Mystery Box Review

Discussion in 'Product Questions and Reviews' started by SamK, Mar 20, 2014.

  1. #1 SamK, Mar 20, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 24, 2014
    I'm going to do this review without spoiling too much, so here goes:

    The Mystery Box itself is well-made and sturdy. Since the boxes themselves are made from 100-year-old reclaimed wood, each box will be different, and imperfections should be expected. The wood may have rough (but not dangerous) edges, nail holes and other flaws that give each box a unique charm. Oddly enough, my Mystery Box had a faint smell that I can only describe as --- bacon-y --- not unpleasant by any means, but unexpected; the smell faded after a day or two and is now barely noticeable.

    The code to unlocking the box is easy to find. While you can decipher the code from the included letter, there is a much easier way to find the code, and if you've followed the announcements related to the Mystery Box, you've probably already seen the code in plain sight.

    The lock itself is a well-constructed metal cryptex-like alphanumeric combination lock, and should hold up to many unlocks and re-locks. The tumblers can sometimes be a little resistant to turning, but never difficult.

    The Mystery Box playing cards -- of which there are 12 decks in the mystery box -- are each wrapped in heavy craft paper printed with the stylized question mark that matches the one Tannen's Magic Mystery Box featured in J. J. Abrams' TED talk. The paper is high quality and very thick.

    Many of the promotional photos and videos for the Mystery Box cards show the craft paper being torn open, but this isn't necessary, as the paper is wrapped around the decks with flaps in the back that are lightly glued. This is nice because it means that with minimal care, you can unwrap the decks without destroying the paper. You can re-wrap them and they look like they've never been opened.

    The decks themselves are sealed in celophane, and if you buy an individual Mystery Box deck, you know what you're getting. The shiny red embossed print on the black deck box looks great, and each box is adorned with a full-color Bad Robot logo.

    The Mystery Box cards themselves are also well-designed. The face cards are designed with a "robot" style that doesn't overshadow the familiar elements of the classic face card designs. One-eyed jacks, suicide kings, etc. are all represented in the Mystery Box deck. It's a striking and unique art style.

    Also included with the Mystery Box is a letter-pressed note from J. J. Abrams that's printed on thick heavy craft paper and is inside a very nice envelope with a "wax" seal. I'm don't think the seal is actually wax, but feels like a really soft plastic molded seal that closes the envelope with adhesive...nevertheless, it's a nice touch.

    My shipment also included a couple of theory11 stickers. The Mysery Box was well-protected during shipping in an oversized box with lots of bubble wrap and starch peanuts, so the chances that a box is damaged during shipping is low.

    Over-all, I'm very happy with the Mystery Box. It will make a great addition to any card collection. I opened my Mystery Box, but I plan on filling it with my own treasures and giving it to my son when he's older. Then the decision to open the box will be his.
  2. So it is just the letter the box and the decks?
  3. Yes, unless there's something hidden that I haven't found...
  4. Great review. Your thoughts pretty much echoed mine last week. Very impressed. Love it. And yes, there's definitely something hidden that you haven't found yet... I'm still working on how to decipher it myself.
  5. Don't let people know! Keep it on the DL ;)
  6. Is this something to do with the cards or the box itself?
  7. I won't answer that and will leave you with this quote "Maybe there are times when Mystery is more important than knowledge."
  8. There is another quote,

    "There are times when $149 is more important than a mystery"

    If I'm going to spend that sort of money on something I think I have the right as a consumer to know exactly what I am getting.
    Lucascaplan likes this.
  9. This bears repeating.
  10. You do know exactly what you are getting... A mystery box with 12 decks of the mystery box playing cards in it!
  11. Ok earlier in the thread you said

    this was after someone saying there is 'more to the box' which kind of implies that there is....more to the box, as other people are saying. Are you now saying there is actually nothing to keep on the 'DL' because there is nothing more to the box, other than the box and cards?
  12. That's actually the entire point of the project - that you don't know exactly what you're getting, and that's precisely why it's meaningful. If you haven't seen it yet, be sure to watch JJ's TED Talk to understand the backstory.

