Nerd Box Review Trifecta: Loot Crate vs Nerd Block vs Booty Bin

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.

Geek Subscription Box Comparison: Loot Crate vs Booty Bin vs Nerd Block

Loot Crate

Price: around $20 (including shipping and handling)
Value: around $36 retail
Curation: Excellent

Loot Crate October Box: Survive

In honor of The Walking Dead’s return to TV, this month’s Loot Crate theme was “Survive.” Inside, you got:

$15 – GraphicLab Ewoking Dead T-Shirt
$12 – The Zombie Survival Guide
$4 – Love Your Guts Card
$5 – Misc Zombie themed mini buttons, temporary tattoos, and a piece of candy

Total Value – $36 retail

Loot Crate October Box: Survive with Ewoking Dead T-Shirt

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.

Loot Crate October Box: Survive Book and Card

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.

Loot Crate October Box: Survive Small Stuff

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.

Nerd Block

Price: around $30 (including shipping and handling)
Value: around $64 retail
Curation: Minimal

Nerd Block October Geek Subscription Box

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

Nerd Block October Geek Subscription Box

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.

Nerd Block October Geek Subscription Box

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.

Nerd Block October Geek Subscription Box

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.

Booty Bin

Price: around $30 (including shipping and handling)
Value: less than $20
Curation: Moderate

Booty Bin Subscription Box

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:

$8 – Playmates Spock Action Figure
$4 – StarWars Pocketmodel Game Pack
$3 – MechWarrior Age of Destruction Figures
$2.50 – Astronaut Ice Cream
$1.50-  Firefly and Halo Stickers

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.

Booty Bin Subscription Box

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.

Booty Bin Subscription Box

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.

Booty Bin Subscription Box

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.

Booty Bin Subscription Box

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.

Final Verdict

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.

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  • Thanks for the great review! I just found out about Nerd Block as of yesterday, and I don’t even remember why… hmm. Anyway, I’ve been subscribed to Loot Crate since July (I bought the June crate later just so I could get the awesome 8-bit sunglasses, and the Dead Pool T-shirt > EEK)! I will purchase the January Block just to see how I like it. I bought the same October Bin you have, and was just as underwhelmed by it as you all are. I felt as if I were robbed! I will probably never purchase another Booty Bin. I mean, they might pick their game up, but I think they had their chance and now Nerd Block has just stepped all over them. Harsh words, but a true statement none the less. I’ll definitely be keeping up with these companies as the months and years roll by!

  • I read this after i bought Loot Crate for 3 i feel pleased to know i picked right. Loot Crate seemed more eye catching to me in that department and what you showed it seems Loot crate takes good care and on they process the packaging and theme ideas. Can’t wait to find out what i get!

  • We are launching a website over here in Australia with a similar concept! Instead of receiving what you are given you can purchase one of 5 categories: Kids (Disney/Cartoons), Music, Sports, Games or TV/Movies. Each month the theme will be different for each category and you can buy 1 or more each month. The idea is to get you more products to you door at a reasonable price. Look out for us in late March!

  • Thanks for taking the time to take photos and subscribe to all these guys. It’ll be interesting to see who else enters this new market. Still wish the pricing for Canada was a bit more decent though, but I understand the cost of shipping her is murderous.

  • The problem with Loot Crate is not the contents but the way the interact with customers. They were very quick to take my money when I first signed up and then rather than sending a crate, waited and then took money again!!!! Then I wanted them to refund the second payment taken sand they cancelled the subscription, which was not what I asked for. I’m happy to pay ahead, but not twice. They really don’t seem to want help. Never again!

  • I just ordered the Nerd Block for my daughter — the Junior Girls one. I wish I would have read the fine print or done further research as to where the items are shipped from. Our first order shipped on the 16th of May but isn’t expected to be delivered until the 25th! It says on the Web site shipping to the USA has an expected time of 4-6 business days — well, when they ship out on a Friday, tack on two more shipping days for the weekend, and it wraps around the NEXT weekend as well! So that’s 10 days total transit. 🙁

  • I decided to order the May Loot Crate since it had Minecraft as part of theme, and I really expected more from it. For the month of May, they had “curators” from YouTube, so over half of the items were taken up by stickers or tattoos with the “curator” logos (I didn’t even know who any of them were), which was not what I expected at all, after looking at past crates that were listed on the site. From what I’ve seen, they also haven’t had very many items that have interested me. With them it seems hit or miss, depending on what you’re into.

    I have been interested in Nerd Block quite a bit, though. It seems that they would have more items that I’d be interested in, especially since they’ve announced the Horror Block. I’m actually going to be signing up to receive that instead of the regular Nerd Block, since I love horror so much. But I might also sign up for the regular Nerd Block in the future. It depends on how much I like the Horror Block.

    As far as Booty Bin goes, I’ve never heard of them. I’ll most likely check out the website, but I’m definitely giving Nerd Block a shot before any other boxes.

    • I checked out the Booty Bin website and it gave me the same feeling that reading this article did. =/

      “With them it seems hit or miss, depending on what you’re into”
      This is why I haven’t yet signed up for Loot Crate. I know one month it was Attack on Titan themed so for someone like me who isn’t into that, I feel like I would have wasted $20+ for stuff I would just give away to friends.
      I think I’m going to check out Nerd Block instead.

  • Giving Nerd Block a chance since the last two loot crates I got were either missing items or just plain bad (October crate and villains crate just fyi)

  • Reblogged this on Knights of the Coffee Table and commented:
    My husband has been getting Loot Crate for over 6 months now and we’ve usually been pretty excited about the contents of each box. I recently came across the Nerd Block while scrolling through a handful of the Cosplay pages I follow and noticed a few of them started taking up this brand. Naturally anything that includes a secret box of nerdy things I would be interested and even more so that a nice chunk of the up-there Cosplayers are as well. After looking through a few reviews and seeing the contents of a couple month’s worth of Nerd Blocks, I may decide to grab this one. I’ve been kind of wanting a Loot Crate equivalent after seeing all of the cool stuff Kasidey gets but I may hold out for a little longer. I may find another exciting box-o-stuffs somewhere else but for now I’m content with just watching the joy on Kas’ face when he receives his favored Loot Crate.

  • I’m glad i stumbled upon this post. Great review, well written

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