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Spoiler Alert: The Force Awakens is Awesome!

No really, major spoilers ahead. If you don’t want to know intimate details about Star Wars Episode VII, turn back now.

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I went in not expecting very much, but still feeling hopeful for JJ Abrams’ vision of the Star Wars franchise. To be frank… It was the perfect throwback! From the opening crawl, I could tell that the whole product was created with respect and reverence to the original trilogy and the fans. The invasion of a Star Destroyer (or as I call them, Imperial Cheese) called the Finalizer across the screen gave me my first true sense of scale that had previously not been demonstrated, despite the prequels’ best efforts.

Scale is a cinematographic motif Abrams uses to paint a picture of the galaxy. The life-size Millennium Falcon is absolutely radical, and he constantly uses vast landscapes to contrast the intimate personal interactions – Rey scaling the crashed Star Destroyer, the tiny salvage yard on Jakku, the size of every battle matching the scale of what I imagine D-Day and the subsequent European land battles.

This Episode also parallels A New Hope (and Phantom Menace) with intent and precision. It follows the classic Hero’s Journey structure, allowing both of the new main heroes to experience the journey at nearly the same pace. To be honest, this was a risky move due to the nature of movie viewership. I found that the second iteration (which each character performed, neither lead overtook the other) always felt a little bit late. But without showing the two scenes side-by-side this would be impossible to fix.

The story beats line up with Episode IV naturally. However, what I loved even more was the cinematic parallel. The dogfighting was just an enhanced and more chaotically real version of what we saw back in the day, and the return to cockpit-view of the action took my breath away. A combination of long shots and jump cutting between specific characters allowed me to feel an emotional connection to the battle, and therefore the characters within the battle whom I had yet to meet. It was also a perfect way to surprise us with Po’s fate.

The First Order is a perfect evolution of the Empire that truly captures the grandiosity of the organization, while showcasing the evils of the dark side and casting in a [canonically] new villain in Snoke, who the truest of Star Wars nerds may have already identified, with a new hologram style that just fucking rules. The interactions of Dark Siders – specifically Kylo Ren – really had me on edge. We finally got to see on screen some of the dark side power that earned it the moniker.

Among the parallels to the previous trilogies, the meeting of Han and Kylo Ren on the bridge perfectly mirrored the meeting of Vader and Obi-Wan. The movie clearly laid the groundwork for their relationship and as soon as I saw their meeting, I knew this was that scene for Episode VII. The main cast watching the battle happen and reacting… I mean, the whole thing felt like a shot-for-shot remake of the same scene on the Death Star (and the lesser version in Phantom Menace) but on the way more epic Starkiller Base.

Without giving away too much, this episode had superb writing and timing. One of the things about the dark side is how it compounds itself. Things just pile on and on and emotion becomes the only fuel you can run on, and that’s when you turn completely. The pacing of this movie reflected that exactly and it made certain scenes way more dramatic. There was no respite for our main cast, hero and villain alike.

I find it beautiful that I can already tell the relationships of certain characters whose bonds remained unspoken throughout. It speaks strongly to the power of acting without dialogue as well as blocking, gestation…. it shows the balance between actor and director and the teamwork it takes to make a movie all it can be.

The introductions of the old cast were all surprises – I didn’t expect any of them to show up when they did. When I realized we didn’t have time to get exciting Luke stuff, I started to dread his inevitable cameo. But once that scene reached its pinnacle, the breathtaking view of that massive Island with oceans crashing into the rock faces brought that perfect contrast against the two of them standing there, silently acknowledging that the moment had arrived. I didn’t think anyone in the cast upstaged anyone else; character treatment felt extremely balanced, honest, and fair. But goddamnit, Mark Hamill, you just stole the whole fucking show for me, you sly dog.

Anyway, I could gush for hours about how great it was, but the bottom line is that the movie did everything I was hoping it would and addressed a lot of complaints by the fans. The reduction of fanservice, all clean and unmistakably Abrams cinematography and production (Bad Robot) left me feeling satiated by the movie in a way that I honestly hoped I would but expected not to. They didn’t reach too far, but they didn’t “play it safe” either. They clearly looked at the source material and – in true Disney fashion – took the best elements they could find, struck the rest from the record, and set the grounds to build a beautiful new galaxy. I have high hopes that this new trilogy will turn out to be the strongest yet.

