Friday, December 16, 2016

Halo Lootcrate #3 - Unboxing/Review (Did They Improve?)

Hello once again, Halo fans and/or fellow Craters... crate fans... looters.... whatever, you get the idea.  Anyways, the 3rd Halo Lootcrate just arrived on my doorstep hours ago, so I figured I would take this moment to go through it with you...  but there is a prefix for this one.

The preface is this: I actually cancelled my subscription a week or two ago!  I go so mad at Halo as whole, was very, VERY SALTY, over my inherent LACK OF SKILL at the game.  For a few days, I wanted NOTHING to do with halo, couldn't even stand looking at at anything Halo-related, which brought up some negative feelings/thoughts about the previous crates as well.  But, eventually I ended up cooling down after a few days, and decided to UN-cancel the cancellation.  So, what does this mean?  Well, there was a cancellation survey, and I let them know of a few of their shortcomings in my eyes, which really has altered how I'll be looking at these.  I'll no longer be a "poster boy of positivity", so this will be more of a genuine critique.  That said, lets get started...

... and yes, the fact that I still suck at Halo can still be rage-inducing at times!   

Up first, as always is the data packet... and once again, it was pretty mangled in the box!  It's kind of a bummer, as someone who would have saved and displayed the little card images.  It's a minor annoyance at best.  Luckily, the "Installation 04 Library Card" was plastic-coated so survived unscathed.  I got a bit of a chuckle out of it, so after signing it with my GT (WuhSawBe) it definitely made it on display.  I do also enjoy reading the data drops, not sure anyone else does, but they are fun....

Next, I pulled out this small little box mostly because its size caught my eye, and I had no clue what it could possibly be since the outside of the box didn't give anything away as I can't read Sangheili!  Needless to say, once I popped the lid, I was surprised to find a miniature Elite Energy Sword... it even lights up!  This kind of stuff is the type of perfect display piece I LOVE to see, stuff I can throw onto my shelves in the Nerd Lair!  Technically, it is a letter opener for those that were wondering.  I also want to mention just how impressed I am by the design of the box itself, very minimalist, mysterious, thematic, and executed nicely.  Why do I even care about the box?  Well it hearkens back to my time as an Illustrator and Graphic Designer in art school, well we at times had to design packaging as well as just the contents.  Needless to say, the box made it into my Halo display as well!

Next, I grabbed the figure, and got him all set up.  The first figure, the red vs blue, was pretty good, the 2nd one with Buck was a let down.... this one, featuring Chief leap-frogging a grunt, may be my new favorite.  I like the overall dynamic pose and movement, and the fact that get to see our first covenant minion incorporated into the figures.  Lootcrate, if you are out there listening, I'd LOVE to see MORE COVENANT baddies involved like this somehow!  A figure of Halo 5's Goblin Grunt Mech would be EPIC!  (I'd settle for a more grunts, especially the suicidal plasma bomber ones)  Gushing aside, my rifle did come a bit warped, but its hardly noticeable, (only from top-down) and really it kind of adds to the cartoony look.  I'm ok with it, but I can see some collectors being very anal about that type of thing.

Next, I grabbed a larger box, with the same covenant design as the energy sword.  Once again, until I opened it, I had no idea what was actually in it, but noticed how weighty it was.  Once again, I was blown away with what I found inside, a Plasma grenade coffee mug!  This is perfect for me personally, as I pretty much drink coffee 24/7 (on my 2nd pot already today!), so this definitely see a lot of use!  Honestly, my over consumption of coffee could possible explain why I've felt so high-strung about Halo and other hobby stuff as late, but I'm digressing...  It's a medium sized mug, lots of 3D elements, beautifully textured in a shiny "covenant purple" with a few bits of neon green in come of grooves.  Again, this is going to see so much use!  If you are not a massive coffee/tea drinker, you can use for for pens and such on your desk at work, or as a spot by your xbox to hold the USB cable, TV Remote, etc.

