Nerd Block was one of the geek subscription box services that set up in the wake of Loot Crate's success and was probably the most successful of the subsequent entrants to that market — at least initially. Set up in Whitby, Ontario by Russ Montague in 2013 and now known as Fanblocks, it was also the first to diversify into a series of boxes for one market, something to which Loot Crate came late. They also included a number of exclusive comic books, and seemed to have subscription numbers in high five or low six figures, based on how that would affect the direct market comics charts.
This is how their website currently looks:
But reports into Bleeding Cool has seen that Nerd Block has shut down all their retail locations, fired all employees and stopped shipping boxes. People reports not having received July boxes, those that have, report they found them full of previous items without anything new, and money paid for August has already been charged and not refunded after enquiries. Here's an unboxer for a July box they just received.
Matt Molan of Udon Entertainment posted the bad news on the nerd block Reddit…
"Hey all. Matt Moylan here from UDON Entertainment. We're a book publisher (art books, comics, manga, etc). Here to unfortunately tell you that Nerdblock looks to definitely be going bankrupt.
UDON was contracted by Nerdblock to produce an exclusive edition of our Mega Man: Robot Master Field Guide for their December 2016 "Arcade Block" subscription box. We invoiced them for payment in January.
During that time we have been passed around the company from person to person, as various representatives have told us they don't have the money, they are close to getting new investors, they are working to figure out if they can pay us, etc. Or often just going totally silent.
It's very disappointing, since UDON agreed to the project on a tight printing schedule, with very thin margins to help them out and start a positive relationship with Nerdblock. It's additionally insulting that they continued to sell remaining stock of the book on their website.
So, looks like we've lost tens of thousands of dollars dealing with these guys. We've been told to await contact from a trustee, which means Chapter 11 or some form of bankruptcy."
Udon's Erik Ko has given Bleeding Cool this response sent to them after he asked after the very late invoice:
From: Russ Montague <xxxx>
Date: Tue, Aug 8, 2017 at 11:56 AM
Subject: Re: Invoice
To: UDON – Erik Ko <xxxxx>
You should be receiving a package this week from our Trustee letting you know next steps in our process,
Hope that helps,
Other reports from vendors suggest this has not been an isolated case. Zen Monkey Studios reported:
"Yes! I run Zen Monkey Studios. We did a Labyrinth shirt and a Rick and Morty shirt for them last year. We got paid for R&M no problem, but the Labyrinth shirt took me about 7 months to get paid! Since I knew the owner I harassed him on facebook (I think my twitter person said this to you on twitter), and eventually they paid us. FIRST NOT IN FULL.
Then we harassed them more. They finally did, and got the EFF away from them. That was December."
Vendor Romacafe added on Reddit:
"As a vendor, I can confirm that they have been insolvent since January / February.
It's over. 100%. Haven't paid bills since 1Q."
Nerd Block posted the following to Facebook:
And have stated that they will refund August payments.
Cue a thread full of people screaming about not having been refunded for July or August. And lots of advice to initiate chargebacks with credit cards and Paypal accounts. Of course, those who ordered extended long subscriptions in advance may be out of luck as the payment will have been taken too long ago to be charged back successfully.
And indeed, there seem to be plenty of people who were working at Nerd Block until a sudden change in June/July. Such as Director of Digital Marketing, Andrei Petrik, Director of Sales and Marketing Alan Raphael, Production Assistant Andrew Tutte, Marketing and Social Media Specialist Jonathan Yang and more. And job postings starting in August have been cancelled.
That would be the Andrei who sent out this email to a contributing artist…
Bleeding Cool has made enquiries to Russ Montague without response, yet. We'll tell you what we hear. But the subscription box market has softened somewhat. It might be worth considering to reduce the paying in advance for such products to a couple of months or so.
Here are some unboxer's theories and July reports…plenty of them from August. Watch the disappointment flow: