As he did with the Lost finale, J.J. Abrams is once again trying to teach his fans a lesson in expectation and disappointment. The Star Trek director has teamed up with magic shop theory11 to create a line of Mystery Box Playing Cards. As far as we can tell, this much-hyped line is just a deck of regular playing cards that have an Abrams-designed question mark on the back. They are being sold for $9.95 per deck, with $1 per deck donated to 826 National, a charity that promotes creative writing in schools. The theory11 shop explains that the cards are wrapped in kraft paper which is meant to inspire “intrigue and endless wonder,” and the site suggests purchasers can “keep it closed, tear it open, or share the experience with a friend.” Because there’s nothing more intriguing or full of endless wonder than keeping a deck of playing cards sealed forever.
For those looking for yet more intrigue or to waste even more money, the cards are also being sold in sets of 12 in the “Mystery Lockbox.” Each box is made of 100-year-old reclaimed wood, secured with an alphanumeric combination, and can be purchased for the low, low price of $149.95. In addition to the 12 decks of cards, each box includes a letterpressed note from Abrams, which is also enclosed in kraft paper—the official wrapping of all J.J. Abrams mysteries.
A promotional video for the box reads, “The choice to open the box, or not, is yours”—a reference to Abrams’ 2007 TED talk about the mystery box his grandfather gave him that he decided not to open, which he used as an analogy for all his storytelling going forward. Although it also raises the question: Why someone would purchase 12 decks of playing cards and never use them? On the other hand, if it turns out each lockbox also contains the shooting script for the new Star Wars films, we’re going to feel pretty dumb for not buying one.