Next, I grabbed the shirt.  Now, let me mention something: one of the bits of feedback I gave Lootcrate was in regards to their shirt designs, which for whatever reason, I feel have been a bit lackluster and weak. (imo)  The first crate's shirt, the green hoodie (which ironically, I'm currently wearing) wasn't bad, the Pajama pants from crate #2 were cool, but the shirt was a let down.  This one, while far from being cool, is a step in the right direction... but a small step.  You have all of the Halo franchise's extensive lore, graphics, iconography, characters, etc but it doesn't feel like any of that is being utilized for the shirts.  Look at the type of designs that Jinx produces, THAT'S WHAT I WANT!  I've seen some cool shirts come out of their crates for other IP, so what's up with the struggle-bus for these Halo ones?  Again, better than crate #2's shirt, but the bar was pretty low on that one.  Maybe it's because as a graphic designer I've done a few shirt design projects on the side, including some for sci-fi IP's like Battletech, that this may rankled me a bit more.  Honestly, give whomever designed the covenant boxes for the sword/mug a shot at designing the shirts, clearly they have a better eye for design!  Honestly, I would have LOVED to this crate's interior art made shirt, now THAT would have been cool!  (more on that later)

Next up, the pin.  The Fireteam Apollo pin from crate #1 wasn't bad, but the sticky pin from #2 was a bit meh, but this one may be one of the best pins so far.  For me, few things outside of Master Chief himself just say HALO to me more than "O".  I see the "O" and I instantly recognize Halo.  Spot on with his one.  As with the other pins, I added this one to my growing pin display in my Nerd Lair.

Next up are a sheet of stickers/decals from controller gear, these are also featured on the weapon skins in this crate as well.  (more on those later)  this will be hit or miss for some.  I honestly thinking about checking out some of the other products by Controller Gear, so these will be to be a nice tester product.  a UNSC symbol, ONI, Fireteam Osiris, or even a Fireteam Apollo would have been great in place of a few of these.  I'll find a spot for a few of these at least...

As with the last one, we get another poster, which on the back has crate's contents and the code for Req Pack.  Very cool image, and just as I did with Crate #2's ODST poster, I'll be picking up a frame a bit later today and hanging this one up in the Nerd Lair

The Req Pack came with this set of skins.  In the cancellation survey, I mentioned wanting to see more exclusive in-game content, so this is a step in the right direction.  Albeit, I'd rather have a weapon set of Fireteam Apollo skins to go with the Apollo emblem I've been rocking ever since I received it in the first crate.  My daughter would love these, as orange is her favorite color, and if she were given a BoomCo AR and this crate's sticker pack, I'm sure she'd prolly do something with them similar to these!  I'm currently gonna give these skins a go in-game, but seeing as I'm very superstitious about my weapon skins being tied to performance (or lack there of) unless these guys bring me an insane amount of luck, I'll more than likely revert back to my Default/Bracer weapon skins.  (Bracer matches my Spartan the best overall)  Lootcrate, if you are listening, MORE FIRETEAM APOLLO STUFF, PLEASE!

Finally, now that the box is empty, here is the interior art.  Nicely executed, quick and sketchy, computer graphic.  As I mentioned above, now THIS would have made for a much more impressive shirt imo!  Use that same off white shirt, this image, utilizing only shades of blue, a darker blue and a lighter one, offset the image the shirt's left-side, distress the image if need be... BOOM.  Done.  That shirt would have come out to be much more impressive in my opinion than crate #2's and even the Keyes one from this crate.  Heck, I may even do a quick mock-up just to really spell it out... 

And there you have it!  I'll leave with a shot of one of my many display shelves in my Nerd Lair, which is becoming overcrowded enough that I may have to start spreading things out a bit!  Overall, I'm happy I decided to stick with the subscription, as this may have been the best one thus far imo, as far as what I personally would like to see and receive.  Your mileage may vary.  The winners in this crate are the mug, sword, and figure, and they've made a few improvements to some of their shortcomings in the past.  That said, they really NEED to step up the quality of their shirt designs for Halo.  Dig a little deeper.  This crate felt like it hit the $40 pricetag in regards to its value to ME, but it didn't go above and beyond that. An epic shirt would have easily put the crate's value at the $60 mark in eyes.  Don't get me wrong,  they knocked it out of the park with mug and figure, and I'm still pleased with crate #3, but I'm still scratching my head at the shirt.  My final thought is that I would like to see even more connections to Fireteam Apollo be made, especially as far as the in-game content goes, and outside of mentioning Apollo in the data drop, I haven't seen much done with the Fireteam, which is a bit of a "missed opportunity" as my art school classmates/professors were so fond of saying at every critique.

So, there you have it!  What do guys/gals think of Crate #3?  Hit or Miss?  Improvement over the last one or not as much?  Have you been using the stuff you've received, or what would YOU like to see done in future crates?


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