    Here's what you do know: that J.J. Abrams and theory11 spent almost a year on this project. That a lot of time, effort, detail, and remarkable design went into every aspect of it. That the lockboxes are handcrafted individually, with an iron brand. That each lockbox comes with a letterpressed note from Abrams that explains the history of the story. That this project is a tribute to JJ's grandfather, who got him that original Mystery Box as a child that inspired him - and continues to - today. And finally, that the proceeds of this project help benefit a remarkable organization (826 National) that literally inspires the next generation of dreamers. All of that is known, but much of the rest is a mystery.

    If the value of that all of that, and the possibility of wondering what's inside the box, and the choice of opening it or not, is not worth $149 to you - then no harm, and no worries - this is not the product for you. That's okay. But for us, it represents much more.

    For us, that box represents potential, imagination, possibilities, and a whole lot of passion.
    KellieM likes this.
  13. I appreciate the reply. I know the TED talk and I can understand what you guys are trying to do with this project, plus I think the charity thing is a very good cause, much respect for you for doing that. My issue is that if I purchase this I feel I am basically buying some very clever marketing, and IF all that turned up was a box (granted a very nice one) and some cards and that was it I would feel almost conned a little bit, because of this hype about could there/is or isn't there more to it. It's like if I was buying a car that was advertised as a body with four wheels and what else is in the car is a 'mystery' could you understand my hesitation in buying it or wanting to know exactly what I was getting for my money? I know I am being a bit cynical, and I apologize for that and you maybe your right that this project isn't for me, I just feel you could be a little bit more forthcoming with what you are getting with this box.
  14. If we did that, there would certainly be no mystery - and mystery is the heart and soul of this project. Yes, there's more than meets the eye and some secrets and surprises inside that box. But for the most part, you do know much of what you're getting - a beautiful, remarkable box with a beautiful, remarkable story - laced with incredible art directed by JJ Abrams (!!). Whether you choose to open the box, or not, is your own choice. But for many, and for JJ himself, the idea of *not* opening it, and forever imagining exactly what's inside, was most valuable of all. Inspiration.
  15. @slicksleights I purchased Abrams' last "mystery", the book "S". While I enjoy the idea of the book, the actual execution is dull. I wasted $31. I've been on the fence the same as you, and based on my previous experience with Abrams and his mysteries, it's a pass. I would suggest getting a Mystery Box from Tannen's for $25, and then not opening it - certainly is a cheaper way to go.
  16. Is it wood inside the box, or is there felt or something like that? If I were to take the Mystery Box playing cards out, and put other decks in, I dont want rough wood messing up my tuck cases.
  17. #17 Lyle Borders, Mar 25, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 26, 2014
    The sides of the box inside are smooth, sanded wood. The bottom of the box is lined with black felt / velvet. 12 decks fit inside, though there is not much extra room. The box was designed to keep 12 decks safe.

    // L
  18. I know this is late but I wanted to add my own voice to this.

    On the topic of value, I, and anyone else buying this, should buy it with the expectation that the box and cards are worth the cost. Anything else, including the box's possibilities, are icing on the cake. If you don't see value in those two items then you shouldn't buy it. Not everyone thinks a Bugatti Veyron is worth the cost, Some do. Like the Bugatti, or any other product, this isn't for everyone.

    The Whole idea of the Mystery box was just that. Mystery. The folks who bought Tannen's box didn't know what they were getting either. Was everyone happy? Who knows but value, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder and I am sure most were happy.

    As for possibilities, here is my plan for the box. I will open it, but not the decks. I'll buy a couple singles for that. My Last Will and Testament will go in it. My four children and three step-children will each get a deck and a final letter from me, telling them why they should never lose sight of life's wonders and magic. The other five decks and letters will go to the five others closest to me. A little corny I know but the perfect goodbye for me. Those who know me will smile and understand why....
    Althredore and Lucascaplan like this.
  19. I think Theory11's concept of the Mystery Box was a noble one, and I love the actual product for what I got, but I think they missed the mark if they were trying to replicate the sense of wonder from J. J. Abrams' story.

    I think a better execution would have been to put a couple of Mystery Box decks in the box, then put some surprises in the box (inexpensive magic tricks). For all intents and purposes, everyone knows what's in the Mystery Box: 12 decks of Mystery Box cards. There's not much in the way of mystery there.

    I plan to use my Mystery Box in a similar way to nECrO's idea: I plan to fill the empty box with objects that are special to me in some way, and eventually I will give the box to my son (who is now 2 months old). I hope to instill in him the idea of mystery and the unknown, and the Mystery Box is a great way to do that.

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