Mar 25, 2015

March 2015 Loot Crate - Covert

Disclaimer
The items below were provided to me by Loot Crate High Command in exchange for briefing you on its contents...and possibly an unnamed assassination to take place at a later date.

Welcome, agent. I trust your papers were in order?
Excellent! Then we can proceed to brief you on this month's loadout.

March 2015 Loot Crate Book & Pin

This month's gear guide features articles on spies of the Silver Screen and the Metal Gear series of video games along with the standard breakdown of what's in the box.

March 2015 Loot Crate Shirt

While I kind of dig this shirt, it's got two things against it. One, I don't like white t-shirts, mainly because after awhile they get pit stains and no one wants that. Two, it's a thin material. I prefer my shirts a little more on the Beefy side.

March 2015 Loot Crate Gear

Next is some neat stuff no field agent should be without. A pair of pocket-sized notebooks from Field Notes. One has your average every day lined pages, and the other is graph paper; great for mapping out the enemy stronghold. Below them is an "exclusive" paracord bracelet. The exclusivity comes from the Loot Crate logo which is something you can easily slide off if you want to wear it. I would probably wear this in October (it's orange & black!) except that it's too small for my wrist!

And then there's the "Blink Time" stealth watch from 50 Fifty Gifts. I've seen similar watches popping up with different designs on them. It's not very stealthy, I mean, it looks like a watch, right? But in order to see the time, you have to press a button on the face to make the LEDs light up. Handy if you need to "go dark."

March 2015 Loot Crate Mad LIbs & Comic

Who doesn't love Mad Libs? There's no end to the fun of filling in the blanks like a 12 year old. That's not sarcasm, but my honest opinion on the best way to play! We also got another comic with a LC exclusive cover and it just happens to be one of my favorite shows getting the four color treatment!

March 2015 Loot Crate SHIELD Badge

When they announced the covert theme of March's Loot Crate, they also teased an exclusive Agents of SHIELD item. It's not quite what I was expecting, but I suppose if I ever want to cosplay as a SHIELD agent, this official prop replica will be handy.

March 2015 Loot Crate Computer

I hate to say it, but I think my favorite thing about Loot Crate this month was the box! And if you think it just looks cool, you need to go back to spy school.
Let's take a closer look at the "screen."

March 2015 Loot Crate Compuer Screen

If you go to that website, you'll find a login screen similar to what you see here. But what's the user name? Go back and take a gander at the keyboard. See how there's some letters that are different colors? Notice the login name starts with N? Unscramble the letters and you get your login name!

This is just the start of a scavenger hunt with videos from the evil Gruber McEvil that will have you scouring the contents of your Crate to find the next clue. Eventually, if you're the right agent for this mission, you'll get here...

March 2015 Loot Crate Victory

I actually had a lot of fun figuring out the clues. It's not rocket surgery by any means, if you guess the wrong answer you'll get a vague hint as to what they're looking for, but it was something to do with the stuff in the box instead of just look at it.

If you'd like to get a box full o geekiness delivered every month, sign up at Loot Crate and use the promo code AEIOUWHY for 10% any subscription plan.

Mar 19, 2015

Topps Star Wars Card Trader

Topps recently released a free iOS app called Star Wars Card Trader, let's take a look!

Topps Star Wars Card Trader

Way back in the day, there was a corner variety store about a 10 minute walk/quick bike ride from where I lived. There were three things I scraped up spare change for: video games, penny candy, and Topps Star Wars trading cards. Collecting all the series of Star Wars cards they did over the years was one of my favorite aspects of collecting. It was so much fun tearing open packs and finding cards you hadn't seen before.

I didn't have a lot of friends that collected the cards so there wasn't a lot of trading. But there was one flea market my dad would take me to that had a dealer with a huge box of single cards you could root through for a nickel each (I think the sticker cards were a dime or quarter) so that's how I finished my sets. Back in the pre-everything days you never saw a card unless you (or someone you knew) had it so it was kind of a special thing to discover a card for the first time.

Checking out any new Star Wars app is pretty much a given with me but this one had me intrigued. I've played more than a few digital trading card games but in those places, the cards are a commodity that help your game. What would the appeal be of digital trading cards that you can't hold?

