Subscription boxes are all the rage these days. No matter what you’re into, you can order a box to arrive at your house each month filled with beauty supplies, wine, or books. If you’re interested in getting a monthly dose of geeky goodies, you have multiple options.
With so many choices, it can be hard to know how to pick the right box—and if it’s worth your money. We decided to put three different boxes to the test, choosing three of the most popular options: Loot Crate, Nerd Block, and 1Up Box. We ordered one month of each and examined the contents to see how they measure up.
Here’s what we found out.
When people talk about geeky subscription boxes, Loot Crate is often at the top of the list, so I was looking forward to trying it out. February’s box had the theme “Play,” and it came to the total price of $19.37. The company did a good job sending me email updates on the processing and shipping, as did the other companies. They all arrived within the time specified, with Loot Crate arriving in its signature black box.
Most of the items were visible upon opening the box. They all appeared to have arrived in good condition. The only item that showed some wear was the book, which had a slightly bent cover.
I was happy to see a book included with the items and think Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One was an excellent choice for the month’s theme. So were a Looter edition of the Superfight card game and a Loot Crate version of the Rock-Paper-Scissors Dice game. Both are Loot Crate exclusives.
The dice can also be used for Loot Crate’s first original board game, the “Crate Packing Simulator,” the goal of which is to collect all five items for your crate. The game can be played by unfolding the box itself. The game pieces came in the Loot Crate magazine included with the box. Using the box for the game is a great idea and a perfect way to get people to keep the box around, since otherwise it would be pretty pointless to have unless you use it to store your items.
To help take your play into the virtual world, Loot Crate also included an exclusive code for Firefly Online. Firefly Online is a role-playing MMO expected to be released this spring. The code will unlock a premium ship called the “Overlord” transport that will only be available to Loot Crate subscribers.
Two other fun items to play with in the box were a HEXBUG and a DIY Munny Vinyl. The HEXBUG I received was the original version. Described as a “high-speed robotic creature that reacts to touch,” it worked really well right out of the packaging. It moved quickly across the floor and reacted to anything it bumped into, continuing in its journey.
The Munny looked like many of the vinyl figures I’ve seen and came with three wipe-off color markers. The blue and red markers are pretty faint on the figure, which was disappointing, but they wiped off easily and left no trace. Plus you don’t have to use the markers on it, so if you want a more permanent creation and are more artistic than me, you can use paint or permanent marker to create a Munny masterpiece.
The final item in the box was a “Waka-Waka” Pac-Man poster by artist Manny Peters. It displays an Atari cartridge blueprint design that any gamer would love to have hang on their wall.
The items in the Loot Crate box offered a wide variety of options that fit with the “Play” theme. Some were more useful than others, but they all were fun to explore.
The next box I tested was Nerd Block. Nerd Block offers a few different types of boxes that you can choose from, from arcade to horror. I chose the Nerd Block classic, which is described as “comic-con in a box, plus a shirt, monthly!” This way I knew I’d be receiving a general mix of nerdy items, but there would still be a monthly theme. The February theme was “Exclusives” and came to a total price of $29.49, making it the most expensive box of the three we tried.
Though expensive, the price fit the box. It was the biggest box I received. The way the contents were laid out it was easy to see most of what was inside, like Loot Crate, but was slightly more fun to unpack. I was left wondering what could be hidden underneath the shirt and other visible items, and was pleasantly surprised and excited to discover something underneath—a comic book. Everything in this box came in excellent condition.
The first items I checked out were the exclusive series one Nerd Play cosplay training cards. The cards are part of a partnership between Nerd Block and various cosplayers including well-known names like Yaya Han and Chaka Cumberbatch. I received two decks of Series One cards in my box. There are 144 cards available to collect, 12 exclusive cosplayers featured, rare foil cards that can be found, and a checklist available online to keep track of the cards you find. Each of the packs came with 10 cards. On the back of each card are stats for the cosplayer including their height, city and state, how long they’ve been cosplaying, where they can be found on social media, and more.
The cards will be fun for anyone interested in cosplay, though I did receive six of the same cards between the two packs. Still, I got to see some classic cosplayers and learn about some new ones.
The shirt this month featured a Flash theme. When I put in sizing for these boxes, I always go with a ladies medium. I received the right size and upon trying it on, it was on the small side and a little stiff. It seemed to stretch and become more comfortable as I wore it. It was a cute tee I could see myself wearing any time.
To test the shirt’s quality, I put it through the wash twice. The shirt held up well and didn’t shrink at all. It was nice to see that I was getting a quality shirt in the box.
The last two items will give you plenty to do at your desk. I received two exclusive Cliccors that according to Nerd Block “are making their red-carpet debut in this month’s Block, and it’s their first time ever on the market!” They are definitely fun to twist, shape, and mess around with, though beyond that they’re really just desk decorations.
The drum notepad, on the other hand, is a rather useful desk decoration. I go through a lot of notepads when I work, so this is a fun find for me. The pencil erasers look like drumsticks and can be stored by fitting them into holes on the pad. Plus it’s a thick pad, so it will actually last a decent amount of time.
Looking at Nerd Block, I really enjoyed the variety of items here. I liked that the comic book was a surprise hidden in the box, and I could see myself using a few of these items often. It was a great mix.
The final box I tested was 1Up Box, which was significantly smaller than the other two, but only slightly cheaper than Loot Crate at $18.92. The month’s theme was “Apocalypse,” so I was prepared for a lot of zombie products. While there were quite a few, there were some other interesting items that surprised me.
There were more smaller items included in this box than the others, other than the usual themed pin for the month. It came with a Legend of Zelda sticker, a Zombie Strike grenade-shaped stress ball, and a zombie anti-virus hand sanitizer. There were three colors you could get the sanitizer in: black, red and green. Mine was black and worked well. Since I use hand sanitizer, the product will be useful to me and easy to carry around. The other items, while cool, will most likely just find a place on my desk for awhile.
One of the really fun items in this box was the Walking Dead windup toy. You could get one of seven characters. I was very happy to get Michonne and to discover that the toy worked well right out of the box.
Another interesting product was the Super Mario mushroom candy container. You could get one of two types of Nintendo mushroom candies in the box. I received the red “+100 HP” version, which had cherry candy inside that was also shaped like the signature mushrooms. It was definitely a fun treat to find.
This box also contained a shirt, this one with a fun Kirby-zombie design. I also received this shirt in the correct size, a medium, and despite the neck being a little tight when trying it on at first, it otherwise fit well. The material felt much softer and nicer than the Nerd Block shirt too.
This shirt also stood up to my washing test. It didn’t shrink or otherwise change after I put it through twice. It was again nice to discover that I was receiving a shirt I felt would hold up and could wear often without worrying about its quality.
While this box was smaller, it contained about the same number of items as the other boxes and included a fun mix. However I would have liked a few more useful items in the box, as well as some slightly bigger items I could use.
In the end, each of these boxes has goodies that will pleasantly surprise you each month. However, if you don’t mind spending a little bit more, Nerd Block seems to provide the most interesting range of products. I enjoyed the mix of things I received from Nerd Block, and I can see myself using a lot of them often. Even the items I will probably use only once I can see at least keeping around.
If you don’t want to spend quite as much, then Loot Crate is definitely a worthy option. I was not quite as impressed with the range I received in February’s box, but everything did stick to the theme and was a surprise. Plus Loot Crate really got pretty creative with the theme and how it incorporated the box itself, which is more likely to tempt me into keeping it around than any of the other boxes.
As for 1UP, I was disappointed with the offerings being so small considering the price was comparable to Loot Crate. The one area that 1Up did excel, however, was their quality tee that felt much nicer than Nerd Block’s did. If T-shirts are more your style and you’re not so concerned with the other products, this smaller box might be for you.
Ultimately Nerd Block seems like the best option for your money even though you’ll be spending more. For those who want a slightly more affordable option, Loot Crate is the way to go.
Photo by Lisa Granshaw