GENEVA – All it took was a little thinking outside the box, and Lisa Curshellas of Geneva was able to launch a fun and educational spy game that her children helped design.
Her oldest son, 8-year-old Michael, helped hatch the concept of the business, Mission Unboxable, which is delivered to children through the mail on a subscription basis. But Michael isn’t the only family member involved – his three sisters, Adrianna, 6; Sophia, 4; and Isabella, 1, also have a part in the new business.
“I like to say it’s kid created, mom approved,” Curshellas said. “My consultants are under the age of 8.”
Because “everyone wants to solve a mystery,” as Curshellas says, the game helps children transform into secret agents tasked with catching bad guys and cracking secret codes. She said kids and parents can receive up to 13 missions each month, depending on how many months a family signs up for. The missions are available in three-, six- or 12-month subscriptions, with each costing $10 to $15 a month.
Curshellas’ own children serve as the product testers for the game, which is geared toward children ages 6 through 10.
“What I found with having four kids is ... that they love the things you would not think they love,” Curshellas said.
Most of the missions arrive in the mail in a Manila envelope addressed to the child containing a new task with titles such as “Inventor’s Challenge,” “The Get-Away Car” and “Target Practice.” But don’t hold on to the message for too long – it’s so top secret that it’s designed to “self-destruct.”
The very first spy mission comes in a black briefcase packed with spy essentials, such as fake mustaches and dark sunglasses. Kids also can color in a wanted poster to prepare for the next quest. The second mission furthers the disguise by helping kids create a badge and a secret agent code name, such as Ice Ninja.
“They’re educational, but with a fun aspect. As a parent, it’s kind of fun to watch them do the other missions,” Curshellas said. “It’s super fun. Everyone wants to be a spy, I think.”
Other quests contain the necessary spy gear for each mission. It might include a pair of glasses that are actually pens, a decoder marker that writes in invisible ink that appears when illuminated by a special light and a pair of binoculars kids can decorate.
“I pretty much like the first and last missions,” Michael said of his favorite missions.
The last mission, “Grand Finale – Putting It All Together,” challenges kids to find the whereabouts of a bad guy. Of course, to do that, they need their own passport to travel around the world.
Other missions include making a balloon-powered car, creating a bird feeder for a bird-watching mission and decoding secret messages.
Michael said he’s still coming up with new ideas for enhancing the game, such as possibly adding some online games to supplement some of the spy missions. Curshellas said they’ve also come up with a classroom edition of the game for teachers to use, and some of the items can be purchased piece by piece. The game can be purchased at www.Etsy.com.
“We’re already working on a Christmas mission – how to save Santa,” Curshellas said.