Today is Icethetics' 11th birthday and I'm trying something a little different today. I don't think I've ever reviewed merchandise on Icethetics before, but I came across a site a few weeks that seemed like it would cater well to those of us with a love for hockey logos. Plus, it's the site's birthday so it deserves a nice present.
The site is FANCHEST.com. They sell curated gift boxes filled with an assortment of branded merchandise and apparel tailored to fans of specific sports team — one of which happened to be the Tampa Bay Lightning. So I had to give it a shot. I decided to place an order and write about the experience here in case any readers were interested.
A little background first. FANCHEST is a Brooklyn-based startup founded in 2015. They source their gift boxes by working with licensed manufacturing partners rather than producing any merchandise themselves.
When you order a FANCHEST box, you'll see a photo on their website but you're not guaranteed to get any of the specific items pictured. You'll get a random selection of whatever is available when they pack it. The base price for a standard box is $60 but they say the merchandise inside is worth at least $80 — so it should be a deal.
I placed my order on April 24 for Tampa Bay Lightning FANCHEST IV. The Roman numeral suggests this was the fourth iteration of the Lightning box. I'm assuming they iterate as new merchandise arrives to entice fans into buying more boxes with new gear.
By the way, the image on their website of the Lightning box showed nine items, really leaving you feeling like you're getting a lot. But when you read the "What's Inside" section of the product page, they do only promise five branded items. (For the record, I did get five and none were the pictured items.)
Three shipping options were offered. To be honest, as a spoiled Amazon Prime member, I was a little put off by the $15 two-day shipping fee. But I'm an adult with patience so I went with the $6 FedEx SmartPost option. The added fee was offset by the $10 coupon code new users get when signing up for a FANCHEST account.
The FANCHEST website estimated 5 to 8 business days for my delivery. The package was shipped two days later on April 26. My FedEx tracking code estimated delivery on May 8, which would have been 9 business days. To my surprise, the box arrived early. It was delivered on Sat., May 5 — technically 7 business days and one weekend day after I placed the order.
It felt like a bit of a wait, but again I think it's just because I've been spoiled by Amazon and its ubiquitous warehouse locations. FANCHEST ships from the east coast and I'm on the west coast. A bit of a wait is probably inevitable.
It total, I spent $54.99 on my first FANCHEST. All right. Boring stuff out of the way, let's open the box and see what I got! (And if I got a good deal.)
First, it's a well-branded box with the FANCHEST logo and web address on pretty much every side. So if you're thinking about buying it as a gift for someone in your household, just be aware of that. I'm not sure if they any gift wrapping options.
The box is about 13 inches wide, 9.5 inches long, and 5 inches deep. When I opened it, it was packed to the brim with a bit of crinkled packing paper to keep things from moving around too much during shipping.
Sitting right on top was a brand new Tampa Bay Lightning T-shirt from '47. It's good quality material and very comfortable. It's something I could definitely see buying in a store. Also, they knew my size because that's an option to select when placing the order.
A quick search on the '47 website shows similar shirts on sale for $38. Already that's about 70% of what I spent on the entire box. So far so good.
Next, the largest item squeezed into the box was this fleece throw — a 5-foot by 4-foot blanket from The Northwest Company. It features the Lightning's primary and secondary logos. Seems like a nice blanket, but to be honest I'm not sure it's something I would've bought otherwise. But I'm sure it'll decorate the sofa until my wife gets tired of it.
I couldn't find this exact blanket on The Northwest Company's website, but I did find similar ones that ranged in price from $25 to $45. If we assume it's roughly $35, that get us to a $73 value for the box and that's just the first two items. Definitely seem to be getting a deal here.
The third item was a die-cut magnet from WinCraft in the shape of a Lightning logo. I popped it out and put it on my refrigerator — which, if I'm honest, already has a magnet with the Lightning's 25th anniversary logo on it. I picked that up at the airport in Tampa a few months ago.
I found the same magnet on Amazon for $8.50 with free shipping. So after three items I've officially hit the $80+ value promised by FANCHEST. So at this point, everything else is just bonus — which is good because the final two items left me a bit underwhelmed.
The second to last item was a rolled up felt pennant from WinCraft. I wasn't thrilled that it was rolled up but in fairness, the label did say "Roll It & Go!" so it should bounce back from any creases. That said, there were some creases.
The pennant can probably be ironed out or set underneath some heavy books for a few hours and be fine. It's not perfect, but I've gotten my money's worth at this point — and I already have a few Lightning pennants hanging up anyway. This one retails for $10 but you can get it for $7.50 on Fanatics right now. So that brings us up to $89 in value.
The final product in the box is something I'll probably never use. It's a gold coin keychain with a Lightning logo on one side and an NHL shield on the other, made by The Highland Mint.
What's weird about it is the "EST. 1991" engraving. I don't get it. The Lightning franchise was awarded on Dec. 6, 1990 and the team played its first game on Oct. 7, 1992. How did we get established after the franchise was awarded but before our first game? What significance does 1991 have? Interestingly, you can find the keychain on the company's website for $8.99 with an image that shows the engraving reading "EST. 1992." Huh.
So did I get a misprint? And does that make it worth more or less? Probably less. So this is the item most likely to collect dust on a shelf somewhere in my apartment. But it does bring the overall value of the box to $98. Not bad at all.
There is one more item that comes in every box, actually. You see it in the middle of the photo above. FANCHEST calls it a Golden Ticket. It's a scratch-off with a chance to win "ultimate prizes and VIP experiences from your favorite team." I got 10% off my next order. So not an "ultimate" prize but it's about $6 if I buy another box — and that'll cover those shipping costs.
Finally, the inside of the box FANCHEST encourages you to do some free advertising for them. Show your pride. Use the hashtag. All that. Though, I guess it's not really free. They did give me $104 worth of stuff for $55. I suppose I can tweet a hashtag in gratitude.
It's fair to say that I probably would not have purchased most of the items individually. But all in all, I'm pretty happy with what I got. When the next Lightning FANCHEST is released, I'll probably consider getting it. Plus I do have that code for 10% off.
Since the odds are good that the majority of people reading this are not Tampa Bay Lightning fans — weird as that is — FANCHEST does offer gift boxes for a bunch of other NHL teams. In addition to the Bolts, they currently list the Bruins, Blackhawks, Stars, Red Wings, Kings, Wild, Canadiens, Predators, Devils, Islanders, Rangers, Flyers, Penguins, Sharks, Blues, Maple Leafs, Golden Knights, and Capitals. If your team is not listed, you can sign up to be notified by email when it is.
In wrapping up, I wanted to point out that FANCHEST has not paid for this review. It's just something I wanted to do since I thought readers might find it interesting.
That said, Icethetics has joined the FANCHEST affiliate program. That just means if you click on a FANCHEST ad or link and make a purchase, Icethetics may earn a commission. So if you do plan to order a gift box, I hope you'll click through from here and help support the site.
And let me know what you think of this service and whether you think you'll buy a box!