The Royal Melbourne Show is a sort of rite of passage for all Victorians -- it's one of those events where you should go at least once in your life, even if you hate it and think it's overpriced. There are rides, food stands, farm animals and -- of course, the most important feature of them all -- showbags. There's a bit of controversy with showbags in regards to their cost versus their value, and there was a time when it certainly wasn't worth going to the Show at all, simply because you'd spend a rather obscene amount of money on what was essentially junk. It seemed to hit a new low when the bags with the best value were for chocolate bars -- after all, do you really want to spend $30 to get in just to buy sweets? Nah, what you want is stuff! A bit of bang for your buck!
I didn't go to the show this year, but my brother did and he was kind enough to bring back a showbag for everyone in my family. For me, he bought The Australian Women's Weekly showbag, because, he says, it was the first one he saw that had makeup in it. (Typical yet considerate man, am I right?) Let me tell you, he definitely got bang for his buck. Out of this world value. I'm actually really stoked, because, looking at all of the other health and beauty showbags that were on offer, I definitely would've gone for this one myself. How much did my brother pay? $15 -- a very modest price that's made up twice over with just the bag it comes in.
First up: the bag itself. It's a large tote bag with summery coral and white horizontal stripes and a magnetic clasp on the inside. It has "The Australian Women's Weekly" printed at the top. The handles are strong and sturdy -- definitely capable of carrying a nice load in there. I'm not sure what fabric it's made from, but it's very tough and sturdy -- I'd be inclined to take this with me to the beach, it'd easily fit in all of my essentials! This bag is valued by the Show at $30 -- already twice the value of the price paid!
On to everything else...
Woman's Day Magazine | $4.20 -- Ahh, a trashy rag. I know some women thrive off the absolute utter rubbish that these magazines spin, but me -- I can't stand it. One week it's "Mrs X betrayed Mr X with her ex-husband Mr Y!" the next it's "Mr X takes Mrs X back!" and then the next it's "Mr X's shocking betrayal!" Just... ugh, no. Stop. Let's put it this way -- if the picture is photoshopped, it isn't true. But anyway. This is a current issue that centres around the wedding of two people from The Block (which I don't watch because meh) -- and weddings are always very nice to look at, even if I'm not totally buying this "surprise" that the magazine advertises. There's also a segment about Ada Nicodemou's tribute to her son -- I adore Ada Nicodemou, she's an absolute sweetheart, so if there's something about it, it'll be genuine -- and a bogan catfight between two women I don't care about. The Show has the magazine valued at $4.10 -- probably a typo.
Good Health Magazine | $7.20 -- I like health and fitness magazines, but I don't really read them because... I honestly don't know why. Perhaps it's because I know I don't really have the time to do much fitness. This is the current October issue, and it focuses on spring cleaning your life, debunked food myths (but this segment is by Dr Oz, so... hmm. I'll take that with a pinch of salt.) as well as how siblings affect your health. The show values this at $6.95, which makes me think that the prices have just gone up recently.
The Australian Women's Weekly | $6.95 -- I don't normally buy this magazine unless it's a commemorative issue of some sort (and even then, I don't really read it, I just quickly flick through the pictures and pack it away neatly like the hoarder I am), but it's definitely a solid magazine, and I believe worth getting if you hate trashy rags as much as I do. The showbag had the current October 2014 issue, which was nice because I don't think they'd come out on the stands when the Show started. Deborra-lee Furness (aka Mrs Hugh Jackman, aka Luckiest Lady In The World) is on the cover, but it also has an interview with Hillary Clinton, a list of the 50 Most Powerful Women, and a segment on Halloween cakes.
Australian Gourmet Traveller Magazine | $8.95 -- How many people love food? I definitely do -- I can't wait for summer, because I plan to spend my holidays baking and cooking as many delicious goodies as possible, whilst dreaming of
OK! Magazine | $4.95 -- Another trashy rag, but I find that this is the most reliable one of the lot that are out there. This issue (which the show values at $4.70) centres on how to drop 5kg fast (because not eating late at night clearly won't help), Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Martin moving in together (probably bogus), how to get an "A-List" Jennifer Lopez-style booty (which, let's face it, I already have thanks to Maltese genetics) and who of the ladies from The Bachelor lost 20kg -- the sceptic in me thinks this was probably a long way prior to them being on the show, because all of those girls are excellent bodies. I will enjoy flicking through this, if just so that I can look at the section of The Bachelor -- because it's a hilarious show that I enjoy watching for its hilarity.
