Surprise Mail from Dave in the UK!

We got an AWESOME mail call today from one of our awesome Basement Geeks from the UK, Mr Dave, and OMG. So much stuff! Batman, and Buffy, and Mega Man, and Star Trek, and Terminator, and Doctor Who, and even MORE! You’ve just gotta check it out…there was too much awesome to type about. XD

First Ever: Arcade Block Unboxing and Review for July 2015

Rounding out the late unboxing videos and reviews comes a brand new contender to the Tobin household. It’s always fun to check out something new, and since I’ve cancelled Nerd Block and Horror Block my husband suggested that maybe I might want to try Arcade Block. I was a little skeptical, since it comes from the same family of the two boxes that I cancelled for not being worthwhile, but last month’s Arcade Block was so hyped up that it sounded amazing. The ad emails told of two t-shirts, a Funko Pop, a Mega Man item, a Sonic item, and “much more”. But did it live up to the hype? Why don’t we answer that question by watching the unboxing video:

Oooh…ouch…so it wasn’t exactly what I was hoping for…at all. Turns out that there were a lot of things to complain about in this particular box. Let’s take a look at the breakdown.

Hannibal “Bonus” t-shirt:
So right off the bat, Arcade Block gave me a big old frown with the item that was on the very top of the box. This shirt was listed on the inventory card as a “bonus”, which is the Nerd Block family’s way of saying, “We had a bunch of leftover junk from blocks that didn’t sell, so we’ve tossed one in this box to give the illusion of increasing its value”. After last month’s Vinylpalooza box, I’m starting to get a nervous twitch over this business practice. For one thing, I’m frustrated by the fact that I got a Hannibal shirt in my gamer box. For another thing, they keep putting stuff from old Nerd and Horror blocks in other boxes, which means that if you already subscribe to those boxes you’re getting doubles. Long story short, I don’t consider this a “bonus” so much as a way for the Nerd Block people to get rid of some leftover junk while pretending to have done me a favor. Normally I assign a value of $15 to t-shirts, but since this is a shirt that I already got in Horror Block – and with very little effort they should have been able to figure that out – I refuse to assign it any more than $5 toward the value of the box.

The Last of Us t-shirt:
Now this shirt, on the other hand, I can get behind. This caution sign design featuring a Clicker from The Last of Us is totally acceptable in a gamer box, and I’ll definitely wear it. The Last of Us was an absolutely amazing game, beloved by many, so this is at least one item from July’s Arcade Block that gets the seal of approval, along with the standard $15 value.

Cut the Rope “Nommies” blind bag:
I have a hurricane of feelings on this item. On the one hand, I generally enjoy blind bags. On the other hand, once we opened them I found that these “Nommies” are pretty small and junky. Back on the first hand, at least this is a gaming item. But then again on the other hand, it’s a mobile gaming item. I feel pretty strongly that, in the end, this item is a loss because, seriously? A Cut the Rope item? Of all the real video games out there, you guys chose a cheap blind bag toy from a smartphone game? For shame. Believe it or not, these particular blind bags go for $8, and can I just take a moment to express how insane that is?

Coin Op Crush CD:
Okay, I’m sorry, but I’m seriously laughing at this item. It’s not the fact that it’s video game music because, honestly, I rather enjoy video game music. It’s the fact that it’s a CD. Who the hell listens to CDs anymore? I mean, I can understand that some people would probably prefer the physical item, but to me it would have made a lot more sense to send a digital download of the album. Seriously, I don’t even know that many people who own a CD player, but everyone has a phone capable of downloading music. I’m not sure what they were thinking with this one. Between the fact that this album was put together specifically for Arcade Block, and the fact that it’s a freakin CD, I have no idea what kind of value to assign to this, but since it seems like you can actually download the music for free, I feel I can’t assign more than $2 for the physical item.

Evolve “Val” Funko Pop:
I can’t really say anything bad about this item because, hey, Funko Pop. You guys know I love Funko Pops, and they definitely add a bit of value to any subscription box. It’s just unfortunate that out of all the games that Pops have been made for, they chose one of the only ones that I know absolutely nothing about and honestly have no interest in. It’s still a Pop, though, so I can’t complain too much. As always, Pops go for approximately $12.