It's all about that chase, bout that chase, no doubles.
To put it another way: bragging rights!

Topps is taking the app in the same direction as their physical cards. There's a base set with multiple levels of parallels. In the physical card world, parallels are usually the same card from the base set with a colored foil border on it and produced in fewer number. I'm finding it to be a little ridiculous right now.

Topps Star Wars Card Trader

Here's part of the card checklist. There's going to be five versions of the Search for Skywalker Vader card (top right) and the further away from that base white card you go, the rarer the colors get. But one thing all these chase variants do is give you more cards to trade and more sets to complete. When you complete a set, you get Credits to spend.

Card packs are bought with in app currency called Credits. You're given some to start and you can earn more every day just by opening the app. There's also offers you can complete, some require you to watch a short video (free) and some you have to complete an offer (paid). And of course, you can flat out change you dollars for Credits if you want. There are several packs to choose from, each with its own odds of pulling a mix of base cards as well as cards you can only get in that pack.

Topps Star Wars Card Collector

What gets annoying is that some of the packs (and their cards) come and go seemingly at random if you don't stay up to date on the in-app announcements. On top of that, some chase cards are only available on certain days. So not only is it rare, you have to know when you might be able get it. In addition to that, there are limited edition packs which only have a few hundred available on a first come, first serve basis.

To add further insult to injury, some of these rare cards are only available in Master Packs. These packs are only available if you spend as little as $1 in the store. And even then, they're only unlocked for the day that you spent money. If you want to try your luck with the Master Packs the next day, you have to spend more money. Although a dollar a day isn't that bad I guess. I know if I had a spare dollar back in the day, I'd be walking home with as many wax packs as I could!

The base cards are kind of boring and are character focused. Not like the old sets where there were a few character cards and the rest were scenes. They probably wouldn't be as boring if there weren't multiple versions with the same image. But the app is still young and I imagine they're going to throw everything they can into it eventually. Right now there are some insert cards that look a little different from the regular ones and those are much more dynamic (see below). But what I'd love to see are those original sets.

Inserts

Also, this app is the only place you can get The Force Awakens preview cards for now.

Force Awakens

If you're a gotta get em all type, you may want to steer clear. You'd have to devote some serious time trading and/or money to get all the cards. For now, I'm having just fun and plan to get what I can without dropping any money.

Trading with other users is a snap and I have to give Topps props for making it so you can look at someone's cards and know what you need for your collection, what they need from you, and what duplicates you both have without having to flip between screens.

If you decide to give it a whirl, look me up under Dex1138 and maybe we can do some trading! It's currently only available on iOS but there are plans to bring it to Android.

ProTip
When you get your daily bonus for logging in, don't spend it all at once! Chances are there will be other card packs on sale throughout the day.

ProTip
If you don't want to miss when new cards are available (and some can have a limited number up for grabs) be sure to set the notification alert on your device.

Mar 17, 2015

Ghostbusters Playing Cards

When there's a game in your neighborhood, who ya gonna call?

Albino Dragon, that's who! They're the company behind this officially licensed deck of Ghostbusters playing cards. This originated as a Kickstarter project and as you can imagine, you didn't need a PKE meter to see it was going to go off the charts. They ended up raising a little over two times their goal of $10k.

Ghostbusters Cards Back & Box 

They've put some nice details into this deck to make it better than average. I mean, it's Ghostbusters, it's not like they really need to do something like put images on the sides of the box. People are going to buy these.

Ghostbusters Cards Box side

I think they did a phenomenal job with the choice of art style for this deck. It's cartoony, but it absolutely captures the essence of each character. I'd love to see a modern animated series in this style. But with all this reboot talk going around, would an animated show with the original crew even get off the ground?

Ghostbusters Cards Zuul crew

Genius move to make Gatekeeper Dana and Keymaster Tully the Queen and Jack of Hearts.
Joker terror dogs? Fantastic!

Ghostbusters Cards heroes

And of course our heroes are the Kings! Plus they even include Peck, how cool is that? Another detail on the court cards is the proton stream that splits the images horizontally.

