Friday, April 8, 2016

What's In the Box?!?: March Nerd Block and Firefly Cargo Crate

Despite the threat of Superman vs Batman merchandise in this month's Nerd Block, that blockbuster-to-be actually formed a small percentage of the March content.

As usual, Nerd Block does not vary their packaging one iota. That's fine; you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, or a subscription box by its box. But it would be kind of nice to see some variation from time to time.

As soon as I opened it, it was clear what the big items were going to be.

Game of Thrones is a series I enjoy watching, although when I actually think about it, there are very few characters I actually care about. If I had to make a list, Grey Worm would probably be towards the bottom. He's a character who, to my mind, is distinguished from all the other hundreds of soldier characters we see by the fact that he has a name. So getting a Funko Pop of him doesn't particularly excite me. But that's the thing about subscription boxes, as I've mentioned before: they're a crap shoot.

I'm much more excited about the exclusive ShirtPunch Marvel Daredevil t-shirt this month. I really like Daredevil, both the comic and the Netflix TV show, and this shirt is a really nice design.

The other Game of Thrones item this month is a Funko mini mystery figure. Fortunately, this time, I got a little Dire Wolf. Not only do I like those animals just fine on the show--probably eve more than I do the humans--but this mini version is adorable. 

Another exclusive item this month is an autographed picture of Martin Kove from Karate Kid, and countless direct-to-video action movies. As a child of the 70s and 80s, this is fantastic!

This month's biggest "whatever" item for me is the Arrested Development Tobias Dress-Up Magnets. Arrested Development is one of those shows that I believe I am supposed to be crazy about, but I have never seen a single episode. So this really means nothing to me. (Again: crap shoot.)

Finally, the one Superman vs Batman item I received was a wall plaque. While it's got the characters that are featured on the movie on it, it isn't specifically depicting anything from the movie, as far as I can tell. So, instead of it being a piece of merchandise from a movie that doesn't particularly appeal to me, it's a nice picture of some of my favorite comic book characters. I appreciate that.

And, of course, there's a card explaining all the items.

Overall, this may not be my favorite Nerd Block of all time. But it came with a really nice T-shirt, a cute Dire Wolf mini figure, a nice superhero wall plaque, and Martin Kove's autograph.

Next month's Nerd Block is curated by Weird Al, so that should be fun. (Although it also includes items from Family Guy and Archer, two more shows I don't watch. Still, Weird Al!)

We also received the first in a new subscription from LootCrate: the Firefly Cargo Crate. Obviously, this is a subscription box designed to appeal solely to fans of the short-lived Joss Whedon-created science fiction TV series, Firefly, and its follow-up movie, Serenity. Fortunately, my wife and I are big Firefly fans, and as soon as subscriptions were available, I signed her up for a subscription.

The box is nicely designed, looking like an actual cargo crate from the show. Clearly, the postal service took the show’s setting of a run-down, dirty, lived in universe to heart, as you can see by the condition the box arrived in. Damage to the box aside, it’s a cool design, and the “Exported from Persephone” sticker was a really nice touch.

The box came packaged with a nice booklet, which not only details the contents, but also features some nifty articles. This month’s theme is Kaylee, so she is featured on the cover. There is also a new interview with Jewel Staite, who played Kaylee on the show. There’s a page of photos drawn from social media, and a “How to Speak Mandarin page.” The magazine also includes an interview with Maya Dinerstein, a Kaylee cosplayer who is a dead ringer for Jewel Staite. Ordinarily, we just toss out or recycle the insert cards and booklets that come with our sub boxes, but this is so nice, it may be a keeper.

All the contents of this box are exclusive, so if you are a Firefly collector, there is already value to this box. 

There’s a Kaylee Little Damn Heroes Mini Master, which is maybe 5 inches tall and so charming. The sculpt on the face looks more like Kaylee than it does Jewel Staite, possibly for licensing reasons, but even if it’s not a photorealistic sculpture a la Hot Toys, the pose and expression captures the character. And it’s pretty detailed, right down to the teddy bear patch on her knee.

Speaking of teddy bears, there’s also a teddy bear wearing Kaylee’s standard mechanic’s jump suit and flowered shirt. It even has a Kaylee patch on the knee! So adorable!

When my wife saw the “Exported from Persephone” label on the box, she proclaimed that she was going to cut if off and reuse it. Fortunately, that wasn’t necessary, since the box came with another copy of the sticker, ready to be used.

The idea of a blind box toy inside a subscription box—essentially a big blind box on its own—makes me smile because of the redundancy. But blind boxes are a hit, so the Cargo Crate includes one from Q-Bit. Apparently, the options were either Jayne Cobb or Simon Tam. We got Simon, which is appropriate. Now Kaylee won’t be lonely.

The box also included a Everything’s Shiny pin, styled to look a bit like Kaylee’s trademark parasol. 

Speaking of her parasol, we also got a 5-pack of little paper parasols for drinks, also styled to look like hers.

One particularly cool item—in a box full of cool items—is the pair of Firefly concept art mini-prints, showcasing early designs for the Reaver ships. They are nicely reproduced, and interesting to look at. If they are going to include something like this every month, we will probably need to get some sort of album or something to keep them in.

Finally, we received a pair of Firefly Board Game Cards, which go with the Firefly game, which we neither own nor play. The art is nice, but I honestly can’t say much else about them.

I should also mention that my wife also received an exclusive founding member Firefly Cargo Crate pin, in the shape of Serenity, a few weeks ago. I forgot to take a picture of that.

Overall, as a couple of Firefly fans, my wife and I thought this was a pretty good box, and look forward to the next one (featuring Jayne). If nothing else, we should get a nice complete set of Firefly figurines, and plenty of other cool stuff. Obviously, this box has a much more specific appeal than something like Nerd Block, or even the Marvel Collectors Corps. However, if you enjoy Firefly as much as we do, it’s worth taking a look.

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