Classic Console Cartridge Coasters:
Okay, I’ll admit, these would be pretty humorous if they were a little more sturdy, but I’m not really liking their viability as actual coasters. These Nintendo-game shaped coasters are of the type that are made of some kind of paper-like material; in other words, they feel like they would dissolve the second a little condensation ran down your glass. I’ll definitely find something to do with them in our geek basement, but they’re definitely a cheap item. They’re also an Arcade block exclusive, and thus difficult to put a number on, but let’s say $4…I think a buck per coaster is pretty damn generous considering how flimsy they feel.

Sonic the Hedgehog “Worlds Unite” comic:
When I was doing the video I implied that this wasn’t a bad item. I don’t mind getting comics in my subscription boxes, and Sonic is definitely one of those big things from my childhood. But I feel I have to point out something that annoys the hell out of me. Arcade Block hyped that there was going to be a Mega Man item in this box, but I didn’t see one, until my husband let me know that the comic is, in fact, a Sonic x Mega Man crossover story. That doesn’t make the comic any less acceptable, but it annoys the hell out of me because in all their email ads and social media hype Arcade Block constant said that there was going to be a Sonic item and a Mega Man item. There was no indication at all that these two items would actually be one. It just feels like false advertising to me, and is yet another thing that gives me a bit of a twitch. $5 for this comic.

Total approximate value of box: $51
Total cost to me: $41

So right off the bat, you’ll notice that the value of the box is pretty damn low compared to other boxes. The reason for this is, of course, that Arcade Block is factoring their “bonus shirt” into the value calculations which, in my opinion, is total bullshit. It is not a gaming item, and if it were truly a “bonus” it wouldn’t factor in to the value of the box. If I take away the $5 I assigned it it brings the box down to $46, which is barely more than what I paid. That makes it NOT a bonus at all, and makes the rest of the box look weak as hell.

There were a couple of items that weren’t bad – the The Last of Us t-shirt is pretty cool, and despite my frustrations over the Mega Man issue the comic is okay as well – but there were also a few items that were little more than junk. The Pop doesn’t even really make up for anything since it’s from one of the only lines they could have chosen that does not interest me in the slightest.

All things said and done, I can’t say much good about this box; I was actually rather disappointed in it, and I can’t see myself continuing on with Arcade Block if the value is going to be so low compared to what I’m actually paying for it.

What do you think? Did you receive an Arcade Block for the month of July? What was your favorite item? Least favorite? What did you think of the “bonus” t-shirt? Please share!

A to Z Challenge: (M)ega Man

MegaManI would be remiss if I didn’t use my “M” day to talk about one of the most iconic video game characters of all time…especially since he’s my husband’s favorite.

The year was 1987, and the Nintendo Entertainment System was in the prime of its life. Game developer, Capcom, already had a number of prolific and successful games for the NES under their belt, and they were about to introduce a new one who would become one of the most popular video game characters worldwide. In Japan, for the Famicom, he was introduced as Rockman, but in North America, for the NES, he was introduced as Mega Man.

Despite what has gone down in gaming history as some of the ugliest box art of all time, the little blue robo-boy enjoyed a low-key success with his first game. He followed up that premiere with a breakout success in ‘Mega Man 2’, which people just couldn’t get enough of.

The original game was the story of a robot boy built by the scientist Dr. Light to combat the evil Dr. Wily and his army of rebel construction robots. The non-linear platformer was uncommon and the challenging nature of the game intrigued gamers, as did the innovative idea of stealing the abilities of defeated bosses. The clever gamer would figure out that gaining Ice Man’s powers would allow them to more easily defeat Fire Man, whose abilities would allow them to more easily defeat Bomb Man, and so on.

