December 2019 UpCrate Unboxing New Subscription Box! (14+)
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December 2019 UpCrate Unboxing New Subscription Box! (14+)

Hello, and welcome back to Jenna Gets Creative!
Today I’m unboxing and trying out a new art subscription box from Germany called UpCrate.
This is not sponsored! I paid to try this myself. I first heard about them back in the
summer when they were kickstarting their first box, and I’ve been watching to see what their
boxes looked like. At €22 per box, or less if you pre-pay multiple months at a time,
UpCrate is currently a little cheaper than ScrawlrBox. Remember ScrawlrBox starts at
£15 per month with an additional £5 for shipping outside of the UK, and €22 converts
to just under £19, so UpCrate is currently cheaper than ScrawlrBox for all customers
outside of the UK. (And they don’t charge shipping.) As with all subscription box videos
I do, I’ll have cost breakdown stuff in the description box below.
Sorry, by the way if you can hear my daughter in the background. I’m trying to record this
earlier in the day, so she’s awake. So this is the December box, which was their
fourth box. If you’re watching this close to when I put it up and you like this box
in particular, they are currently selling leftovers of this box on their website right
now. If you want to try their next box but don’t want to commit to a subscription, their
website seems to say there’s a way to do that, but I couldn’t find it. What I did to try
this one was start a month to month subscription and just cancelled after this one shipped.
So no, I won’t be getting the January box. I do like these guys so far and I can definitely
see myself subscribing to them in the future, but I can’t afford two subscriptions right
now and I’m already locked in on ScrawlrBox until the fall. That’s not to say I would
definitely jump ship on ScrawlrBox and switch after just one box, but I’ll continue to keep
my eye on UpCrate this year, maybe do a few No-Box Art Box test runs. I also know from
a survey ScrawlrBox put out a month or so back that there are possible changes coming
for their subscription model, so who knows. Time will tell!
By the way, if you’re new here, I’d love it if you would subscribe and turn on notifications.
I upload twice a week at minimum, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and some weeks I have bonus
content as well. This will be one of those weeks, as tomorrow is the January Art Addicts
Alliance collaboration day, so come back tomorrow for that. Also, in case you haven’t heard
yet, my biggest goal for YouTube this year is to qualify for the YouTube Partner Program,
and I’ll be holding an international giveaway to celebrate when I do, so subscribe if you
want to be eligible! If you like this video, don’t forget to hit
like and leave a comment down below. I love reading your comments, I appreciate the interaction
on my video, and I do reply to everyone. Let me know if you had already heard of UpCrate,
or if this is the first time you’re hearing about it. Are you going to try it?
I am going to talk about the supplies in the box and my general first impressions of the
service in just a sec, but in case the video footage is further along than I’m anticipating
right now, I just wanted to give a little disclaimer. I did see Kattvalk’s UpCrate video
in between opening this box and actually trying it out, so I borrowed her idea of sticking
a black and white page together and making my art on both colours at once. Thanks for
the idea, Marie! So when you first open UpCrate you’re greeted
with a semi-transparent envelope containing all the info, stickers, etc. and your own
name is right there on top. It does appear that customer names are hand-written onto
the info sheets in Sharpie or a similar black marker, which is a nice touch. This is, of
course, based on the billing and shipping information you give them, so keep that in
mind if you decide to order UpCrate for someone else. Make sure the shipping name is the way
you want it to appear! And cat’s out of the bag, for anyone who’s curious but hasn’t figured
it out on their own, yes, Jenna is short for Jennifer. I’ve been Jen, Jenny and Jenna,
but no one actually calls me Jennifer. As mentioned, the page your name appears on
is the info page, similar to the “menu” cards in other boxes. Also in that envelope is the
stickers, a small card with the challenge topic on the back, and a couple bonus surface
cards. The info page tells you about all of the items officially included in the box,
