Today I was introduced to the world of kawaii subscription boxes. This is Doki Doki Crate, a USA based subscription box (or as they put it, a kawaii care package) brought to you by Japan Crate. Each month you’ll recieve 8-10 kawaii items for $30 per month (plus $10-15 for international shipping, USA domestic shipping is free). You can find subscription plans and more information here.
Doki Doki have had some bad press recently regarding bootleg items in their first three boxes. They explained and apologised for this here, in a nutshell they were conned by suppliers who claimed to be selling them legit goods (and sent them legit samples) but actually ended up sending them bootlegs. Awful timing and the inability to verify whether their products were legit or not (because remember; not everyone can tell a fake Nendoroid by sight, conventions are living proof of this) meant Doki Doki were faced with a tough decision; cancel all the boxes, or send them with suspected bootlegs included. Sadly, many feel they made the wrong choice when they chose to send them anyway. I don’t know whether it would have been better to cancel the boxes or not, but the past is the past and this decision ultimately came back to bite them when customers became unhappy with the service.
Honestly, it’s understandable that they fell into this trap. It’s so easy to buy fakes without realizing when buying in bulk from overseas, especially when you’re a company starting a brand new venture and you’re looking to get as much value for money as possible. There was no malice in the inclusion of these items and Doki Doki Crate held their hands up and admitted they made a major mistake. They have made it clear that they do not support unlicensed goods. Their first three crates were a steep learning curve, but they’ve changed their suppliers and have guaranteed that they will never again send out an unlicensed product.
For those who were worried, I can confirm this crate is 100% bootleg free. I see no reason to believe Doki Doki will not stick to their word and continue to provide quality items. Please don’t let the prospect of bootleg products put you off this service, it would seem they’ve learned their lesson about ‘too good to be true’ deals and dodgy suppliers. As it stands they are officially working several brand including with Hoppe-Chan, Hatsune Miku, Neko Atsume, Pusheen, Re-ment, Rilakkuma and San-X. This service has SO much potential, I can’t wait to see where they go with all this!
(and no, they didn’t ask me or pay me to write any of that 🙂 ).
So with that out of the way let’s have a look at what was included in the March crate, which has a fun Bento theme ^_^
Before we get into the crate, let’s take a quick at the packaging. It’s just too kawaii to skip past. I love when subscription boxes use custom printed boxes ^_^
As well as being super cute the box is sturdy enough to survive shipping, with the contents well enough packed to avoid movement during transit. This one traveled all the way from the USA to the UK and as you can see from the grubby scuff marks the postal service clearly hasn’t handled it with the utmost care something this pink and adorable deserves. Even so the contents arrived in perfect condition, nothing was broken or missing.
The included leaflet is as pretty on the inside as it is on the outside, these middle pages tell you a little about each item. I love the art style used to depict the items, it’s certainly more interesting than cut/pasted photographs.
The leaflet also features a community page, a comic strip and information on both the monthly photo contest and the monthly Suteki Crate contest.
Finally, let’s get on to the included items! ^_^
First up,we have not one but two Re-ment blind boxes from the Petit Sample Series; one Omusubi Kororin Mascot box (left) and one Gochisou! Curry Collection (right).
Re-ment are known for making high quality and realistic collectible miniatures. The Petit Sample Series (or Puchi Sample Series) is designed to recreate in perfect miniature the plastic sample food displayed in shop windows in Japan.
Each box features one of six possibilities, all of which I find exciting because I love Re-ment ^_^
My Omusubi Kororin Mascot box contained a Sekihan Onigiri, which is a rice ball made from Japanese azuki (red bean) rice. Delicious! Well, if it wasn’t plastic 😉
My Gochisou! Curry Collection box contained a super cute Medamayaki curry, complete with silver spoon and a cute fold out placemat.
Medamayaki curry is a bowl of curry rice topped with a sunny side up fried egg. Simple and delicious! This plastic version is so detailed, each little grain of rice is well defined and the fried egg even has a crisp edge painted on. This is probably the curry I’d be most likely to eat out of the six so I’m happy I got this one ^_^
I’m so happy with these Re-ment items, to me nothing screams kawaii like super realistic miniature food (although maybe that’s just because I love Japanese food) ^_^
Next we have two sticker sheets, one featuring Onigiri birds (that’s angry birds turned into rice balls) and the other featuring a ‘How do you eat your eggs?’ theme.
The egg sheet was done by the same artist (Kata) who did the cover art for this months leaflet while the Onigiri Birds were drawn by Doki Doki’s in house artist, Tomo. I love that they included something that teaches you a little Japanese with the egg sheet and the Onigiri birds are a great concept, my son (an Angry Birds fan) loved them 🙂
Next we have the first of our Bento items; a set of three kawaii sauce bottles.
