by Tina Manneborn

Every year dice collectors and enthusiasts get excited about new releases, and Chessex dice are certainly no exception. At GAMA Expo in March 2019, we got the very first glimpse of new dice that Chessex was planning to release this year. Back then, they were called “From the Lab”, which later evolved to just “Lab Dice”.

Following the increasingly popular trend in the dice industry to release certain sets only in limited numbers, Chessex chose to expand their market testing practices from not just selling small numbers of test sets at select conventions, but actually bringing these limited run sets to retailers to sell to the wider public. Popularity with customers would then become the deciding factor for which designs would go into regular and continuous production and which would be shelved.

In mid June, Chessex informed retailers that the first release of Lab Dice would be in early July, with the subsequent release of Lab Dice wave 2 in mid September. Wave 3 has not been released to retailers yet, but early versions of them were offered for sale at this year’s gaming convention Spiel in Germany in late October.

An exact international release date of wave 3 has so far not been announced, but it’s safe to say it may now be either December or even early next year. There has been chatter that a fourth wave is also planned, but there is no concrete or further information.

Let’s look at the Lab Dice a little more closely.

Lab Dice Wave 1

Wave 1 consisted of six different designs, focusing largely on Chessex’s Festive line, with the addition of one new Nebula and one new Lustrous design. Following their first experiment with glowing snowflake-like pigments in the Chessex Luminary Sky release from late 2018, further designs were introduced that have the same glowing particles inside the dice that are UV reactive and glow in the dark (this was dubbed the Luminary effect). Like other Festive dice, some of them didn’t have the Luminary particles but were UV without a lasting glow.

All the Lab Dice sets came in the regular rectangular plastic boxes, with the lid being blue instead of the regular black. The paper inlays are three-fold, with an Erlenmeyer flask icon to indicate the experimental nature of these sets.

Festive Allusion

(CHX 30015)
Pink and yellow swirls are mixed into a clear translucent die base. The numbers are inked in royal blue. Festive Allusion dice are UV reactive without Luminary particles.

Festive Autumn

(CHX 30001)
Blue, yellow and orange swirls are mixed into a clear translucent die base. The numbers are inked in white. Festive Autumn dice are UV reactive without Luminary particles.

Festive Dahlia

(CHX 30005)
Orange-pinkish die base with yellow and subtle white swirls. The numbers are inked in white. Festive Dahlia dice are UV reactive and have Luminary particles inside.

Festive Flare

(CHX 30007)
Yellow and orange swirls are mixed into a clear translucent die base. The numbers are inked in white. Festive Flare dice are UV reactive and have Luminary particles inside.

Lustrous Pink

(CHX 30003)
Silvery pink dice with a pearly finish and very subtle swirl patterns. The numbers are inked in royal blue. Lustrous Pink dice are mildly UV reactive without Luminary particles.

Nebula Nocturnal

(CHX 30013)
Purple liquid swirls are infused into a clear translucent die base. The numbers are inked in light turquoise. Nebula Nocturnal dice have Luminary particles inside.

Lab Dice Wave 1 hit stores in June, and it quickly became apparent that Nebula Nocturnal would be a huge hit. Preorders of these sold out very quickly, and it has become near-impossible to find them for sale since. The great variation in amount of color swirls and purple hue (ranging from reddish-plum to more blue indigo shades) make them fun to collect and even to curate differently colored sets, and the Luminary glow-in-the-dark effect is stunning. It’s no surprise that collectors and dice lovers around the world were immediately drawn to them.

Chessex realized this very quickly and have communicated that Nebula Nocturnal will be one of the Lab Dice that will make it to full release. The verdict is still out for the other five designs from wave 1, but popularity seemed to be much lower, so chances are they will not be seeing a full production run.

Lab Dice Wave 2

Wave 2 was a mix of eight designs, four of which were from the Nebula line, next to new designs to expand the Lustrous, Leaf and Vortex lines. The Luminary particles made a comeback, as well as many new swirly patterns in different colors and styles.

Lustrous Amethyst

(CHX 30025)
Silvery dark purple dice with subtle swirl patterns. The numbers are inked in white. Lustrous Amethyst dice are neither UV reactive nor do they have Luminary particles.

Leaf Fuchsia

(CHX 30027)
Pink-purple dice with white and subtle glittery gold swirls. The numbers are inked in yellow. Leaf Fuchsia dice have Luminary particles inside.

Nebula Oceanic

(CHX 30011)
Blue and turquoise liquid swirls are infused into a clear translucent die base. The numbers are inked in gold. Nebula Oceanic dice have Luminary particles inside.

