Loot Crate February 2016 Review

Subscription boxes are all the rage these days. For the uninitiated, it’s a subscription service that sends out a themed mystery box monthly or bi-monthly with items valued greater than the cost paid by subscribers. For hoarding nerds (like myself), subscription boxes are a lot of fun. It’s like having a mini-Christmas once a month. Both of my kids get equally excited to see what the fabled box will bring. My son even worked his little ass off around the house to earn enough money for a couple of the more promising themes.

 

This surge in popularity means subscription boxes are practically a dime a dozen now. The various providers scramble to make their offering a standout among so many other options available to collectors. Loot Crate can easily be seen as the frontrunner with it’s wide variety of theme options for their monthly mystery offering. I’ve been a Looter for about a year now. Recently, though, I’ve become increasingly unfaithful thanks to the enticing options provided by Funko through Marvel Collector Corps, Star Wars Smuggler’s Bounty, and the upcoming DC Legion of Collectors. After feeling a bit burned several months I started getting a tad selective on which months I give money to the black box empire.

 

February’s theme was ‘DEAD’ which promised items from Deadpool and The Walking Dead. How could I NOT participate in this one? Well, after semi-obsessive refreshing of the FedEx tracking page, my crate arrived yesterday. Was it worth it? Did it earn my loyalty back for another month?

 

Most Looters should have received their crates by now, but in the event one sees this who hasn’t opened their box, here’s the obligatory spoiler warning!

 

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Loot Crate February 2016 Review

 

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Kicking things off, Loot Crate nailed it with the box art this month! They normally do a pretty good job with this part but this month is a definite standout. I love the red/black contrast with a happy zombie smiling to greet me. Every now and then, an old Loot Crate or Collector Corps box because permanent storage for my ample collectibles. This one will definitely house some precious items moving forward.

 

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It’s been awhile since Loot Crate had a shirt I liked enough to keep for myself rather than giving it to my son a sleep shirt! Deadpool is one of three Marvel Characters I eagerly read (Daredevil and Punisher being the others). Not to mention the movie which was a flippin’ delight. Even though I feel the “TACOS?!” should have been “CHIMICHANGAS?!”, it’s still great. Can’t wait to wear it over the weekend!

 

 

This is my favorite item by a long shot. Last year the Q-Fig Batman figure was pretty good and has retained a spot on my shelf to this day. (The style of Batman isn’t my favorite, but the overall presentation makes up for it.) Now they’ve definitely upped the quality with this Deadpool figure. The two different translucent sections (fire and smoke) make this a standout from most of the other figures I own. It also does a nice job capturing the trademark ridiculousness that is Deadpool. I’m actually glad I didn’t get the 1/10 X-Force variant because I find the standard color scheme much more appealing. If Loot Crate had a vinyl (Pop or otherwise) more often then it’s possible Funko wouldn’t have become as popular among the subscription crates (or not as quickly as they have, at least).

 

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If Loot Crate’s aim was to be unique, they nailed it here. This replica of the ear necklace Daryl wore earlier in The Walking Dead is pretty cool. It’s not just a replica, though, it’s made of soap! Wait…. soap? Sure, why the hell not. I applaud the creativity here but I don’t really have any desire to keep this long term. Collectible-wise, it doesn’t belong on any shelf. Plus…. it’s soap. Don’t take this as a negative – it’s still a hell of a lot better than some of the filler items Loot Crate used in 2015.

 

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This one didn’t do it for me… Don’t get me wrong – I am a longtime follower of McFarlane Toys. Spawn is an old favorite both in comic and toy form ever since I was waaayyy too young to read such material. McFarlane Toys was one of the first to consistently cram an approximate metric-shit-ton of detail into their figures. I was elated when they started producing building sets. I’ve personally built the Governor’s room set and the Daryl’s Motorcycle set as well as a few of the blind bag figures. Although their detail level is suitable for a McFarlane product, the sets/figures I’ve experienced are a total pain in the ass to build! The pieces are difficult to fit together if you can get them there at all. Perhaps I’m spoiled by a lifetime of LEGO love, but after building the McFarlane sets I found my fingertips and nerves a tad raw. Sadly, the figure included in this month’s Loot Crate didn’t stray from my prior experience. It’s oddly enlarged head made the whole thing sort of weird. Regardless of my feeling towards it, I’m sure there are many Looters out there who will love the inclusion of this item.

 

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My son is traditionally the one who gets to keep the Loot Crate pins but I might have to claim this one. It’s quite well done; definitely the most clever they’ve matched the pin with the theme. The mini-mag has never thrilled me but this month I liked the box-matching artwork. I didn’t feel the need to fight my daughter when she staked her claim to it.

 

In the end, the February Loot Crate theme of ‘DEAD’ was a pretty good one. Compared to the numerous flops from 2015, they got it right this time around. I’m glad they’ve listened to the masses by focusing more on quality rather than crap to fill a box. The Q-Pop vinyl figure and Deadpool shirt were winners with me; I’d spend more than the $20ish Loot Crate charges (for the whole thing) just to get these two items.

