In addition to being your Kitchen Overlord, Chris-Rachael Oseland also co-hosts FanboyTV’s weekly geek talk show, Fanservice. This week, she brought in a trifecta of nerdy goodness to compare the actual prices and contents of the venerable Loot Crate, the newcomer Nerd Block, and the consistently underwhelming Booty Bin.
Price: around $20 (including shipping and handling)
Value: around $36 retail
In honor of The Walking Dead’s return to TV, this month’s Loot Crate theme was “Survive.” Inside, you got:
Total Value – $36 retail
The first thing I saw was the T-Shirt. Naturally, I assumed this had to be the box’s signature item – and honestly, I would’ve been utterly delighted if that was the case.
But nestled at the very bottom of the box I found a copy of the Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks. I can’t begin to express how impressed I was to find a book in the box. Heck, before shipping and handling, the book retails for only $1 less than an entire Loot Crate.
In addition to the book, they included an adorkable zombie greeting card.
The small stuff was also nicely themed. You usually get two stickers and two pieces of candy in each Loot Crate. This month, they opted for a couple of temporary tattoos, a heavyweight zombie hunter ID card, some nice 8-bit buttons, and a wonderfully themed piece of marshmallow eyeball candy.
Everything fit together perfectly. There was no question a real human being sat down and put some actual thought into crafting a damn fine zombie themed box for the shambling hordes of Walking Dead fans. That attention to detail combined with value for price keeps Loot Crate at the top of my geek subscription box pyramid.
Price: around $30 (including shipping and handling)
Value: around $64 retail
Newcomer Nerd Block came out with a strong first box. The sliding shoebox-like container itself is slick and well produced (also well designed for re-use, unlike Loot Crate’s boxes) while the actual contents were of a significantly higher caliber and quantity than I expected. Inside the box, I found:
$20 – The Dark Side Shirt
$12 – Apeture Sentry Turret
$9 – DC Universe Mystery Mini Batman Vinyl Figures
$8 – Spawn Mini Trading Figures Series 1
$7 – Adventure Time Puzzle Game
$6 – Marvel Deadpool Eraser Pencil Topper
$2 – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Sewer Coaster
Total Value: $64 retail
I certainly wasn’t expecting three decent quality figures in a single box. I love the Portal Sentry Turret. While I appreciate the other two comic related ones, both the DC Universe and Spawn figures felt a little dated as well as kind of random. I’d rather have three things that all tie together really well and will look great together on my bookcase or just one more recent collectable. Since this is their first box, I’ll give them some slack for wanting to throw a lot of things at us to see what kind of feedback they get.
My Zombie/Star Wars crossover t-shirt collection saw even more growth this month. Who knew this was a genre? Now, this allegedly retails for $5 more than Think Geek’s shirt, but to be honest, they’re both printed on the same extremely thin, lightweight cotton with similar printing quality. I can’t see a $5 value difference here.
As a side note, whether you go with Loot Crate or Nerd Block, order up one size of t-shirt. Both of them use brands that run exceedingly small and also shrink in the wash.
The small figures added to that random feeling. Without the admittedly awesome Star Wars/Zombie t-shirt and the Portal Turret, the rest of the box could have pulled off a Comics and Animation theme. I can’t complain too hard, because those two were my favorite items in the box.
They’re just getting started, so I expect to see more curation and care in the future.
Price: around $30 (including shipping and handling)
Value: less than $20
This Booty Bin’s theme was “Sci-Fi,” even though the printout inside was still emblazoned with the same generic lady swashbuckler leftover from their Steampunk edition.
Adding up the real value of a Booty Bin is problematic because all of the items inside obviously came from larger retail combo packs they broke down into smaller pieces. I’m sure Loot Crate and Nerd Block buy their items in bulk, but they leave them in shrink wrapped original packaging so you feel like you’re getting something brand new instead of shoving them into plastic ziplock bags or just leaving them open. In addition, everything in the box is horribly dated. If it’s still for sale at all, it’s on clearance. You sometimes get the feeling they fill their boxes from trips to the dollar store.
This Booty Bin included:
Total Value: about $19 retail
A Booty Bin costs just as much as a Nerd Block but delivers less than 1/3 of the value.
I’m sure their choice of action figure from the first Star Trek reboot movie was meant to soothe the feelings of those who didn’t like the misrepresentation of Khan, and not because they were so cheap they thought no one would notice.
Seriously? *sigh* I suppose this is an upgrade from their usual two pieces of random dollar store candy. Wait, no. I lie. At least the dollar store candy was vaguely edible.
You’re looking at the gem of the box here. No, not the single deck from their ground assault multi-pack – the stickers! They’re actually surprisingly nice.
The combo pack they took these figures from included enough parts for two people to play one complete game. On their own like this, they’re completely useless. It’s kind of insulting.
Winner: Loot Crate
Runner Up: Nerd Block
Don’t Bother: Booty Bin
It’s a close call, but for now, I’m sticking with Loot Crate. $20 a month and excellent themed curation give them the edge in both price and value.
That said, if you simply want more stuff in your monthly geek stocking, you won’t be disappointed with Nerd Block. I suspect they’re going to improve over time and will eventually turn into real competition for Loot Crate. A Nerd Block costs a little more while giving you a lot more, but a bunch of random items can’t quite compete with fewer, well selected ones.
As for Booty Bin, don’t waste your money. Seriously. If you have $30 burning a hole in your pocket, either invest in a Nerd Block or buy yourself a copy of both Wood for Sheep: The Unauthorized Settlers Cookbook and SteamDrunks: 101 Steampunk Cocktails and Mixed Drinks. You’ll have two great books and a little change left in your pocket.