Bryce’s Chessex Updates

Bryce Lickfield of BrycesDice gave us at the DMC a recent update on Chessex news.  This is a consolidation of his posts with formatting adjustment but no content changes.

“Who would like a Chessex update straight from their recent supplier news letter? It is a lot, but it was what I thought this group would like to see.”

New Dice: Dice Menagerie #10:
Four of these six colors were sold at the summer shows last year. These are Festive™ Waterlily™/white, Festive™ Pop-Art™/blue, Festive™ Sunburst™/red, and Marble Oxi-Copper™/white. They were the four most popular colors that we showed last summer at consumer shows. Added to these four are two new colors that have not been shown previously, but we are confident they will be very popular. The fifth color is a new Borealis™ color using some old material that can no longer be bought. It was found
when the new owners of the factory were going through their stocks of material after their purchase and came across some of this “Maple” Borealis™ material. From the factory estimates, we think they can make enough dice to last us 3-4 years even with fantastic sales. The sixth color has a new effect that we think is particularly surprising and stunning. We don’t want to say what it is at this time so are naming it for now as the Mystery #7 Die Color.

If anyone is interested in or doesn’t remember what the first six mystery dice colors were, they were the first six colors of Frosted dice released in 2001. We will have samples to popularize this mystery dice color at the GAMA Trade Show in March in Reno, NV. Then it will be a mystery no more. If you can believe us, though, it will be very popular. Of the few people who have seen it, it truly is a die that will make you say “Wow!”

April through June 2019: “From the Laboratory™” Polyhedral 7-Die Sets:
We have spent a lot of time in the laboratory at the German dice factory these past few years creating new colors. We now have many good colors that will be popular. Concurrently, the factory has figured out a way to produce smaller production runs. We decided the best way to introduce these colors into the market is by releasing them with smaller production runs and only making the polyhedral shapes and some 16mm d6 with pips available. Because of the shorter production runs, the retail for these polyhedral 7-die sets will be $11.98 instead of the usual $9.98. If any of these dice are really popular, we will re-release them in the future in all shapes, most likely in another Dice Menagerie. If the initial orders for these dice are more than we made, then we will allocate based on each customers overall purchases in 2018 and their percentage of our overall sales. We anticipate not needing to allocate, though. We will release around 24 colors between the beginning of April and the end of June, most likely in two
releases. After that, we should be able to release another 24 colors in the last quarter of this year.

July 2019: Gemini™ Dice #8:
We have not finalized all six of these new Gemini™ colors, but we should know them by March.  August 2019 and Beyond:  There are many more new colors of dice that we want to release this year. They include six new colors of Speckled dice, at least the before mentioned 24 more “from the Laboratory™” colors, and some dice using new effects. All-in-all, we are releasing a lot of new dice this year! Changes for 2019 from 2018
Other than the changes to the translucent dice detailed earlier, there aren’t any changes to the retail prices or the product range from 2018 to 2019 at this time and aren’t likely to be any the rest of this year. Some discontinued colors are running out of stock, though. These will be detailed in an upcoming Chessex Scoop™ publication. The biggest changes for us have been external and are mentioned later on this page. Change from “KIS™” to “Classic” Designated Name We never liked the term “KIS” for the “Keeping In Stock” dice colors. These colors have been good selling colors but not quite as good as others that end up in the Signature™ or main Gemini™ ranges of dice. The concept is to aid retailers with their purchasing decisions. There are no stock number or name changes for the dice themselves involved with this category name change.

Changes at Our Dice Factory Sources:
Last year, the German dice factory changed owners. The former owner was 96 years old and did not want to invest in expanding the production capacity of his factory. The new owners are much younger and owned a factory that made similar items. They have been able to combine the production capacity of the two factories and we have been receiving more dice than before the sale. This is wonderful news as our fill ratio has improved dramatically over these past few months and we are now able to bring out many new dice colors, ones we have wanted to release for some time. The dice factory in Denmark, where we purchase our opaque and speckled dice, has also changed owners. Sadly, the former owner suddenly passed away this past August 21st. We had been purchasing from him since 1990. He was responsible for Chessex focusing more on dice because he was the first person that made a unique and exclusive dice range (speckled, which the factory first tested in the 1950’s but never developed until we met in 1990) that we were able to offer to the market. This led us eventually making contact with the dice factory in Germany and the development of the dice ranges from them. It is pretty safe to say that without him, there would be no speckled, Signature™, Classic (formerly KIS™), or
Gemini dice ranges that we have today. The former owner’s son is taking over the factory and we don’t expect to see any drop in their production capacity. Actually, we should see a slight increase because just before the former owner’s passing, he ordered a new mold for the Tens 10 die which will increase their production capacity. We are sorry to see the passing of the former owner but are heartened that his son is taking over to continue the family business.