 

So did they earn another month of my loyalty? Ehh…. I’ll play it by ear. History has taught me that they follow a good crate with a ‘meh’ crate. This time last year I would have chanced a questionable theme just to see what I’d get without a second thought. With Funko’s many strong contenders on the horizon, I think I’ll decide Loot Crate on a month-to-month basis.

 

My rating of Loot Crate’s February 2016 ‘DEAD’ box is 7 out of 10.

 

7 out of 10

BATMAN: EUROPA by Brian Azzarello

I wish there were more solid ‘one off’ comic story lines currently in production. With the continuous abundance of attention-worthy ongoing story arcs, it’s very easy to fall behind. Once you’re behind in one of those story arcs, or late in starting one, you’re almost better off waiting for the trade paper volume to be released. BATMAN EUROPA is one of those rare one offs that also happened to have an enormous amount of anticipation built up thanks to its long gestation. So… was the wait worth it? (spoilers below)

 

BATMAN: EUROPA written by Brian Azzarello

 

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Batman and Joker are infected with a unique virus called ‘Colossus’ which was specifically created to attack the two. The only way they can survive is to follow the trail of its creation all the way to an unknown villain out to kill both characters. Clues take them to the oldest cities Europe has to offer. EUROPA is interesting because each of the four issues features a different artist like Batman superstar Jim Lee. Having different artists isn’t anything new for comics, however, in this case every issue has a drastically different style which creates a memorable experience. The third issue is the only one that was abstract enough to seem out of place. Unfortunately, the story lacked the strength that could have taken those art styles to a magnificent level. The fact that it took place in Europe is sadly inconsequential; it could have happened pretty much anywhere without any solid reason for the setting other than an excuse to shake up the style in scenery.

 

I did have a “whaaaat!!” moment when Bane was revealed to be the central antagonist. Bane, after all, is a brilliant tactician with the maniacal drive and chemical accessibility to successfully pull off this plot. Even though it made sense (from knowing the character), I followed the surprise with a “what??” moment because of the total lack of clues to Bane’s involvement prior to the final issue. The climax would have been a tad more… climactic… if readers were given proper breadcrumbs to follow. This story was clearly meant to further explore the depths of the Batman/Joker dynamic more than give a rounded experience. I suppose it accomplished that purpose in some ways.

 

The revelation that the way to cure Colossus was in each other’s blood was interesting. Then the realization that it only took ingesting a small amount of their infected counterpart’s blood made it a tad odd… and uncomfortably unsanitary. My favorite part actually came from this weird development – it was a great scene having Batman truly consider letting himself die knowing it meant Joker would also die. That great moment was somewhat lessened by Joker’s cheap shot to get the cure.

 

All in all, EUROPA is worth a read for fans of the Bat. Getting a lackluster finale after four months of buildup doesn’t detract from the truly impressive visuals. Look for it in trade paper; I’m sure it will be far more impressive as a collected edition.

 

My rating of BATMAN: EUROPA is 6.5 out of 10.

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LEGO Star Wars Kylo Ren

 

Everything is awesome when it comes to LEGO’s brick by brick plot to take over the world. It’s easy to be a vocal supporter of these blocky overlords when they continue to innovate and captivate through releases like the Star Wars Buildable Figure lines. I loved every single piece of the General Grievous set that came out with the first wave. It’s no surprise that Kylo Ren drew my attention when the the second wave arrived!

 

LEGO Star Wars Kylo Ren 75117 (Quick Review)

 

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This was a much quicker build than General Grievous because Kylo Ren is obviously a smaller statured character than the menacing robot. LEGO did a good job compensating for the smaller piece count with some clever added functions for increase playability. My builds don’t get much play time on a display shelf, but that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the addition of playtime flexibility. One item that was particularly well executed is the use of fabric cloak/cape sections. If this hadn’t been done correctly (like it was) then it could have come off as too rigid or robotic looking.

 

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Kylo’s head piece is very well molded. It would have been neat to have some sort of removable section instead of one pre-built piece, however, the detail makes it an incredibly accurate depiction of the short-tempered villain. Having it be anything other than the one solid piece probably would have made it look disproportionate so it was a good move. 

 

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The lightsaber is well executed in terms of proportions. My main complaint is that it should have some kind of rough texture to properly allude to the uniquely unstable nature. If they’d added this detail it would have been absolutely perfect.

 

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All in all, this is a hell of a set. I’m more eager now than ever to get the remaining Buildable figures. My daughter has repeatedly asked for the Captain Phasma as a birthday present later this month. Once she builds that, I predict Kylo will have a temper tantrum along with the others in some sorely deserved playtime.

 

My rating of the LEGO Kylo Ren Buildable Figure is 9 out of 10.

 

9 out of 10