This is it, ladies and gents: my first ever review for Nerd Block and Nerd Block Jr (for Girls). In case you don’t know, Nerd Block is a subscription box service aimed at nerds. For a monthly fee you receive a mystery box full of geeky goodies to satiate your nerd lust. This particular box service has four options: the original Nerd Block and the new Horror Block are aimed at adults, always include a shirt in your chosen size, and cost $19.99 plus shipping and handling. The two Nerd Block Jr. options (one for girls, one for boys, aimed at ages 6 to 11) include all toys/collectibles at a cost of $13.99 plus shipping and handling. Once you subscribe your credit card will be charged every month just before the boxes are shipped, but you can cancel your subscription at any time simply by emailing the Nerd Block crew at any time before the current box is shipped (once it’s shipped, it’s yours).
This is the first subscription box service that I decided to try, seeing as my husband, my daughter, and I are all enormous nerds. I ordered an original Nerd Block (my husband and I enjoy different nerdy things, so I figure we can share what’s in the box according to our likes), as well as a Nerd Block Jr (for Girls) for my daughter. Now you all know that I’m not a fan of dictating what kind of toys a kid can play with, but I’ve noticed that the boy version of Nerd Block Jr tends to include a lot of video game-related products, which my daughter is as-yet too young for, so I decided to go with the girls version since it tends to include items from things she enjoys, such as My Little Pony, Hello Kitty, and Disney stuff.
Now, before I get into the review, I want to explain how I’m going to do things. I’ve seen lots of reviewers talk about the “value” of the box, and I think that’s an important part of a review. To those ends, I’m going to talk about “value” as it relates to my neck of the woods, Nova Scotia, Canada. It tends to cost a lot more to ship to Nova Scotia than other parts of Canada, which is why my Nerd Block subscriptions are a little more expensive than others may find. Additionally, many of the items in these boxes may be things that I can’t get in Nova Scotia. Thus, when breaking down the cost analysis of the items, I will be basing the information on what it would cost me, personally, to get these items to myself in Nova Scotia. If an item can be purchased at the local Walmart, I’ll give you the price plus tax that I would have to pay. If an item is something that I would have to order online I will give you the price plus shipping and handling that it would cost me to get it to myself in Nova Scotia. Clear enough? Alright then, let’s get on with it!
Review: Nerd Block and Nerd Block Jr (for Girls), June 2014
Say hello to two members of the Nerd Block family. When Nerd Block first began the subscription service was a bit cheaper, but so too were their shipping methods. I’ve watched plenty of review videos from some of the original boxes, and I just wanted to mention that I’m very glad that they upped their boxing quality. The original boxes were very flimsy and something that could easily be taken apart (and stolen from) during shipping. I don’t know if this ever happened to anyone, but it definitely seemed very possible. The new boxes are very sturdy, and much more professional-looking. Just thought I’d mention that. 🙂
Nerd Block Original
I opened the original Nerd Block first, with my husband in tow. We were both pretty excited, but I have to admit right off the bat that said excitement waned pretty quickly. I’ll explain as I go on. The total cost of the original Nerd Block plus shipping and handling to Nova Scotia was $33.05.
The first item in the box was a classic Ghostbusters t-shirt. I will concede that it is a decent shirt. Unfortunately, while I love the movie, Ghostbusters isn’t the kind of thing that I would care to wear on a shirt, and my husband isn’t a fan of block-picture shirts like this one. He’ll probably wear it as a back-up shirt, but it wasn’t exactly a thrilling start for either of us.
I couldn’t locate this particular item online (other than a few people selling it on Ebay), and I believe that it is a Nerd Block exclusive, so I can’t actually give you a good cost analysis on this one. Thus I’m going to take a stab at guessing the approximate value. I’ve ordered plenty of shirts online, and with the terrible shipping costs that I tend to incur, the average cost tends to be anywhere from $15 to $30. Since this shirt doesn’t hold a great deal of value to my husband or I in particular, I’m going to assign it a value of $15.
