About this project
Upgrade almost any board game by replacing the player markers or tokens that came in the box with PennyGems. They're dazzlingly shiny, feel solid yet sensual to the touch, are very easy to pick up off a table (because of their raised edges), are non-skid, stack surprisingly well, have a nice weight to them, and are incredibly durable. Each one has an icon on one side which ensures that people who are color-blind or visually impaired can still easily identify different kinds, and the symbols also establish a rank or order for the colors, should a game need that.
If you haven't already spotted the sequencing code, I'll spill the beans. Just count the number of points on each shape. Oh, the football/cat's eye shape on the orange token is gonna get swapped out for a crescent moon in the final run, and the black seven-point spiral will be a little bit different as well. I'll also be making the green and blue tokens just a teensy bit darker. Sure, I could just make their shapes black, like the first four, but somebody might invent a clever use for the fact that the first four icons are black, and the last four are white. It seems a shame to mess up that little bit of symmetry.
Oh, wait, did I mention that they're kinda non-skid?
PennyGems are made by printing UV-resistant ink onto chrome mirror-like self-adhesive vinyl labels, then covering the label with a dome of space-age polyurethane. The polyurethane is non-yellowing, self-healing, extremely resistant to a wide range of chemicals, and very durable, while also being slightly flexible and very pleasing to the touch. Two of these labels are placed on a penny. The penny gives the PennyGem token a satisfying weight in the hand.
When I say "UV-resistant," by the way, well, so, it's like this. A few years ago, I printed a decal for the side of my car. No polyurethane dome, no other kind of clear-coat or protective layer, just the ink on the vinyl. About two years later that car died and was hauled off to the wrecking yard. The decal on the side of the car didn't look any different than when I'd first applied it. However, the vinyl that I used was the 'outdoor-grade' stuff, which is used for putting graphics on buses and the like. For PennyGems, I'll be using the less expensive vinyl. According to the manufacturer, if you use their "cheap" vinyl on the side of a building or other outdoor location, they don't promise that it'll last for more than a month or so. So try to not leave them lying out on your sidewalk for more than a couple of weeks at a time, eh?
Now, the manufacturer's predictions do not include the polyurethane dome. I've tested the polyurethane in boiling water (unaffected), ethanol (unaffected), concentrated hydrochloric acid (two hours, unaffected), methylene chloride (two days, surface was somewhat softened), and lacquer thinner (a few days, surface was just starting to dissolve). It resists being scuffed by sandpaper and such things, isn't very easy to cut through with a knife unless it's really really sharp, and has a tendency to self-heal small scratches or cuts.
I took the still pictures that you see on this page just a day or two before launching the project, and the pictures show the same set of prototype PennyGems that you can see in the video. These tokens have been to three or four game night parties, were hauled all over GameStorm (and fondled by many more people than just the ones in the video), and generally been working pretty hard. My *previous* set of prototypes is almost three years old, and if I mix them in with the new ones, you cannot tell them apart if it weren't that they have different icons.
In fact, PennyGems would be a nearly-perfect game token, if not for one thing: the polyurethane is very expensive. Enough so that it really isn't feasible to sell them in retail stores. However, via Kickstarter, I can offer you these beautiful tokens at “direct from the factory” prices, so to speak, thus keeping the final cost low enough to make it work.
PennyGems are made by me, more or less by hand, in the U.S.A. (A very special 'thank you' to PlastiCreations for their assistance and access to their equipment.) PennyGems are shipped “some assembly required,” you'll need to stick the labels on pennies yourself, and you supply the pennies. Canadian pennies are the same size as the U.S. version, so Canadian buyers can select the non-international options; just add an extra $5 to cover shipping. For Kickstarter patrons who'd like to have some PennyGems but can't go down to their local bank to get a roll of U.S. one-cent coins, the International rewards include rolls of pennies, as well as the labels and international shipping costs.