As for Rogue Squadron and the other spin-offs…. I’ll wait to pass judgment until I actually see one. That feels like a reminder that Disney is evil and will drain our love of everything we ever cherished until there is nothing remaining in the human soul and we are but slaves to the entertainment conglomerate…

 

Anywho….

 

Bye!

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Loot Crate, promotional, Review, Subscription box

Loot Crate August 2015: Villains 2!

This Loot Crate only had four items, but each of them was unique and superb! The villains theme was a nice follow-up to the heroes theme.  I’m not sure if it was a prank by the Joker or a printing error, but the roof of my box appeared to be on the opposite side of where it should be! As always, I’ll talk about the financial value at the end, but first thing’s first!

My box noticeably lacked my villains 2 pin!

The items:

  • Los Pollos Hermanos Barbecue Apron
  • Captain America: The First Avenger Hydra Lapin Pin
  • Venom Mug
  • The Joker Wooden Doll

Los Pollos Hermanos Apron

Mmm, chicken!

Mmm, chicken!

I don’t know that I really count this Breaking Bad chain as a villain of the series. Nor do I see our favorite meth-dealing super duo as villains! Nonetheless, this thing is nice and thick. The screen print will probably fade in time, but I’ll definitely get use out of this!

Hydra Lapel Pin

Heil Hydra!

Heil Hydra!

What can I say? This is swaggy. Next time I get to wear a suit jacket, I’m busting it out for sure. The box is nice, and is in itself a certificate of authenticity. The pins are all crafted from the screen prop, so this is the real deal!

As it looks within the box

As it looks within the box

Vemon Mug

Bad Motha

Bad Motha

This is the absolute best for me! What a win! This is a licensed Marvel Mug with a sharp paint job. The line of mugs each comes with a unique handle based on the character, but I believe all Loot Craters got Venom. The mug feels a little light, but it’s also a gorgeous model of the character.

Classic Venom

Classic Venom

The Joker

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This line of DC collectible wooden figures includes Batman and Superman, with the Joker apparently exclusive to Loot Crate. I love this piece. It’s reminiscent of some kind of tribal design and it feels a little anarchic in nature. The mouths say “hahaha” and “heehee”.

The eternal Struggle

The eternal Struggle

WILL WE NEVER SEE A TWO-HEADED JOKER??

WILL WE NEVER SEE A TWO-HEADED JOKER??

Loot Crate Mini Mag

Haha... that is funny.

Haha… that is funny.

The magazine had a few more ads than previous ones (I think), but the magazine style and nature makes it more content than pure advertising. The most fun article contained is Batman Villains IRL

This month's mega crate giveaway!

This month’s mega crate giveaway!


 

Monies

Total value of the box? Let’s see!

No matter how you cut it, you’re getting more than double on your investment in Loot Crate. From that standpoint, this is definitely a win. When compared to last month’s loot crate, it’s much snazzier and I think I’m more impressed. Between the two, I’d choose villains just because it came with much more useable stuff and the quality on each item is superb!

This box is a definite win for me! Can’t wait for next month’s!

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Review

Geek Fuel vs Loot Crate! A Face-Off for the Ages!

*Watch the page for upcoming changes to… well… everything!*

Head-to-Head!

Head-to-Head!

A lot of times, the question that comes up is “Which subscription box gives you the most value for your money?” The most well-known, Loot Crate, has been purported to offer the most value for your money. The newcomer, Geek Fuel, guarantees you products that ensure you at least match the value you spend.

Beyond that, it’s important that the box makes you feel something. If I’m going to throw away money on a mystery box full of things I (probably) don’t need, then I want to be excited to get it, I want to love the product, I want it to feel genuine and complete.

