FTC Disclaimer: Kiwi Crate provided us with the crates/kits in this post. None of these links are affiliate links. We supplied the boy, the cat, and the Angry Birds.
When I first saw the press release for the Kiwi Crate, I thought it sounded like neat idea: a subscription service for a box of crafts for kids ages 3 to 7, with everything included. The boy and I sometimes make crafts we find online or in magazines, but usually the more interesting ones involve something we don't already have around the house, so they get put off until we make a trip to the craft store.
Kiwi Crate sent us the Space Hero crate and a My Wings mini-crate. These are both available separately from the subscription, meaning that they are available as single-purchase items.
The presentation factor is high on these: the boxes are quite nice (sturdy enough to reuse for collections of small items!), the tissue paper makes you feel like you are unwrapping a gift, and the inner bags have a fancy boutique feel to them. The mini-crate has a plastic handle and a gift tag, adding to the "wow factor" if you use this as a party favor.
Each instruction sheet/flyer has a chart on the front to let you know the "messiness" and "grown up involvement" for each project, as well as which skills (creating, fine motor skills, and so on) your child might be engaging/learning as they do the projects.
The Space Hero crate contained My Cape, My Comet, and a bonus project Space Hero Mask.
To gain the cooperation of our five-year-old boy, I let him pick which project to do first. After carefully looking over each bag, he chose the My Cape. (The cape also comes in blue or pink.)
The cape itself is nicer than most Halloween costume capes, so everyone was happy right from the start. There's no sewing involved - the cape is already hemmed and the Velcro is already sewn in place on the neck. All you really need to do is choose which of the felt stickers to add to the cape. Our kid is pretty thorough, so he decided to use them all. My best guess is that he's practicing for future NASCAR sponsorships. As he first tried on the finished cape, he told us when he would be wearing it in the future: a lot.
I thought that the stickers were a nice choice here because it wasn't something that a parent needed to sew on or iron on, and we didn't need to wait for glue to dry. The only trouble is that the adhesive is pretty strong, so we had to help the boy with peeling off the backing paper.
In retrospect, the finished cape would look nicer if I had thought to iron it before the stickers went on. After about two days, the large yellow circle sticker did fall off of the cape, but the others are still firmly attached.
The My Wings project from the mini-crate was his next choice, and that was a bit more hands-on for me and less for him. He placed the stickers on the wings, but it was all on me to twist the giant pipe cleaner around the wings and figure out the elastic strap. Fortunately, everything is sturdy enough that if it takes you multiple tries, it will still look good when you are done. Having a boy, I was a bit worried as we opened the box that the wings were going to be feminine, but they were more insect/unisex and less Disney/fairy princess. There is another color of wings available if the orange/red is too masculine for your needs.
The wings are made of a very thick and sturdy crepe paper. Think of those crepe paper party streamers, but twice as thick. Sadly, the crinkles of the paper attracted a cat who enjoys chewing, so now when the wings are not in use, they are stored up high and out of reach.
The My Comet was a joint venture craft - I wrapped the ball and tied the ribbons but the boy placed the star stickers. It was a nice touch that the fabric matches the fabric of the cape.
He asked how many stickers we were supposed to use, and when I told him that he could use as many as he wanted, he said (surprise!) that he was going to use them all.
In between adding the stars, he made it fly around the living room and asked me what a comet was. I did a bad job explaining it, and he ended up concerned that we would need to light it on fire. The direction sheet has a better definition of comets, so I should have stuck with that.
The ribbons were pretty fancy, and I found myself coveting them for a possible future use of my own.
The bonus project, the Space Hero Mask, was our final craft of the day. The markers are nicer than any markers we've ever bought, and I'm not sure if that says more about Kiwi Crate or about my level of cheapness. Either way, they are really nice markers that showed up nicely on the thick black paper mask. There are three metallic colors included: a silver, a red, and a blue.
When I was not looking, the markers were used to draw a few extra stars on the comet. It happens. I was secretly pleased that he had picked out the silver marker for this, since it matched the color of the stickers.
You use two elastic ribbons to attach the mask, so it ends up being completely adjustable. Using ribbons was a nice touch because they don't look like they will get caught in your hair like the thin elastic bands on party hats do.
The paper for the mask is fairly thick, but I could see that if it got a lot of wear, it could rip. The ribbons will outlast the paper, and it would be easy enough to cut some thin craft foam to the right shape and reuse the ribbons.
Overall Verdict: our test subject was a five-year-old boy who was most interested in the cape and comet. He enjoyed making the wings but not wearing them. The mask he liked to color but did not like to wear. He generally does not like masks, so that is more a reflection of the boy and not the craft.
As far as a value judgment goes... None of this is anything that you couldn't do on your own, possibly for less money, but it depends on your skill level and how much time and effort you want to put into tracking down the materials. In my own case, I don't think I've seen pipe cleaners that size in a store, so a homemade (by me) version of My Wings wouldn't be as nice. My sewing skills are quite limited, so any cape I could sew on my own would not begin to approach the quality of the cape in the My Cape kit. The My Comet is likely the "most easily reproduced on your own" item of this batch, although I myself am too cheap to buy fabric and ribbons as nice as these were.
It's like the difference between cooking at home versus eating at a retaurant: sometimes it is just nice to have someone else do the grunt work.
Time Factor: It took us about an hour to make all four crafts, including choosing which Angry Birds were going to be the audience, a break to feed the cats, and a break to eat a brownie. So probably 40 minutes of actual crafting.
Pricing: The Space Hero crate (cape, comet, mask) is sold for $19.95, and there is also a more girl-oriented version, the Fairy Fun crate. The pieces are also sold individually, but with a minimum quantity of six: $12 for the My Cape, $6 for the My Comet, and $8 for the My Wings. Several different colors of each are available.
If you'd like to peek inside other Kiwi Crates, the official site shows the contents of three different crates, or you could read a few "Mommy blogger" reviews of the subscription crates: