Collectible Company NECA Acquires Loot Crate

Collectible Company NECA Acquires Loot Crate
An example of a Loot Crate subscription box.

Bankrupt gamer and geek subscription box service Loot Crate Inc. has received a lifeline from none other than Elvis Presley, or at least from the King’s marketing company.

Joel Weinshanker, controlling owner of Graceland and a partner in Elvis Presley Enterprises, is the new majority owner of Lincoln Heights-based Loot Crate.

A Delaware bankruptcy judge approved the sale of the collectible subscription box service for $30 million on Sept. 26 to Loot Crate’s lender, an affiliate of Money Chest. Weinshanker is a majority owner of Nevada-based Money Chest.

“It’s going to be Loot 2.0,” Weishanker said. “You are going to see it as a platform, not just a crate. Around the world it’s going to be the platform for IP (intellectual property) holders to get out their movies, their television (shows) and their video games.”

The deal is slated to close by Oct. 1, just in time for New York Comic Con, where Weinshanker promises to unveil more details about his plans. For now, he has said he won’t move the company’s base, but he does want to see the business expand.

“It’s still going to be all about discovery,” he said. “What we are going to do is give them the tools and the structure.”

Weinshanker’s most high-profile holding may involve the King, but to build up Loot Crate’s reach he’ll tap his collectible manufacturing company, New Jersey-based NECA Inc., which produces X-Men, Star Trek, Batman and other pop culture figures.

Weinshanker has built an empire by producing memorabilia around American pop culture, from Elvis’ famed home in Memphis to vinyl toys based on iconic Andy Warhol pieces. His company also produces the Chia Pet and the Clapper.

Last year, NECA entered into a joint manufacturing agreement with Loot Crate. The privately held company, formally known as National Entertainment Collectibles Association, has deep well of intellectual property. Weinshanker said the company generates several million dollars in revenue annually and produces figures in more than 40 factories around the world for movie franchises like “The Hunger Games” and “Twilight.”

Movie merchandise is a bright spot for Hollywood studios like Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., providing a steady source of revenue as streaming changes the media landscape.

Weinshanker said he hopes to incorporate the company’s manufacturing expertise, design concept and licensing relationships to improve Loot Crate’s service.

But Loot Crate’s biggest value for Weinshanker is the company’s fan base. He can tap into a space once owned by brick-and-mortar retailers, allowing customers to stumble onto the next must-have collectible.

“They set up a community of people around the world who love discovery and they love pop culture,” Weinshanker said of Loot Crate.

Founded by Chris Davis and Matthew Arevalo in 2012, Loot Crate targeted “super fans of entertainment franchises” and enjoyed a meteoric rise. The company reached 250,000 subscribers and sent out about 32 million parcels filled with fan memorabilia for gamers, pop culture enthusiasts and sports geeks

Once one of the nation’s fastest growing companies, Loot Crate sought Chapter 11 protection in August as debts mounted.

Money Chest previously provided Loot Crate $10 million to keep operations going and has agreed to purchase a $21 million outstanding loan from Atalaya Capital, according to court documents and a statement from the company.

Manufacturing, retail and trade reporter Rachel Uranga can be reached at [email protected] or (323) 556-8351. Follow her on Twitter @racheluranga.

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