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“I’ll have whatever the chef recommends.”
If you’ve never done this before, I highly recommend you try it at least once. It doesn’t have to be some fancy Michelin-rated restaurant, either. There’s just something liberating about relinquishing your will to that of an expert. You know you’re going to get something good, the pressure of indecision is gone, and you get the added bonus of being surprised when your meal arrives. Sure, once in a while you’ll be served something you don’t personally care for, but the trade-off is the experience of trying new things you normally would not have chosen for yourself.t
This is why I am infatuated with subscription boxes. It’s like dining at your favorite restaurant where the chef knows just what you like, or like celebrating Christmas every month. Only instead of some of the gifts being from your great-uncle who is under the delusion you still enjoy Dora the Explorer, they all come from people who actually share your interests. So, as a long-time reader of Boing Boing, and a huge fan of the Maker movement, when Quarterly.co offered to send a sample of their Maker Box curated by Boing Boing‘s Mark Frauenfelder, I jumped at the opportunity.
Makey Makey Kit
MaKey MaKey is an invention kit for the 21st century. Turn everyday objects into touchpads and combine them with the internet. It’s a simple Invention Kit for Beginners and Experts doing art, engineering, and everything inbetween.
FarmCurious Fermenting Set
The ideal solution for anyone who’s a little creeped out by the fuzzy stuff that can grow on top of an open fermentation system (like a bucket or crock), this little set locks out the air and all the yeast and mold that come with it. Carbon dioxide escapes through the top of the airlock but nothing is allowed in. If you love pickles, you’ll love making your own pickled and fermented foods with this set!
DIY Thirsty Plant Kit
- Make A Moisture Sensor – Use plaster and electronic components to make a sensor. Just twist wires together to make an awesome circuit.
- Power Your Sensor With Solar Energy – Use a solar panel to keep your sensor running – no batteries required!
- Keep All Your Plants Happy! – From cacti to bonsai, the Thirsty Plant kit will work with any type of plant.
Unlike many subscription boxes where you know the curator chose their items based on what they could clear out of a warehouse cheaply that month, every item in this box is of the highest quality. Any self-respecting maker would be happy to add all three of these to their DIY list. Based on what I’ve seen in the past, Quarterly.co can be hit or miss on the appropriateness of an item in relation to the curator or theme, but rarely on the quality of said items. This is hands-down the highest quality box I’ve received.
Price / Value
That quality does come at a price, though. The Quarterly.co Maker Box costs $100 and the combined value of the items is just under $120. Compared to other subscription boxes that may advertise “A $75 value for only $19,” the Quarterly.co Maker Box seems like it would rate pretty low. However, of all the subscription boxes I’ve received, not a one has ever had a collection of items that I would value at $75. Many times they use the MSRP to determine that value, and there’s usually at least one item that you know cost them pennies, despite what the MSRP might say. With this box, I would actually pay $120 for the items, particularly since all three are not some “make it once and throw it away” DIY kit, but real items you can use every day.
That said, $100 is $100, and even considering that it is quarterly and not monthly, that’s no small chunk of change to drop on a mystery box. While I feel confident with Boing Boing and Mark behind the wheel on this one, next quarter is curated by Bob Clagett of I Like to Make Stuff. Not being familiar with his work, I would probably be hesitant to drop a hundred bucks without doing some research first.
This kit is exactly what you would want out of a Maker kit. A little electronics, a little construction, some good old fashioned chemistry. The only downside is that many Makers might already have the Makey Makey, as it is so popular. Having half the value of the box be tied up in something you already own would be a pretty big disappointment. Hopefully, the next curator keeps that in mind and chooses items that are as fitting to the theme as this Boing Boing box, but perhaps a little more obscure.
The next Maker Box, shipping in May, is available for order now from Quarterly.co, who provided a sample of their February box for review purposes. All opinions are my own.