Do you know what’s pretty cool? Mystery boxes. Not that I’ve ever bought one nor am I likely to but I still think they’re neat. For those who don’t know a Mystery Box is one of those boxes that a company will sell you with a bunch of random stuff in it. Loot Crate was the first one I ever heard of. It was founded in 2012 but I’m not sure when I first heard of it. It’s gone now but at it’s height a whole bunch of people were making unboxing videos on YouTube showing off their Loot Crate stuff. I’m also not sure when they stopped but Loot Crate isn’t around anymore. But there are still mystery boxes.

Yesterday I watched a video of someone opening a comic book mystery box. Usually those are put together by comic book dealers looking to sell some comic books. The dealer will get together a bunch of comics and divide them into a bunch of boxes all supposedly worth a certain dollar amount. So if the dealer says the boxes are worth $100 each he’ll sell them for $75 a piece. The mystery of buying a pig and a poke for cheap is the sell.

The video I watched was a $500 mystery box. That’s way too rich for my blood. I can’t imagine spending that much money on comic books when I have no idea what they are. Seems crazy to me but people bought them. That guy making the video seemed satisfied but he also had to talk himself into it. At least it seemed that way to me. There was one big $300 book in the package and a bunch of random $15 books. He was most happy about the big book. But he could have bought that for $300 and spent the other $200 on comics he actually wanted.

The appealing thing about the mystery boxes is the mystery itself. What are you going to get? Something good I hope. Plus the comic book ones can also have a grand prize. Someone gets a $1000 book for their $500. The chances of getting that book are like one in fifty. That’s not too bad. Then they hook you with the value play. $100 worth of comic books for $75. Who doesn’t like a bargain? A deal! Even though I never buy them I’m still always tempted.

I once won a Loot Crate box in a YouTube giveaway. It was back when Loot Crate was huge and a fellow comic book YouTuber happened to get an extra one so he had a contest to give it away and I won. I don’t remember much of what was in it except a T-Shirt that I wasn’t interested in. I think it was a Transformer shirt. That’s the problem with mystery boxes. They can be filled with a lot of stuff you have no interest in. One month things can be great and the next a dud.

I remember back in 2016 when they came out with a “Firefly” mystery box. I was tempted because it’s a show I really like but did I really need $35 worth of “Firefly” odds and ends? I saw box openings of what was in it and there was a couple of cool things but I’m glad I never got it. There was nothing that special in it. At least nothing I even remember four years later.

The mystery boxes I see ads for all the time now are art supply mystery boxes. Because I post my art on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter I get a lot of ads for art supplies in general. It was probably last year sometime that I started seeing ads for the art supply boxes. You can buy one of them or get a subscription which it typical for mystery boxes. Like other mystery boxes they tempt me but I’ve never bought one.

Each month, or each new box, they’ll send you a package of art supplies. They generally try to give you stuff for making art with just the supplies in the box. Some kind of paper, pencils, colored pens, markers, brushes, and paint. If they send paint it’ll usually be packaged with a brush. Most boxes have some sort of theme like a color or maybe inks or markers. Something to tie it all together. Some of the boxes even feature an artist and give you the tools he or she used to make a piece. You’ll also get a postcard of the art.

I’m an art supply junkie and love to try out new stuff. Sometimes I try out something new and end up using it for decades and sometimes never again. About six years ago I wanted to try something new so I bought a small set of stick pastels and another of pan pastels. Though I never used them a lot I did make a few stick pastel drawings and they lead me to making my “Monsters on Comics” series with black marker and white pastel. I barely touched the pan pastels. But I’m glad I tried them out.

I’m always tempted by these art mystery boxes. They seem like fun. But then I examine their content and I’m not too impressed. I can see how they’d be good for a new artist or someone without many supplies but I’ve been buying art supplies for 35 years. I have so much stuff just lying around. For example I often see colored pencils or colored pens in these boxes. Not my favorite supplies but I still have three sets of colored pencils and two of pens tucked away. I hardly ever touch them so why would I want new ones?

These art mystery boxes are also supposed to be a bargain. $50 worth of art supplies for $35 or some such. Art supplies have such a high retail price so that’s not hard to do.

What I was thinking about doing, maybe next year, is putting together my own mystery box. By that I mean that once a month I could spend $25 on some new art supplies that I’ve never tried before. I think that would be cool. The problem is shipping always drives the price up and my best local store is 40 minutes away. But whenever I see one of these mystery boxes I always end up with the same conclusion. Why don’t I just spend that $35 on stuff I pick out myself? And I always do.