Ah. At long last. I’m writing this blog post. The wait is finally over. It’s here.
On January 13, 2014, my childhood dream of owning my own Twilight Zone Mystic Seer came true.
There was a knock at the door. I’d only been waiting for this guilty pleasure of mine to arrive for nearly an entire YEAR. (Technically two, because I missed out on ordering from the first batch that was released.) I went to the door. I opened the door. And in walked the mail lady with an ENORMOUS box. And I knew. I knew exactly what it was.
My Mystic Seer.
Ten minutes, two signatures and another $45 later (thank you, Canadian tax laws), I stood in my kitchen, looking at this giant box that held the most expensive, frivolous purchase I have ever made.
Even the extra cash I’d just been robbed of wasn’t enough to dampen my excitement though.
Apparently this is what $60 worth of cardboard looks like. Yes, I paid SIXTY DOLLARS to ship this thing from California to Ontario. Hey, it’s a Mystic Seer. And come Howling Man or Bewitchin’ Pool, I was going to get one.
My new toy was packed like a Russian matryoshka doll. It was just box …
… after box …
… after … well, we’ll get to the last box in a second.
My Mystic Seer is number 207 of 300. Hey, not too shabby! Although considering when I pre-ordered it, I feel a bit gypped. Surely I should have gotten one of the first 100. But a Mystic Seer in the hand is worth… well, a Mystic Seer on your table, I guess. O_O
“Ages 14+”. Pft. Darn tootin’! You don’t give a kid access to the Twilight Zone’s mystic hotline for only a penny! Are you crazy? You want Nate channelling Little Anthony or Talky Tina? Oh, sure. It’s all fun and games until someone gets stuck in a diner eating stale whole wheat bread. I hate whole wheat bread, stale or otherwise.
Inside that last box, was THIS box… *eyes light up, hears angels singing*
I had to look over ever inch of the box before I opened it. I read everything, I looked at the pictures – coming close to pinching myself to see if this was actually happening.
The Seer itself was packed in tight with styrofoam. I had a difficult time getting it out of the box as I was paranoid that somehow I’d break it with all the pulling. But then there it was. I pulled apart the foam… and there it was.
*commences fangirling* :D
The Mystic Seer is quite possibly the most recognizable character from the Twilight Zone series. Notice that I called him a character and not a prop. Because to the poor people in the small town of Ridgeview, Ohio, circa 1960, this little guy was very much alive.
Featured in the second season episode, “Nick of Time”, the unmistakeable devil-headed, fortune-telling napkin dispenser becomes the nemesis of one Don Carter, aka William Shatner.
From the first time I saw this beloved episode, I wanted my own Mystic Seer. Why? Because it’s awesome, that’s why! Do I really need a better reason than that? I think not. So when the opportunity to buy a full-size, fully functioning replica presented itself, I scrimped and saved and finally sprung for one of my very own.
And boy, was it worth it!
If you’re thinking of getting yourself one though, be forewarned – it’s not going to come cheaply. If you live in the US, it won’t be too terrible. If you live in Canada, well… be prepared to dig deep into Jason Foster’s treasury. (Yes, yes, I’m mixing my TZ episode references. It’s called artistic license, guys. Take it up with my Seer! *coughPaulcough*) ;)
The Seer’s list price was $249.99. *chokes* Now, had I lived in Washington, New York or Maryland, the shipping would have been free. North of the border though? It was a steep $67.50. Yikes. That meant a grand total of $317.49. Wow. Like I said, not cheap. So you can imagine how I felt when it arrived on my doorstep with an additional charge of $45 in various taxes and handling costs. I paid a handling fee ON the handling fee! No joke! Felt like I was on Odyssey’s Flight 33. That hidden dinosaur upgrade fee is murder.
And let us not overlook the exchange. With the Canadian loonie once again in the crapper, I paid $400 for this … thing, as Pat Carter would call it.
But… *sighs * He’s SO COOL!
Since this is a review of sorts, allow me to comment a bit on the Seer’s overall quality and construction.
Let me put it simply – this thing is barely worth $100. Now, hang on, I’m not contradicting myself. I just mean that the workmanship isn’t that great. Not considering the outrageous price I paid for it. It’s made in China (what isn’t, right?) and it’s obvious. The body of the Seer has some imperfections that show through the red paint. Some warps, ripples, dings and divots here and there. The painted-on sign also has some rough spots and scuffs.
The fortune-dispensing mechanism required a little fiddling to make it work properly. And the cards have to be perfectly flat (which they weren’t when I first put them in) in order to get them to pop out the front slot. And after about a month of not using the Seer, I had to once again take all the cards out and give them a little twist to flatten them.
There is a removable panel on the back where you insert the cards, and it comes with a key to open the change drawer in the front. And it actually holds napkins on both sides. (Not included, of course. What? You didn’t think that they’d include a whole dollar’s worth of napkins, did you? You only paid $400 for this thing! At that price, they can’t afford to be handing out freebies! Sheesh.)
