Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Loot Crate Review: Galactic Theme, Sept. 2014

How exciting!!!

While I was at the Geek & Sundry Lounge during SDCC 2014, I received a Loot Crate as a prize. It was the July 2014 Villains themed crate and included a few extra items, such as a Geek & Sundry shot glass.

Though not everything in that crate was something I immediately loved or would have chosen, it was fun to see all the different things. The surprise aspect of the box was definitely enjoyable, and the geek-centric goodies appeal to me much more than some of the other monthly-mystery-box options out there.

Wait a sec... what is Loot Crate, you ask?

Loot Crate is one of those monthly-mystery-box subscription services.  Every month, subscribers receive a box in the mail full of items that fit the theme of the service - while other box services might provide random beauty products or fishing tackle or dog toys, Loot Crate bills itself as a service for Geeks and Gamers, and offers a selection of items associated with various fandoms, movies, and video games.  Subscriptions cost $13.37 plus shipping (HA! get it?) and the retail value of the goodies inside is worth ~$40.
Subscribers are also entered to win a monthly Mega Crate worth $750.

It's like a care package every month, without the stale cookies and awkward call to thank Aunt Ida.

Since I enjoyed the July box and the idea behind Loot Crate, I decided to sign up for the service and give it a try. I missed the August 2014 Heroes themed box (and really regret it) but I signed up for the three-month subscription in time to receive the September crate.
Note: subscriptions for the month's crate usually end on the 19th of the month, but they can close early if they run out of subs!

September's theme was Galactic. Leading up to the release of the crate, Loot Crate's social media accounts were teasing a fan-made video about Firefly, and crate items tied to the Firefly, Star Wars, and Star Trek fandoms. A further teaser was an image of an alien, from the movie Alien, busting out of the Loot Crate, so we knew an Alien item would be included. Otherwise, the exact items we were going to receive remained a mystery!  Ooh, surprises!

My first crate arrived on Saturday, September 20th.  The Galactic crate contained:
  • A fuzzy stuffed tribble from Star Trek
  • A Kenner ReAction action figure, from Alien - mine was the Alien Queen!
  • A Funko Mystery Mini from the Science Fiction series - an exclusive Captain Mal from Firefly! The regular Mal from this series holds a pistol.
  • Pop Rocks candy
  • $10,000 in space cash (from Firefly)
  • A magnet, picturing a mash-up of the Asteroids game with the asteroid field scene from The Empire Strikes Back
  • A Han Solo in carbonite mini poster
  • A code for a digital copy of Halo Escalation
  • The standard Loot Crate magazine and button

While a few things aren't exactly my style, I liked everything enough to keep it all for myself (I had told the Boyfriend I would share with him, but he wanted the tribble and I was like NO.)  Yes, I'm a greedy, horrible person. Though I did offer him the Alien to keep with his Cylon, but he declined.

My only complaint about this month's crate is... the tribble doesn't make any noise! They really missed the boat with that. I don't know how much it would have cost to stick a soundbox in each one, but how cool would that have been? To have it purr? 

Also, waiting for the crate was more fun than actually receiving it, if that makes sense. The excitement of "what if" and "when", the build up. Then I got it, and while I really like it (Trouble With Tribbles is my favorite Star Trek episode!), once the excitement had worn off I was left finding space for new toys that I might not have bought on my own. I think this is more about my personality than Loot Crate itself - my collections are carefully curated. We'll see how the next two crates go. Though there are plenty of outlets for selling or trading items you don't like, which can minimize the risk of getting something you don't care for.  I share with the Boyfriend, and odds are between the two of us we'll like everything included in our Crate (he has dibs on anything Mega Man, I get first choice of awesome females and Harrison Ford characters).

Another thing I'm curious about is how often female characters are included in the crates. My Comic Con crate included a small poster of Harley Quinn, and technically this month's Alien Queen is a female, but most of the crates I've seen are centered around male characters. Though the items themselves are quite gender neutral and this could just be a reflection of the lack of female representation in the media.  Regardless if this is a reflection of the media or LootCrate making deliberate decisions about its products, I want some Sailor Moon, Xena, She-Hulk, Zoe, and other awesome females in my future crates.

So that is my first experience with a Loot Crate subscription. Overall I enjoyed it.  It's fun receiving packages in the mail!

