In the parade of garbage-fire, dumpster-burning moments of existential gorilla-euthanising horror that 2016 has almost entirely consisted of, it’s very easy to lose sight of the good things. And, believe us, there’ve been a few, Star Trek’s 50th anniversary being one of the biggest. Okay it wasn’t really marked with anything other than the announcement of a new series (hurray!) and a massive return to form for the films with Star Trek Beyond (hurray again!) but nonetheless, the Federation has been boldly going for five decades now and we’re delighted that’s the case.
So, it seems, is Zavvi. Its ZBox service is unusual for a subscription box’o’stuff service given that it’s based in the UK. That means that the astoundingly high customs charges other services often fall prey to don’t happen which makes it a pretty attractive prospect.
Zavvi recently offered a limited edition Trek box so we thought why not give it a whirl? So we did and this is what we got.
That box is just straight-up gorgeous. Sturdy too and nicely sized. This feels like a substantial box of things and, given the blind packed nature of the service, that only adds to the excitement. Stuff imminent!
Again with the pretty! Even the lining is pretty! But what’s inside?
Stuff! Let’s take a look at what we have here, starting, of course, with the world’s sternest teddy bear.
In the great scheme of things, Captain Jean Luc Picard is perhaps not the first, or indeed, eighteenth choice for a cuddly toy. It’s not that he’s not a great Captain because he is (dead heat for us between him, Calhoun and Sisko for Greatest Captain Ever. Shelby and Mac, Kirk and Archer tie for second place. COME AT US, BRO). It’s just that the tea-drinking, literate, hyper-articulate diplomat doesn’t strike us as particularly… snugly. That being said it’s a really well-designed cuddly toy and, honestly, cute. Albeit in a severe, English, Shakespearean kind of way…
“Arena” is one of the best Trek episodes ever. It’s like an amazingly violent pseudo pilot for MacGyver with added science. We love the episode, we like the stark design on the mug so this is a win for us.
Blind item inside a blind item! Blindception! Titan has been having huge success with these ranges and it’s easy to see why. They balance the fun design of something like Funkos with a far more desk friendly size. And we got…
Yes, Bill. Carry on. Nice figure, decent design, and he sits there silently judging you. That’s another win.
Then we get…
a key ring.
That has Star Trek stuff on it.
What’s up next?
This is a postcard.
This is a 50p item in a box that cost 30 pounds. And yes to be fair the teddy and the final item almost certainly cover that price but this really, really feels like an afterthought. Especially after the key ring. In fact, it feels lazy. If you wanted to add in the fact it’s a movie quote over a series image, it’s almost insulting. Not good. Especially after the generic key ring.
One more item to turn this around.
Okay this is HOT. And we actually have one of these already so get ready to find out just how hot this is:
Cloth place mark, pen holster on the side and yes that is the saucer section of the original Enterprise on the cover. This thing feels LOVELY. It’s also carefully designed and has actual weight, heft and worth in the exact way the key ring and postcard don’t.
Grid paper on the inside (plus the adorable Starfleet logo). It sits mostly flat too and is a pleasure to write on.
And the back. Like we say this really is a lovely notebook and it adds some, bluntly, desperately needed prestige to the box.
So there we go, the final count is:
- Jean Luc Picuddly
- Arena coffee mug
- A vinyl figure
- A key ring
- A postcard
- A seriously cool notebook
Positives first. The Picard teddy is kind of adorable and has a goofy sense of fun to it. The mug’s a mug. It’s pretty. It holds coffee. Therefore it’s a good thing. The notebook is flat out gorgeous and we’d say it was worth the price of the box if we didn’t already know certain other – named for rivers – stores where you can get one for a third of the cost and none of the other, much less useful, stuff.
Negatives now. A limited edition item featuring a key ring and a postcard doesn’t feel prestigious, it feels like someone had a warehouse that needed clearing. This is meant to be a celebration of Trek’s 50th anniversary but these two items could have been the contents of a Star Trek Christmas cracker. They feel cheap. They are cheap. Even with three good items, this feels dialed-in and for a prestige release like this was supposed to be? That’s a bad look.
Even worse, the items that could have replaced them are legion. Where are the Trek comics? Or books? Why a postcard and not a still or a print? Yes the teddy is fun and yes the notebook hits the stationary addicts of MCM Towers square in the brain but that’s it. The rest of this looks like remaindered stock and that makes what should have been a celebration more of a damp squib. What works does so very well but there just isn’t enough of it. Unfortunately, if this is representative of Z-Box as a whole, then it may be worth eating those customs charges after all.