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.
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