If you're interested in trying out the service, I definitely recommend giving it a go and seeing how you like it!

Next month: my review of the October 2014 Fear-themed Loot Crate!  Just in time for Halloween!  The Loot Crate Twitter account is already teasing exclusives from Capcom-Unity, The Walking Dead, and a t-shirt (you get to choose your size when you sign up), so it sounds like it will be a good one!

The inside of the box was decorated to look like the hold in Serenity - and look, R2!!!

Friday, September 26, 2014

5 Fandom Fridays, via The Nerdy Girlie

In the lead up to SDCC 2014 I started following a group of Comic Con blogs.  One of my favorites that I have continued to read is The Nerdy Girlie, run by Megan Gotch.  She blogged some helpful tips for Comic Con, and her posts since then are a lot of fun - she and her blog team cover TV show recommendations, music, recipes, and a whole bunch of other topics.  There's a lot of variety and the attitude is very upbeat and welcoming, too, which I really like in a blog.  

Today they posted about a new idea called "5 Fandom Friday" that was developed with the SuperSpaceChick blog.

"The basic idea of 5 Fandom Fridays is to write a weekly Friday blog post in the form of a top 5 list based on a predetermined topic." - The Nerdy Girlie

The idea is a writing prompt, but it's meant to be fun and to expand the community, help new bloggers get writing, etc.  What a fun idea!  I'm planning on participating.

5 Fandom Friday begins next Friday, October 3rd.  The prompt is "Gateway Fandoms That Made Me Who I Am Today."  To see a full list of the prompts, visit the post at The Nerdy Girlie blog.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Cosplay Ideas

Badges for San Diego Comic Con 2015 are going on sale this fall.  We had so much fun, we're going to queue up with everyone else who has early sale access (Comic Con 2014 attendees) and try to get badges again!  (omg Star Wars VII!!!  I might be camping for Hall H in 2015...)

But whether or not we get badges in this sale, I want to work on another cosplay.

The list of cosplays I want to try is kind of long, and a few are dependent on my weight/self-esteem issues.  Like, I would love to cosplay as Wonder Woman, but I don't even like wearing a swimsuit in public!  And I'm not exactly rolling in disposable income right now, so some supplies are outside my price-range at the moment and I would like to wait until I can afford the right materials to do the character justice.  But someday I'm hoping to have all of these costumes in my closet.

Characters I would love to cosplay as include:

  • Starbuck, from Battlestar Galactica
  • Wonder Woman
  • Captain Marvel
  • Various iterations of Princess Leia (Bespin Leia, Hoth Leia, ANH white dress Leia)
  • Rule 63 Han Solo
  • Xena, Warrior Princess
  • Sailor Mars
  • Sailor Pluto
  • Squirrel Girl
  • Mikasa Ackermann, from Attack On Titan
  • Bo Katan, from Clone Wars
  • Sabine, from Star Wars Rebels
  • Aayla Secura, the Twi'lek Jedi
  • Daring Do, from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic
  • Bitch Pudding
  • Rapunzel, from Tangled (as a brunette)
  • Sabriel, from the book of the same name, the Old Kingdom series
  • Brienne of Tarth
  • Rule 63 Daryl Dixon (ha!  Darlene Dixon!)
  • Lagertha, from History's Vikings
  • Rule 63 Loki (not Lady Loki from the comics, but a female version of the movie Loki)
  • Lady Sif
  • Sarah, from The Labyrinth, in her white ballgown
  • She-Ra, Princess of Power
  • Vintage/Pin-Up style Snow White
  • Marian, from Raiders of the Lost Ark
  • Rachael, from Blade Runner
  • Lumpy Space Princess
  • My SWTOR smuggler character, Chik Solo  ;-)

So that's... 31 characters.  Wow.

I wasn't sure who I would choose next.  I finished the pepakura for a Loki helmet already, so I would like to continue that costume, but the leather/pleather/leatherette would be very pricey.  Sailor Scouts/Xena/Lady Sif would be fun, but I want to be in better shape before I start working on those costumes.  I am an advocate for cosplay at any size, but to wear a Sailor fuku or leather skirt is outside my personal comfort zone right now.

Earlier today I found out that the next book in the Old Kingdom series by Garth Nix is on schedule for release this fall.  I had heard about it a year or two ago, with the projected release date in October 2014, but hadn't paid any more attention to how the book was progressing until I thought to myself, "I wonder if that is still coming out next month."  I have been thinking about rereading Sabriel recently, and can't wait for this new story.

