Out of the Package is a CBU column by Joe Gardner, in which he takes us into the toy aisle to discover the best in geek culture collectibles.
Subscription boxes. Chances are, you’ve heard of them. Whether it’s books, meals, fashion, arts & crafts, makeup, pets, video games, comics, toys, or just general geekery, there are a plethora of subscription boxes to choose from. I’ve neither the time nor the interest to list even a portion of those available, so I will just cover some of the boxes my family and I have sampled. If you’d like to take a gander at what you can find, check out a site I visit on occasion, http://boxes.mysubscriptionaddiction.com/. They seem to have a comprehensive list.
I only have experience with three of the geek-focused subscription box services: Nerd Block, Loot Crate and Funko. And all three, at one time or another, have offered several variations on their boxes. Typically, each service will announce a theme for the upcoming box, give hints as to what might be included, and sometimes reveal a spoiler on one or more items included to entice those would-be subscribers. I don’t mind these spoilers, as I’ve been swayed a few times because of said spoilers. You generally have a few payment options, such as monthly, partial year, to full year, plus shipping and normally with slight discount for the longer subscriptions. I stick with monthly plans. This allows me to suspend for a box that might not interest me. That being said, let’s review my experiences.
I can only recall purchasing two separate boxes from Nerd Block. One of the core Nerd Blocks, in which I received an Unmasked Deadpool Funko POP, and one of their Arcade Blocks, which was a Zelda theme that my daughter was excited for. They also offered a Horror Block, a Comic Block, and Jr Blocks for boys or girls. Nerd Block is based in Canada, so shipping was a tad higher than the other services. Upon doing research for this column, I discovered that Nerd Block has suspended all subscriptions and, per their Facebook page, are looking to restructure their subscription service. Further research revealed that Nerd Block and parent company, Fan Blocks, have filed for bankruptcy, owing Diamond Comic Distributors and Funko nearly $250k each, among others. You can read more here.
My first foray into sub boxes was with Loot Crate, about three years ago. I’d seen ads for Loot Crate and had some leftover cash from my 40th birthday, so I took a shot at subscribing. This was still early in the sub box fad, so I had no spoilers as to what would be arriving in my box. All I had was a theme, Heroes, I believe it was, the rest was a surprise. I remember receiving a sweet Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles mini vinyl figure of Leonardo (the best one) and a Loot Crate exclusive Groot POP, with a glow in the dark hand. Not bad for my first box. I kept my subscription with Loot Crate for just over a year. Since then I have also sampled some of their other offerings. Such as the Loot Crate DX (with deluxe, pricier items), Loot Anime, and Loot Gaming boxes. I have acquired some memorable items from these boxes, such as a copy of Ready Player One (which I loaned to someone who never returned it, and I no longer hear from), a diecast Iron Man figure, various t-shirts that no longer fit, and every one of QMx Q-figs that I own. Loot Crate has grown their line of boxes substantially, ranging from the above mention gaming and anime to pets and geeky clothing and several fandom specific boxes. And according to the Reddit thread I follow, this expansion is also the cause for Loot Crate’s rampant lateness, poor customer service and imminent downfall. They no longer offer Funko exclusives either, as Funko is now in the game of subscriptions. Time will tell if Loot Crate follows Nerd Block down the drain.
As always seems to be the case with me, it all comes back to Funko. Funko currently offers 4 different subscriptions from Marvel (Collector Corps), DC (Legion of Collectors), Star Wars (Smuggler’s Bounty), and Disney (Treasures). Each box runs on a bi-monthly schedule, each staggered from one another. For example, the Marvel one closed on August 15th, the DC one just closed on September 1st, and the Star Wars one will close on September 15th. I do not subscribe to the Disney box, nor is there a countdown timer on the website, so I’m not sure the exact schedule on this box. You can click here to get more info on signing up. There is always at least one, 100% exclusive vinyl figure in each of these boxes. And in the Marvel, DC, and Star Wars boxes, you will find a patch and pin, of which I have quite the collection. I’ve been a steady subscriber to one or more of these since Funko started with Marvel Collector Corps a little over two years ago, although I’m just recently coming off a short hiatus on the subs.
In the last year or so, Funko has begun the habit of revealing at least one item in each box about halfway through the sub cycle. For special cases, they will announce the exclusive at the beginning, as they did for their Empire Strikes Back and 40th Anniversary Star Wars boxes, which included the Deluxe POPS of Han Solo on Tauntaun and Luke Skywalker in the Landspeeder. Again, I don’t mind this tactic, as this has swayed me one way or the other. Heck, seeing [REDACTED] was going to be in the DC Most Wanted convinced me to sign back up. Another habit of Funko is to release an unboxing video the day after said box closes. And being the spoiler hound that I am, I always know what I’m getting before it arrives. Upcoming themes for Funko are Jedi (Star Wars), Thor: Ragnarok (Marvel), Justice League (DC) and Haunted Forest (Disney).
Over the weekend, we visited Toy Buzz and Fizz, located inside Gizmo’s Galleria in Brownsburg, Indiana. A few friends recommended the place, so we decided to check it out. They had a decent selection of Funko POPS along with some vintage toys, most of which was decently priced. Of note were loose G.I. Joe figures for around $4 each.
Also, there are some new Funko items that caught my eye this week. First is the New York Comic Con exclusive Lyanna Mormont POP. If you’re up to date on Game of Thrones, you are probably familiar with this little badass head of House Mormont. Also Game of Thrones-related is the POP Ride of the Night King atop an undead Viserion. And if I just spoiled the season finale of GoT for you . . . it’s been a week! Go watch it! Finally, is the Ghost Rider POP Ride. I just think it looks sweet.
I received the tracking e-mail for my DC Most Wanted box saying I should have it by the end of the week. My next column will likely be an un-boxing, I just haven’t decided if I want to do a video or not.
Until next time, you’ll find me in the toy aisle.
Game of Thrones and Ghost Rider pictures were taken from www.funko.com.