June 2014 was a special “double shirt” month with Nerd Block, so our second item was another shirt, this one emblazoned with an image of “The Iron Sentinel”. This shirt definitely appealed to me more than the first one did, although I have to admit that the “Iron Sentinel” is a little obscure for me. I would have preferred a shirt with just Wolverine on it.
This shirt also appears to be a Nerd Block exclusive, from what I can find, so I’ll have to assign an arbitrary cost to this one as well. Since I’ll probably wear this one much more often than my husband will wear the Ghostbusters one, I’ll give it a value of $20.
Item number three was a little collectible die-cast Mario Kart figure, and of the available options we got Mario. It’s a cute little thing, if not incredibly tiny, and will likely wind up on a shelf with other video game swag if my husband and I ever manage to get the basement set up the way we want it.
It took a bit of searching and a lot of incredulity, but apparently this tiny little figure goes for about $13 in nearby stores. For the purpose of my cost analysis I will use this number, but I just want to state here and now that I would never pay more than a couple of bucks for this tiny thing. It fits in the palm of my three-year-old’s hand, for crying out loud.
***Edit July 9th***
While out shopping we found this little guy on clearance for $2.50. Since I don’t think it’s worth much to begin with, I’m reassigning it that value and have adjusted the box total value accordingly.
Moving along, we have a Minecraft sticker of a Creeper face. Kinda cute, but not exactly thrilling. Neither my husband and I have played Minecraft, so this will probably wind up in one of my daughter’s sticker books.
I had a bit of a time nailing down a cost for this one, since they evidently normally come in packs, but the average seems to be about $2 (which, by the way, I think is ridiculous for one sticker).
Item number five is a Doctor Who collectible vinyl figure from Titans. Upon ripping the box open I found that I had received the Third Doctor. The Titans figures are pretty cute, but I have to fess up again: I was a bit disappointed in this. My reasoning is that leading up to the shipping of June’s Nerd Blocks I was continually reminded about how this month’s block included “one exclusive Doctor Who item”, and with all that hype I was expecting something a little bit more exciting than a tiny blind box figurine. It’s cute, and I can honestly say that I’d love to have them all, but blind boxes aren’t exactly a thrilling “exclusive item” in my eyes.
The approximate price for these blind box figures seems to be about $10, and to that I have to ask: who are you people who are paying $10-a-pop for an item that you can’t see until you rip it open? I mean, they’re adorable, but they’re only about an inch-and-a-half tall and you could easily spend a couple hundred dollars trying to collect them all!
Finally, we have a “nerd-approved” item, a desk pin-art toy. You probably had one of these when you were a kid, or else you always played with them whenever you found one in a store. Kinda cute, kinda funny, but not something I would ever have purchased for myself. We will probably just give this to the little missy and let her have at it. She might find it amusing for a while.
You can get these toys pretty much anywhere, and since it’s only a small version I’m going to assign it the value that I’ve found them many times for at our local Dollarama: $2.
All in all, based on the numbers I came up with, we’re looking at approximately $51 worth of items for a cost to me of $33.05. It sounds good, and can’t say that the value isn’t there, but my husband and I were disappointed none-the-less. For one thing, the store value of some of the items is far more than we would ever consider spending on them ourselves, which tends to make it feel like they’re worth less than they really are. For instance, I would never have paid more than, say, $3 for that Doctor Who blind box. The fact that it actually costs about $10 doesn’t change the fact that I feel it is only worth about $3. Add in the fact that not a single one of the items is something that my husband or I would have bought for ourselves under normal circumstances, and we can’t help but feel disappointed with our first ever Nerd Block. We’re going to give the subscription a couple of months grace to see how things go, but my husband has all but lost interest at this point. I have high hopes that next month might be better (it’s supposed to include Star Wars items, and I’m a huge SW geek), but it’s a cautious kind of optimism. Prove yourself to me, Nerd Block. I want so badly to love you.
Nerd Block Jr (for Girls)
When I chose the girl’s version of Nerd Block Jr for my daughter, it was mostly because every block unboxing that I had seen so far had included at least one My Little Pony item, which I know my daughter would love. Unfortunately (and I should have seen this coming), our first Nerd Block Jr did not include any Pony items. Boo. Unfortunately, I was disappointed already.
