Figura Obscura Gods of Ancient Egypt packaging

The Figura Obscura packages are always pretty good, and we normally just talk about them in the reviews. But this newest release, the Gods of Ancient Egypt, has a problem.

The mysteries of ancient Egypt, including the various deities they worshipped and their rich belief in the afterlife, continue to fascinate people thousands of years after this remarkable civilization reached its pinnacle. The Egyptian pantheon was made up of gods and goddesses who possessed incredible powers, and used those powers for good or ill, depending on whether the were appeased or angered by the offerings made to them. Two of the most recognizable deities of ancient Egypt are the jackal-headed god of embalmers known as Anubis and the cat-headed fertility goddess named Bastet.

The outer cover is designed to look like a tomb wall, with stone blocks, hieroglyphics, and a frieze of the god in question. And that's all very nice. But the problem begins when you turn them to the side.

In order to avoid repetition, each of the boxes has the other god on the side - so Anubis' box has Anubis on the front, and Bastet on the side; Bastet's box has Bastet on the front, and Anubis on the side. Thus the packaging is fine, if you have the boxes displayed facing outward, but what if you display them "bookshelf" style? Now you've got the wrong gods.

I'm sure there's someone out there who's right now going "well the covers are magnetic, just swap them." That may even have been the intent. But it doesn't mean it's good. Okay, so you swap them: you see Bastet on the spine, you pull that box out... and there's Anubis' picture on the front, there's Anubis' name on the front in gold-fricking-leaf! So instead of being wrong one way, it's now wrong the other.

Look, I'm a graphic designer, I know it's hard to design a cover that will both look like a complete, all-around design on its own, and still line up nicely with other releases if you see them together. I know this. But as a graphic designer, I also know it can be done; it's just "hard," not "impossible."

Putting the wrong god on the spine side of each package is simply bad design, no way around it. And swapping the covers is not an acceptable solution - it's a halfassed stopgap with zero thought behind it. It's poor work, and not up to the line's usual standards. The artwork is beautiful - the layout is less so.

"Eh, you sure talk a big game, what would you have done instead?" I don't know what I would have done, because I'm not being paid to do it, and papa don't work for free. The back of the box has a head-on portrait, maybe put that on the side instead. Whatever the solution, when this was handed in, it was someone's job to look at it, say "this is good, but it's not good enough. Yet. Let's work together to make it the absolute best!" And that person instead let it slide.

This isn't some last-minute project where you need to rush it out the door. The Four Horsemen aren't surprised by their own Figura Obscura releases - given manufacturing and shipping times, the 2024 Halloween Witch may already be in production at the factory; heck, the winter "Baby New Year/Father Time" two-pack might even be tooled at this point, too. And next May's Wild West Gunslinger may already be locked down. So there is plenty of time to do the boxes right, but with the Gods of Ancient Egypt, they weren't. If the Horsemen come back to this theme, hopefully things will be better next time.

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