Thursday, May 4, 2017

Splitting the Loot

Last week, in an email I never expected to get, a representative from the geeky ‘mystery box’ company Loot Crate contacted me and asked if I would write something on my blog about the kind of Loot Crate I’d most enjoy getting, or perhaps a few new themes for their monthly themed box. So, now I’m a thought-leader, or at least accessible enough on the internet that I can get coopted into an (albeit cool) viral marketing campaign.

For those of you that aren’t familiar with the brand, Loot Crate basically is a mystery gift service. You buy a subscription to Loot Crate for either yourself (so you get a neat treat once a month) or as a gift for a buddy. Aside from a few loose suggestions, or items implied by a particular month’s theme, you get about 45-50 bucks worth of random, but geek-focused items. One of my closest friends got a few month’s worth of Loot Crate for his last birthday, and in one of his crates, he scored the excellent “Infinity Gauntlet Oven Mitt” that blew up last year, which I’ve always envied a bit. It’s a fun service.

(My contact at Loot Crate asked me to include a link to the Gift purchase option, so if you wanted to surprise a friend with a Loot Crate subscription, you know where to go.)

Dreaming of Transformers
First off, my dream crate would consist of nothing but Transformers merchandise. A couple of the smaller, cuter (and cheaper to buy & ship) “Legends” scale TF toys from the current line, or a particularly tasty “Deluxe” class robot, a few random IDW comics, an ironic T-shirt which I would wear unironically, some stickers, a tiny ‘gashapon’ mini-toy or two, a key-chain or fridge magnet shaped like the Autobot or Decepticon logo. There is a lot of cool Transformers merchandise being sold on both sides of the Pacific, and as an American consumer, I’d love a chance to get at some of the Japan-exclusive Takara-Tomy stuff through Loot Crate.

Maybe you can even find and include a particularly intriguing Dollar-Store knock-off to round out the package (I love my Chinese bootleg Bruticus/Ruination far too much). Hell, find me an alarm clock shaped like the Autobot Matrix of Leadership and it would go on my bedside table in an instant. I am very easy to shop for, but maybe my singularity of interest wouldn’t make the most attractive package for anyone other than myself.

So, let’s talk themed Crates instead. We’ll first focus on two particularly familiar elements of my gaming writing that might make kick-ass Crates1.

Powered Armor
How about a Loot Crate based entirely around powered armor? Obviously, the highly merchandized and iconic Iron Man would anchor the Crate. Give me a small action figure or mini-statuette of the armored Avenger as one of the core items in the Crate. I’ve also seen some lovely metal reproductions of classic Invincible Iron Man covers that measure about 8x11 inches and look wonderful, at retailers such as Target in the home décor section. I wouldn't  mind having one on my wall.

Then, how about going a bit literary? Finding a nice paperback edition of Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers would add a touch of class to the Crate. (The Armored anthology, edited by John Joseph Adams would be another sweet option.) I’m sure there’s other sci-fi novels prominently featuring powered armor, but those are the first two that pop to mind.

For an easy inclusion, toss in something related to Ripley in her power loader from Aliens, because finding something cute and geeky with that iconic image won’t be hard. Likewise, finding Destiny-related merchandise would also be fairly easy, and with their sequel coming out soon, would also be hot. Plus, Destiny has some amazing looking armor designs. If you’ve got different tastes in gaming, there’s also great looking armor to be found in the Halo and Overwatch franchises, and lots of different merch out there for each brand. And if you’re talking iconic, armor-wearing video game heroes, including some Metroid merch, from Nintendo, seems like a no-brainer.

While Aliens and Destiny (as well as the other franchises mentioned), are easy to find merch for, finding more obscure stuff might be rewarding. The classic anime Bubblegum Crisis is a sadly dead brand these days, but how awesome would it be to find a toy of one of the Knight Sabers in a Loot Crate circa 2017? If there are any currently available products out there featuring the Cyclone armor system from Robotech, or the Scope Dog suit from Armored Trooper Votoms, toss it right in!

In terms of comic books for potential inclusion, Marvel’s Iron Man is a natural fit for this crate, but also consider Valiant’s XO Manowar. IDW’s current Rom series features a cool full-conversion cyborg rather than an armored hero, but I’ll count Rom as a potential inclusion if you will. Unfortunately, DC’s Steel isn’t carrying his own title these days, but find a current DC issue where he guest stars and I’d be happy.

And while Boba Fett and the various Stormtrooper types are armored infantry without compare, I’ve always been partial to the armored “Bossush” disguise Princess Leia wore at the beginning of Return of the Jedi. As an aside I’ve recently converted a friend of mine towards collecting 3.75 inch action figures, and he’s amassing a great collection of armored Imperial troops in this scale. I think he’d choose this themed crate in a heartbeat if you included a 3.75 inch scale “Black series” Clone Trooper of some kind.

(And yes, the advertisement of the Furries! Crate would include the exclamation point. Furries! Accept no substitute.)

Obviously, Loot Crate would have to keep things all-ages with this particularly fuzzy package, but no problem there. It’s pretty easy to find all-ages, mainstream anthromorophic heroes though I would definitely not turn up my nose if I opened up this particular Loot Crate to find something weird like an Omaha the Cat Dancer coffee mug. I would assume this theme would have to be very tactile- lots of stuffed animals, t-shirts, maybe even a funny animal knit cap. 

Most of the merchandise for the Furries! Loot Crate would come from Disney and Pixar, and would be a particular treat for fans of those companies. Throughout the years Disney and its licensors have assembled a nice little hoard of plushes, action figures, desk toys, prints, posters, stickers and more for anthro-friendly cartoons such as Robin Hood, The Rescuers, Tale Spin, Darkwing Duck and lots of others. Loot Crate would be spoilt for choice when it comes to picking Disney articles for inclusion into this Crate. Pixar, of course, would contribute some Zootopia products to the package.

Now that I think about it, the furry fandom is defined by truly bad puns and wordplay at one extreme, as by explicit sex at the other end of the spectrum. So why not include a package of those cheesy elementary school Valentine cards featuring some of the above characters? Those cards, and their ridiculous puns, would earn a (slightly baffled) smirk from every recipient of this Crate.

And I have one demand that must be met- just one. An awesome Thundercats t-shirt: the iconic red symbol against stark black cotton. No negotiations, no compromise. The Furry! Crate must include this t-shirt, which is as close to a national flag as the Furry fandom possesses.

Need something to round out the Crate? Head towards the Land of the Rising Sun and find me something cute, cuddly and cat-girl related. A neat blind-boxed figure perhaps or one of those 2 inch high ‘gashapon’ (vending machine) mini-figures. 

I’m also constantly amazed that even though furry content can generate so much Internet Nerd Rage, how widely accepted anthropomorphic characters are in mainstream, mundane advertising. Finding a t-shirt, stuffed toy or fun little gadget with some random ‘funny animal’ mascot like Toucan Sam, Tony the Tiger, the Trix Rabbit or even (leaving breakfast cereals behind for a second) the CarFax Car Fox should be easy and cheap, and might make a cool capstone for this Crate.

1 I’m intentionally leaving out the highly thematic, but commercially suicidal ‘abortion providers are heroes’ Crate theme. Besides, asides from a few documentaries on DVD I’m not really sure what would actually go in such a crate.

Blessed Be,


Next time, I'll preview some game elements from my upcoming Heavy Grimorie, and give you a first look at the utterly massive combined and expanded bestiary for the Psi-Watch Campaign Setting. (Right now, it's nearly as big as both volumes of the Black Bestiary and I'm no where near ready to publish yet.) 

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