Japan Crate May 2016 Review

May is here and so is another box of snacks and treats from Japan. This is the first month featuring the new, larger boxes with more snacks.

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As usual Japan Crate includes a booklet / mini-manga that explains what everything is and has various additional content. A bonus in all crates this month is a random Kitty Cups gashapon. Ridiculous but cute. On to the edibles.

 

The Excellent

As I’ve previously mentioned, I adore cola flavored candy. So Premium exclusives PachiPachi Panic Cola and Kajirittyo Cola Candy are exactly to my tastes. The former is a crackling candy with a mix of sour lemon in it, and the later a soft chewy rope candy with a cider flavored center. Both provide a nice combination of flavors. I also received an unlisted bonus Sour Cola Gummy Rope, which was quite good.

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The chocolate treats also continue to shine. Puku Puku Taichoco is a taiyaki cookie with a airy chocolate filling. Another Big Bar Z variation was included, and it tasted just as divine as the last one. It’s a wafer bar infused with chocolate flavor, this one White Choco. This is the clear star of this month’s box.

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.Sakusaku Panda Cookies are cute cookies with a chocolate back.  These tiny, crunchy snacks are quite tasty. Another of the Premium exclusives is King’s Lost Crown, a large cookie with a creamy chocolate filling.

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The Decent

The Premium drink this month is Hajikete Grape Cidera light, smooth drink that taste like grape soda.

There are two possible types of chips, and I got Nori Shio Potato Chips. This salted seaweed flavored snack is quite good and features a flavor unique to Japanese snacks.

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An advertised bonus for the Premium Crate that’s unlisted in the book is Japanese Oreo Snack. I got macadamia nut mini candy bars. Great inclusion.

Nomuccho Jelly is a simple DIY that produces a melon jelly when mixed with water. The consistency varies depending on how long it’s allowed to sit.

 

Caramel Corn is an interesting snack with the consistency of cheese puffs but the flavor of Cracker Jack.

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Pandaro Cookies are the second panda themed cookie this time. It’s a light, crispy butter cookie.

Sour Cider Gum is lightly flavored with another flavor unique to Japanese treats.

 

The Meh

Mochitto Kinako Mochi is traditional soybean flour covering mochi, a Japanese rice cake. This is a good inclusion, again highlighting things unique to Japanese snacks. I just personally didn’t care for the taste.

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Big Mashuro~ is indeed a big marshmallow. Hachimitsu 100% are hard candies made of honey. I like honey, but didn’t care for the flavor of these personally.

 

Conclusion

Strong start for the “new” Japan Crate. The bigger box and more snacks makes this an excellent value, and the Premium upgrade is back to easily being more than worth the extra $5.

This is my last crate for now due to budgetary restrictions, but the changes are great and I highly recommend trying out Japan Crate for yourself.

Sci-Fi Block May 2016 Review

May’s box is the final Sci-Fi Block of my subscription of science fiction and pop culture related collectibles. Let’s see how it turned out.

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I’ve never been a big fan of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy so this month’s t-shirt goes right into the trade/gift pile, but it’s a suitable property to use the design is decent.

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The product of the month is a 60th Anniversary Edition of Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. This was advertised ahead of time and is a nice alternative type of item. Fahrenheit 451 is a classic and a smart inclusion.

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Star Wars Wacky Wobblers features one of four possible characters. It looks nice and I’m ok with Kylo Ren, although I’ll admit I’d have preferred any one of the others.

The second Star Wars item this month is Furry Chewbacca Can Koozie. Absurd and amusing, which is exactly what I expect when ordering these boxes, although also something I likely won’t use.

The third and final Star Wars item is supposed to be an exclusive BB on Board Bumper Sticker. Cute design and pun. Unfortunately it was missing from my block.

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For the third month in a row, my box includes a “classic” style action figure. This time it’s a Funko Reaction: Star Trek Spock figure. Although there’s no variety in possible figures this time, Spock’s a good choice. Whether due to packing of the block or the figure’s packaging itself, mine arrived open with the plastic detached from the card back. Disappointing, since I likely would have tried to trade this. The figure and accessory were undamaged though.