Borealis Update:
Change to new Borealis Maple Green Color! On our 2019 update we released that one of our new colors set for a March release would be Borealis Maple Green w/silver. Instead of silver, the paint color for the numbers will now be yellow. The new color will be Borealis Maple Green w/yellow.

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Chessex News, Part 4: The Company

At Spiel in October, Michael Schäffer from the DMC sat down with Donald Reents from Chessex. The interview lasted 2 1/2 hours, and we’ll be releasing the information in parts. Part 1: Borealis, Part 2: Test Sets , and Part 3: Speckled Dice were already published.  This is the fourth and final part:  The Company.

One of the most common questions that we see about Chessex in the DMC is “what’s going on with their website?”  Chessex is one of the most popular brands of dice and perhaps the most well known, but the website is outdated and difficult to navigate.  So why is that the case?

Donald Reents has the surprising answer:

“At the moment, the worst thing that could happen would be for us to have a great webpage, great social media presence, and suddenly increase sales by 20%”

One of the reasons Chessex is so well known is that in addition to being a manufacturer and seller of dice, they also supply gaming stores around the world.  They simply don’t have the capacity to increase sales right now.  Donald did mention that he’d like to eventually have a website with an archived section so that people could still see discontinued sets, but that they simply don’t have the staff to dedicate to updating the site.

Regarding social media, the answer is largely the same.  Donald explained that he did manage to get some promotional items like pens and tapestries, but the reason they don’t have more social media presence is the same reason for the outdated website: a combination of a lack of time to dedicate to it and a lack of supply to meet any increased demand that could come from that.

So what does Chessex think of the DMC, and swarms of peculiar questions about dice in particular?

“I view the DMC as our fans, and everybody likes fans!…”I really appreciate that there’s other people who agree with me on that, who like what we’ve produced.  Thank you for the recognition.”

Is Donald a collector, too?  He’s denies having any sort of personal fascination with dice, but adds that “dice hate me,” a statement all too relatable to those of us who use them in RPGs and end up cursing the rolls of that which we hold so precious to us.

He compared dice collecting while working at Chessex to eating ice cream or chocolate when making ice cream or chocolate for a living.  Since he’s around it all the time, he doesn’t really have a collection.  But he did mention having “some Vortex dice, which look particularly cool.”  Perhaps there’s a window-admiring DMC nerd within him after all!  When asked if he had a white whale, he said he didn’t really have a set he was searching for, but he did mention that they used to keep a dice board with one die from each set glued onto it for reference, but that it hadn’t been updated since nebula circa 2002.  If your reaction to that is “oh, man…I’d love to see that and cry over what precious OOP dice are glued on….” ….me too, me too.

So what is he into if not dice?  Donald mentioned being into the chess world and wheat beer with a chuckle.  But he came back to dice, pointing out that though he doesn’t exactly have a dice fascination, he is interested in producing fascinating colors.

So how does Chessex feel about the production of dice using Chessex’s molds or those who base their colors off of Chessex’s existing or out of production lines?

The short answer is that Donald doesn’t really have time to worry about it, so it isn’t a big deal.  He says that D&G produced their own borealis line, and that he doesn’t mind.  He added that the molds were originally created by Jorgen, a valued employee of the factory who recently passed away.  Chessex asked permission to use them.  Donald points out that he doesn’t mind, especially for personal use, but that it can be confusing in the market.  He is annoyed about large scale Chinese factories using molds close to their shape, but that there’s really nothing that can be done about it.  Making their own, new molds isn’t something on Chessex’s agenda.  They are staying focused on current production plans.

Want to read more about the expanding market or what Chessex thinks about layered dice?  Read the complete interview yourself!  The interview contains content from Chessex News Part 1-4 as well as unreleased content: DMC Chessex interview

Thanks again to Michael for conducting the interview, Donald Reents for participating and sharing Chessex news, and Paulina for transcribing the interview!

Image Credit:  Steven Kahn, Chessex Tapestry

Chessex News, Part 3: Speckled Dice

At Spiel in October, Michael Schäffer from the DMC sat down with Donald Reents from Chessex. The interview lasted 2 1/2 hours, and we’ll be releasing the information in parts. Part 1: Borealis and Part 2: Test Sets were already published. This is Part 3: Speckled Dice!

