If you’re not familiar with the Mysterious Package Company, it’s actually a lot of fun. Their basic premise is they send you or a giftee a series of–get this–mysterious packages that tell a story. They create an intricate little world in their packages, with letters, newspaper clippings and “relic” items that reveal the mystery. Each experience is a little subscription box in itself. The prices range from $99-$299 and they suggest an audience age and disclose the kind of content each will contain without spoiling the mystery.
They recently started a quarterly subscription box, the Curios & Conundrums box. Previous iterations of C&C were flat mailings that contained very detailed puzzles and secrets, and it’s unclear whether this package is as intricate. I recently received the first box, and thought I’d share a bit about it! The theme was Gods of Madness… which I’ll get into later.
It’s $29.99/quarter. This came in a package that looks like an old book, which was clever. The inside front flap had details of everything contained in the box, made to look like evidence cards.
First up was a newspaper detailing a mass sacrifice in London. The subheadline? “Fifty-One Women Perish in Lunatic Asylum Fire”. Obviously, this is a fairly problematic theme. The newspaper has a lot of little details that make it a fun thing to flip through. This mailing came with a phrenology magnet and bottle label stickers. They’re fairly tongue-in-cheek–for instance, one label is for Wind Pills–and they feel nice, but the print quality could definitely be improved.
Each box contains a papercraft item, and this one was Hot Foot Frank. When assembled, it will move. I haven’t built it yet, but the instructions seem easy enough and the paper is a sturdy stock, so it will be worthwhile.
The tunnel book was very appropriate for the theme’s setting, as they were quite popular in the time period. The series of images depicts chaos in a London theatre. They included a mini cookbook called Gruel Intentions with recipes for gruel from several different countries, which was an interesting concept and a bit educational.
The enamel pin depicts a gentleman in a straight jacket wearing a tophat and monocle with “Bedlam” in a scroll beneath. The superstar item of each box is the “relic” contained within; this month’s was a cast obelisk with worms and scarabs bursting out of it. As the box’s description says, “Unclear whether detailing depicts that which has already transpired, or that which is to come.”
So about that theme… I like that it’s playing on the very Victorian theme of absolute terror and fear of madness. However, it’s obviously a sensitive and offensive theme. And I foresee future issues being just as problematic.
Will I keep subscribing? I’m not sure. The sheer amount of printing and casting that went into this crate definitely has big value, but it’s kind of a lot of… stuff. I like that they’ve got a lot of categories of stuff–stickers, pin, magnet–but the wow factor wasn’t much higher than the Halloween section at Michael’s. I feel like this would be much cooler as a gift box, where you could choose a theme and send it to someone. It would make a really cool birthday present.
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