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Subject: Protecting Board Game Boxes from Surface Wear, Shelf Wear, Corner Wear etc... rss

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...game pleasure in wood
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I have a problem and you can call me crazy if you want (you won't be the first)... I am paralyzed with fear from opening many of my new shrinkwrapped games because I like to keep my stuff in pristine condition and have seen firsthand the wear done almost immediately to game boxes upon use, even with the most careful, considerate, and ginger handling. Shelf wear from sliding the box off the shelf. Corners frayed from being lightly rubbed. All sorts of general wear sets in effortlessly and quickly. The matte linen finish of most euro boxes seems to wear even more quickly than old, and new, amerigames with flat, sometimes glossier finishes.

Sometimes, even new shrinkwrapped games come to me with wear from the dealer, such as slightly frayed corners and print wearing off the box, even under the shrinkwrap (this really upsets me but I feel it's too petty to make the dealer go through the expense of replacing the game).

While I have been able to implement a few precautions to protect the components (card sleeves, printing copies of instructions so the originals can be stored away, sealing components in plastic with an impulse sealer), I haven't decided on the best way to protect the boxes themselves. This has culminated in my refusal to open any of my new games (which probably numbers about 50+ titles now). Like I said, call me crazy if you want.

So, I am looking for any advice on how to properly, durably (so I don't have to repeat the time and expense of application), and inexpensively (reasonable cost) protect my game boxes from all surface wear, including shelf and corner wear.

The best I have been able to come up with is to use Mylar sheets and wrap the boxes, using using thick, clear plastic rigid bookcover material(which sort of transform softcover books into hardcovers) cut into rectangles to secure the Mylar sheets onto the game boxes at the inside corners and close the seam at the outside corners (this should also serve as fantastic corner reinforcements almost guaranteeing no torn corners down the road).

Demco (www.demco.com) sells a lot of these products, but it seems at basically high MSRP/list prices. So, a great source of inexpensive suppplies is a must (haven't been successful in my Amazon/eBay/google searches).

Any advice/ideas on this topic? Thanks!
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Rich Shipley
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I like my worn boxes. I see it as a testament to a game that has been carried around to various places to be played and enjoyed.
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Dan Has
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I can understand wanting to keep your games in good condition, but with the amount of time and effort you are going through, would it be cheaper to buy a second copy that doesn't get opened? Or just replacing a game once it reaches a certain amount of wear?

To actually answer your question; the first thing that came to my mind is vacuum forming a shell around your boxes. No idea how much this would cost or whether it would even work.
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Marshal Anderson
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I wonder if anyone makes really big, heavy-duty sip-lock bags of some sort. The would cut down a lot of the wear and tear maybe?

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Best way to protect the game is to not open it, and store it in a dark, humidity and temperature controlled environment.
Place the box on a soft, forgiving, non-reactive surface.

These games should be sure to give you years of enjoyment!
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Rafał Harasimowicz
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frumpish wrote:
Best way to protect the game is to not open it, and store it in a dark, humidity and temperature controlled environment.
Place the box on a soft, forgiving, non-reactive surface.

These games should be sure to give you years of enjoyment!


And cover the whole place with concrete sarcophagus.
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BeanThere wrote:
I can understand wanting to keep your games in good condition, but with the amount of time and effort you are going through, would it be cheaper to buy a second copy that doesn't get opened? Or just replacing a game once it reaches a certain amount of wear?

To actually answer your question; the first thing that came to my mind is vacuum forming a shell around your boxes. No idea how much this would cost or whether it would even work.


Amount of time and effort? I am budgeting about $1-2 per game and maybe 10 minutes to attach the Mylar to a box top and bottom set once I have it down to a system.

Suprsised at all the negative backlash at my questions. All I know is that I've spent thousands of dollars on these little boxed collections of cards and cardboard that cost $20-50 each and they tend to start looking like crap after you've (carefully) used them 5 times. So, the thought was, maybe this enlightened community could give a little advice on how to protect the looks of the large investment. After all, even the public library manages to cover and protect its books (that's where the Mylar idea came from)!

