(News Flash! If you missed the chance to get in on this campaign, it might not be too late. It will be possible to order custom bags through at least March 9th, 2013, and possibly later. Head to http://www.ImpObj.com/bagorder to find out if you can still order a custom bag. Afterwards, both bags and PennyGems will be for sale through the regular store.)
I think it would be hard to find an avid gamer who hasn't either carried their dice around in a Crown Royal bag, or knows somebody who did. And a fair number of us at one point or another upgraded to a little suede leather bag, right? Because, let's face it, those Crown Royal bags were never meant to actually be used for any length of time, and they tended to wear out awfully fast.
I launched my first Kickstarter campaign last year to introduce people to PennyGems, my deluxe game tokens. If you haven't heard about them, don't worry, I'll tell you more about them in a minute. One of the first requests I got from backers of that campaign was "We want some bags to put them it!" I thought that was a good idea, so I started working on that. The end result of that project is a bag designed specifically for gamers, one that I think gamers will want for plenty of things besides PennyGems.
It starts with the leather. When I first asked for some samples from the manufacturer, I said "oh, suede will be fine." They included some other samples anyway, and as soon as I picked up one of the other bags, I knew I'd never settle for suede. These bags are made from "Cabretta" split finished goatskin leather. This is the leather I would have my driving gloves made from . . . if I owned a Ferarri. Thin, extremely soft, very supple, yet with all the strength and durability that you should expect from real leather.
Unlike my PennyGems, these bags aren't being made in the USA. They're coming from Pakistan, and with good reason. Despite its size, Pakistan is the #3 goat-producing country, and manufactures nearly as much leather as the United States does. Goat is one of the most widely consumed meats in the world, and Pakistan hasn't really gotten into the whole factory-farm style of goat raising, so it's a good bet this leather comes from goats that were raised for food. Pakistan also has been a source of leather for more than a century, and that experience shows. PrimeCraft has been very helpful in creating a bag a little different from their usual products; one designed for gamers, rather than Rennaissance Faires.
Faux Leather, Baby!
This just in! Multiple backers have asked about a non-animal-hide version, so faux leather is now an option. Faux leather bags will have all the features of the leather bags except embossing. I didn't get any samples of the faux leather, so I can't vouch for what it feels like.
Features for Gamers
For example, some bags (like that Crown Royal bag) have the top rolled over with a drawstring inside the seam. It looks very tidy, but especially with leather, it means you can't pull the opening completely closed. These bags have the drawstring woven through holes punched in the side of the bag. Pulling the drawstring shut folds the leather up tight enough to hold sand.
And once it's closed, it'll stay closed. The drawstring is a durable nylon cord with a spring-lock clamp, much like you find on good-quality winter jackets. You don't have to fumble with tying a knot, or hope that friction will keep it closed.
Since leather, unlike cloth, won't unravel, most leather bags made with a punched drawstring have an unfinished edge. I wanted something a little classier, so these bags have a rolled and glued seam.
At this point, the bags are good to go for dice. But PennyGems are more demanding. They're a lot heavier, and they come in lots of colors, which are more convenient when not mixed together. I'm offering the bags in three different sizes, and if you load the largest bag up full of PennyGems, it will weigh close to two pounds (more precisely, about 0.8kg). I asked PrimeCraft what would happen if somebody filled a bag full, and then carried it around by the drawstring. Will the punched holes stretch or tear? No, they will not. Now, if you swing it around by the drawstrings like some kind of weapon, well, there's lots of reasons why that's a bad idea. But as long as you don't store your razor blade collection in one, or otherwise abuse them, they should last a very long time. However, if you want to keep something even heavier in your bag, you're just nervous about it, or you think it looks classier, you can also get these bags with metal grommets installed in the drawstring holes.
Color-matched to PennyGems
You'll be able to get these bags one at a time, but since PennyGems come in eight canonical colors, I've also set up special packages that contain eight leather bags in colors that correspond to those of PennyGems. I thought white leather might show dirt too easily, so the eight bag colors are gray, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, and black. There's a couple more colors available as well: brown (dark), camel (medium brown), and cream (light beige-y brown).
If you really want to, you can get a plain bag, but leather looks cool when it's embossed, and this leather looks amazing, so I would humbly suggest you get your bags with the Improbable Objects 'electric' lamp logo on them. There's no words, just the shape. Subtle, and fun. (Embossing not available on faux leather bags.)