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The Futurama Art Print comes in green or blue and looks good, but I personally don’t care much for these as inclusions in general.

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Conclusion

My experience with Nerd Block’s latest offering, Sci-Fi Block, was ok. I was disappointed to discover after subscribing that their “choose your block, switch anytime” advertising on the main page doesn’t apply to Sci-Fi Block. I honestly would’ve switched to Arcade Block after one month if I had been able. AB’s just more to my tastes. And this final month brought both my first packaging problem and my first missing item among all the NB products I’ve tried.

On the other hand the quality and variety of stuff in the boxes was good, even if the property choices weren’t always to my tastes. While it didn’t quite work out for me and I won’t be renewing it’s a decent product that will be worth it to certain collectors.

Nerd Block: Limited Edition International Tabletop Day Box Review

The Limited Edition International Tabletop Gaming Day Box from Nerd Block and Geek & Sundry was my first of NB’s special blocks. Unfortunately it will likely be my last.

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The t-shirt is nice, prominently featuring the International Tabletop Day logo. Sadly, it’s mostly downhill from here.

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The majority of the space in the box was taken up by the Magic The Gathering Legacy Collection Figure. Look, I understand how these boxes work, and I’m not surprised to be getting overstock. But for double the price of a “normal” block I expect better than so much space and around 1/3 of the advertised “value” ($25 retail price of the promised $75+ value) of the items being a two year old figure selling for less than $10 in local game store bargain bins. Figure itself looks fine, but is nothing special.

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Dungeons and Dragons Shadows of the Vampire comic #1 is a reasonable inclusion, although the exclusive cover featuring the cast of one of Geek & Sundry’s shows does nothing for me (and this will be a recurring theme).

Wil Wheaton’s D6 is a somewhat amusing novelty die featuring one dot on five sides and a logo on the sixth. The No Survivors Notepad is a meh item in my mind with a logo/branding for one of Geek & Sundry’s shows.

I like the Geek & Sundry Player Tokens and Velvet Pouch in general. The tokens are a nice size and have good weight. The five classes represented are decent choices and the related logos/designs are good. However this is one of many spots where the sponsor’s branding is an issue for me. Geek & Sundry is very prominent on the bag, as well as on the back of all the tokens. That’s a lot for me already, then on the face of the tokens Geek & Sundry is prominently featured across the top. Honestly I would be fine with all of this if all of the other items were on theme instead of featuring the sponsor, but that’s not the case.

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The playing cards are a logical inclusion, if a little plain. My issue is again the branding. International Tabletop Day is on one side of the outer box, but it’s Geek & Sundry plastered on the back of every card. A pair of pencils doesn’t impress me, with or without the Felicia Day quote. The last item is a Geek & Sundry bumper sticker. Sigh.

 

Conclusion

I have to say I’m disappointed with this special edition block, and won’t be getting any more. My monthly Nerd/Arcade/Sci-Fi Block items aren’t plastered with the Nerd Block logo, and for TWICE the price of a normal block I expected much more emphasis on the Tabletop Day theme and much less on the sponsor. “International Tabletop Day” or its logo was on 2 of the 9 items (3 if you want to be generous and count being on the outer box only of the deck of cards). Geek & Sundry logos were on 7 of 9 items, ridiculously so on 3 of them.

I’m sorry if it seems like I’m harping, but again for the additional cost I feel like if anything was repeatedly featured on the included items it should have been the advertised theme. Instead I feel like I payed for a Geek & Sundry advertising kit. If this was advertised as a “Geek & Sundry” block rather than an “International Tabletop Day” block BY Geek & Sundry and Nerd Block I never would have bought it in the first place.

Japan Crate April 2016 Review

April is here and so is another box of snacks and treats from Japan.

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As usual Japan Crate includes a booklet / mini-manga that explains what everything is and has various additional content. A small plastic otter from AMUSE called Kawauso No Kotsume is the promised “make-up item” for past shipping delays. Whatever. On to the edibles.