Recipes+ Magazine | $2.95 -- This is the kind of magazine that will help take me from eggs on toast to fancy Pithiviers. I'm not going to lie, I normally only buy cooking magazines when there's a delicious, oozy, chocolate dessert on the cover. This issue has a frittata on the cover, which isn't the kind of thing I usually make, given that desserts are more my thing, but there are bound to be loads of great dinner ideas inside! The Show values this magazine at $5.95 and I honestly don't know where they get that from -- I don't believe that this magazine has ever been so expensive, it's one that's slightly cheaper made.
Designer Beauty Glam Issue | Free -- This little booklet doesn't have a retail value because it isn't one that you buy; it's the kind of thing that you tend to get for free inside other magazines or newspapers. It's centred around the Designer Brands line, which is a brand of cosmetics that is supposed to boast high-end quality for a drugstore price. The booklet shows how to get certain celebrity looks using Designer Brands products, which I think is great for those who aren't confident that they can create glamorous looks with inexpensive products.
Table of Plenty Velvety Vanilla Muesli 50g | Valued at $1.00 -- I love muesli and I love vanilla. Table of Plenty is a relatively expensive brand, so I'm expecting good quality and discernable flavours. The only thing that stopped me from ripping the packet open right away was that I need to take a photo of it! Unfortunately, despite this being a well-sized sachet, it's not worth $1 -- a 500g box is $5.54 (expensive by my standards), so this totals in value to 56c. Still, it's not too bad, considering that individual portions of cereal sell in the supermarkets for several dollars.
Heinz Tomato Ketchup 500ml | Valued at $3.99 -- This was the most hilarious thing for me to pull out of the bag. My brother said to me, "Oh yeah, I think there's like a sachet of tomato sauce in there or something." and I immediately went to fish it out -- I have this weird fear that tomato sauce sachets have more prone to exploding in a bag than other sachets, and I didn't want all my new stuff looking and smelling like tomato. What I pulled out instead was a full bottle of sauce! Perhaps there's been a price drop on Heinz sauce recently, because Woolworths is telling me that what I've got is only worth about $3.43. Hmm.
Aeroplane Sweet Treats Lime Flavoured Jelly Slice 225g pkt | Valued at $5.00 -- I don't mind jelly on occasion, as long as it's tasty and not red. I wouldn't say I'm the biggest fan of jelly slice. However. This is green jelly, my favourite when I eat it, so I think I can give it a shot. The value of this is slightly higher than that is estimated, as it's $5.38 in the shops. Perhaps I'll be able to make this during the week!
Lipton Sparkling Iced Tea - Zero Sugar 330ml | Valued at $2.50 -- This was the first thing that I saw in the bag and, I can't lie, it's what won me over. Although I can't go near hot tea, I love iced tea and I've wanted to try this for ages but I've been too
Devondale Smoothies Berry Mix Flavour 200ml | Valued at $3.98 -- Hmm. According to the Show website, I ought to have gotten something called "Devondale Fast Start Chocolate". I know that the Fast Start range is their version of Up 'N' Go, and they come in packs of three. I don't really know how the Show evaluated this particular product, because the three-pack itself costs $4.39 -- and I don't think they were intending to give out three-packs, so the retail value of a single one would be about $1.46. The Smoothies range is slightly cheaper again, with a three-pack costing $3.64 -- so my single milk has a rough value of $1.21.
Nerada Tea Cup Bags 10pk | Valued at $2.60 -- Everyone knows that I'm not a drinker of tea, so this is going to sit in the coffee drawer until my grandfather comes over to drink it for me. Again, I really don't know how the Show evaluates the worth of these products sometimes, because a 50pk of this tea costs $2.76 -- how could a 10pk possibly be worth $2.60? It's more in the vicinity of 55c.
McCormick Flavour Shots - Chilli Con Carne | Valued at $2.49 -- I like chilli con carne and I like flavour bases, so I'm really looking forward to trying this out. You can pick these up from Woolies for $2.68, so they are worth a little bit more than what's advertised.
Lee Kum Kee Oriental Honey & Soy Stir-fry Sauce 45ml | Valued at $1.00 -- This is a sachet of a marinade and stir-fry sauce; the flavour I got was one of three that I think were available: the others were Cantonese Soy & Garlic, and Asian Hoisin. The Show values the sachet to be $1 worth of sauce, but a bottle of this costs $3.43 from Woolies, which, if my math is correct, really puts the value at about 58c.
Nestle Sustagen Dutch Chocolate Milk Powder 15g | Valued at $1.00 -- This seems to be the protein shake's little sister. It's a product marketed for busy or active people, as a kind of 'snack' in between meals. I really like flavoured milk powders to have every now and then, and I've wanted to buy this brand for a while, but, y'know, this stuff is expensive and we tend to have Milo in the house anyway. A tub of this costs $8.18, which makes this sachet worth 31c.
