Posted in: Collecting, Role Playing Games

I look at dice purchased from Dollar Tree

Dollar Store dice
How do you say “Critical Fumble” in French?

I follow several twitter accounts that cover the subject of Role Playing Games and I noticed a trend over the past month. Gamers buying the cheap sets of RPG dice from the local dollar stores and then posting photos of them. It was a cute trend that allowed the collectors of the shiny math rocks to show off their latest acquisitions. As photos of dealers tables from gaming cons have shown up online (mostly to display the older books that were for sale) fans noticed that the dollar store dice had been picked up by vendors and added to their booth with a mild markup (usually $3-5 for a set).

Before this trend had started, I noticed that my local Dollar Tree had a bunch of dice for sale. Like most items you pick up at the dollar store, you are not going for quality. Of the three packages they had at the time, I noticed that one package had two D8 dice instead of two D10s that you normally find in a dice set. So I chuckled and passed on getting a set. The dice sets that I’ve usually picked up from the local gaming stores come in containers that allow you to open them up before purchase. I like giving a few test rolls before purchase to get the “feel” for the dice. Since these dice were sealed in a package, I had no way to test the dice beforehand.

When I realized that the trend was gaining steam, I decided to go grab a set for myself. Not because I wanted to follow the trend, but because I wanted to give a review for the blog. New gamers may want to buy a set for themselves at a lower cost. Other gamers had posted that they were buying the cheap sets to give to potential gamers showing interest in the game. Or perhaps you discovered that you had left your dice bag at home while at the con and you wanted a quick set to play with for the day.

As you can see from the image above, the dice were packaged for English and French speaking markets. According to the limited information on the back (see image below), the set was made in China but imported for the US market by a company called Grenbrier International. Canadian markets had this product imported by DTSC Imports. A quick Google search revealed that this was the parent company that operated the various Dollar Tree locations across the US and Canada.

Lot’s of white space, but that saves on ink costs.

When I decided to do a review of the set, I decided to compare them against another set I had in my collection from Chessex. Primarily because it was the only set I still had the original container for with the detail sheet inside.

“In this corner…”

One of the things I noticed is that the choking hazard warning had different ages listed. The Chessex recommended over the ages of eight while the Dollar Tree dice recommended over the age of four. Personally I’d probably feel more comfortable with any players closer to the age of nine than four. The Dollar Tree dice were made in China while the Chessex set came from Denmark. I had actually never paid attention to the country on my Chessex dice until now, but the Denmark dice sounds kinda kewl.

The Dollar Tree dice set by itself…
…and side by side with the Chessex set.

From the various social media posts that I’ve seen, the Dollar Tree set only comes in the satin brown color. If anyone has seen any other colors besides that one, let me know. As you can see, the sizes are about the same. I didn’t notice any difference from the different angles. I did notice a difference in weight. When you hold a D20 from one set in one hand and the other in the opposite hand, the Chessex dice were heavier. While taking the photos I noticed that the number locations were slightly different. The D4 seemed to be the only die matching the number location. I figured this was due to the lack of options in the smaller die. I pulled out several other die from my dice bag and noticed this trend continued with different die depending upon the source. I wonder if this is a copyright issue? Most of the D20s had the “20” opposite of the “1”, but some of the D12s had a “5” opposite of the “12”. This was another item I had never really thought about until now. As long as the dice continued to give me good rolls, I continued to use them.

I can see how the Dollar Tree set could be a good intro set for game masters wanting to give sets away to new players. The lack of a storage container would hopefully encourage the new players to obtain a dice bag of some sort. The dice make the right rolling sound when played on a hard surface. I had thought about doing the 100 roll test and seeing how many of each number comes up for the blog. But I started having flashback to the oddball math questions that came up in school so I elected not to take this route.

So I’ll be tossing the package in the recycle bin and slipping these new dice into the dice bag. Hopefully someday I’ll get a chance to participate in a game around a table with friends soon so I can actually see these dice in action. But before I decided to put the dice away, I wanted to take one more picture with a D4 from the Dollar Tree set, another D4 from the Chessex set and one of my original D4s that came with a boxed game many years ago just for an off the wall comparison.

The evolution of the D4.

UPDATE: I’ve been informed by a reader that there were other colors besides satin brown. So you may find different colors at your local stores.