The second installment had similar game-play and the same basic components, but with more bosses, new upgrades for Mega through Dr. Light, and an iconic soundtrack that many gamers can still identify in 5 seconds or less. It’s not difficult to see why ‘Mega Man 2’ quickly became a fan favorite. In fact, for lots of gamers of my generation, this installment is still the series favorite to this day.

Pictured: A heck of a lot of childhoods.
Pictured: A heck of a lot of childhoods.

Of course, such a popular character wouldn’t lose steam after only two games. Eight more games of a similar formula (‘Mega Man 3′ through ’10’) were released between 1990 and 2010, enjoying successes across several different gaming consoles. In 1994 a separate line of games began adjacent the original one, starting with ‘Mega Man X’ as the first of the franchise to break into the Super Nintendo market. This side-series gave Mega a makeover and introduced another character who would become well-loved: the red robot named Zero. The X-series would enjoy seven sequels (‘Mega Man X2’ through ‘X8’) over several consoles as well. And that’s not even the end of it. There were several more offshoots of the now-classic franchise, including the ‘Mega Man: Battle Network’ series, which enjoyed success on Nintendo’s handheld systems. And on top of all that, Mega Man has been featured in his own cartoon series’, and now holds a coveted spot as a playable fighter in ‘Super Smash Bros.’ for the Wii U. In short, it doesn’t look like this little blue bot is going to be going away any time soon.

My own experience with Mega Man is almost embarrassingly limited. As a kid I never really played any of the iconic installments because I was more interested in RPGs at that time. Later in life my husband introduced me to the franchise via the X-series, and I played a couple of the handheld ‘Battle Network’ games, but this was during my college years when I was more interested in drinking with friends and not flunking my classes (prioritized in that order). The honest truth is that I never really got that into Mega Man, but that’s not to say that I don’t understand his place in video game history. In fact, I understand it so well that two Halloweens ago this happened:

Cutest little blue robot EVAH.
Cutest little blue robot EVAH.

What is your experience with Mega Man? Do you prefer the older games or the newer ones? Classic Mega or X? Or maybe you’re more of a Zero person? Please share!

Enjoying the A to Z Challenge? Why not check out some of these other participating blogs?

Loot Crate Unboxing and Review for November 2014

Yes, I know, it’s December, but there were mishaps involving forgetting to upload my unboxing vid before I flew out West, and also I now have to write this post on my phone because the latest update to my tablet turns it into a brick whenever I connect to the internet, so, yeah. Boo on you for judging me. Booooo.

Okay, now that I’ve got that out of my system, it’s time for a Loot Crate! Check out the vid:

So, as you can see, it wasn’t a bad box, but it wasn’t the most exciting for me personally. Let’s check out the breakdown, shall we?

Pirates vs Ninjas shirt: Despite my original confusion about what this shirt was supposed to be, I actually think it’s kinda neat. I’m not a huge fan of the images-made-out-of-words shirts because I find them too “busy”, but for pirates and ninjas I’ll make an exception. As usual, I’ll assign the shirt a value of $15 because i can’t actually find it for sale anywhere.

Assassin’s Creed Unity Coin w/ Pouch: This is another item that I can’t find for sale anywhere online, and I’m not keen to assign it much of a value. It’s kind of neat, but not easily displayable, and the idea is to get your name engraved on it, which would actually cost you money unless you’re one of a rare breed of people who own their own engraving tools. For these reasons I assign this coin a maximum value of about $3.

Mega Man Mini Helmet: Going along with the theme for this review, I cannot for the life of me find this item for sale online. It’s a cute little Mega Man helmet on a stand, and it looks like any other blind box I’ve seen, so I’ll assign it the value of most of the blind boxes I’ve seen, which is $10.

Mega Bloks Halo DropPod w/ Figure: I have to admit that I was a little surprised to see a Mega Bloks toy in my Loot Crate, since there are probably a million other less toddler-ish choices that they could have made for a Halo item. that said, I’ll add it to the small pile of Mega Blocks items I have set aside for my daughter’s Christmas stocking. And yes! I finally found one online! This item and it’s collectible partners goes for $5.