Palmer's Cocoa Butter Formula Skin Therapy Oil 5ml | Valued at $1.00 -- This appears to be a form of miracle product. It claims to improve the appearance of scars, stretch marks, dry and damaged skin, uneven skin tone and aging skin -- I'm really keen to give it a go, so much so that I might go and buy a full-sized bottle so that I can properly document how well it works. A 150ml bottle of this rosehip-smelling concoction costs $17.99, so the equivalent value of this sachet is 60c
Garnier 5sec Perfect Blur 1.5ml | Valued at $1.00 -- This is a day cream that's supposed to smooth and even out skin tone by reflecting light across your face to hide signs of aging. I'm not entirely sure how well this will work, but I really like the Garnier skin products that I have, so this might surprise me. A 22ml bottle of this normally costs $16.95, which makes the product in the sachet worth $1.16.
Kleenex Flushable Cleansing Cloths 42pk | Valued at $1.29 -- I honestly have no idea how the Show values their products if they're claiming a 42pk of wipes as this little. This is actually a full-size packet, not a sample, and you can buy it from the supermarket for $4.14. Their purpose? Use in conjunction with toilet paper.
Vaseline Healthy Radiance Ultimate 10 Anti-Aging Lotion 25ml | Valued at $1.00 -- I'm not sure what it is this product is supposed to do, but I am a little concerned that it advises to not stay in the sun for too long even when wearing a sunscreen due to the one of the ingredients having the potential to cause increased sensitivity to light. I'm not a fan of getting hot in the outdoors, so it won't bother me, but it makes me think that this wouldn't be a good product for sensitive skin. This comes in a tiny Vaseline bottle that is absolutely adorable, and with a 225ml bottle costing $7.69, the sample has a value of $1.92.
Garnier Ultra Lift Anti-Wrinkle Firming Cream 1.5ml | Valued at ??? -- I understand what the Show is doing to these showbags about as much as I understand Dutch. That is to say, none at all. Based on the fact that 50ml tub of this will set you back $16.99, this little sachet is worth 51c -- which makes me think the Show would probably value it at a dollar. (Cue eye roll.)
Banana Boat Everyday SPF30+ Sunscreen 15ml | Valued at ??? -- Well, well, well, something else which apparently shouldn't be in the showbag at all! This doesn't appear anywhere on the list of contents, not even as a different brand that they somehow messed up. A regular bottle contains 200g and costs $19.25, making this sample worth $1.44. (I don't need to explain what sunscreen does, right?)
Dermeze Soap Free Wash 10ml | Valued at $1.00 -- This is supposed be a twin sachet, according to the Show, but there is definitely only one sachet side with product in it. I'm not sure if this means that I actually got the full 10ml or not, but I've got no way of checking for certain. The purpose of the product itself is fairly self-explanatory -- it's a cleanser for those with an allergy to soap, so I'm going to pass it onto my aunt for my cousin. A 1L bottle of this costs $19.34, so this should make the sachet worth about 19c.
Designer Brands Kohl Eye Pencil in "Black" | Valued at $5.00 -- Hmm, a new eyeliner? I'm intrigued. This comes with a sharpener built into the lid (so you'll never have to hunt around for one) but that appears to be the only unique feature about the product. It's supposed to glide on gently and blend easily for a smokey look -- perhaps I'll have to review this properly to see if it's the case. The product does cost $4.99 (which is close enough to $5) and the line itself comes in a range of about 15 colours, so there'd be something available for everyone.
Palmer's Cocoa Butter Formula Daily Calming Facial Lotion 5ml | Valued at ??? -- This is part of a twin sachet, but the Show doesn't list this in the contents at all so I'm not sure what they'd suggest the value to be. This lotion is supposed to reduce redness and irritation whilst calming stress skin. I've got a few skin problems at the moment, so this will come in handy. A 100ml bottle costs $12.99, which puts this sachet at a value of 65c.
Palmer's Cocoa Butter Formula Daily Cleansing Gel 5ml | Valued at ??? -- The second sachet in the twin, this product claims to remove dirt and oil as it tones and clarifies. I don't mind these sorts of things coming in a sachet, but I'd much prefer them to come in a little bottle instead, as it makes them easier to get the product. 150ml of this costs $9.99, so this sachet is worth about 33c. This puts the value of the two sachets together at 98c.
Punch Colour Catcher 2pk (not pictured) | Valued at $5.00 -- Well, the Show are certainly joking if they think that what they gave me was worth $5. Unless I ended up with the pack of 15 that you can buy from the supermarket (and I'm fairly confident I didn't), the sample pack that I got was only worth 72c. But oh well. These aren't in the picture because my mother was doing laundry when I got them and I gave them immediately to her -- they're supposed to keep the colours from bleeding and mixing with each other.