The first item in the box was a “How to Train Your Dragon” collectible toy. We got “Night Fury” Toothless. He’s a cute little dragon, though my daughter hasn’t seen either of the movies in this series yet, so it won’t mean much to her. Perhaps I can get her to sit down and watch it sometime soon. She likes dragons, so she might like this little toy.
This is a very common toy that can be found at Walmart. With the tax it’s cost is approximately $6.
Item number two is a small Barbie Mega Bloks toy. It comes with a little Barbie figure and a bunch of tiny accessories. Cute, but I’ll probably end up taking out the accessories because they’re so tiny that they’re pretty much guaranteed to be lost within minutes. The little Barbie doll will probably wind up in one of my daughter’s castle play sets, and she’ll probably play with it, but Barbie isn’t a character she knows (she has Disney princess dolls), so this isn’t a huge deal either.
I couldn’t find this precise item online, but almost-identical items can be found at Walmart and Toys R Us for about $6.
The third item is a blind bag (Nerd Block seems to have a thing for blind bags/boxes) of a little Smurfs Mega Bloks figure. I haven’t opened it yet so I’m not sure who we got, but I can tell you that my daughter hasn’t watched anything related to the Smurfs, so again, this item isn’t that exciting.
These particular blind bags go for an average of about $5.
Finally, something that my daughter will actually genuinely enjoy. This item is a pack of mini-coloring pages (8.8 cm x 12.7 cm) featuring Minnie Mouse, along with 6 mini-markers. Not exactly the most thrilling of items, but my daughter enjoys coloring and recently got into Mickey shows, so this is at least something that will interest her.
I couldn’t find this exact item, but similar items with different characters on the coloring pages go for about $6.
Last (and, if I’m honest, definitely least) is a “Rainbow Magic” book called “Belle the Birthday Fairy”. I have a couple of complaints about this particular item that I feel I have to voice. First off, the book came with a sale sticker still on it. Since this is a mystery box for which the whole point is supposed to be value, I find it a little disconcerting that an item was shipped with a sticker that clearly shows that the item is worth less than it might otherwise have been. I have no misconception that Nerd Block pays full price for the items that they ship out, but shipping an item with a sale sticker right on the front of it is pretty lame. Second issue: this is a paperback novella with no pictures and a “big kid” language level. I can’t say a whole lot since I ordered a “for ages 6-11” box for my three-and-a-half-year-old, but even if my daughter was 6 I would be highly disappointed in this item. It would be lovely for an 11-year-old, but in no way would the average 6-year-old be able to enjoy this book. I could read it to my daughter, I suppose, but I feel that defeats the purpose of the Nerd Block being a “just for kids!” kind of deal.
This book can be found for about $8 at book stores, but since there was a sale sticker emblazoned right on the cover that stated $3, that’s all I’m going to assign to it.
In the end my daughter’s first Nerd Block Jr has a value of approximately $26. Since I paid $22.99 for the block and at least one of the items is something that my daughter will not get any enjoyment out of at all (the book), I was not impressed in the slightest. I’m really hoping that next month’s Jr Block will be better, because if I’m paying basically cost for items that my daughter might not even enjoy, I will definitely not be continuing the subscription.
So there you have it. My first round of Nerd Block boxes was a bit of a bust. Somehow, amazingly, neither of the boxes really included anything that I, my husband, or my daughter are interested in. I liked my little Doctor Who figure, and my daughter will color the hell out of those mini Minnie Mouse pages, but those two items alone were definitely not worth the combined $56 cost of the boxes.
In the end, my husband is completely unimpressed, my daughter is probably not going to show much interest at all, and personally, I’m just disappointed. I really want to like Nerd Block, and from the reviews that I’d seen for previous months I really thought that I would like it. Unfortunately it seems that for my first month Nerd Block chose to pick all items that mean nothing to me and my family.
I’m going to give you one more month for both blocks, Nerd Block. Please impress me.