Since both Loot Crate and Geek Fuel are doing firsts this month, I thought it would be fun to put them head-to-head and see what turns out. As always, I’ll do a segment on financial value at the end of each box’s section (excluding minimags). Before that, I just like to discuss the items.

 

First up, Loot Crate with their very first sequel: Heroes 2!

Heroes 2

Heroes 2

 

Batman Q-Pop Loot Crate Exclusive

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Adam West’s Batman stands atop the roof of building 1337. He watches and he waits. Soon, Gotham will call, and he will answer.  Villains beware! For, when the Batman leaps into action, a Ka-Pow! Is sure to follow!

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This product is a Vinyl pop figure from Q-pop redesigned with the original batcowl and costume. The construction is solid, the presentation is lovely. And Loot Crate took it a step further by making the box reversible. It becomes a building riddled with graffiti, clearly in need of some bat-justice.

This item is a strong start for the box!

Batarang Multi-Tool

How do I get it out without a batarang?

How do I get it out without a batarang?

A solid steel batarang keychain tool featuring a Philips-head and a flat-head screwdriver. The center acts as a bottle opener. This thing is gorgeous and dense. It’ll make a great addition to my burgeoning keychain totem collection!

Officially licensed product

Officially licensed product

She Can Do It! Poster

There's nothing she can't do!

There’s nothing she can’t do!

Wonder Woman in a WWII propaganda-style poster. It’s a half-size glossy version of a full-size wall poster. The artwork is gorgeous and I can’t wait to hang it!

Brawlhalla DLC card

White Fang Gnash. Whatever that means!

White Fang Gnash. Whatever that means!

Loot Crate sometimes includes steam games and such. This DLC is for the 2D Beat ‘Em Up MMO Brawlhalla. The game is free-to-play but the dlc is expensive so it’s nice to get this, I suppose. It calls itself “an alternative to Super Smash Brothers”.

Zelda Sweatband

That logo though

That logo though

I signed up for this box entirely on the promise of a Zelda wearable. I was rather let down when, instead of a tee-shirt, I got a wrist band. I definitely have use for it, but I really wanted a Zelda shirt! This one is a hit, but sort of below the belt.

The League of Regrettable Superheroes

This is a must-read!

This is a must-read!

 

This Loot Crate Edition of the book lists 100 characters throughout comic book history who were… let’s just say unsuccessful. From a giant floating eyeball to a man who can shrink to six inches tall and nothing else, these heroes did good, but were ultimately not strong (read: popular) enough to rise to comic book stardom. The hardcover book is definitely nice. This goes in the win column.

Vulcan Air Freshener

RIP Vanilla Spock

RIP Vanilla Spock

Truly the most potent Vanilla I’ve ever smelled in my life!

 

Loot Crate Heroes 2 Pin

Pin it?

Pin it?

It’s a pin. Pretty cool I guess.

Loot Crate Minimag

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This minimag covers an array of information, including the box contents and theme. There is a page dedicated to “featured Looters” and an overview of this month’s Mega and Mini-Mega crates. Other stories include the history of Batman and Wonder Woman and The Death of Superman Lives.

 

Price:

Batman 1969 Q-Pop By Quantum Mechanix $15.99 for the standard version. I guess about $20.00 for the custom print?

Batman Logo MultiTool $10.49 cents. Already, significantly over the value I paid for the Crate!

She Can Do It! Poster $19.88 for the full-size poster. Half-size, half-price? It doesn’t matter. On the financial side, everything from this point forward is just profit.

Brawlhalla DLC Not sure if it’s actually any of these. Still, it comes with a few skins and a full copy of the game. At least $10.00, probably $15.00.

Zelda Wristband I’m pretty sure this is just the gold variant of the Twilight Princess sweatbands. Regardless, both that and this Loot Crate Exclusive are selling for $6.99.

The League of Regrettable Superheroes $12.95 for the hardcover.