Potted Potter Voucher | Valued at $80.00 -- As a huge Harry Potter fan, this is something that I'll try to see if I can. The offer with this voucher is that you can receive 20% off when you buy 4 A-Reserve tickets -- only there doesn't seem to be a code on it anywhere to get that 20% off. Also, when I calculate the price of A-Reserve tickets and take off the discount, I'm only saving $63.57. Even if the discount applied to Premium tickets, I'd only save a little over $70. Not sure where the Show got $80 from.
Swan Lake Voucher | Valued at $20.00 -- You'd think that a voucher on tickets would have a set value, but there appears to be some sort of discrepancy. This voucher gets A-Reserve tickets for $99, saving, so the pamphlet claims, $30. Why then the Show would value it at $20 is beyond me. I'm not into really into ballet, even if this does claim to be contemporary and edgy, so I'll very likely give it a miss.
Once Discount on A-Reserve Tickets | $20.00 -- Another discount voucher, this might come in handy as I would like to go see this (but of course, this doesn't necessarily mean that I'll get the time). The discount is only available for mid-week performances, which is a bit of a pity, but A-Reserve tickets are about $100 so a 20% discount isn't necessarily a bad thing considering that's the price of a B-Reserve seat.
MSC Cruises Voucher | $100.00 -- A nice little discount for those already thinking of going a cruise, but this is sadly not me. It doesn't sit quite right with me to include this as part of the bag's value, as cruises can cost a substantial amount -- you're hardly getting something for free. With this in mind, I think I'd refer to this as "discount value", and I'll distinguish it as such when I total up the real value of the bag.
Starshots Makeover and Photoshoot Photography Voucher | Valued at $50.00 -- This is the one that confused me the most. It's the one that made me fall over. It's the one that I misread, because I opened the envelope up and I thought it said "$20 voucher". I thought to myself, "Cool, okay, whatever. It's not bad but I probably won't use it." Then I looked again. It actually says "$520 voucher". In case you thought I hit a number by accident, that is, in words, five hundred and twenty. This is supposed to include the makeover and photoshoot (which is normally $250), plus a credit of $270 to go towards purchasing the photos. It feels a bit too good to be true, but I've read the fine print and it seems legit -- which is why I'm so confused. Did everyone who bought the showbag get this voucher? Was I a lucky one? I don't know!
Belle Fever Voucher | Valued at $99.00 -- This voucher seems to have something of a grey area, as its value isn't set at $99 as far as I can tell. This allows you to get a free My Family Tree necklace when you buy the same necklace -- as far as I can tell, it only applies to the silver variety (it also comes in two tone and gold). These necklaces normally cost $119, so you'd theoretically save an extra $20, but it seems to be on sale at the moment for $59. That means that, while you would save less money "technically", you're actually spending less money -- and I don't think anyone could be unhappy with that!
Oporto Buy One Get One Free Voucher (not pictured due to laziness) | Valued at $6.00 -- I've never been to an Oporto fast food restaurant before, but there are a couple that I could get to relatively easily so I might have to check it out. The menu is based around chicken, with a few vegetarian options -- it certainly seems good, but there aren't a great many reviews around (perhaps I should start looking at doing restaurant reviews as well...?) so I'm not entirely sure what to think. The voucher I got in this bag entitles me to one free burger with every burger that I purchase until the end of the year. From what I can tell, the burgers seem to range in price from $7.90 to $12.50, so there's the potential to save up to twice as much as the voucher suggests.
Mrs Fields Bakery + Café Voucher (also not pictured because laziness) | Valued at $11.40 -- I hadn't heard of this café before, but checking the website made me realise that I actually pass one in the city all the time -- who knew! This is basically a little leaflet with a few coupons: buy one cookie, get one free; buy a coffee and get the second for $1; buy ten Nibblers (mini cookies) for $5; buy a coffee and get a cheese toastie for $1. It seems like a pretty good deal to me, so I'll take advantage of it.
Total Estimated Material and Redeemable Value: $106.45 + $386.40 = $492.85
Actual Material and Redeemable Value: $98.61 + $816.40 (if the Starshots voucher is right) = $915.01
Overall, this was a generally impressive showbag. I really enjoyed the variety of products, but I am disappointed that the value didn't match up to what was advertised. (This is taking the Starshots voucher out of consideration.) The total value of samples didn't add up to what was advertised, even though a couple of products were over the quoted value and there were a few that weren't listed on the page at all. Perhaps these samples were thrown in after the contents were finalised on the webpage -- I have no way of knowing how much the stall claimed the bag to be worth.
Even so, no matter the disappointments, there is no way to be unhappy with this bag. It was excellent value; great for women in a variety of age ranges. I likely would've bought it myself had I gone -- and this alone may prompt me to go to next year's Show to see what they put out!
Do you have shows like this where you live? What do you think of the products that I got? Drop me a comment and let me know!