Hunting down grab bags in the dank, musky bowels of the dealer room is one of my time-honored convention rituals. The allure of a grab bag lies in the opening. For a mere $10-$20, you can damn near replicate your childhood Christmas mornings. Sure, some of the grab bag loot is like getting socks from an aunt you never met. But there’s always that one item in the haul—the "Castle Grayskull" of the set—that makes the entire journey a success.
You can’t just blast open a grab bag right there in the dealer room. It demands your undivided attention. You need to make an event out of the opening. Typically, I’ll wander the con floor for hours clutching the grab bag and contemplating its innards, but never surrendering to the urge to sneak a peek. Once I get back home or to the hotel room, I clear a space, open the bag and remove each item one at a time. Then, I carefully examine each item to determine its ultimate fate, like the Quintesson judge from Transformers the Movie: “Guil-ty or Inn-o-cent?” You win 1,000 bonus points if you get that reference. If the item is lame, then it’s forever banished to the ceremonial death mounds of the junk room. However, if it’s awesome, then it earns a place of distinction on my shelves.
A few weeks ago I was scouring YouTube for Cosplay How-To’s and stumbled upon a video of some girl unboxing a LootCrate. She gleefully pulled out sweet swag like 8-bit sunglasses and a Kool-Aid Man/Deadpool mashup t-shirt and other tchotchkes. I was instantly sold on the necessity of a LootCrate subscription in my life.
Mrs. Zenestex had a subscription to Birch Box where, each month, she’d receive a package crammed with makeups and creams and such. I harbored a secret envy of her eager unboxing every month; it looked like an absolute blast. Birch Box makes a similar subscription for men, but I can’t even feign enthusiasm for a box of cologne and shaving products. That's like paying for admission into some circle of Hell where you’re subjected to workplace Secret Santa gifts from a brown-nosing middle manager who’s only nominally aware of your existence. LootCrate, however, is a monthly geek culture treasure box that’s exactly the thing I was wishing would come around. I can’t believe that I have already missed out on months of these heavenly packages of nerdy junkstuffs.
This Month’s Loot!
The C-3PO earbuds were the early highlight of this month’s LootCrate. C-3PO is easily my favorite Mr. Irrelevant of all time. Oh shut up, Star Wars fans, you know it’s true. If you take Threepio out of the story, the rebel forces still whip that ass. Regardless, I love the fussy protocol droid as evidenced by the Threepio shrine in my TV room. LootCrate had four versions of these earbuds: Threepio, Yoda, Darth Vader, and Darth Maul. I think I got the winner of the bunch.
Mrs. Zenestex claims that my car smells like “boy,” which I’m guessing is an exquisite blend of moldy socks with overtures of gummy bears. Hey, the car smells delightful to me, but I’ll defer to her judgment on this one. Her superpower level of smell can pinpoint a fart from 100 yards. I wasn’t sure what Sonic Breeze was supposed to smell like; I figured I didn’t have anything to lose—the scent of a hedgehog that just sprinted through jungle loopty-loops and bashed his face into monster robots couldn’t be any more offensive than “boy.”
Sonic the Hedgehog was always one of those games that I wanted like more than I actually did. I was a huge Sega Genesis fanboy back in the day and totally bought into all the Blast Processing hype. Sonic had all the 90’s ‘tude and bad assery that Mario was missing. I played it out of my undying loyalty to Sega, but it was still never as fun as Super Mario. Twelve year-old me would punch me in the face for saying that. As for the air freshener, Epic Scents seems to believe that Sonic should leave your car smelling like shampoo. I suppose it’s an improvement.
Behold! My first PEZ dispenser! For 34 years, I have somehow managed to not own a PEZ dispenser. I’d claim a neglected childhood, but my mom tends to read these posts. So, I’ll chalk it up to a minor oversight. For my first PEZ dispenser, LootCrate gave me the Mighty Thor. I’m more of a DC Comics guy, but I do have a soft spot in my heart for Spidey and Wolverine.
I have never found anything interesting about Thor. He looks like a gimmicked-up, WWE wrestler from the early 90’s. And he wears a feathered hat. I’m not at all a fan, but I’ll admit that his movies were kind of cool. Looking at the cheat sheet, I could’ve had Captain America, Hulk, or Iron Man instead. I would’ve proudly displayed any of those at my workplace. But I’m pretty sure I’d get shit for having Thor sitting on my desk. Doomed to the junk room!
Those items aside, this month’s LootCrate is all about Video Game High School. The box includes the DVD set of the web series’ first season, which melds all the episodes together into a two-hour movie. VGHS is a typical teenage underdog story mashed into a Bizzaro universe high school where your gaming skillz determine your social status.
The top dog at the school is an arrogant, amateur champion gamer known as The Law. While showing off on a TV talk show, a random kid named BrianD scores a fluke killshot on The Law. This earns BrianD instant fame as well as acceptance into the prestigious gaming school, VGHS. Needless to say, when BrianD arrives on campus as a lowly frosh, the upperclassman and varsity team captain, The Law, unleashes his wrath.
VGHS is a lovingly produced homage to classic 80’s teen flicks. All the hallmarks are here: the nerdy best friend, the peculiarly platonic “friend that’s a girl,” the bully jock, and, of course, the hot blonde love interest that’s absurdly out of BrianD’s league.
This is a world where elite gamers are exalted and groan-inducing jokes are celebrated. VGHS revels in its cornball humor—even Screech would cringe at some of these jokes. VGHS’ humor would epically fail in the hands of a cast that’s not willing to sell it. But the actors all deliver resounding “oooh burn” reactions that lend credence to even the lamest comebacks and, somehow, make the whole scene funny.
I’ve now watched this DVD twice after forcing Mrs. Zenestex to sit down and indulge in my new favorite web series. For the record, she dug it. Seriously, I haven’t been this excited about a web series since the first season of The Guild. And I fucking love The Guild.
The VGHS theme ties together the remaining items in this month’s LootCrate. Digging through the box, I had no clue what the little buttons were for until I watched the DVD. Each button represents a school of gaming in the show—think of the schools of magic at Hogwarts. I’ll probably jab these buttons into my cubicle wall at work. They’ll go well with my Goonies skeleton key and Fantasy Football Toilet Bowl trophy (not a good thing).
Also thrown in the box are stickers of a Storm Trooper rockin’ a VGHS varsity jacket and a Rocket Jump logo, the site that publishes VGHS. The Storm Trooper will live his life on the cover of a random notebook. The Rocket Jump sticker will die a crushing death in the pits of a landfill.
Finally, the generous elves over at the LootCrate factory blessed us with an Emergency Wireless Keyboard.
I’m thrilled to death about this subscription. LootCrate’s box lids only encourage my ritual unboxings and ridiculously long tributes to the goodies inside. I’m tied into this subscription for three months. If the next two are even half as cool as this month’s, LootCrate and I should have a long and loving relationship.
You can get your own LootCrate subscription for $13-$15 a month at http://www.lootcrate.com.