If you missed out on the Kickstarter, you can pick these up directly from Albino Dragon. But you may want to hold to your wallets before you do because they also have a Goonies deck and several Princess Bride items. Did I mention they have Gremlins in the works too?

Mar 13, 2015

Now Hear This - Tragedy: All Metal Tribute to the Bee Gees and Beyond

It's Friday night, another work week done! 
Are you're looking for something to help kick off the weekend?


They're like the metal version of the Village People!
Check out The Weather Girls' "It's Raining Men" mashed with Slayer's "Raining Blood!" To get the maximum effect, you really have to watch their videos and not just listen to the music.


If this doesn't put you in a head banging mood with a stupid grin on your face, there's probably no hope for your weekend.


If those videos aren't enough to quench your new found thirst for metal covers of Bee Gees songs, head over to Tragedy's website where you can preview more songs and videos.

Mar 4, 2015

February 2015 Loot Crate - Play

Are you ready to PLAY? February's Loot Crate is!


Disclaimer: Loot Crate provides their product to me every month in exchange for a review and general promotion on social media.

Let's see what they brought to the table this month...

February 2015 Loot Crate Mag & Button

The booklet this month has an article on why co-op gaming is good for you and this very cool history of gaming controllers. I'd love to have this as a full size poster!

February 2015 Loot Crate Controllers

Being an Atari kid, I have a small gripe that they left out the 2600 paddle and the 5200 controller. But if you have to pick only one to represent Atari, that is THE one. Also missing is the controller from the Magnavox Odyssey which came out three years before Atari's home Pong console. And where is the NES light gun?!

February 2015 Loot Crate Munny & Bug

Here we have a "blank" Munny figure that the artistically inclined can customize. I'm am not so inclined but if I were, I'd submit my design to the custom contest that Loot Crate is having. There's also a Hex Bug ant. I don't really "get" these things but I'm not exactly the target audience either. I bet any young lad would be thrilled with a robo-insect! On the back of the Firefly postcard is a promo code to unlock an exclusive ship in the MMO when it goes live.

February 2015 Loot Crate Ready Player One

This is probably the one thing I'm most excited about this month! When I first read the book, I checked it out of the library so I'm glad to have my very own copy now. I can count on my fingers the number of books I've re-read in my life and I plan to add this to that exclusive list.

February 2015 Loot Crate Superfight

This 100 card Superfight deck is a Loot Crate exclusive. Superfight is a party-type game where players create crazy fighters and argue the case as to why their fighter would win. Players get three white and black cards and pick one of each to make their fighter. Black cards are characters and the white cards are enhancements. Blue (locations) and purple (situations) are optional. A typical round might look a little something like this...

February 2015 Loot Crate Superfight cards

My money's on the derby girl. What about you?

We also got a 9"x13" Wacka-Wacka poster by Manny Peters. I wasn't able to get a good photo of it but I did want to mention it because it's classic video gaming and Atari related!

Lastly, your cat isn't the only one that can have fun playing with this month's Loot Crate box!

February 2015 Loot Crate Game Box

That's right, the Crate itself unfolds into a game board! The booklet has punch out player pieces and tokens representing the five different items they have to collect to be the first to pack a Loot Crate. What's next, a game about sweatshop workers making knockoff purses? Kidding! You move around the board using the exclusive rock-paper-scissors dice.

February 2015 Loot Crate RPS Dice

And you can also toss the RPS dice in their velveteen bag to carry around in case the urge to play strikes you. Of course playing with dice removes the psychological aspect of the game, but if you're uber lazy I guess this is the way to do it.

Overall, I'd say this month was just ok for me. I'm thrilled to have Ready Player One and the Pac-Man poster, Superfight seems like it could be fun, and they continue to inovate with the box interiors. The rest I could take or leave but I'm definitely looking forward to March when Loot Crate goes COVERT with the promise of an exclusive SHIELD item (see right sidebar).

If you want to check out Loot Crate and get a surprise box o' stuff, head yourself on over to Loot Crate and enter promo code AEIOUwhy for 10% off.

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