The past few days have been a whirlwind of activity for me. A couple of folks have been outta the house which usually equates to a sort of vacation, though it also means there are less people around to deal with chores and such. Combine that with work and the yearly dig to unearth my Halloween decorations, one starts to feel the need for a reward. What luck that the first in a series of mystery boxes for our Halloween coverage arrived Tuesday. I'd like to say it was just what the doctor ordered, but...well, this one's gonna require a bit more detail than the usual subscription box review.
Cryptocurium' Parcel of Terror is a horror themed subscription service focused on handmade goods. We're talking completely unique items you can't get elsewhere which is something I appreciate in a mystery box. Usually these come in the form of magnets, wall plaques, or art prints. This homemade element also lends itself to a slightly higher price to item ratio. Turns out the the Parcel of Terror works out to being more expensive than a Funko box by a few cents. Even so; I've heard enough praise of the service especially from the patron saint of unboxings and fellow man-child, Johnny Tellez that I figured it was time to give it a try.
Before we even get to the box, I want to address the matter of timing. This box is the August, Summer of Fear edition. I ordered it in July, it didn't ship until the last day of August. It got here on the 5th of September. Pumpkin Spice foodstuffs have flooded the markets, cool temperatures have become the norm rather than the exception, Labor Day has past, for all practical purposes Summer is finished. If this sort of timing continues, future costumers will be opening their Halloween box while they're taking down decorations, and the Christmas box will arrive after the ball drops. This isn't the only service to suffer from such lackluster timing but it's still an element of the subscription service experience that I find very tiresome.
In the month of waiting for my box to ship, I learned a few things about Cryptocurium. First off is that the main site is essentially just a fancy etsy page. With that comes a certain lack of upscale features and customer service. Case in point is the manner in which one cancels their subscription. I ended up having to do this far in advance of receiving the box because I need the cash free to include some other items in this years Halloween coverage. Thanks to past experience I'm used to either having an account manager feature or just writing the guy in charge to cancel. Seeing as the former wasn't an option and I saw an e-mail address in the description for cancellations, I instinctively followed that outlet. After days without a response I was about ready to get sassy, until I realized I was a jackass who misread the whole cancellation instructions. You have to go into your paypal account and block further transactions. It's a cumbersome way of doing business though I understand the psychology behind it. Guy's busy making the items, he doesn't have time to micromanage his customers. On that topic, to my knowledge you can only buy this service with Paypal. It's not an issue so much as a notable limitation.
Finally we reached the day of arrival. The first thing I noticed is this box was small. I mean really small. Unlike the average mystery box this one fit into my mailbox along with the usual amount of ads and bills. Opening up reveals a one page letter describing the items, I always skip these things to maintain the surprise. One part that wasn't a surprise was the magnet which had been previously revealed online. It's the biggest one the service has ever done. Quite fitting for Bruce, the great white shark of Jaws fame. The magnet is made of resin and handpainted and is downright impressive. You'd have to be a real dick to say much of anything nasty about this piece of work. Unfortunately I can't say the same for the rest of this box.
The next item on hand is a small art print, well not really. It's more like a big postcard than a proper print. Titled Cruel Summer It's a purposefully rough and sketchy looking spread of classic summertime villains like Cropsy or the Humanoids from the deep. It's an ok piece, certainly not anything I'd frame, but ok.
After that is a Splatterhouse sticker. Not only do I not see the seasonal connection here but it's a sticker. As a man in his early 30's, what the hell am I supposed to do with a unique crafted sticker?
Then there's a sucker. Yep, just a random bit of candy. And that's it.
Ya want to hear the truly insulting part of this experience? Now keep in mind that that this Parcel of Terror costs $35, then take into account that there is a smaller Packet of Terror for $20 that is supposed to include the month's magnet and sticker along with some candy. That means all ya get for an extra $15 is that mostly forgettable art card.
Honestly I'm floored. I can't follow a train of thought that arrives at the conclusion that it's alright to take this much money from people only to give them so little in return. I understand that this is a small operation, lacking the corporate power that fuels so many other services. Not to mention I feel sorta mean for tearing a box like this apart as it's personal work and not mass produced nonsense from faceless corporations. The fact remains however that this is, without a doubt, the worst mystery box to ever come into my home. And I'm not saying this to be mean as I think Jason, the main man behind the operation has an immense talent for making some of these items. Yet I can not recommend his service to anyone. This was a lousy purchase that makes you feel like you've been swindled. That's not a feeling I enjoy myself and definitely not something I would wish on my readers.
For as much of a disappointment as this box was, it failed to diminish my good cheer towards the onset of Fall. On the very same day the parcel showed up I had already been to various stores, picking up new candies, decorations, and pumpkin beers. I'm more excited than ever for this season though I still can't leave Cryptocurium completely behind me as they have a crossover item with our next mystery box, Fright Crate. Until that arrives we've got plenty of fun topics to cover, which means I'll be seeing you all again soon.