Yes, there are way more than eight colors of PennyGems. I did ask about expanding the color range to include the pastels from the Auxiliary set, but that would have required them to custom-dye the hide, which was very do-able, but might require charging a bit more unless I agreed to get at least 200 bags in each special color. So I came up with another plan. My 'standard' set of bags for the Primary set use eight colors of leather, all with black drawstrings. For the Auxiliary set, the eight bags are gray, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple and brown, with white drawstrings. For octarine, I recommend a gray bag with a gray drawstring. I'm personally using the medium brown ("camel") bag for my Brains PennyGems, and a black bag with red drawstring for Wound 'Gems.
But what is a PennyGem?
Now, about those PennyGems. PennyGems are, simply enough, game tokens. You use them with just about any game that has wooden cubes, meeples, little chips, cardboard chits, or glass beads. Why would you want PennyGems when your game already has those parts? Because PennyGems feel better, are easier to pick up, stack, look fabulous and are highly legible even under bad light, and are nearly indestructable.
If you look back over the comments from the PennyGems campaign, quite a few people said "wow, they're even better than I expected!" PennyGems are luxurious, and I wanted bags for them that were equally luxurious.
The Price of Luxury
But luxurious means expensive! Well, that's why I'm here on Kickstarter. My pricing assumes that I'll be ordering at least five hundred bags. That's a lot of bags! I'm hoping there's enough gamers out there that would like to have some seriously great bags for their stuff that I'll be able to hit that mark.
So just how much are these things going to cost? The bags are available in three sizes: small (7 x 9 cm), medium (9 x 13 cm), and large (12 x 18 cm), and single bags will be $14, $18, and $24, respectively, or $15/$19/$25 if you want one with metal grommets in the drawstring holes.
Bags of Holding
And how much does a bag hold? If we're talking PennyGems, the small bag's recommended capacity is 40 'Gems, but you can go up to 60 if you have to. After that, you'll stretch the leather if you pull it completely shut. The medium bag holds up to 120 comfortably, or 160 if you fill it full, and the large bag is recommended for 240, but could go to 300.
If you're thinking about dice, I can tell you that the small bag holds 14 six-sided dice (the 15mm size), and the medium bag holds 39. I'm afraid I don't have nearly enough dice to fill the large one. Also, check out Update #2 for a video that demonstrates more things being stored in the bags.
For some of you, just making sure you can get your hands on these bags is reason enough to back my Kickstarter campaign. I think I ought to mention two other reasons, just so you know.
Benefits of Backing
The first reason is for people who don't already have their own PennyGems and want some, or current owners who want more. Anybody who backs this project at the "get a bag" level or above will be able to add PennyGems to the order and get free shipping for the 'Gems. How many sheets you can get w/free shipping depends on how many bags you buy, but usually it'll be more than you need.
However, the even better reason to back the campaign is that Kickstarter backers will be able to customize their bags! Since I'll be placing the order after the campaign closes, I don't have to get just specific pre-determined bags. Backers will be able to choose a color for the bag, a color for the drawstring, go with embossed or plain, and with or without grommets (in silver, brass, or black). I'll be ordering extra bags so I have them to sell after the campaign closes, but future buyers will just have to choose from the ones I decide to stock. Since I'm just one guy, I try to keep things as simple as possible.
One Of Those, And Two Of Those . . .
Let me guess. You're looking over the reward list, and thinking something like "But I want a large bag and a medium-sized bag!" No worries. Just add together the minimum pledge levels for the items you want, and pledge that amount. If you want to make sure you've got it spot-on, use the handy Cost Calculator. It doesn't actually matter which reward you choose, what matters is the amount. After the campaign is over, you'll be sent a link (to the Cost Calculator) where you will be able to pick out the bags you want and select the colors and other features.
If you want to add PennyGems to your order, that's when you'll get a chance to do that. Please don't add money for PennyGems to your bag pledge! My funding goal here is based on the assumption that all the money pledged is going to be buying bags. You will have a chance to pay for any PennyGems you want after the campaign closes. (And if you don't live in the USA, and need to order pennies to go with your PennyGems, I will have that available as an option as well.)
Orders of eight bags or less will usually be shipped via First Class Mail in a sturdy padded envelope. If you want your bags to come in a box with a tracking number, add $4 per set of eight bags (round up, please) for Priority Mail in the USA, or $8 per set for Canada. Outside the North American continent, it'll be $15, but the tracking number only tracks the package until it leaves the USA.
Risks and challenges
This is a very low-risk project. The biggest danger is probably having something really really, er, "exciting" happen in Pakistan, disrupting production. Fortunately, the company making the bags is near the Indian border, not the Afghanistan one. If I exceed my goal, it's possible that might delay getting the order, but the manufacturer assured me that it won't take them any longer to make 2,000 bags than it would 500, since most of the time (4-6 weeks) is for dying the leather for the bags.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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