including the paper but not including the bonus gift gel pen (that’s on the back of
a different little card with the stickers), but it doesn’t give any pricing information
for the items or a brand name for the paper. The challenge theme, or “battle topic” as
they call it by the way, is “Wonderland.” The featured artist in this box is digital
artist Sonia Stegemann, and you can pause if you want to read her information and check
out her social media and personal website. I love it when boxes include prints! My art
room is full of prints from so many artists I might never have even heard of.
First up on the info page is a pair of metallic markers from Faber-Castell. I showed the markers
in their package and then pulled out a loose pair when I was unboxing, because ScrawlrBox
also sent these markers in their December box, and I unboxed both boxes on the same
day. So yes, I still have a set of these unused in their original package. Those will likely
be in the giveaway later on. From what I can tell this is a new line from Faber-Castell,
and ScrawlrBox reported them as having a suggested retail price of £4.25 for the pair. Again,
UpCrate’s info sheet doesn’t have any pricing information, so I’ll be doing my research
on each item. Faber-Castell’s Canadian website lists this particular two pack for $5.90 CAD,
and ScrawlrBox’s suggested price converts to $7.22 CAD, so clearly there’s some price
variation depending on where you buy them from.
These are metallic ink permanent markers that write on a variety of surfaces, not just paper.
They have a 1.5mm fine tip nib that looks similar to those in pump markers, but DON’T
try to pump these. You don’t need to, and if they’re anything like the PITT pens with
this type of nib, you can easily force the nib up inside the pen if you try. Made that
mistake once! Won’t be doing it again. UpCrate’s info sheet has a bonus tip for these
markers that says you can make the ink waterproof on some non-paper surfaces like rock by baking
it at 160C for 30 minutes. The wording on the page is a little funny, probably because
it’s coming from a country that doesn’t speak English as a first language, and kind of made
it sound like you can put the markers themselves in the oven to make them waterproof. Probably
not a good idea if you want to use them after. These multi-surface metallic pens from Faber-Castell
come in 6 colours, but we’ve been sent the gold and silver. The shade names are Heart
of Gold and Nothing Else Metals, which I think is kind of cute. If anyone’s curious, the
other shades are Copper Cabana, Berry Nice, Ice Ice Blue, and Wanderlust. My overall impression
of these markers is that they’re very nice as far as metallic markers go. The ink doesn’t
have a greasy halo like some I’ve tried, and they write easily. I did notice, however,
that although the ink is coloured, the metallic effect comes from a glitter component that
is always silver. So the silver ink looks perfect, but the gold ink ends up with patches
that are more silver because there’s a higher concentration of the glitter settled there.
It’s also pretty impossible to cover large areas without streaking. You can layer once
the ink is dry, so doing your second layer in another direction than the first minimizes
that, but it is water based ink, so some surfaces like paper aren’t going to take kindly to
multiple layers. Next up is a Faber-Castell PITT Artist Pen
fineliner in size S, or 0.3mm, and black pigment ink. I do own a small set of black in PITT
fineliners already, but as I showed on camera, mine don’t have the actual size labelled,
just the letters. I wonder if they’ve switched to including the size now, or if the difference
is that this pen clearly came straight from Germany and wasn’t labelled for a different
market like the ones I’ve bought here in North America or received from ScrawlrBox in the
UK. I won’t say much about this pen because I already have many times. If you want to
know more, look for any of my fineliner review videos in my archive. These are waterproof
and alcohol ink proof when dry. They’re a good option to use under watercolours or with
your alcohol ink markers. Not my favourite brand for pigment liners, but definitely an
excellent product, and I can understand why they are some artists’ favourite. Individually,
these pens go for $3.20 CAD on the Canadian Faber-Castell website.
We got a Faber-Castell pencil in this box as well. It’s a B lead from their Goldfaber
line. Goldfaber, which is their blue and silver packaging line, is their mid-grade products.