Nebula Red

(CHX 30009)
Red liquid swirls are infused into a clear translucent die base. The numbers are inked in silver. Nebula Red dice have Luminary particles inside.

Nebula Spring

(CHX 30018)
Green liquid swirls are infused into a clear translucent die base. The numbers are inked in white. Nebula Spring dice have Luminary particles inside.

Nebula Wisteria

(CHX 30033)
Pink and light turquoise liquid swirls are infused into a clear translucent die base. The numbers are inked in white. Nebula Wisteria dice have Luminary particles inside.

Vortex Snow Blue

(CHX 30029)
Light blue dice with prominent white swirls. The numbers are inked in black. Vortex Snow dice are mildly UV reactive and don’t have Luminary particles.

Vortex Snow Pink

(CHX 30031)
Light pink dice with prominent white swirls. The numbers are inked in black. Vortex Snow dice are are mildly UV reactive and don’t have Luminary particles.

Interestingly, the Vortex Snow dice are a throwback to the very popular Ice Cream line by Crystal Caste that came in blue, green, pink, orange, purple and yellow, and is long out of print.

Wave 2 of the Lab Dice were offered for sale by retailers across the world in September. Most popular in the second wave was Nebula Oceanic, which was not a big surprise, following the success of Nebula Nocturnal. Nebula Wisteria followed a close second. There is no official statement from Chessex on this, but it seems that these three Nebula lines—Nocturnal, Oceanic and Wisteria—sold well enough to go into regular production some time early next year. It is as of yet unclear if any of the other lines from wave 2 will also be considered for full production runs in the future.

Lab Dice Wave 3

Wave 3 was solely a Gemini release, with six new Gemini lines being launched. In addition to the classic two-color Gemini mix, Chessex introduced design elements new to the Gemini lines, such as Luminary particles in part of the dice, and a “gel” look with half-translucent material and Luminary particles inside. The popularity among collectors of the Gemini Translucent Green-Teal line seems to have inspired Chessex to bring back the translucent Gemini design in another color combination.

Gemini Copper-Turquoise

(CHX 30019)
Two-color blend dice of a metallic copper and a half-transparent turquoise material. The numbers are inked in white. The turquoise material of the Gemini Copper-Turquoise dice itself glows in the dark and is additionally infused with Luminary particles.

Gemini Mint Green-White

(CHX 30020)
Two-color blend dice of opaque white and opaque mint green material with a pearl finish. The numbers are inked in dark orange. Gemini Mint Green-White dice are neither UV reactive nor do they have Luminary particles.

Gemini Orange-Purple

(CHX 30021)
Two-color blend dice of orange and purple material with a pearl finish. The numbers are inked in white. Gemini Orange-Purple dice are mildly UV reactive without Luminary particles.

Gemini Red-White

(CHX 30022)
Two-color blend dice of opaque white and red material with a pearl finish. The numbers are inked in royal blue. Gemini Red-White dice are neither UV reactive nor do they have Luminary particles.

Gemini Gel Green-Pink

(CHX 30023)
Two-color blend dice of a half-transparent turquoise-green and a pink material. The numbers are inked in royal blue. The green material of the Gemini Gel Green-Pink dice itself glows in the dark and both color materials are infused with Luminary particles.

Gemini Translucent Red-Yellow

(CHX 30024)
Two-color blend dice of a translucent red and translucent yellow material. The numbers are inked in gold. Gemini Translucent Red-Yellow dice are neither UV reactive nor do they have Luminary particles. The look of these is somewhat similar to the Crystal Caste Firefly/D&G Gem Blitz Red line, which is relatively recently out of print.

None of the wave 3 dice have yet been distributed to retailers, and it’s unlikely that this will happen before December or perhaps even early 2020. The only opportunity to purchase these so far was offered to visitors of the European Spiel convention in Germany at the end of October. Initial reception of these in the dice community seems to have been positive, but actual sales will tell which lines eventually get produced later on.

Lab Dice Wave 4, 5, 6, …?

So far, the only mention of further Lab Dice waves was wave 4, which was cited in a live stream video by GTS Distribution where Chessex owner Donald Reents stated that wave 4 dice will be packaged in test tubes instead of the usual rectangular boxes, to go with the “lab” theme. We don’t know anything about the design or release of wave 4 or any lab release beyond that. So what does Chessex have up their sleeve for us? Only time will tell…

Lab Dice Gallery

Photos © T. Manneborn for Dice Maniacs’ Club