Thanks to that, I've had Sabriel on the brain.  I found this book in high school, a few years after it had been published.  It is my favorite in the series, though I love the second and third book as well.  I identified with the main character, I wanted to be like her, I loved world it was set in and the way magic works in that universe.  This is one of the few books I am protective of, the way Lord of the Rings and Outlander fans were concerned about their books being turned into a movie or TV show - I would love a Sabriel movie, but I would be so scared that it would be done wrong.  I can't wait until my Boyfriend's niece is old enough for me to recommend it to her.  I used to reread it once a year, but thanks to grad school and using my free time to get through new-to-me series like A Song of Ice and Fire and Outlander, I haven't read it in probably five years.  /sadface!!!

But as I was looking at Garth Nix's website and the Clariel release date, I realized that Sabriel should be my next cosplay.  I was leaning towards Bitch Pudding, since it would be fairly cheap and simple to make (tights, wig, cotton dress) but I think I would enjoy cosplaying as Sabriel more.

So that might be my next project!  I am very excited and will document my progress here like I did with Endor Leia.  I found an excellent cosplay on DeviantArt by Elentari-Liv, and the details on her costume are utterly amazing.  She hand embroidered the keys on her Abhorsen tunic.  BY HAND.  That, my dears, is dedication, and I can already say I do not have the patience to do something like that.  She won an award for it at CONvergence 2012, and rightly so.  I have a few ideas of my own for my cosplay, but I am so thankful that she posted such nice photos of her own costume to provide some inspiration - like the shape of the tunic, the size of her bandolier, etc.

Other costumes I am seriously considering are Bespin Leia, Sabine from Star Wars Rebels, and female Han Solo (ok, so I reeeeeeally like Star Wars... isn't it obvious from my online name?)  Bespin Leia and female Han would be easier and cheaper than a Mando or Sabriel, that's for sure.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Sailor Moon Charm Display

Earlier this summer I found the Sailor Moon die-cast charm gashapon* set for sale at a comic book store.

I bought the entire set, but I wasn't sure what I would do with them.  They are metal, but the finish and paint would get scratched if I used them as keychains.  I placed a couple on my carry-on when we went to Comic Con, but was worried about them getting lost or ruined the entire time.

I wanted to display them, but I wasn't sure how until I was looking at Pinterest one day.  Back when my sister was planning her wedding she created a Pinterest board for wedding ideas and added me as a Pinner.  I rarely looked at it, but one day I posted a photo of a shadowbox I saw on a friend's Facebook page, one that displayed the veil and invite and other paraphernalia from the wedding day.  I posted it because it seemed like the kind of thing my sister would like, and I never would have given it a second thought except people keep repinning it and it appears in my notifications every time I go on Pinterest.

So I saw this shadowbox photo, and I thought, "That's what I should do with my gashapon set!"

I bought a shadowbox from JoAnn's when they were on sale, and some scrapbooking paper.  I wanted to hang the charms inside the shadowbox, and decorate the outside with the Sailor Moon title logo or a silhouette or glitter or something.

This is what I came up with:

I was inspired by the artwork from Sailor Moon Crystal, specifically the still images that appear before and after commercials.  I used one of those as a guide to design the Sailor Moon silhouette.  The title is based on the original anime.  I couldn't find a clean image to use as a stencil or to print, most were very grainy (actually, the one I linked is better than what I was using when I was crafting... why didn't I find that one?!)  I'm happy with the gold and pink portion, if I can get a cleaner print of the rest of it I will replace that part because the writing is sloppy, though I kind of like the '80s concert flier feel of the pink and black.

The charms are backed by a sheet of velvet scrapbook paper.  I used a nail to punch holes through the paper and a piece of cardboard.  Altogether, the supplies for this cost less than $15.00; $8.00 for the frame (on discount) and about $5.00 for the paper.

I'm very pleased with the result.  It is going to hang on the wall in my nerd cave, near my other Sailor Moon goodies.

*Gashapon are small toys and items that are sold from vending machines in Japan.  The name is an onomatopoeia, for the sounds the machine makes as you buy your toy.  These items usually cost a few hundred Yen (a few dollars American) but they are much nicer quality than the ones you find in the US for fifty cents.