Their professional tier like their Polychromos coloured pencils and their 9000 series graphite
pencils are in green packaging. Their children’s art supplies are in red. Blue and silver is
their student artist and hobbiest line. I honestly don’t know what that means when it
comes to a graphite pencil, though. Nothing in the description of this pencil tells me
it would be a lesser quality than the 9000 series pencils. It may just be that they have
a Goldfaber set of graphite pencils so businesses ordering their Goldfaber line can offer matching
pencils. I know the Indigo and sub-banner branded book stores here in Canada stock Goldfaber
products. On the Canadian Faber-Castell website these pencils are $1.00 CAD each, while the
9000-series pencils are $1.60 CAD. It looks like the Goldfaber graphite pencils only range
from 6B to 4H, while the 9000-series ranges from 8B to 6H, so there are 2 fewer lead weights
on each end of the scale with the Goldfaber. The website also uses the phrase “high quality”
for the Goldfaber and “top quality” for the 9000-series, so that probably refers to the
refinement or pureness of the lead. If you’re reading the info page in columns,
the next up is a small blurb at the bottom of the page regarding the included paper.
I actually didn’t even notice this part the first time and thought we had no information
at all for the paper, so I’m glad I read through it again. We have four sheets each of black
and white 110gsm paper. It doesn’t tell us what brand or manufacturer this is, or what
type of paper this would be (such as calling it cartridge paper). It feels like the fancier
papers your high school might have used for report cards vs the lighter weight printer
paper they sent notices home on. It’s slightly glossy and has very little tooth. I could
tell it was heavier weight than standard printer paper, but I wouldn’t have guessed 110gsm.
That’s 29lbs bond weight, for my American audience, by the way. Copy paper is usually
20lbs or 75gsm, photo paper is 24lbs or 90 gsm, and premium brochure paper is usually
32lbs or 120gsm. This absolutely feels like brochure paper, so that makes sense.
And of course, we have no pricing information for this paper. Without a manufacturer I can’t
even make a guess, so we’ll play this by old school ScrawlrBox rules and just count the
paper as a bonus to the value of the box. The entire right hand column on the info sheet
is taken up by the rest of our products, which are the Artline markers. We have two lines
here, the Decorite and the Stix. I’m familiar with Artline Stix because we got one in either
the ScrawlrBox or SketchBox that was themed for Inktober back in 2018. Artline Stick are
glorified children’s felt tip markers that call themselves brush markers, but really
they just have an elongated bullet nib. It’s not flexible at all, and the ink quality is
on parr with Crayola. The barrels link together like Lego bricks, which is a cute gimmick,
but just reinforces the children’s art supply feel. In this box, we got the Stix markers
in red, blue, and pink. I wanted to grab pricing information for Artline
products straight from their website, but they don’t sell directly to their customers,
so I can’t do that. For simplicity, I’ll be looking them up on Canadian Amazon, since
I got my Faber-Castell prices in CAD from their own Canadian website.
The best price I can find for Artline Stix is $34.58 CAD for a 16 pack, which works out
to $2.16 CAD per marker. Keep in mind that none of these were Amazon Prime listings,
which means these probably aren’t the best price out there, but it’s a good benchmark
for customers outside of Australia. Important PSA, by the way. I’ve mentioned
this before but I’ll keep saying it whenever I review markers. YouTube is filtering the
word “bullet,” so don’t say that in your comments if you want me to see your comments! Your
comment will disappear into the void, never to return. It doesn’t go to spam, it just
disappears. I know this because I get a notification that you left a comment, and I can see the
first few words, but when I try to respond the comment has been deleted by YouTube. Call
them a “fine” nib or spell bullet creatively. Replace the u with a v, replace the Ls with
1s, whatever. And if you’re watching this and you asked me a bullet nib question on
another marker video, this is exactly why you haven’t heard back from me. I’m not ignoring
you! Go ahead and ask again. As for the Decorite markers, these are non-pump
