Geek Subscription Boxes: A Review of Loot Crate and Nerd Block

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If the Facebook ads are any indication, subscription box services are steadily growing in popularity. Everything from collections of health food to make-up can find its way through the mail to your front door. What usually makes a subscription box so much fun is not knowing what’s going to be in the box until you open it. It’s mystery shopping with birthday surprise appeal which led me to sign up for several geek subscription box services.

On the eve of receiving my next themed box of geeky goodies–Star Wars, no less–I realize I may have a problem. My original goal had been to subscribe for a couple of months to Loot Crate and Nerd Block, and check out the geeky collectibles and wearables each company had to offer. One small issue cropped up early on when I didn’t want to share my geeky boxes of awesomeness with my children—so I subscribed to a box (shared) for them, too. I enjoy watching their excitement just as much as I enjoy cracking into my box each month. However, that’s almost a total of nine boxes of collectibles and geek wear between us. My problem is that I have to stop, even if I don’t want to. One household can only hold so much geek stuff.

With such a large amount of goodies obtained over the past few months, I feel qualified to share my thoughts on the good, the bad, and the useless for each. Not to mention, share with you my all-time favorite piece of geek. I broke my evaluation down by “practical use” and price.

Practical Use

Practical use may not be important to some, after all we are talking about collectibles, but I prefer to be able to do more than showcase my geeky items on a shelf or keep them put away in a drawer never to be seen again. For this review, I’m going to talk about the overall products instead of giving an inventory of each item. There are plenty of YouTubers who have taken on the task of opening their boxes and describing each item in detail. I’ll leave the individual visuals to them.

Comics in Loot Crate and Nerd BlockComics and books

I’m always on the look out for new comics to try, so I appreciate that I’ve yet to get a comic from the boxes that I already own. The batch from the past few months included Orphan Black #1, Minions #1, Mad Max Fury Road #1, Bravest Warriors #1, and a special edition MAD magazine. The kid boxes have included a book from the guy who hosts Survivor and a cute notebook complete with drumstick pencils. The comics are a strength for both Loot Crate and Nerd Block, but I worry they rely too heavily on comics from popular television or movies. If I were to continue, I wouldn’t mind seeing some comics from smaller presses.

Figurines

My bookshelves are made for figurines, and I don’t think either of the subscription services include enough figurines. This is my plea to Loot Crate and Nerd Block—more figurines! Especially if they are going to be from the Buffy television series.

figurines 2

Don’t worry, Leo has Spike under control.

All about that t-shirt

I like t-shirts. Mostly, I like t-shirts that fit. I’m sure you do, too. The female large t-shirts from Loot Crate do not fit me. They are sitting sad and lonely in my closet. It probably has something to do with my D-sized breasts. The shirts are also made from pretty thin cotton material. When I ordered  Nerd Block, I chose male large t-shirts. I am much more comfortable, although I do lose the fitted women’s look. The t-shirts are thick cotton and didn’t shrink after I washed them. Since I haven’t worn the Loot Crate shirts for more than a try on, I’ve yet to test their shrink resistance.

tshirts loot crate and nerd block

James Bond is sad I can’t fit comfortably into my Power Rangers t-shirt.

The Nerd Block Jr. does not come with t-shirts, but the girl box did come with a Lego-themed hat.

Miscellaneous geekery

If only I could rock a bow-tie and plastic crown.

Miscellaneous collectibles

I don’t know how companies pitch their items to be included in the subscription boxes, but I imagine the box editors sometimes close their eyes, point, and say sure. The more useful items received are the Game of Thrones thumb drive, Marvel shoestrings, Marvel ice cube tray, and The Princess Bride playing cards. Items I will never use include the bow tie, inflatable crown, and the Ghostbusters wallet. These are the items that I worry about ending up in a drawer because it’d be impossible to display them on a shelf. (See note above about more figurines.)

Prices

On each of the websites, the prices don’t look too unpleasant, but once you add in shipping and handling fees for each shipment, you may start picking apart the cost versus the payoff like I do below.

Loot Crate: $57.75 for the recurring three months plan with shipping, which comes out to $19.25 a box. Not every item is equal in worth, but with an average of seven items per box, you do get the feeling you’ve just won a geek loot lottery. With the subscription comes a Loot Crate magazine with special features like interviews.

Nerd Block Classic: $77.07 is the total plus shipping for the three month subscription. That’s $25.69 per box. On the website, Nerd Block boasts each box includes items totaling $60. That may be true, but after getting the items from Loot Crate first, I feel a little shortchanged. There is only an average of five items per box.

