Our (yours and my) relationship with Elderwood Academy has been rock solid since day one. They’ve been a remarkable company selling incredible products for a pretty fair price, so when they announced their Elite Series Hex Chests, I just knew showing one off to you guys would be a wise choice.
Is the new Elite Series worth the cost? What’s new? How is it different? Well, let’s take a closer look!
You have to respect a good unboxing experience, so live vicariously until you decide to buy one yourself!
It’s a good choice, in my opinion, to keep the packaging to a minimum for Elderwood stuff.
The plush velvet bag is three times the thickness of those “bulk buy” dice bags, giving a ton of padding for shipping and for storage/use.
Oh yeah… a tease! Snug as a bug in a rug!
WHY ARE YOU SO SNUG?! GET OUT OF THE GODDA-
This hex chest, unlike our original made of solid Red Oak, has several components working in tandem to produce the desired luxury aesthetic.
Let’s start out with the woods – the primary wood of this hex chest is Purpleheart, a rich eggplant colored heart wood with mostly straight grain and a lovely natural luster… why do I know this? Because it’s a fantastic wood that too many craftsmen slather with dyes that make them look comically purple, which breaks my heart.
An important note – Purpleheart wood actually changes color when exposed to sunlight (direct and indirect) – it can transition from a ruddy rust-colored purple to Barney levels of grape kool-aid purple, even to an ashy purple like a bruise.
The inlay (the light-colored wood that acts as trim) is maple! Maple is great for inlay – it’s a soft and delicate wood that holds it pale near-white color extremely well under almost every condition. Once the dice box is made, they use a razor sharp bit to precision cut the relief into the top of it. Then, they probably laser cut (or possibly CNC machine) the inlay and lay it by hand.
True to Elderwood Academy’s history – the work is amazing. Simply amazing. The inlay is flush and has no gaps at all. There are no chips or cracks – I am honestly impressed at the quality control on the face of the dice box alone!
Inside the dice box, we see a maple runner and faceplate – giving a fantastic contrast to the deep color of the purpleheart. The faceplate of the “honeycomb” bottom of the dice box has little celtic knots laser cut into it – a beautiful addition to help draw the eye. Again, I see no gaps, chips, or flaws in the adhesion of the faceplate to the dice box… truly beautiful.
The lid of the hex chest is lined with leather – actual leather. Like, leather leather. Not that $8 a yard stuff you can get at a fabric store. The use of maple to add contrast pulls double duty – providing an amazingly tight seal when the hex chest is shut to prevent slippage or rattle.
An additional selling point – for those of us who have expensive gemstone or wood dice, the lid can serve, very well, as a dice tray – though i’d not recommend throwing many 8d6 fireballs in there, it’d be a tight fit. The softer Maple covering and supple leather interior make this a pretty safe option for rolling any dice that has a hardness of 4 or greater.
The hex chests are the perfect example of a lot of value in a small package. They are not overly big or so small as to be pointless – measuring a respectable 3.6 inches from tip to tip (92mm) means that they are small enough to fit comfortably in a pants pocket.
The thickness of the hex chest is also of note. The lid is substantially thiccer (yes thicc, don’t you dare question me) than the bottom. Why? It’s a really cool design choice:
By keeping the base of the hex chest as short as possible, they remove negative space from inside the hex chest. So where the original Hex Chest required you to kinda dump all the dice out onto the table regardless, because picking them out of those little honeycomb reliefs was neigh impossible, the Elite chest –
actually has a base shorter than the dice inside, allowing for each to be grabbed easily from the base while keeping them together and safe inside the 7 individual chambers of the hex chest! This is, by far, the best design choice of the entire elite series in my opinion.
The thiccness of the lid makes for a much more stable platform when displaying the Elderwood Academy logo on the inside of the lid to boot. If you’re as excessive as I am, and I know a few of you are, the idea of displaying exactly what it is your dice are living inside is quite appealing. Especially if you intend to display the hex chest and dice inside on a shelf – which I also highly recommend.
One of the selling points of the previous generation of hex chest was just how powerful the magnets were. There was a close-to-zero chance that the chest would pop open even when dropped. I’m sad to report that is not the case any longer, as Elderwood Academy determined the magnets to be excessive (and they’re probably right). But what the Elite hex chest does that’s so cool is hide those magnets completely.
Underneath the extra detail of the Celtic style knots, below the maple face plate, the magnets are seated straight into the purpleheart. They are still quite powerful, but not excessively so.
The base of the hex chest is quite a bit lighter (due to its thinner size) than the lid, but with the balanced use of maple and the perfectly dialed in strength of the magnets, you don’t have the base lifting from the table and slamming into waiting fingers – which is always a plus.
Please ignore Christopher Odd’s voice in the background. This was a hasty re-shoot since there was an error in the video I intended to use. But take note of the power of the magnets and ease of closing the Hex Chest. A much more dialed in and pleasant experience than the original offering.
These chests run around $135.00 USD at the time of this review. If you game once per week, that’s $2.50 a week for one year – the cost of a Hobby Shop energy drink.
There are 7 beautiful and incredibly exotic woods to choose from, including my personal favorite Walnut. But even the idea of what the contrast of maple and Wenge (a nearly-black wood) must look like has my lip quivering. The options for art and borders are fairly limited – and I would love to see Elderwood allow for personalized options – but given the detail and time each one of these hex chests must require, I think the wealth of options is already extremely fair.
If you have that one set that you love above all others – that one dice set that you’d feel honest heart-break if you ever lost a die for – then consider investing in one of these. They’re stylish, beautiful, well made, well presented, the design is near flawless, and Elderwood Academy has the best customer service of any company I’ve ever had the fortune to work with.
I don’t always advocate rolling, but when I do… be sure you have to Drop the Die.
Review by JB Little, Follow me on twitter for more “useful” information.