The rise of the monthly subscription box has been a strange one. For a monthly fee a mysterious box turns up at your doorstep containing a bunch of goodies, typically following some sort of theme. Over time these evolved to become more focused, so now there are boxes for horror fans, some for comic lovers, and even a boardgame one. I can see the appeal; a bunch of cool stuff turns up every month, so it’s a bit like a mini christmas but without the inevitable family arguments. Who knows what cool stuff could be contained with those cardboard walls?
1UP has been around since 2014 offering this service at a fairly low price, comparatively speaking. Purchasing the box on a month by month basis costs £22, and like every other company they promise that the value of the contents will exceed that. 3-month and 6-month plans are also available
At first glance the green 1UP box doesn’t inspire much excitement. Looking at the dull green cardboard I was doubtful, but popped open the lid regardless. The first thing that caught my eye was the World of Warcraft Murloc Pop Vinyl. I don’t play World of Warcraft and never have, but he’s a cute wee bugger in his own way. With a standard Ebay value of around £12 that’s a good chunk of the box’s overall value sitting right there. The POP! Vinyl figures have always been a little hit or miss with me. Some of them look cute, and others look plain silly. Still, I own two of them myself; Spike and Buffy from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, because that show was awesome and nothing you ever say can take that away from me. Frankly the other two POP!s that you can get in the box look a lot cooler. That’s luck of the draw for you, though.
Next up was the light blue t-shirt featuring an assassin panda sitting high up on some bamboo, laughing at a panda soldier trying to chop the bamboo down. The quality of the shirt isn’t amazing but its pretty good and fitted me surprisignly well. This was undoubtedly the highlight of the box for me. It’s a great looking shirt, and I have to say that a cool new tee every month would probably be the biggest reason to look forward to a service like this. According to the information sheet supplied in the box this shirt is exclusive to 1up’s new clothing line called 1upBuddies
The rest of the items proved to be a lot less interesting. There’s a Viking pin that’s clearly the Dovakhin from Skyrim without the licensing, so that’s sort of neat I guess. It’s apparently a 1up exclusive so there’s no way of putting a value on it. Following up on that there’s some Assassin’s Creed emoji stickers, something which I doubt I’ll ever use in my life, although they might make a good present for my niece, I suppose. The 3D Vault bookmarks are a bit more interesting, although once again we see a very clear licensing rip-off. Yup, they might look like they’re Fallout 4 licensed goodies, but in reality they aren’t. You can’t go far wrong with a bookmark, however, which is why it’s currently sitting on my coffee table, ready to be used on whatever book or graphic novel I’ve been engrossed with.
And that’s the box. The theme was supposed to be RPG which does sort of come through; a World of Warcraft figure, Fallout inspired bookmarks and a Dovakhin pin all fit the bill. The Assassin’s Creed inspired t-shirt and matching stickers are a tad odd as I don’t think most people would classify Ubisoft’s mammoth franchise as an RPG series, but I suppose if you close your eyes and squint a bit…nah. While I do sort of see how you could consider the AC series to fall under the RPG umbrella, the game’s have always screamed standard action-adventure.
It’s hard to put an exact value on the contents of the box. The POP! Vinyl is easy because a quick trip to Ebay reveals you can pick one up for about £10. The tee is available via 1ups new 1upBuddies website with a typical sale value of $20, which converts to about £14. The bookmark, pin, badge and stickers probably add up to a few quid more, so lets put an estimate of £26 of content within the box, for a subscription price of £22 per month unless you agree to multiple months at a time. Not terrible, not great.
But does it feel like value for money? Honestly, no. While I love the tee and appreciate being able to get something like a POP! Vinyl each month the 1UP box didn’t feel very interesting, and certainly wouldn’t be enough to get me to subscribe to the service, sadly. Sure, a bookmark is always a handy thing to have around and who doesn’t like some stickers that can be slapped on an unsuspecting friend’s head, but none of those things elicit any real excitement. They’re filler, pure and simple, designed to pad out what really amounts to a POP! Vinyl and a tee. I enjoyed unboxing 1up’s offering, and the t-shirt will get some good use, but right now they’ve not convinced me to open my wallet and start handing over cash every month.