Street Fighter headband: Okay, this is kinda cute, and I might use it in future videos as a blindfold, but I can’t reasonably assign this exclusive item a value of more than $2 since it’s literally just a strip of red material.

Street Fighter Steam Download:
One of the most valuable items in this box is this download code to get the $20 Steam version of Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition. Unfortunately I’m a console gamer, but I suppose the value is still there.

Mega Man comic digital download: I will almost definitely download and read these two digital comics, but I want it on record that I would never pay the $4 per comic (digital comic, remember, not physical) that is being charged online.

Lichdom: Battlemage 50% off Code: This is another Steam game – that I’ve never heard of – and it normally goes for $44, making the 50% of code worth $22. I have a hard time accepting that value, because I personally believe that digital downloads of games should never cost more than 50% of what a physical copy of the same game would cost. But I’m just splitting hairs, I guess.

Total approximate value of box: $85
Total cost to me: $30

Now, here’s the thing. Based on the breakdown, the value of this box looks great. But right off the bat, $46 worth of that value (which is over half) is in digital downloads, which I don’t enjoy getting in my subscription boxes. It feels kind of like getting a gift card for Walmart, except that the gift card would be nicer because I could pick out what I want instead of getting something that I might already have or might never use.

Of what’s left, most of it is kinda junky, even if some of it is cute. All in all, I just don’t feel like it was a very fun box. The Mega Man helmet is cute and the shirt will be worn, but I feel like the “Battle” box definitely could have been a lot better.

Try again next month, Loot Crate!

Loot Crate Unboxing and Review for August 2014

It’s that time again! Time to review my second ever Loot Crate, which I was so excited to get. I absolutely loved the first one, for which the theme was “Villains”, so I had high hopes for this month, for which the theme was “Heroes”. So first off, check out the unboxing video!

Now you can probably tell that I was pretty damnĀ  happy with the box in general, but lets do a little breakdown just to show the “worth” of the box.

Exclusive “Groot” Funko-Pop Figure: This particular figure retails for approximately $10, but we have to keep in mind that it is a Loot Crate exclusive variant (that you can’t get anywhere else) that glows in the dark. For the exclusivity of it, I’m adding $5 to the value, since it’s not like you can just run out and get this exact figure at Walmart.
Leonardo’s Mask sunglasses: I believe these are a Loot Crate exclusive item, so I’m assigning them a value of $3 based on what I feel the quality of the item (in other words, they’re cute, but a little cheaply made)
Donatello Kidrobot Figure: These cute little figures retail for $10
“Schwings” Shoe Wings: Believe it or not, these things come in a wide variety of colors and designs, and range in price from $9 to $15. The pair that we got with this Loot Crate goes for $9
Mega Man Air Freshener: Making your car smell like Mega Man will set you back about $5
Chimichang’os Magnet: This appears to be another exclusive item, so since it’s just a small magnet I’m assigning it a value of $1
“Heroes” Collectible Pin: Keeping with last month’s breakdown, I’m assigning the collectible pin a value of $1“Digital Loot” downloads card: The card tells me that it’s worth a value of $10, so I’ll go ahead and accept that at face value.

Total estimated value of the box: $54
Total cost to me: $30

So, so far the Loot Crate boxes have been very similar as far as cost analysis is concerned, with the value of the box being a bit less than double the cost. That’s not bad at all, right off the bat. But more important than the estimated financial value of the box is the personal value of the items. So far Loot Crate has more than exceeded my expectations with the quality of their items. They’re picking great, fun, quality stuff that I am thoroughly enjoying. Even the little “junkier” things like the magnet and the Leo glasses are cute and fun, and I can’t say that I was terribly disappointed with anything in either of the two crates I’ve gotten so far. Probably the only item that is something I never would have bought for myself if given the chance was the Schwings, but I can see how some people would love them, so it’s all good.

All in all, I’m definitely impressed and Loot Crate gets two big thumbs up from me so far.

In closing, just in case you didn’t actually watch the video: if you’re interested in trying out Loot Crate, please click on my referral link:

You’d be helping me out a ton and I’d love you forever. ^_~ Thanks!