Nerd Block Jr: $55.77 for a three month subscription with shipping. That’s $18.59 per box. My kids have devoured almost every item delivered. The only thing left untouched is the middle grade book written by the host of Survivor. It was too old for my son and too young for my daughter. I haven’t been able to keep up with the exact amount of items in the Jr. box. As soon as my kids rip into it, they take off with the items. Probably with a subconscious fear I may take something from them for my own collection.

There are other subscription options for each company ranging from one month to one year. Nerd Block also has different themed subscriptions to choose from, such as Horror Block, Arcade Block, and Comic Block.

So, who has the better box?

If you are purely practical, Nerd Block Jr. is the best box because almost all the items will be used in play. My issue with Nerd Block Jr. is that I must choose boy vs girl. After the first two boy boxes, I switched it over to girl see the difference. About the same amount of stuff is played with from each box.

If you want the most items for your money, go with Loot Crate. Just make sure you have the shelf space and realize some of the collectables will collect dust.

But if you’re like me, and the t-shirt really seals the deal, go Nerd Block.

However, if you want to pick and choose the exclusive items only, you can always just wait for the month’s shipment to land in everyone else’s mailbox, then visit eBay with keywords for either company name and the word “exclusive.”

I’ve already unsubscribed from each of the services and the boxes coming in the next few days should be my last. While I enjoy the thrill of the mystery box each month, I’d rather save the money and buy comics. In fact, if I were to sign up for another subscription it would be the Comic Block from Nerd Block due to the box containing a selection of comics and a t-shirt.

Lastly, I promised to share my all-time favorite piece of geek, and here it is:

Plush Slimer and Ghost Trap Lunch Box

Plush Slimer and Ghost Trap Lunch Box

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About Author

Contributor for WWAC, mother of 2 mini-geeks, writer, and girl geek. Dreams of having enough time to write Veronica Mars fanfiction. @melindabpierce

8 Comments

  1. I found with Loot Crate’s women’s shirts that because they don’t manufacture them, they are at the mercy of the supplier’s sizing. For example, I got the Voltron Blueprint in an XL, and it fits quite comfortably. The Red D&D shirt, however, was a 2XL and actually feels more snug than the Voltron one. This isn’t something Loot Crate has any control over, unfortunately, as they are just distributing, not manufacturing the shirts. To be safe, I just always order the 2XL. I’m not a fan of wearing mens shirts anymore either. I’m pear-shaped and quite short, so I need that lady-fitting to keep any sort of waist on me.

    I’m usually pleased with Loot Crate, but I get a lemon now and then. I wasn’t happy with the Heroes 2 crate, for example. Just…lots of Batman. Their mantra seems to be “when in doubt, use Batman or the Joker” in all the crates where they can apply. :/

    • Good point about the shirts 🙂 The Mix-tape Nerd Block last month was one of the big reasons I cancelled because it was so meh, but after I’d written this up I got the Star Wars one and it was filled with awesome. I’d seriously love to sit in on the meetings where they decide what to put in.

  2. THANK YOU! I was wondering about these things, and whether or not they were really worth the hype. I had been thinking about getting something like this for my husband for bday or xmas (the gift that keeps giving), because I’d seen a lot of folks really rave about it, but this was the first truly comprehensive review I’ve seen. Thankyouthankyouthankyou.

  3. These are so tempting but of all the geeky things that I don’t need that I order, I have managed to convince myself that a subscription to any of these is not a good use of my responsible adult time and money. Sigh.

    My friend did gift me a Loot Crate for Christmas though, which was really sweet. Plus sometimes another friend who does have a subscription will send me any extra goodies, including Funko Pop! figures for my collection.

    • Melinda Pierce on

      It was Nerdblock Class August 2015 and I see the t-shirt has already hit e-bay 🙂 I wear mine all the time and my littlest wears a slimer shirt from Old Navy. We like to match our fandoms when possible. Good luck finding one!

  4. Thank you for a great review! I was looking for some comparison notes on subscription boxes and found yours to be the most informative so far. My wife and I subscribe to Lootcrate, Nerd Block Classic, Sci-Fi Block, Comic Block and Star Wars Smugglers Bounty. To say the least, we had to add our subscriptions to our monthly budget cause we had so many it was getting crazy. However we have enjoyed them and they’re a great hobby for the two of us to share and open together. Like you we’re avid comic book collectors and love the unique collection we get from the Comic Block every month. It offers a great variety of new 1st issues to check out. Undoubtedly the Smugglers Bounty has turned in to our recent favorite. It’s sponsored by Funko and thus far has included some awesome Star Wars collectibles. Again, thank you for the great review and thank you for being a cool comic mom! The world needs more of you!