As some of you might remember, back in December I picked up one of Zavvi’s first ZBOX releases out of, well, blind curiosity I guess. To say that I was disappointed would be a gross understatement, as the box was full of generic PR tat without much (or, y’know, any) creativity behind it.
However, with Zavvi announcing ahead of time that one of the items in March’s “Retro” box would be a set of Pixel Bricks (basically scaled-down Lego with a retro video game vibe) – not to mention a bonus offer through the website that meant I could grab the box for just £14.99 – I figured I should at least give them them one more try. Benefit of the doubt, right?
The box itself was pretty slick, with a nice little mash-up of retro video game characters and some extra bonus points for the Super Mario Bros 3 quote on the inside. But as slick as the presentation is, I didn’t buy this for the packaging, I bought it for the SWAG!
First off, the Pixel Bricks. With an even shot of getting either Pac-Man or a Ghost, I think anyone who knows me has a pretty good idea of what I was hoping for…
However, my excitement was a little short-lived as I eagerly tore open the box (spilling a good number of the tiny pieces onto the floor in the process – thankfully the creators thought to include a healthy amount of spares, seemingly for just this reason), only to realise that the instructions are limited by the fact that they don’t seem to actually obey the laws of physics. Yeah. That old thing.
Building a layer and then adding another layer seems straightforward enough, but what happens when the bricks on the top layer don’t have anything on the bottom layer to attach them to? Well, you have to build the THIRD layer first, then work backwards, and so on… and so on… through about fifteen layers.
While it ended up being a bit of a logic puzzle, after an unhealthy amount of time I finally managed to put the bad boy together, and the results… well… I have to say, I’m rather pleased. A little bit menacing, sure, but weirdly cute at the same time, and a worthy addition to any Pac-Fan’s collection.
But wait, there’s more. Every ZBOX comes with a piece of custom apparel (y’know, a t-shirt), and while I was bracing myself for a generic ‘Retro Gaming’ offering, I was actually rather impressed with the result.
Okay, so it’s not mind-blowingly cool by any means, but it’s a good quality t-shirt, and is infinitely wearable. A good addition to the T-shirt rotation, and I couldn’t help but find myself gripped by a faint feeling at this stage that his box may actually be pretty decent after all.
What’s next, I wonder?
Sonic socks! Not ‘in your face’ in terms of being plastered with blue hedgehogs, but actually a pretty neat representation of the colours and layout of the Green Hill Zone. Meaning that the uninitiated will look at them and think “hey, neat socks”, while the suitably geeky will give you a sly, knowing nod when they see them – and hey, isn’t that we all kinda get a kick out of as geeks? The feeling we’re part of some secret club? No? Must just be me, then.
Bit of a throw-in, sure, but a pretty cute Lemmings-themed door hanger, with some more little in-jokes on each side. Not something I’m ever likely to use, if I’m honest, but still fairly inoffensive and – once again – NOT GENERIC PR TAT!
Woohoo! A Game Gear! Well… not exactly. It’s actually a retro gaming-themed notepad. Looking at the booklet inside the books, it looks like there were a few different choices, and while a Dreamcast one may have been a little cooler, I can’t be too mad about this. It’s fairly small, but hey, everyone needs notepads, right?
And finally, we have a free Steam full game download for Tango Fiesta. Not particularly familiar with the game, and my PC is about eight years old and – to be blunt – woefully ill equipped for gaming, but as a nice little addition to the box, this is pretty worthwhile I reckon.
Oh, and there was also a Flump, but I ate it before I had a chance to photograph it. I’m not even sorry.
Overall, this latest ZBOX release has upped the game impressively from the horrific “Guardians” box, and based on what I’ve seen from the other boxes released recently, the “PR Tat” box seems to have been something of an aberration. Obviously, being a bit of a retro gaming nut, this box held some extra appeal to me, and if I’d paid £20 for it I may have been feeling a little short-changed, but £15 is pretty much the perfect price point for this bad boy in my opinion.
April’s ZBOX has an “Animation” theme, and will include a POP! Vinyl as Zavvi bring “some of your favourite animated franchises to life this month with lots of exciting merchandise from Big Hero 6, Disney Pixar, South Park and more!”
If you’re feeling brave, you can preorder one HERE.