paint markers. The info card says they come in a range of 20 colours and 3 different nib
types, of which we have a good selection. The bullet nib (again, DON’T say bullet in
the comments) is a 1.0mm tip. When I was swatching these I thought the first bullet nib I tried
was a brush nib because it’s so long and I’m used to the firmness of the Stix brush nib,
but these are in fact not brush nibs on the Decorite line. We also have one example of
the 3.0mm flat nib, and a few brush nibs. The brush nibs are much more flexible than
the Stix brush nibs, and they actually remind me of good alcohol marker brush nibs. We have
white, black, yellow, brown and green in matt ink, and red, green and copper in metallic
shades. They are somewhat blendable if you layer wet into wet, and you can indeed get
more opaque fills if you layer over dried paint. Both the manufacturer website for these
markers and the UpCrate info sheet refers to them as being water based pigment ink,
but they look, feel and smell like cheap tempera paint, or poster paint. I couldn’t find these
on any Canadian site at all, so for pricing reference, a pack of all 20 brush nib pens
will cost you $32.99 USD before shipping on eBay. That works out to $1.65 USD each, or
$2.15 CAD, which sounds like a very reasonable price to me for what they are.
Overall I really like the Decorite pens, a lot more than I thought I would at first,
and I’d be curious to try them on other surfaces. We also got a Christmas themed gel pen that
was a bonus gift. I didn’t end up using it, but it’s really cute and the ink seems to
be good quality. It looks like it’s probably a 0.1mm or 0.2mm nib.
When I was trying to think of what to draw for the “Wonderland” theme, I kept thinking
of Alice in Wonderland, which lead me to think of The White Rabbit. Drawing an actual white
rabbit would have really limited me in terms of trying out all these colours, so I did
a somewhat normal coloured rabbit on the white half of my paper, and a metallic version on
the black side. I was going for colour choices that feel like an inverted colour image, but
of course I didn’t have many colours to choose from, so it isn’t actually the appropriate
inverted colour choices. I completely forgot to use the three Stix markers, but I’m not
upset about it. It almost felt like there were too many individual items in this box
to use them all. The paper crinkled and warped a little by
the time I was done putting so many layers of these markers down on them, and physically
holding it, it makes me feel like I stepped back in time to my elementary school days
and made a project using supplies from the school’s art room. It’s charming in a nostalgic
way, but doesn’t feel high quality. Because of that, I think this box was a great experience
for having fun and trying new things, but it may not necessarily be providing the highest
quality materials. Not all boxes do, and not every box sends the best stuff every time,
so I won’t judge them too harshly for that. Like I said, I’ll definitely be keeping my
eye on these guys this year to see what their other boxes look like.
Again, cost breakdowns in the description box below. Normally I do CAD, USD and GBP
only, but this time I’ll also include Euros, since this box comes from Germany.
Anyway, this has been a long one! Let me know if you want to see me try their past or future
boxes in my No-Box Art Box series, or if you really want to see me get more of this for
real in the future. See you tomorrow!

About Roger Trantham

Read All Posts By Roger Trantham

8 thoughts on “December 2019 UpCrate Unboxing New Subscription Box! (14+)

  1. Awesome unboxing and love the piece you made. I haven't seen her video yet but it's still an awesome idea to use both papers. I was surprised at the box value, it seemed like it had a lot of supplies but its also the first that gives you a value to match what one pays. 🙂 Pretty cool. I have yet to do a piece with these supplies but love what you did with them.

  2. Awesome overview of the box and products – I'm always impressed by how much research you put into the prices and your clear descriptions of your experience with the products. Love the style of your "White" rabbit too 🙂

  3. I have heard of upcrate and it's interesting to see what everyone does with this pen/marker heavy box. Lovely illustration!

  4. I haven't used these higher quality markers before. I didn't expect them to show up so well on the black. Those colors come through amazing!

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