still, I’m excited. I feel like Brad Pitt in the movie Se7en.
What’s in the box???
If it’s Gwyneth Paltrow’s head, I’m going to be really surprised. And afraid. That’s not normal.
Find out…next time!
Ooh, that’s such a tease. I’ll be back later this afternoon with my review of what’s in the box. Still, the antici……..
………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………pation is part of the fun with these things. So take a break and check back in after a few hours. Even if you’re encountering this post after part two is already up, take some time and wait for it. It’s more fun that way. Let your imagination run wild with the possibility of what crazy junk they’ll throw in a box this month to try and get my cash for next month. Then, let the sight unseen wasting of my money be seen clear across the interwebs. Maybe it’ll be cool. Worst case scenario, I’m hoping there’s a shirt.
See you then!
See you sooooOOOOoooOOnlikemaybethisafternoooOOOOooOOOOOOooOOOOOOOooooOOOooOnprobablyaroundoneish!