Pin and Airfreshener, ~$3 for both

Total Spent: $20.00

Total Value: ~$69.30

 

All-in-all, I rather like this box. You definitely can’t argue the value. Still, some of the products weren’t full-on hits with me. The quality is definitely high! The biggest disappointment for me though, is the Zelda “wearable” being a simple sweatband. I really wanted a Shirt…

 

 

And now, onto Geek Fuel’s first: A 100% exclusive box! This box contains items that can only be acquired through this box. Wha…?

100% exclusive Geek Fuel

100% exclusive Geek Fuel

Le Tour De Geek Teeshirt

Link, Harley Quinn, Forest Trooper, Batman? And blue shells. Always Blue Shells

Link, Harley Quinn, Forest Trooper, Batman? And blue shells. Always Blue Shells

Of course I’m starting with this item! It’s the Zelda tee I wanted Loot Crate to give me! Mario Kart meets The Tour De France in this shirt. We see Harley Quinn Chasing down Link in second, Batman is naturally in the chase as well. Based on the color scheme and the Trooper, I assume this is actually the Tour De Forest Moon of Endor. Five of the shirts released came in a yellow variant.

Burnstar Download

It tastes like sugar mixed with more sugar

It tastes like sugar mixed with more sugar

Every Geek Fuel box comes with a Steam download. This one seems to be a Bomberman-influenced puzzle game. Top down 2.5D Gaming. Looks like a lot of fun! Last month’s game was a pleasant surprise and turned out way more enjoyable than expected. Loved it!

Ant-Man Mini-Pint

Now with more souvenir!

Now with more souvenir!

An Ant-Man shot glass not unlike you’d find at a gift shop. The box is sharp and I love the retro helmet used for the logo.

Shiny! Button

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I’m surprised this is an exclusive button, but I certainly can’t find it anywhere! It’s from Serenity. Put it on your Brown Coat.

Aliens vs Vampirella Poster

I haven't been this excited for a book since the Necronomicon!

I haven’t been this excited for a book since the Necronomicon!

Incredible! I did not know this was a thing until I got this poster! I am so excited to see Vampirella take on the Xenomorphs! Full-size wall poster with absolutely beautiful artwork.

Marvel Civil War #1 Variant Cover

Art by Todd Nauck

Art by Todd Nauck

A certified limited edition Civil War variant. Comes sealed with the certificate.  It comes just in time to promote the new movie. Some people got a signed copy. Sadly, I was not one of them!

Certificate of Authenticity

Certificate of Authenticity

Geek Fuel Minimag

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Since Geek Fuel includes an insert describing their items, the minimag tends to be packed with extra content. The magazine goes over SDCC 2015 as well as plugs for Burnstar and Aliens Vs Vampirella. The article on Civil War is more of a plot tease, referring to President Stark and General Rogers.  There are also a couple of Geek Guides that any reader will enjoy.

 

Price:

Valuing these things is pretty hard since every single item is exclusive. Nonetheless, I’ll do my best to get an estimate of the prices.

Burnstar for Steam 10.00 for the game, plus free candy!

Civil War 001 Variant Most cover variants go for $7-10. I always do my estimates using the low side.

Ant-Man Mini-Pint It’s definitely an exclusive item. $4-5 seems about right for shot glasses

Aliens Vs Vampirella Poster, Another really hard one to quantify. But full-size posters of this variety run about $15.00.

Le Tour De Geek Shirt, again… too exclusive to quantify. These shirts are high-quality though. I price them at $12 dollars, which is definitely a low estimate for the quality of the shirts from Geek Fuel.

Shiny! Button, ~$1 for the button.

 

Total Spent: $24.00

Total Value: ~$40.00

 

The Verdict:

July

July in a box!

So, Loot Crate gives you a little more financial value in the month of July. However, if I’m to be completely honest, Geek Fuel’s assortment of items got me way more excited! I look forward to getting a game and a shirt guaranteed every month and the comic variant and shot glass are not just exclusive, but high-quality. Loot Crate Gave me a fantastic Vinyl, A beautiful poster, and an entertaining book. Geek Fuel gave me a shot glass, a full-size and detailed poster, a certified comic book variant, and a tee-shirt I wanted from Loot Crate.
For me, Geek Fuel wins the month of July. Do you agree or disagree?

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