Monday, January 4, 2010

Damn...How Hard is it to Buy a Box?!

So, here I had mucho plans for writing work this evening and I've blown several hours surfing the net looking for a box company.

Oh, I did go down to Kinko's as well and price out how much it's going to cost to print up my book. Yes, yes I could probably do something cheaper, but this will least for a prototype. In fact I should probably start working on getting a working mock-up printed just to see how the thing is gonna' look (and truth be told, I kinda' want to hold it in my hands, finished or not!).
: )

But boxes, sheesh! know, a while ago I was fortunate enough to find a couple copies of the Holmes edition Basic set in the used section of my local game shop, both still in their original boxes. Heck, I've even got a copy of Deluxe Hero Wars, still in the box (it was purchased used as well) and IT has more the dimensions I want for my game. But where does one buy boxes?

And I mean, cheap-ass boxes. After two hours of surfing, I seem to have found a couple places that will print up boxes with your own design/dimensions/logos, but they want orders of at least 1500. Let's be totally realistic here: if I sell 50 copies, I'll be doing well. If I sell 100, I'll be ecstatic. But never in my wildest dreams would I imagine that I'd need 1500 boxes (maybe if B/X play takes the country by storm? Nah).

Is there a way to buy plain boxes, print up paper covers, and paste 'em on? I mean really, free time IS at a minimum, but so is cold, hard cash. I don't mind doing "self-assembly" while sitting around watching the On Demand TV.

Looking over Dungeons & Digressions own little retro-box set, I certainly don't want to go crazy with spray paint (my lungs have taken enough abuse over the years). But I'd still like to know how he got the LL images on the box. I know Kinko's doesn't do boxes (I asked).

Anyway, I found a little company here in Seattle called Universal Paper Box that, Lo and Behold, actually advertises game boxes on their web site. But I'm guessing they, too, are going to want a large pre-order. I don't know yet, but as I won't have a chance to talk to them till Friday, I'll have to wait to find out. In the meantime, if any of you cool cats have some pointers or insights for me, let me know.

In the meantime, new game theory and other "fun" posts should be returning shortly (I hope). Hmm...should probably jot down a few ideas for posts tomorrow.
; )


  1. Welcome to my hell. I'm putting a box set together and... well, it's going to be expensive because I'm not printing up 1500 copies either. Brave Halfling's box set is going to be $30 before shipping ($26 for pre-orders), and that's with no retailer markup since they're only selling them direct. I just checked and shipping would be $10 to my mom's house in Florida. In a store, that box set might be $50-$60.

    The new Dr Who box is $60 retail, and I'm sure they have a healthy print run. That includes "144 pages Gamemaster’s Guide, 86pp Player’s Guide, 30pp Adventures Book, 4pp Quick Start Guide, Pre-generated Character Sheets, Blank Character Sheets, Gadget sheets, Story Point Tokens and Dice."

    No need to mention Warhammer 3e, right?

    I'm guessing that LL box on that blog was done just by printing out the appropriate graphics and pasting them on a blank box.

  2. Yeah, I've not had great luck myself. I think I'm in the same boat in printing something and either gluing it or laminating it on.

    Might be worth asking BHP what vendor they used.

    There are a few board game design websites out there that might also have some ideas. Most of my own research has turned up expensive results.

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  4. Hi,
    I had some problems with the form here, anyway:
    for the box:
    Other come up on google but those here are cheap enough i guess.

    To put a drawing on them, either:

    1: print on paper and stick it on the box with less noxious glue than spray glue (or do it on the outside while it's windy or something)
    2: print it on sticky paper (make sure it's compatible with your printer).
    3: if the design is simple, consider silkscreening or stencils. This way you can also do a mix of shiny/metallic/glossy/matte paints.
    4: go to a local art school and ask teacher for collaboration.

    Some cheapass options, depending on handbook size:
    1: envelopes instead of boxes and print on them
    2: ziplock bags (a la microgames)
    3: paper/plastic containers for take away, stickered
    4: SJGames delivers miniatures in padded VHS boxes. DVD cases are cheap too.

  5. What is a box, but a sheet of cardboard cut and folded?

    If you plan on producing 50-100 boxes, find someone who can print on that weight of cardstock and hand you the stack of them. You need a front and a back.

    Cut them appropriately, fold, glue. Remember the bottom center plate is sightly larger than your book, and the top needs to have slightly larger dimensions than the bottom. But that's a matter for the folding and cutting rather than the art. Note that the old boxed sets tended to have a border color that ran right onto the side border color.

    I mean, it's better than buying 1500 of them, right?

    Pro: Cheap, probably available in the amount you need

    Con: Too much work.

  6. There seems to be a bunch of bloggers always talking about how hard it is to find boxes. I wonder if there is a smaller printer that would be willing to do it if all of you went to him in a group. They would be small custom orders, but if you all got the same size box it might be worth his while.

    Also if you pool your resources you might be able to hire someone to affix the labels to blank boxes. They would probably be set up to do it easier and better than you are at home.

    Or you could try to come up with some kind of standard OSR box that everyone would use but leave part of the cover blank for the specific product picture/name. This would have the added benefit of putting OSR stuff in the same size box with a uniform look. If the stuff does get into stores that could be an advantage.

  7. has some that are pretty reasonable. It looks like they also do printing and cutting.

    My advice in whomever you chose is to work with is to request a sample of what they've got. Tell them exactly the project you have in mind in case they can provide other options they don't have online. See if you can get any additional price breaks for being a new customer, different quantities, or overstock

    I think rmckee is on to something about working with a printer. I'd even bring the sample with you--or at least another game box from your collection so they know exactly what you're looking for. Also, be sure to get a quote in writing before you pay a dime.

    My advice is to expect to work closely with the printer and box provider (if different) and the more patient and excited you are about your product, the more likely your vendors are to help you along the way.

    Good luck!!

    P.S. Here's another great page with some resources and vendors

  8. @ Jim: Well at least we'll both have company in hell!

    @ Jay: Excellent just makes me feel more like a businessman than a hobbyist when I have to start courting vendors.

    @ Paolone: I may very well be looking for some non-noxious glue...but that's about as cheap as I want to go! ; )

    @ D30: Man, you make me feel that even 50 is going to be too much!

    @ McKee: You offer some valuable ideas. If only the market was such that we COULD pool our resources, and rent some office space (or quit our day jobs, for that matter!) but we are so scattered all over hill and yon...most o the bloggers I follow are a looooong way away.

    However, the original TSR had pretty much uniform boxes for all their 64 page games back in the day: Top Secret, Gamma World, Boot Hill, Star Frontiers, and of course B/X D&D (BECMI, too!). Once I find the way and means to do this, I'm guessing I'll be able to start my own little 64-page empire, should I so choose. That's the great hope, anyway!
    ; )

    @ Everyone: thanks for the web site resources, insights, and advice. I will be keep y'all up-to-date on my box progress, rest assured!