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Background.  Sadly, the Chessex family suffered a loss in 2018: Jørgen, the owner of the Chessex speckled factory, passed away. He contributed many named sets in the speckled line and created color combinations for the pounds of dice. He is succeeded by his son, Kasper, who has taken over the speckled line and is eager to start creating new speckled sets.

New Speckled.  Donald confirmed that creating new speckled colors is something he wants to do.  There haven’t been new speckled colors since 2004.  One possible reason why is that the materials come straight from the speckled factory, and their pigments are commonly used in things like toilet seats and switch plates, which aren’t typically in “interesting” colors.  But they still plan on experimenting with new speckled combinations in 2019.  They thought about doing Funfetti, but couldn’t get them ready in time for Spiel.   They made test colors for speckled, but only a couple of them turned out alright.  But after Spiel and Lucca (conventions), Donald said that he’d be visiting the speckled factory and mixing new colors.

Jumbo.  One DMCer asked about jumbo sets.  Chessex explained that the problem is that jumbo dice become cost prohibitive.  The reason jumbo dice like 34mm d20s are only in speckled and opaque are because the cost increase for the signature colors causes such a higher price point that Donald doubts he’ll be able to sell them at that price.  However, he did state that a speckled jumbo line is a possibility, but it’s all dependent upon cost.

Release.  Though Chessex is planning new speckled dice, it sounds like they’d be prototyped after the test colors release, and that release will include only “signature” designs.  However, speckled could potentially be in a release after that along with translucent and/or opaque colors.  Though Chessex wants to keep speckled separate from signature designs, they wouldn’t release speckled by themselves.

Random Facts:  Donald pointed out that speckled dice like lotus, fire, and earth look drastically different from one decade to the next.  This difference in consistency is similar to the changes in the scarab lines from batch to batch – they can differ in the exact mixing of the colors.  Also, one DMCer brought up color-coded dice sets where each die is a different color.  Donald said that Chessex tried that with a speckled Kaleidoscope set (25399), but the set didn’t sell.  Chessex thought it would do well since people playing D&D would more quickly be able to identify the dice, but it just didn’t do well in sales.

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And that sums up Chessex’s thoughts on the speckled line!  We hope you’ve enjoyed this article series.  Stay tuned for the final part, where we summarize all other content and provide the complete interview transcript.

Photo Credits:
Featured Image – Michael Schäffer
Picture 1 – Paulina Drozdowska
Picture 2 – Michael Schäffer

Chessex News, Part 2: Test Sets

At Spiel in October, Michael Schäffer from the DMC sat down with Donald Reents from Chessex. The interview lasted 2 1/2 hours, and we’ll be releasing the information in parts. Part 1: Borealis was already published. This is Part 2: Test Sets.

At Gen Con in 2018, Chessex offered a line of ten new test set colors. The colors were only available at conventions, and the sales at those conventions among other factors would ultimately help Chessex determine which sets would go into regular production.  There has been much speculation, but we now have official word from Chessex as to the fate of the Chessex sets.  This article announces the sets that Chessex will produce in March; this article also provides insights into the different test sets and how they were chosen for production.

Sets Going to Production:
Oxi-Copper
Festive Pop Art
Water Lily
Sunburst with Red Ink
>>Two Previously Unrevealed Sets<<
Translucent Navy Blue (Released Later)

Sets Not Going To Regular Production:
Vortex Icy Blue with Gold Ink
Vortex Icy Blue with Red Ink
Sunburst with Black Ink
Vortex Navy Blue
Vortex Violet

Test Color Background:  Chessex developed Oxi-Copper’s green base color one to one and a half years ago.  Water Lily, which was test color 207, has been around for seven to eight years. Sunburst was 297.  These colors have existed as prototypes for quite some time, but Chessex haven’t produced them because of capacity issues.

Development:  Donald from Chessex shared that the test sets were decided about two to two and a half months before their Gen Con debut.  Donald actually said that he prefers to produce and sell the dice directly as opposed to producing test sets, but since Chessex’s production capacity was halted for awhile, Chessex wanted to get new colors out sooner to show that they were still producing new content.

Deciding:  Chessex makes the decisions about test sets as they go rather than all at once.  Sales have a major impact on what gets put into production, which is part of why Vortex Icy Blue won’t go to regular sales. Also, Vortex Icy Blue didn’t turned out as expected, another reason the set won’t go beyond the test version. Chessex decided that Vortex Navy Blue and Vortex Violet are too close to Phantom Teal and Festive Violet for regular production.  Vortex Ice Blue has trouble with consistency during production plus looks somewhat like Mother of Pearl Blue, meaning it won’t go into regular production either.

Conclusion

Chessex will release four of the test colors in March of 2019.  Chessex will produce Sunburst with Red Ink, Oxi-Copper, Festive Pop Art, and Water Lily. Two additional set colors, which were never released before as test sets, will also be released at the same time.  Chessex will also produce Translucent Navy Blue at a later date. Test sets that will not be released include Sunburst with Black Ink, Vortex Icy Blue with Gold, Vortex Icy Blue with Red, Vortex Violet, and Vortex Navy Blue.

Featured Image: Michael Schäffer

Chessex News, Part 1: Borealis

This year at Spiel on October 26, Michael Schäffer, admin for the Dice Maniacs Club, interviewed Donald Reents from Chessex and asked him member-submitted questions.  The interview lasted about two and a half hours and was then transcribed by Paulina Drozdowska.  The Dice Maniacs Club Blog will be publishing a multi-part story to relay the latest Chessex news and answers to DMC members’ questions about Chessex!

This is part one:  Borealis.

A NEW Borealis Color?  Perhaps the hottest news from Donald Reents is a new upcoming set for Borealis – a Maple Green color set for release in March of 2019. Rather than in the actual interview, this information was released by Donald in a follow-up e-mail to Michael. He explained that the effect is a “translucent green with a maple additive.”  Though the run will technically be limited, Donald expects the quantities to last about 3-4 years of production, so it will not be technically designated as a limited run.

Old Glitter Unavailable: Confirmed.  Donald provided further confirmation that the Borealis’s green sparkly pigment was discontinued because it began to be used in European currency. Chessex actually continued to produce borealis with the pigment for about 3 years longer than they would have been able to if they had ordered less of the pigment in bulk.  Donald also mentioned that Chessex considered a more condensed Aquerple, but that the pricing of using that much of the pigment would make the retail about 40 Euros per die.  Hmmm… 40 Euros a die for Aquerple… that sounds somehow familiar and reasonable now, doesn’t it? Haha!

Bye Forever Old Glitter?  So is the old sparkly green borealis pigment gone forever? The bad news is that it’s likely a yes. Donald explained that if someone would have been able to replicate it, it would have happened already.  But don’t lose heart entirely – Donald attends something called Fakuma, a trade show attended by the color pigment producers. They’re always on the lookout for pigments that look like old borealis.  In fact, Donald mentioned that if they ever found pigment like the old one that they’d definitely try to bring back confetti, Aquerple, and clear borealis lines.

What About Current Borealis?  What about the rumors that some of the current borealis are gone forever? Fortunately, that was just a rumor. Six of the seven colors were sold out and a little behind on reproduction.  Donald explained that one of the varieties weren’t back until October. But the current Borealis options are still in production.  They are still being produced:  sky blue, light purple, royal purple, smoke, pink, teal, and light green.

Stay tuned for additional parts of the interview released, including a discussion of test colors, speckled dice, Chessex company info, and other fun dice news! We’re releasing this in pieces to keep the information easier to read than one massive article.  At the end of the short series, we’ll provide the complete transcript for your viewing pleasure!  A big thank you to Donald from Chessex for sharing company news with us, and thanks to Michael from the DMC for conducting the interview, Paulina for transcribing the content,  and all of the DMCers who asked questions.

Dice Hoarding: Accumulating Treasure

Why We Collect Dice

When I tell people I collect dice, they usually don‘t understand.  I’ve been speculating about why we collect dice – what are our reasons? I’ve identified some factors that compel people to collect. This is not a comprehensive list, but it’s a glimpse into why we acquire so many dice.

Gotta Catch ‘em All

When I first began collecting dice, I thought “hey, I can just get them all.” I had this overwhelming Pokemon need to complete sets of different styles. It started with frosted and progressed from there. I’ve since backed way off because there are so many styles and brands, and the amount of dice companies producing unique products have increased even since I’ve joined the DMC. It’s much more realistic to focus on a single brand or even style. And it’s cheaper, if you’re going the Chessex route, to collect the in-print sets of a style. Even the most hardcore collectors in the group (Kevin Cook, Michael Schaffer) can’t get every single die ever made. Between casino dice, promotional d6s, polyhedral sets, board game dice, expensive artisan dice, and more… it’s just too overwhelming. But DMCers get the urge in us to finish collections, check item numbers off a list, and get all the dicey goodness they can.