With all the talk around here like "great game, my group loves it, got it to the table maybe two times in the last three years" no wonder nobody is concerned about keeping their games in good shape. Oh wait, this is the same community that individually hand seals multiple sets of 500 cards for Dominion, Thunderstone, and their multiple expansions, puches out hundreds of inividual counters using leather-cutting hand tools, and so on.

Thanks for all the constructive advice. If my proposed system works out, this certainly has not inspired me to bother sharing it.
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Daniel Rocchi
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Okay, I'll bite- You're crazy. Really, wear and tear is all part of it, unless you're a museum curator and we're talking about the Mona Lisa.

Having gotten that off my chest, what about thick plastic wrap, like the stuff they wrap gift baskets in. Or even thicker, the stuff they cover hardcover library books in. Wrap the box bottom and lid separately, taping all edges inside, like one of those fancy Christmas presents where you just whip off the top and lo and behold, there's your gift.

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tom franklin
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Realistically, I think you have one of two options:

1. Do what serious comic book collectors do and buy one copy that gets sealed immediately and stored away carefully, never to be opened

OR

2. Learn to live with the effects of usage.

I don't mean to be harsh, but I don't know of any reasonable middle ground. If you don't accept the wear and tear from every day handling you're going to start resenting anyone who plays any of your games as besmirching the formerly-pristine pieces with their body oils and filth.

Personally, I'm not pleased that my copy of Ingenious has corners that are split and pieces that have grease streaks (if you look carefully), but I know they both came as a result of very enjoyable lunchtime games that made for some great memories.

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Celina
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I usually run a bead of glue down the inside corners of my boxes, to save them from ripping open.
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Nicholas Vitek
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Bubble wrap sleeve
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Nicholas Vitek
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Felt lining on the shelves
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Atticus Gifford
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Reversed polarity magnets in the boxes and the shelf.
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...game pleasure in wood
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fivecats wrote:
Realistically, I think you have one of two options:

1. Do what serious comic book collectors do and buy one copy that gets sealed immediately and stored away carefully, never to be opened

OR

2. Learn to live with the effects of usage.

I don't mean to be harsh, but I don't know of any reasonable middle ground. If you don't accept the wear and tear from every day handling you're going to start resenting anyone who plays any of your games as besmirching the formerly-pristine pieces with their body oils and filth.

Personally, I'm not pleased that my copy of Ingenious has corners that are split and pieces that have grease streaks (if you look carefully), but I know they both came as a result of very enjoyable lunchtime games that made for some great memories.



Buying 2 copies is cost prohibitive (for me), takes up too much space, would really make me feel silly, and is unnecessary. I also accept that the games will slowly deteriorate, but not after taking them off the shelves and playing them only 5 times. This expectation is not really any different than that of a well made book, whose binding can last dozens of years absent abuse.

I sleeve my cards with penny sleeves and that seems to work perfectly, as long as no one abuses/bends the cards. Done.

Instruction manuals can easily be printed out from pdf files on manufacturer's websites or BGG. The original gets stored underneath the storage tray. Done.

Player boards and aids can probably be sealed in sheet protectors easily with an impulse sealer (need to make sure the plastic used is archival safe and won't damage/discolor the cardboard paper over time). Done.

Wooden pieces are very durable, so no concern there.

Counters/chits are too difficult to cover in plastic, and this would hinder gameplay. However, the cardboard in used in the German-made games, at least, is very dense and highly compressed so hopefully the layers will not separate over time.

Game boards are also too difficult to cover, especially the way the are cut and fold. I am not so sure about the long term durability of the scores on most modern gameboards, but there is no choice.

Which brings us to the game boxes. Just as with a hardcover book with a fragile dust jacket, covering with a clear Mylar film, the same stuff used on library books, still seems like the best solution. I am hoping the wrapping can be made very tight, not dissimilar to shrinkwrap, yet stronger.

