Thinking out of the box

Do you know the card game ‘Uno’? It’s pretty straightforward. A sort of elaborate game of Snap in which players have to match colours and numbers, and form runs of both to get rid of their hand. It’s good fun. I played it a few years ago on the train with some colleagues from work, en route from London Euston to Manchester Piccadilly. It killed a few hours. I wanted to kill a few more, so ordered it online from Hamley’s toy shop.


A few days later a box arrived. Reasonably big. Three foot by three, maybe. It was Christmas so I was expecting a few things. But nothing that size. Of course, as you will have guessed, this environmental insult was housing my little game. But I didn’t know that at the time.


I unwrapped the box, to find another inside. Identical in every way, but scaled down by a fifth. Intrigued, I opened the second box. Another inside, scaled down by a further fifth, and surrounded by padding. I considered that odd. But what else could I do? I opened the third box.


At this point I began to think that someone was playing a practical joke. Were there hidden cameras trained on me? A Christmas trick? Inside was a fourth box, surrounded by padding like the third, and identically-shaped… scaled down by a fifth. Opened the fifth, the final box, and my card game lay inside – silently laughing at me.


This whole experience struck me as bizarre. Apart from anything else, it was pointless. Why would anyone have the time or inclination to wrap a card game in five successive boxes for a perfect stranger? Especially in the throes of Christmas, presumably rush hour for the Hamley’s despatch department? The postage would be sky high relative to the item, and – most worryingly of all – the chronic waste of paper and cardboard is irresponsible in the extreme.


This doubtless is not the most interesting tale you have ever read. But as someone with experience in the packaging design industry, and who has discussed ways of minimising packaging footprint in the UK, this represented a fascinating and illogical action.


If you don’t believe me, take a look at the photos – live action shots, taken as the mystery unravelled.


I still haven’t opened the game.




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