Variety/Appearance

People are dynamic. We might pick favorite colors, styles, or types of dice, but many of us own a wide variety.  DMC members have different tastes and can collect on a spectrum of colors, styles, and shapes. That’s why you’ll see someone ask something like “I don’t own any purple dice – what do you recommend?” My first set I bought for myself was Chessex opaque grey. Grey is my favorite color, but I still buy sparkly dice, swirly dice, bright pink dice, etc. You know those gamers who have a single set of polyhedral and that’s it? They might have a set that fits them, but they can’t change sets based on mood.

Multiple Characters

People also collect dice for different characters.  For example, I’m a dungeon master in D&D. I might play with my black/red dice if my players are fighting demons. I could bring out teal Borealis for an underwater adventure. When I’m a player, I have 3-4 sets I’ll use for my wizard (and only my wizard); I use my Q-workshop dragons only for my dragon-slayer paladin. So we get an array of dice to represent out tastes, personalities, or character’s personalities.

We like Choosing Which We Are

Though individual dice collectors are more diverse than a single colorway or style, we still like identifying with a certain element or category. I’m in this Harry Potter house. I’m in that Game of Thrones house. I’d be this power ranger. I’m this character in Star Trek. We like to select something that represents us whether it’s a zodiac sign, Meyers Briggs test, or – that’s right – DICE! When the new Chessex test sets came out in 2018, I didn‘t want them all. I saw Marble Oxi-Copper and said “that one is me.” Even when I’m culling my collection, I said the frosted smoke and clear were the most “me.” So, wait… wouldn’t that be the opposite of collecting – just choosing one? Nope! Because I own several sets of Gamescience that are “me.” And maybe I pick an entire Chessex style that is “me.”

Happiness/Mental Health

This is more serious of a subject, but dice bring many of us happiness and stability. It’s a distraction to get online and look at dice pictures, to browse shops for dice, to ink dice, to sort dice, etc. Sometimes it’s a welcome distraction from serious mental health problems, and sometimes it’s a distraction from daily stress in life.  At a time when people plug into social media 24/7 and news can be depressing, it’s important to spend some of your plugged-in time with something pleasant. That’s why the DMC is so important – no religion, no politics, no tragedy – just a comforting space we try to keep drama free. Some DMCers have made substantial connections to other collectors. There are meet-ups at cons, and even friending other members can gain you lifelong friends.

Conclusion

Embrace the hobby! While keeping dice purchases reasonable and on-budget is important, it’s also important to keep yourself happy. Connecting with others in the DMC community is rewarding. So whether you‘re scratching the need for completion, considering color styles, or distracting yourself from everyday life, dice hoarding can be therapeutic! Do you collect for a different reason? Let us know in the comments!

photo credit: Michael Schäffer

Customs: Shipping Dice to Other Countries

by Paulina Drozdowska

If you’ve shipped dice internationally, you will have been asked to fill in a customs form/declaration. This informs the destination country about the contents and value of the package, and it helps them make a decision as to whether or not to apply tax and import fees.

When trading out-of-production dice, it is often difficult to decide on their value. As we know, some dice can go for astronomical prices on eBay, but they will also cost you $1 if you find them in an FLGS dice bin. Which one should you choose?

The lower one. A high declared value (or even worse, an overestimated one) will almost certainly result in your trading partner having to pay additional fees when receiving your dice. As a rule, I ship my dice with declared value of no more than £1 per die (which, realistically, is a very appropriate value for most mass produced dice). This is because in most countries, packages below certain value are not subject to the extra fees.

Additionally, marking the package as “gift” reduces the chances of tax/import duties being applied to it (and isn’t *technically* wrong!). In lots of countries, gifts are allowed to be of higher value before being considered for import fees.

As an example, in the UK a package below £18 total value (this is SHIPPING PRICE + DECLARED CONTENTS VALUE) will not have customs fees applied to it. Packages marked as gifts can have a total value of up to £39 before being considered for fees.

So if you’re shipping from USA to the UK (USPS: $14 = ca. £10), and declare the value of the dice as £20, the total value of the package is about £30. Assuming you haven’t marked it as a gift, the recipient will be required to pay £6 VAT (20% of total value) as well as £8 Royal Mail handling fee, so your trade will cost them £14.

For more examples on the threshold for customs fees for different countries, see the original discussion thread in the DMC, as the comments may be helpful:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/DiceManiacsClub/permalink/2475163099191192/

Please remember when shipping internationally to declare the value of dice as low as possible in order to help the recipient avoid unnecessary additional costs.