I like my car waxed, with interior vacuumed and wiped down, as it just feels better to drive it that way. I like my house in order, everything in its place, since it is much more pleasant to dwell in it that way. I like my boardgames without dings, tears, fingerprints, and bent corners, that way I can concentrate on enjoying the game more.
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Brian Homan
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atticus wrote:
Reversed polarity magnets in the boxes and the shelf.


That would be really interesting to see, games hovering over their shelves and not touching each other.
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bengkohn wrote:
I traded once for a game that had been protected with mylar like stuff. Worked really well, but it looked lousy.

In all honesty if you are being literal about "paralysed with fear" about doing damage to the game you should talk to a professional about it, especially if it affects other areas of your life.

If you were being figurative, then I would suggest a layer of soft velvet where the box can lie while being stored, and the same on any surface while playing. Other common sense stuff like not putting the bottom inside the lid when you take it out, etc.

Maybe a drop of clear glue on the actual outside corners to act as a bumper?


I could/should probably talk to a "professional" about lots of things, including my board game obsession in general, but by "paralyzed with fear" I mean I'm really not opening any more of my new games until I have this figured out to my satisfaction, because it really does bother me to see them deteriorate so quickly.

The felt/cloth lined shelves is a good idea, especially in conjunction with the wrapped boxes. Thanks.
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jeremie geggus
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A trick I've used over the years with shrink-wrapped game boxes is to flip them over, and use an xacto knife to cut the bottom square of wrap away, leaving the top covered in plastic. Just slide the blade into the gap between the lid and the bottom-box, run it along to the next edge, then do the same to the opposite side (to maintain tension across the plastic). You have to place your palm in the middle of the box to hold the wrap tight for the last cut.

If the shrink-wrap was tight in the first place, and your cuts were good, the remaining wrap will stay tight on the boxtop for a good while. This isn't going to help your games survive a flood or a nuke, but it does cut down on the general scratching and dust a game accumulates.

The first game I remember doing this to was my Black Library copy of Talisman, five or six years ago. It's easily gotten more play than most games in my collection, and the shrink has only recently loosened to the point of uselessness.

If you're super worried about an expensive game's box lifespan, don't stack 'em. Get some felt fabric from a craft store and line a shelf or two with it.

Let's face it: these things are cardboard. They might be pretty, or clever, or crazy rare... or whatever. They aren't generally made to be heirlooms. (absurdly crafted/priced Lord of the Rings stuff aside)

Hardcore collectors don't open their games, and hardcore gamers often stuff the boxes to bursting with Plano an PDFs. Whatever works for you, works for you.
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I would . . . I dunno.

I get really anxious sometimes about card sleeves-- hoping I have enough, wondering what will happen if the brand I pick goes out of stock tomorrow, etc,.

Maybe focus on how you store and transport your games? I haven't had much wear on my game boxes. I noticed Agricola had a scratch on it yesterday, though. Twilight Imperium looks a bit used, but it's from 2005 and has moved around with me a lot!

Buy games in GMT's Heavy duty boxes. They are rugged!!

Make your own boxes-- might be a little bit expensive, but I think that superior print on demand has started doing setup boxes.

I was just thinking about ten minutes ago about Lego Boxes. I have colle3cted legos since I was a little kid. I have all the boxes to my sets starting with the original Star Wars line (coincidentally the same time I stopped cutting/painting legos figs to make custom star wars characters . . . . facepalm.)

Now, I keep the boxes because of the added collector's value. They probably add 5-20+ dollars to the set, were I ever going to sell it! But I don't ever want to sell them!! So Why do I keep them? I feel like it's throwing out money. But it's not money I ever have any intention of cashing in on. So what do I do? My original answer was 'keep the boxes.' I probably have a problem. It's not exactly the same thing, but it's the same sort of thing. It's easy for other people to say 'do what makes perfect sense to me!' but maybe our brains aren't all wired the same.

Now I'm considering seeing if I can sell only the boxes . . . Hah.



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Alex Packwood
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Have you considered spraying your boxes with a matt finish?

I noticed this thread the other day, which put the idea in my head, but I havent tried it myself yet.
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blindsorrow wrote:
All I know is that I've spent thousands of dollars on these little boxed collections of cards and cardboard that cost $20-50 each and they tend to start looking like crap after you've (carefully) used them 5 times.


I have games used more than that and, if put in shrink wrap, would be indistinguishable on a FLGS shelf from a new copy. While I take care of them I don't do anything particular to protect them so I'm surprised that someone who obviously cares about the condition of his games finds them wearing so quickly. Many of my games, including those with cards, look like they've just been punched.

If you want to avoid shelf wear don't slide them onto and off shelves. Lift them up, then pull them out. Use a soft material to coat your shelf. Felt is actually quite rough. Try rubbing felt over the palm of your hand for a while and you'll learn why felt wheels are used to polish metal. It's actually rougher than the polished wood or laminate a lot of shelves are made from. Some metallized foil gift wrapping "paper" might be better as that stuff is quite slippery and soft. A very fine cotton or satin lining might be workable too.

Make a snug band out of cardboard or cloth. Wrap it around the box and seal it with a small tab of velcro. Since cardboard can have fixed corners it won't slip as cloth might. With a little effort you could make a band that goes around the periphery and then attach to it straps what will go across the top and bottom of the box to stop the band slipping. With a little more effort you could add sections to the corners to protect the vertices.

Or, just make a little box to go around the existing box. If you make the bottom part of the box with fold up edges you could avoid wear since they would fold up rather slide against the proper box. The top of the telescoping box (a box with a lid that slides up to take it off) could be ordinarily fixed.

I'd be careful about using mylar. Anything but thin tape inside the proper box lid as a snug fit made tighter might lead to increased wear on the edges of the lower box.

Why not transfer the box contents entirely to another box? Print out a label of the cover art if you need.

Mylar covers aren't that easy to apply to a box since you end up with overlap at the corners and it's hard to press down firmly to remove air bubbles and ensure a good pressure sensitive adherence. If you do both top and bottom of a telescoping box then you've got potentially four layers of mylar adding thickness in the corners. Most boxes are tightest at the corners. While you might slow wear it might also make it difficult to shut and increase difficulty in opening.

As bengkohn points out, things covered in mylar don't look pristine anymore.
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Chris C wrote:
I have games used more than that and, if put in shrink wrap, would be indistinguishable on a FLGS shelf from a new copy. While I take care of them I don't do anything particular to protect them so I'm surprised that someone who obviously cares about the condition of his games finds them wearing so quickly. Many of my games, including those with cards, look like they've just been punched.


Somehow, the printing/color on the matte linen finish of the eurogame boxes wears off near the edges/corners so I am left with white areas/streaks. This is often the case under the shrinkwrap on some games when I open them (Tower of Babel is one example I recall). The corners of the boxes are often frayed even when new.

The boxes just seem fragile, moreso (although classier looking) than amerigames that have a flat (non-linen) satin or glossy finish.

Cards are often the biggest problem. Cards with black borders chip or peel slightly at the edges, exposing the white stock, often after even one careful game. This is exaggerated with shuffling. Many euro white-bordered cards show dirt after a few plays (e.g. Bohnanza, Ticket to Ride, Starfarers of Catan, etc. Funny, the older amerigame cards exhibit this problem much less due to their plastic coatings. I'm talking 1960s and 1970s here) However, my penny sleeves completely solve these issues.

Other components such as counters and meeples aren't much of an issue.

It's just the boxes that really bother me, and that's why I started this thread.

Game boards are also problematic, but I can't think of a decent solution for them.

Also, almost all the publishers are cheap and issue player boards that are unmounted punchout cardboard with raw edges and right angle (non-rounded) corners that are sure to get bent and separate over time. Those should probably be sealed in plastic (not laminated) and corners rounded if possible. For the prices asked for hobby games, ALL player boards should be mounted.

Chris C wrote:
If you want to avoid shelf wear don't slide them onto and off shelves. Lift them up, then pull them out. Use a soft material to coat your shelf. Felt is actually quite rough. Try rubbing felt over the palm of your hand for a while and you'll learn why felt wheels are used to polish metal. It's actually rougher than the polished wood or laminate a lot of shelves are made from. Some metallized foil gift wrapping "paper" might be better as that stuff is quite slippery and soft. A very fine cotton or satin lining might be workable too.


Thanks for the tips on the which material to use as shelf lining. I will avoid using felt and investigate your suggestions.

Chris C wrote:
Make a snug band out of cardboard or cloth. Wrap it around the box and seal it with a small tab of velcro. Since cardboard can have fixed corners it won't slip as cloth might. With a little effort you could make a band that goes around the periphery and then attach to it straps what will go across the top and bottom of the box to stop the band slipping. With a little more effort you could add sections to the corners to protect the vertices.


I might not understand exactly what you're talking about, but it sounds like it could be unsightly. I think I will try the mylar solution first, but keep your info in mind as a backup plan

Chris C wrote:
I'd be careful about using mylar. Anything but thin tape inside the proper box lid as a snug fit made tighter might lead to increased wear on the edges of the lower box.

Why not transfer the box contents entirely to another box? Print out a label of the cover art if you need.

Mylar covers aren't that easy to apply to a box since you end up with overlap at the corners and it's hard to press down firmly to remove air bubbles and ensure a good pressure sensitive adherence. If you do both top and bottom of a telescoping box then you've got potentially four layers of mylar adding thickness in the corners. Most boxes are tightest at the corners. While you might slow wear it might also make it difficult to shut and increase difficulty in opening.


I agree overlap, increased thickness between the box lid and bottom, and fastening methods are things that need to be worked out, especially regarding the inside of the lid. That's why I started this thread looking for advice. I can't belive I'd be the first to consider tackling the problem of protecting boxes from wear, and was hoping I could learn something from others' experience.

I definitely want to use the original boxes, though, since they look great with all the fantastic artwork (when they are in good condition, that is).

Chris C wrote:
As bengkohn points out, things covered in mylar don't look pristine anymore.


I'm not sure I agree with you here. I base this on my familiarity with mylar coverings on hardcover books commonly seen at public libraries.

If the mylar is applied properly and snugly wrapped, it think it's quite attractive. While the mylar will scratch somewhat in spots over time, it should be years before the mylar looks shabby (especially since this is for my private, careful use, and not in a public/commercial application like a public library). At that point, an estimated 5 to 10+ years away, I could simply replace the mylar, with the original game box remaining in pristine condition.

Thank you for your comments and suggestions!
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Robin Temple
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I just use clear contact paper. It's prolly not archival safe, but prolly the games aren't either! Anyway, I did this for cardboard game parts in the 80's, and they are still good. Now I wish I had covered the game cover with it. I'm starting to do that now.
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hawaiigamer wrote:
I just use clear contact paper. It's prolly not archival safe, but prolly the games aren't either! Anyway, I did this for cardboard game parts in the 80's, and they are still good. Now I wish I had covered the game cover with it. I'm starting to do that now.


Please elaborate. Is the contact paper self adhesive? Is it removable without damage? What type/brand/thickness? Where do you buy it and how much does it cost?
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Bernt N
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I am pretty new to this forum, and I kinda randomly read this post.
What about spraying the boxes with clear acrylic spray (maybe 2-3 passes), that should give them a small layer of protective acrylic. The minus would be that it would look very glossy.

I sometimes use clear acrylic spray to protect cardboard tokens, have never tested spraying on boxes though.
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Nate Straight

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you're doing more damage with mylar sheets, acrylic sprays, tape, glue, etc than putting the damned thing on the shelf will ever do.

your assumption that the games look like crap after the box has been opened and closed 5 times is, put simply, wrong. it doesn't happen like that.

now, if you're using the game box as a doorstop or if you're tossing around the box lid and carrying it smushed in a duffel bag, then sure it'll get damaged.

but if you're just sliding the thing off the shelf, opening it up, setting the empty box aside, and packing it up when you're done... nothing's gonna happen. nothing.

regardless, the end goal of "keeping my stuff in pristine condition" is simply incompatible with using said stuff, regardless of what it is... entropy and heat death of the universe and all.
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