Subscription box startup Loot Crate, which sends toys and fan gear to subscribers in monthly mystery boxes, has raised an $18.5 million Series A funding round. It also said it had surpassed $100 million in sales last year.

The e-commerce company claims more than 600,000 monthly subscribers in 35 countries. To better serve demand in the United Kingdom, its second-biggest market, the company will be using the funding to open a marketing and business development office there this summer.

Loot Crate partners with movie studios, gaming companies, and comic book publishers to sell themed items for fans, including figurines, comic books, and apparel. An annual subscription costs $144.

Loot Crate’s fast-growing revenue comes as some subscription box services have struggled to grow outside of a niche customer base. Others have suffered high-churn rates among their subscribers who tire of paying for items that don’t get used. Loot Crate has found ways to avoid these problems, said Chief Executive Chris Davis.

“We think about the utilities of the items, are they useable?” he said, noting that the company carefully surveys its customers. “One of our big focuses is not cluttering up homes.”

The company themes the items in each box around words such as dystopia, invasion, and galaxy. It also ties the themes together in its print magazine and online content. The firm works with media franchises to manufacture new paraphernalia timed with major content releases, said Davis.

“We are planning years out with some of the big studios, like in the case of ‘Deadpool,’” he said of the comic-book superhero movie. The company shipped an original figurine and T-shirt when the movie premiered in February.

Loot Crate’s funding round was led by Upfront Ventures of Santa Monica, with participation from Breakwater Investment Management, Time Inc., Robert Downey Jr.’s Downey Ventures, M13, and SterlingVC.

Take and Bake

Chef’d wants to make it easier to cook gourmet meals at home.

The online meal-kit seller, which launched last year, raised $12.3 million in Series A financing last month to expand its marketing efforts and push growth.

The El Segundo-based company sells pre-measured meal ingredients and recipes online for customers looking for convenience, minimal food wastage, and a cooking experience, said Chief Executive Kyle Ransford.

The startup’s financing comes on the heels of securing a partnership this month to sell meal kits for “NYT Cooking,” a popular online and app-based recipe book published by The New York Times Co. The company has also established similar services for other publications such as Men’s Health and Good Housekeeping.

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