 

The Excellent

Puru Mocchi Grape is the best of the three gummies this month, with both tart and sweet flavor overtones. I also enjoyed the variety, flavors and texture of the Fruit Shop Gummy  a lot.

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Sherbert Pero Cola  was described as a combination of Fun Dip and Pop Rocks, and that’s pretty accurate. The hard power style lollipop is cola flavored and the dipping powder designed to add a fizzy taste/texture. A unique, tasty candy.

The chocolate treats continue to shine, as the airy Caplicocot chocolate hearts and the panda decorated Sakupan Giant Wafer chocolate cookie were easily my overall favorites this month.

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The Decent

We got another version of Fue Ramune this month. They have consistency similar to mint lifesavers (though “break” easier when chewed) and taste strongly of the named drink. They are shaped to create a whistling sound for added amusement. 123 Green Apple Gum is exactly as the title implies, and fine for what it is.

Rock, Paper, Scissor Gummy has been sent before, but it’s still amusing and the cola flavor keeps it high in my estimation.

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Chip Star Ebikoubashi and Calbee Shrimp Chips both feature the unique Japanese snack flavor. The former have the consistency of Pringles and are a nice variation. I’ve had the latter before, but not in the Hot Garlic flavor I received (there were four possible). Good inclusions here.

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The Premium drink was Pineapple Soda. Nice, light soda that tastes as advertised.

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Waku Waku Zoo Animal DIY is one of the best DIY’s they’ve included.

 

The strawberry and lemon “doughs” included were didn’t require any added water or mixing, which was nice. Just take them out of the package and place into the molds as desired. Add the lollipop sticks and close the molds for a few seconds and they make cutely shaped gummy lollipops they have a good, chewy texture.

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There was enough dough to make two “batches” (four lollipops) and experiment with the flavor combinations a bit. Very nice overall.

 

The Meh

Wow, Such Banana?! is supposedly back by popular demand. It’s a banana shaped/flavored marshmallow treat filled with chocolate, if you can call a tiny thread running through the center “filled with.” The chocolate was tastable though and this wasn’t bad but I personally didn’t need it repeated so it gets a meh this time around, especially as one of the few Premium exclusives.

 

Conclusion

Good batch this month, with numerous original and varied snacks. I am getting a bit disillusioned with the Premium upgrades though, as they’ve decreased in number and are now containing repeats. The good news is they’ve just announced upgrades to the number of items and inclusion of brand name snacks starting next month (with Japanese Oreos).

This was the last crate of my subscription and I’ll likely have to stop soon due to budgetary restrictions, but I’m continuing at least one more month to check out the promised changes. I’m still enjoying Japan Crate a great deal overall a year into my experience with them.

Sci-Fi Block April 2016 Review

Let’s see how April’s box of science fiction and pop culture related collectibles turned out.

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While I’ve seen similar designs, this month’s t-shirt featuring Sci-Fi Spaceship Silhouettes is quite well done. Can definitely see myself wearing this.

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A second clothing item was part of this month’s block in the form of Star Wars Ankle Socks. Five different designs in the pack, and there were two different possible packs. Amusing.

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Like last month, there was a “classic” style action figure included. This time it was one of three Funko Reaction: Firefly figures: Mal, Kaylee, or Wash. The fact that Wash came with tiny dinosaur accessories amuses me to no end.

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My favorite thing this month is easily the Star Wars Projector Pen. It projects an awesome little stormtrooper design.

I might not be a big ET fan, but the exclusive Phone Home Magnet is awesome none the less.

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I enjoyed the latest Mad Max movie a lot, so the Fury Road Comic #1 with exclusive Jim Lee variant cover is nice to get and will be interesting to read.

The product of the month is one of two possible Doctor Who Wacky Wobblers. Looks decent, but as I’ve mentioned before Doctor Who does nothing for me.

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Conclusion

Strong month for Sci-Fi Block overall, with great quality and impressive variety in both properties and type of items. This may actually have been the best single box of any version I’ve received. I have one more Sci-Fi block in my subscription, and am looking forward to it a great deal now.

Japan Crate March 2016 Review

March is here and so is another box of snacks and treats from Japan.

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As usual Japan Crate includes a booklet / mini-manga that explains what everything is and has various additional content.

The Excellent

Yuki No Yado Chips are said to be a rice cracker variation and have a “snow-like” frosting. The balance of sweet and salty is perfect and this was easily my favorite snack this time.

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The first of several great crunchy chocolate treats this month was Furuta Dodeka Bar, one of the Premium exclusives. Fantastic 10 inch candy bar resembling a lighter textured Nestle Crunch.

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The Premium bonus item was Sakupan Land chocolate covered cookies. Each was printed with a different panda face. They came in almond cream, caramel chocolate, and dark chocolate. I got the dark chocolate version and they were delicious. In the same vein and equally tasty were 7 Stick Choco Cream, a batch of seven chocolate filled crunchy wafers.

 

The Decent

Fue Ramune have consistency similar to mint lifesavers (though “break” easier when chewed) and taste strongly of the named drink. They are shaped to create a whistling sound and come with a mini toy for added amusement.

Three more varieties of Umaino Sticks included this month. All three (teriyaki, corn potage, and pizza) were good and tasted reasonably like their advertised flavor.

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Two Yaokin Roll Candies were included: strawberry and green apple. These were sweet, sticky versions of fruit roll ups. I preferred the strawberry, but both were good and had decent flavor to them.

The Premium drink was either Sangaria Ume Soda or Yogu Time. I got the yogurt drink in orange flavor. It’s a nice, light drink, somewhat reminiscent of Sunny Delight with a creamier taste.

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My Kasugai Gummy flavor was pineapple, so along with the Pine-ame Gummy I got two types of such flavored gummy candies this month. They had slightly different texture and flavor, and made a nice contrast. The other possible Kasugai Gummy flavors were lychee, peach, and ramune.

The Meh

There were two possible DIY Kits this month, and I got Choco Kinako Mochi DIY. I have to say I didn’t care for the kinako, and the rehydrated mochi pellets could have been better. I do appreciate it’s inclusion as something unique and different, regardless of not liking it personally.

 

Conclusion

I’m impressed with the number of different flavors and variations possible in this month’s crate. It adds to the surprise and fun. The snacks themselves were largely great, and this was possibly the best crate I’ve gotten yet.

Sci-Fi Block March 2016 Review

Sci-Fi block is the newest edition to the Nerd Block family. Being a fan of the genre I decided to give it a try, although apparently I was under misconceptions about my options should I decide I preferred one of their other offerings.

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The products of the month are a Doctor Who lunchbox and cup. I adore the idea of the items, but the property does nothing for me so these are kind of wasted potential in my case.

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On the other hand I am a rather big fan of The Fifth Element, so the “classic style” Leeloo action figure and multipass (!!!) amuse me greatly. There were three other possible figures. The multipass comes with sticker that can be filled in with your own info if you’d like. Love it.

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I collect keychains and the three possible Guardians of the Galaxy Pocket Pop! all looked good. Pleased that I got Dancing Groot though. Can’t complain about the high quality of the art print showcasing Kenner’s original Boba Fett figure, although it’s not something I’m likely to display.

 

The T-Shirt this month is an amusing mash up design featuring Rock’Em Sock’Em Terminators.

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Conclusion

Sci-Fi block is decent enough, with a nice variety of items and properties. I seem to have started at the wrong time though, because I am not personally a fan of Doctor Who and not only were this month’s featured items related but more Doctor Who merchandise is advertised for next month. My personal inclination is to switch to Arcade Block, but I found out Sci-Fi Block is not included in the allowable subscription switching for some reason (despite costing exactly as much as the ones that are).

Don’t misunderstand, this is a good block that will certainly be worth it for most sci-fi fans (and I liked it considerably more than the classic Nerd Block). I’m just lukewarm on a couple of the big properties they’re likely to include. I’m happy enough with this box, but not sure I want to gamble on future ones. Might suspend my subscription until they let me change it. We’ll see.