As luck would have it, my Quarterly Co. Wil Wheaton box was delivered the day I went out of town last week, so, as soon as I got home yesterday, I tore in to it to see what magical wonders of the ’80s awaited me. I was pretty happy with the first box and was very hopeful for this second, much larger box.
As previously mentioned, the Wil Wheaton Quarterly boxes are based on the four decades of his life. Since Wheaton and I are pretty close in age, I continue to anticipate this journey through the decades of our lives together. This second box is based on the ’80s.
Instead of one big main item like the last box, this box has two largish main items. The first is the D&D 5th Edition Starter Box. While many readers may not be too excited about this item, I’m very excited. I haven’t actually played D&D in quite awhile, and my wife has been too intimidated to give it a try. The Starter Box has everything you need to jump right in and start playing with up to six people without needing a lot of books or prior experience. I’m hoping this box set will be a nice gateway for the rest of my family.
The second main item is the RetroDuo 3.0. The RetroDuo is a well-reviewed modern gaming console that plays not only original NES games but Super NES games as well. I’m not sure how I feel about this yet. When I as growing up, NES was a huge part of my life, and then I moved to the SEGA systems. Because I never had a SNES, this seems like a great opportunity for me. On the flip side, because I moved to SEGA, I don’t have any original NES or SNES cartridges to use in the system, so I’d need to go hunt some down to take full advantage of the system. If you’re like many people I know that still has an arsenal of old NES and SNES cartridges, this will probably make you a lot more excited.
Thankfully the Quarterly.co box comes with an original NES cartridge, so at least I have one game to try out! Obviously my top choice would have been Zelda, followed by Blades of Steel and Baseball Stars, but I played my fair share of Double Dribble when I was a kid and I can’ wait to hook up the RetroDuo and try out the game. My cartridge looks pretty well-loved, so I’m skeptical if it will actually work–but that’s secondary to the joy I get from just thinking about blowing the cartridge before inserting it into the console.
The next item in the box is a signed copy of Edward Packard’s U-Ventures: Return to the Cave of Time. Edward Packard wrote the first Choose Your Own Adventure book, The Cave of Time, in 1979, and I remember going to the library with my dad and devouring Choose Your Own Adventure books. I’m really excited to read this with my son and introduce him to the wonderful world of choosing his own adventures.
The next item in the box is actually my favorite and the one I know I will get the most use out of. Wheaton, Quarterly.co, and SockPanda.com all teamed up to make a custom pair of socks exclusively for this box–Wesley Crusher sweater socks! I exclusively wear funny print socks (like these zombies-eating-your-feet socks or these robot socks), so I know I will get plenty of use out of these socks. Plus Wesley Crusher was a huge part of my formative years, as I’ve written about before.
The last item in the box was the second poster designed by the folks at Quarterly in concert with Wheaton. Like the first poster, this one is for Wheaton’s podcast, Radio Free Burrito, as if it had existed in the decade of the box.
So the question with these subscription boxes is always, “is it worth it?” At $100 a box, this is one of the more expensive box subscriptions out there. I’m a huge fan of Wil Wheaton and, while I love all the vintage nostalgia in this box, I’m not sure this box provides the same value as the first one. The D&D Starter Set retails for $20, and the RetroDuo for $45. Return to the Cave of Time is listed at $5.99, and a sockpanda.com subscription starts at $12 per pair of socks. Now the book is autographed and the socks are exclusively, which slightly increases their value. You’ll have to decide for yourself if that exclusivity and autograph make it worth it for you.
Personally, I don’t feel like this box was as worth it as the last. With the exception of the socks, I could have purchased the items myself for less and been just as happy. I’m not saying I feel totally ripped off, but I definitely don’t feel like I got my money’s worth this time either. I’ll definitely stick around for the next box, though, since I was so happy with the first one, but I may not make it to the fourth box if the next one doesn’t pick it up.
The next Wil Wheaton curated box ships in September of 2015. Sign up now before they sell out again.