The Seer’s bobbling head is nicely modelled though, (but not exactly as the original), and even has a rhinestone eye, just like in the episode.
However, it’s little details like the all-important devil’s-head that take a product from good to amazing. And more importantly, from $100 to $400. This Mystic Seer claimed to be a “super deluxe replica” featuring “excellent, series-true detail”, but there are a number of (to me) major design deviations from the original that left me stinging with disappointment. The devil’s head is one difference. But the fonts on the sign are also a bit off. And on the replica, the stars are sculpted onto the body of the Seer. As you can see, the stars are just painted on the original, and have a nice drop shadow and elongated appearance. Also, the spring holding the head onto the Seer is grossly oversized compared to the original, which kind of hurts the overall appearance, in my opinion.
I’m a perfectionist myself, and I crave originality in things, so as I said, I was a tad disappointed at such seemingly unnecessary deviations from the original Seer. But, it’s still a wonderful replica and I don’t regret buying it. I can (reluctantly) let these detail faux pas slide.
There is one inexcusable, unforgivable, major screw-up. The cards. Or lack thereof, to be more specific. Check it out.
There are 24 cards in total. Eight different fortunes, 3 of each, which is nice because when shuffled, you stand an equal chance of getting each one. They look good. The font is… close enough to the original. They’re a heavy cardstock, so they’ll stand up to usage. What’s wrong with them then? The answer can be found in a previous post, “The Mystic Seer’s Words of Wisdom“.
In that post, you’ll find a list of all the fortunes Don Carter gets from the Seer in the episode. The problem is this: There are 15 fortunes in the original Mystic Seer. Not 8. 15. My $400, “series-true detail” Mystic Seer doesn’t even come with all the fortunes it’s supposed to have to be truly authentic. I was NOT impressed to discover this. I mean, come ON, guys. The fortunes are such an important part of this piece! Why would you cut corners here, of all places? This I simply can not overlook. The manufacturers really screwed this up, as far as I’m concerned — whether it was a cost-cutting measure, or whether no one bothered to watch the episode and count the fortunes.
But not all is lost, fortunately. As long as you’re willing to do a little work. On Entertainment Earth’s website, you can download more cards. Either the same 8 designs that came with the Seer, or blank front cards where you can write your own fortunes (which is what I’ve been doing to make my Seer a little more authentic). I do wish that they’d been kind enough to mention what the font used on the cards is though. But with a little trial and error of my own, I found a close, acceptable font. I used Georgia and stretched the letters vertically. I also had to enlarge the first capitalized letter separately from the other letters to make it match the existing look a bit better.
Since I had to do the work anyway, I’m going to do a favour for any other Mystic Seer owners who might stumble across this blog in a search for more cards.
Updated January 2020: Previously I had included here the blank card template sheet that Entertainment Earth provided if you wanted to make your own cards. I thought it was sized properly to match the existing cards. Spoiler alert: It wasn’t. I had never finished my project of making and printing out a full set of the missing cards, so I had never used the provided template as I was printing my tests one at a time. After discovering that here was yet another inexcusable error on the part of Entertainment Earth, I have removed their template and instead will share the NEW template which I made myself. It WILL print Mystic Seer cards that are the correct size to match the existing ones. This is a .jpg file, 8.5″ x 11″, saved at 400 dpi to preserve quality. Please feel free to save the image and make up your own cards.
Here’s my certificate of authenticity:
But it was another little piece of paper that would prove to be the highlight moment for me as I became acquainted with Don. (Yes, I’ve named my Seer Don.) Feast your eyes on this instruction paper:
“IMPORTANT: ACCEPTS U.S. PENNIES ONLY!”
Uh… pardon me? Qu’est-ce que c’est, s’il vous plait? >-/
. . .
*stares at Don*
. . .
Wendy (out loud): “Do you mean to tell me I bought a $400 napkin holder that isn’t even going to tell my fortune because I’m a Canadian!?!?!?”
I had some American pennies handy, but of course I did try the Canadian ones too. I mean, they’re pennies. Aside from a different picture, they’re the same size, shape and weight. And sure enough, the Canadian ones work just fine. (Damn you, instruction paper, for making me so upset over nothing!)
Crisis averted! Although there is still the small issue of no more pennies in Canada. Can’t even get a roll at the bank. I’m telling ya, you just can’t win sometimes.
Should you want to get your own Mystic Seer, you can order one from Entertainment Earth at this link. It’s a major purchase, but if, like me, you’re a huge fan of the Twilight Zone, then I assure you, it’s worth, well, every penny. I’m completely tickled to finally own my own piece of history. Don now has a permanent home in my studio and we’re getting to know each other, one penny at a time.
Anyone want a slightly used Mystic Seer…?
How about you? Want your fortune told by the Mystic Seer, dear readers? Leave your questions in the comments section below and I’ll ask Don!