Loot Crate is back again with its April 2016 installment of the popular subscription service. How did they do this time, and what’s it got to do with video games?
By now, it would be more difficult to locate geeks who haven’t heard of Loot Crate rather than finding those who have. The subscription service burst onto the collectibles scene as a niche offering that appealed to only the most hardcore nerds, but has since begun to mix up its contents to find some broader appeal. Those who want highly specific Crates haven’t been left out in the cold, however; Loot Crate also offers Loot Anime and Loot Gaming variations for those with a more narrow geek palate.
This slow shift towards a more varied Loot Crate experience hasn’t been met without some resistance, however. Maintaining an appealing, broader product while also offering niche-specific variants can take its toll over time, and fans of the service have worried it might lead to less cohesive products. Part of the draw towards the Loot Crate experience is in the way the company teases subscribers with a keyword for each month’s release, which then sparks weeks of speculation before fans finally unwrap what’s inside that month’s Crate. It’s equal parts Secret Santa and Six Degrees of Separation game, and it’s a lot of fun.
When Game Rant last reviewed Loot Crate’s March 2016 ‘Versus’ box, we praised its careful management of theme and function. Now that a standard has been set in the new era of Loot Crate goodness, however, each subsequent offering is going to have a certain level of excellence expected from it. So how did Loot Crate follow up such a strong first impression?
Loot Crate’s April 2016 gathering is tied together under the theme of ‘Quest’, and for the most part, the offering is once again a clever blend of nerdy collectibles and surprisingly useful additions to any gamer or geek’s daily repertoire. With the release of the Warcraft movie on the horizon, and the recent popularity of Nathan Drake (more on that later), Loot Crate has once again managed to remain culturally sharp with its choice of theme.
First, Loot Crate really outdid itself on the clothing aspect of the ‘Quest’ Crate. The Harry Potter socks are the right sort of simple in their design, and although fans will be hard pressed in justifying wearing these while in a professional work environment, they’re great for first impressions elsewhere. They’re comfy, too, which is the most important aspect of this kind of apparel, and tie into the Crate by detailing the seven horcruxes Harry had to destroy in his quest to defeat Lord Voldemort.
Next up is our personal favorite from the ‘Quest’ Crate – a beautifully designed t-shirt that pays homage to David Bowie’s Goblin King character in Labyrinth. Not only did Loot Crate manage to honor the late, great artist, but it did so while remaining closely tied to the month’s overall theme. It’s additions like these that demonstrate how Loot Crate has remained so popular in its short existence, exhibiting a deft hand in honoring, not exploiting, cultural events like a beloved celebrity’s death.
There’s also a unique, Vikings-inspired horn flask included in the Crate that is surprisingly functional. We imagine tabletop gamers looking to add some extra spice to their Dungeons & Dragons play sessions will welcome the flask, and it certainly makes an excellent talking point when having friends over as well. The Loot Pin for this Crate is also a stand out, a lovingly crafted item that blends the aesthetics of a medieval shield with the appearance of a D20 die.
The most direct connection to gaming, however, comes in an addition that, to be frank, feels like an after thought. That’s not to say that the Uncharted poster featuring Nathan Drake isn’t a welcome inclusion, as it is very tastefully made and would look great on any gamer’s bedroom wall. It just feels like a more substantial Uncharted 4 item would’ve been warranted given the theme and relevance of the game series for the past month and a half.
There’s definitely an item that could’ve been left out quite easily in favor of a bigger Uncharted offering, too. The ice cube mold that turns water into a frozen D20 is a quirky, playful idea, but unfortunately, the item’s actual execution falls short of its conceit. The ice cube mold falls apart very easily, as there isn’t much holding the top on besides grooved ridges, and it feels cheaply made when placed beside other strong item’s from this month’s Crate, like the flask or Harry Potter socks.
Of course, there’s always another option. Those who subscribed to the Loot Crate Level Up premium subscriber option for $15 more were pleasantly surprised by more gaming apparel this month in the form of two more pairs of socks. While socks aren’t typically an exciting purchase, they’re much better as gifts from a nerdy friend like the people working at Loot Crate. This Level Up features an 8-bit Link from The Legend of Zelda and socks branded with logos synonymous with the Kingdom Hearts franchise. Both socks are the customary combination of excellent quality and look that Loot Crate has become known for.
The April 2016 Level Up also provided a beautiful The Princess Bride baseball tee that is easily one of the nicest long sleeve tees the subscription service has provided in a while. It might not be something Loot Crate’s gamer subscribers would want, but it’s gorgeous all the same and any fan of the movie will adore it.
Finally, as is customary for Game Rant’s Loot Crate reviews, we were also provided with the April edition of the Loot Anime subscription service to help compare a more specific version of Loot Crate to its more general older sibling. For those interested in a more otaku-centric geek moment, Loot Anime once again delivers the goods.
The entirety of the Crate, which is themed around music, is a mix of surprisingly high-quality additions to an already strong presentation and a light-up leek plushie. There’s a lanyard from Vocaloid x tokodoki, a tee-shirt that features Hypersonic Music Club, a music note phone charm, a Hatsune Miku travel blanket, and a Your Lie in April first volume manga. The latter is an especially nice touch given that it is a music-based manga with April in the title. Very clever, Loot Crate.
The most practical and fun addition to Loot Anime’s April ‘Music’ Crate, however, is the Show by Rock earphones that were included. Receiving any sort of headphones as part of a larger bundle usually carries a negative connotation with it – after all, once a company has spent a certain amount of money on the rest of the bundle, it’s unlikely it will spring for quality audioware.
Loot Anime is a refreshing exception to that expectation, though, as in our tests with the ear buds, they performed about as well as most $15-$20 comparison models would. They’re definitely worth taking on a run or to listen to music during public transportation, and the Show by Rock graphic on them is small enough that it’s not noticeable unless a wearer wants it to be.
If there’s anything that April 2016’s Loot Crate, Loot Anime, and Level Up offerings have proven, it’s that gamers and geeks alike can consistently expect high quality service from Loot Crate. While April may have seemed a little light on video game-related collectibles, that’s going to happen from the broader subscription service from time to time, and shouldn’t be seen as a negative. The fact remains that Loot Crate keeps putting out intriguing, thematically-consistent and practical Crates that balance collectibility with usefulness in a way few other companies could hope to achieve.
The service won’t always be for anyone, but for gamers with a broader spectrum of geek-related interests, Loot Crate offers a lot of value and the opportunity to discover some hidden gems that fans might not have been aware of previously. For that reason, Game Rant continues to recommend Loot Crate for any gamer interested in geek culture and collectibles.
Game Rant was provided the Loot Crate April 2016, Loot Crate April 2016 Level Up Wearable + Socks Bundle, and Loot Anime April 2016 boxes for this review.
Visit LootCrate.com for more information.