All the Bento items in this months crate come from the Torune Mama’s Assist range. Torune are well known for their high quality Bento items, as reflected in these awesome reusable sauce holders.
There are three designs; frog, bunny and duck. The cute animal heads make it easy to grip the lid of the bottle to open/close it. Each bottle features a secure screw top so you can be sure your sauce won’t spill.
There is even a funnel for easy filling and a cute flower base to hold you bottle steady while you fill it. This is such a practical little set, they’ll be getting a lot of use from us ^_^
Here we have a couple of super cute phone charms; a donut squishy and a cat paw cookie squishy.
Squishies are pretty popular kawaii accessories in Japan and, as the name implies, they are made from a soft and squishy foam. In my experience these don’t tend to be very high quality items, and these are no expection. There’s some air bubbling/raised seams, common in cheaper squishies, but worse than that is the positively noxious smell. They have a very strong chemical scent, I’ve seen a few people describe it as smelling like strong nail varnish remover and that’s a pretty accurate way of describing it. That’s the price to pay for squishy charms though, you can’t have soft and squishy plastics without chemicals to soften them.
These will more than likely smell less offensive in time, but as it stands these are definitely the lowest quality items included. They’re cute, but not great in any other respect.
I thought these were chopsticks at first to go with the Bento theme, but they’re actually pens! These adorable Geisha pens are great quality, with black ink and a super fine 0.38 tip. They’re incredibly easy to write with, I thought these would be the cute but useless kind of pen but no, they’re actually lovely to use!
I got a pastel purple and green/blue set, but there were a few different colours available.
I love the little doll shaped pen lids, so kawaii! There’s a lot of detail put into the designs on them too 🙂
What use is a cute pen without a cute notebook? Doki Doki have us covered with these adorable little animal themed notebooks!
Mine has a cute little kitty on the front/back, again I think these came in a few different designs. The inside is blank so you can use this however you like, I think mine will be a little travel sketchbook. The notebook is held safely together with a length of elastic, attached at the back with a metal stud.
Kawaii stationary is another weakness of mine, so both the pens and the notebook are very appealing to me 🙂
Our second Bento item is a set of three disposable Bento boxes featuring super kawaii food designs.
The boxes are made of very thick card, with a metallic lining to ensure your food stays warm. Do remember this means they are NOT microwave safe though!
Folding the flatpacked boxes is a bit fiddly at first, but once you get the hang of it you end up with a surprisingly sturdy box.
I absolutely adore the food designs, these Bento boxes are so cheerful ^_^
These also came with cute little stickers to seal the boxes, but I forgot to photograph them apparently!
Our third Bento item is a pack of 22 Bento food cups, used to separate the food items within your Bento.
There are two shapes inside the pack, each featuring the same adorable sushi design.
They may look like bun cases, but they’re a lot thicker and are waxed inside.
Look at the lil sushi rolls! I love all these items that are both kawaii and useful ^_^
Out last item is a pack of 8 Space themed food picks, useful for picking up small items in your Bento. As with the rest of the Bento items they’re super high quality, I’m really glad they included another reusable item along with the disposable ones. Feels like more value for money this way!
Space wouldn’t be a design I’d go for usually, but these are super cute. I think the stars are crying out to be placed in a Mario themed Bento :p
To finish here’s a picture of the front/back of the leaflet, it’s a lovely piece of artwork ^_^
Doki Doki crate has definitely left a good first impression on me. I love the variety of items and I love that over half of them are actually useful rather than just cute things to sit around gathering dust. The Bento theme was well executed, I like that they included both actual Bento items for you to use as well as the Re-ment collectibles, since the Bento items will wear out eventually. It’s nice to have a couple of little things to keep forever 🙂
Squishy charms aside, the quality of the items is brilliant. This month actually had 11 items rather than 8-10 (12 if you count the two sticker sheets separately, which the leaflet doesn’t) and after adding them all up in yen plus import costs plus shipping fees, I do believe this is great value for money.
On a random note, I like that care was put into these crates to ensure your items matched. There were several varieties of a lot of these items, like the pens, notebooks and squishies, and from what I’ve seen of my own and other crates Doki Doki have tried to ensure that even though your items are random, each box has items that all colour co-ordinate. I really appreciate little things like that 🙂
Overall, very impressive. I would definitely recommend this service. Incidentally, next month’s theme is arcade and features Amuse plush, more Re-ment AND Hoppe-Chan-sounds super exciting! 😀
Doki Doki kindly provided this box free of charge in exchange for an honest review. This in no way influenced my opinions on the box contents, the service or anything else.