I'm afraid not. Usually the reason people offer incentives to hit higher funding goals is to try to qualify for quantity discounts. All the savings I can create for "bulk discounts" for PennyGems are already built in to the initial funding level. Getting more orders after that doesn't mean I can make them any cheaper. It just means I have to make more. In fact, if the project is *too* popular, I might have to close off funding early, or I won't be able to make enough fast enough to fill my orders on time.
Well, I can't say for sure, but compared to other Kickstarter projects, probably not very long. I'm planning to order vinyl as soon as (if!) the project reaches its funding goal. It's possible I might start shipping out orders before Kickstarter even releases the funds to me.
On the other hand, because I only have access to the equipment on the weekend, I can only make one "batch" of labels per week, and the size of a batch is limited by the equipment. I can't call up friends to help make it go faster, for example. I'm planning to fill orders in the order they were received. In other words, the people who pledged first will probably get their PennyGems first as well.
Nope. It's not illegal to put stickers on pennies, or, for that matter, to smash them into ovals and emboss things on them, grind them up, or do anything else to them as long as you're not trying to commit some kind of fraud.
Maybe. I'll probably make a few extras and sell them from my Etsy store, but I don't currently expect to make these available indefinitely. If it seems like there's enough demand, I might do another run through Kickstarter at some point, but it really will depend on how much interest there is in this one.
That depends on how you want to use them. If you're mostly jazzed about scoring track markers that don't slide off the annoyingly-small track, then two samplers might be plenty (one for the track, one to put in front of the player). If you want galactically-groovy tokens for Cosmic Encounter, then you'll need twenty per player; the Double Rainbow. If you want them for Risk: Godstorm, then Full Spectrum is probably a better choice. If you want to be able to put separate sets of PennyGems in each game, so that you'll always have the right tokens in the box when you open it, then you'll need more, depending on how many games you want to upgrade.
Not really. I can easily do 160 in an hour while watching television. If I actually pay attention to what I'm doing, then it would be more like 250-300 in an hour.
"Almost" is the key here. It's 0.3mm smaller in diameter, and, believe it or not, I think that will make a huge difference. The PennyGem labels are sized to be 0.25mm smaller than the coin. Even just 0.2mm more, and you could often feel the edge of the label (and it's kinda sharp!). Any smaller, and the label didn't stick as well, was harder to keep centered, and tended to show a copper ring around the edge.
Could I do a slightly different size for European customers? In theory, yes. In practice, I'd be awfully nervous about guessing a new size without being able to test it. Also, it wouldn't save much over the current International packages, since most of the cost is shipping, not the pennies (and it's a Flat Rate shipping box, so the weight of the pennies doesn't change that), and I'd still need to have the International funding levels for people who weren't in the E.U. I'm definitely going to try to get my hands on some of those coins, though, for possible future production runs.
I guess it's a good thing that you include the pennies for non-US buyers, then. But is it legal to ship pennies overseas?
I think so. I haven't been able to find any evidence that it would be a problem, and I have found various coin collecting sites that talk about the right way (and wrong ways) to send coins to other countries. Even for "Color of Magic," the cash value of the coins is really low, so I would be very surprised if Customs had a hissy-fit about the pennies. Nevertheless, I'm afraid I cannot offer a definitive "yes" at this time, just a "probably."
Okay, so it's legal. But it's so expensive! Can I save money on international shipping if I can find my own pennies?
There's a longer, more detailed answer to this question in Update #4, but the short answer is "no." I'm shipping most international orders in a "Flat Rate" box, and eliminating the weight of the pennies doesn't make a difference for the shipping cost, it would just save the the cost of the pennies themselves, which would be, for example, $2 for Int. Double Rainbow or $4 for Int. Full Spectrum.
My best advice is to see if you can find a friend, or maybe a friendly stranger, who lives nearby, and put your funds together with them to pledge at a higher level and split the reward. For example, if you'd like to get 20 tokens of each color, ("Double Rainbow"), which is $55 if you're in the U.S. but $74 if you're not, you can split International Full Spectrum with somebody else, end up paying about $56 for the same number tokens as Double Rainbow, *and* you get the pennies.
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