Vessel CMG Case
By Rook Steel Storage
rook-ee of the year
If you look at the Rook Steel Storage logo—a very nice stylized rendition of a castle from chess—you might be surprised to note that there is no trademark attached to it. On the other hand, the Nike swoosh, the McDonald’s M, and the Microsoft Litigious Hammer are all well-known trademarks in the public arena, and are TM’d or ®’d approriately. And don’t you forget it.
Protecting a trademark is a vital part of protecting one’s brand. Why? Because common words like escalator, aspirin, thermos, yo-yo, zipper, touch-tone, and others all used to be trademarked brand names, and if you don’t protect your brands, they either lose their trademark status or someone else tries to shark in on them, as TSR did when it trademarked the word Nazi™. Not that the NSDAP needs any protection, but hey, if TSR wants to take over that brand, we need to protect them from themselves.
Or not. I mean, we are talking about the game company that put out Buck Rogers.
Worse yet, no one apparently ever did a business analysis on their product lines. Shortly after oft-castigated Ryan Dancey took over the D&D line, he had Cindy Rice, one of the top three sweetest babes in gaming, run a business analysis of the D&D line, whereupon it was found that something like two thirds of the line lost money. So by cutting half or more of the product releases, Ryan made the D&D line much more profitable. Because this is business, not art. Cindy is art. And all business, too. Just like the Gamer Bling Official Companion. Which disclaimer Gamer Bling needed to add for continued marital bliss.
But as for art, why doesn’t Rook trademark their logo? Because, as Gamer Bling has been told by someone whom he trusts in such matters, the Rook logo is public domain clipart!
Pretty gutsy, eh? That’ll cut your art development costs.
So the creative forces behind Rook chose to go a minimalist route with no frills and even less expense. Although the artists and other top… men who read this blog will argue that any forces that choose a piece of clip art for their logo can hardly be called “creative” forces. Consider the UN flag…
But no frills and bold vision are one of Rook’s hallmarks. Well, two of their hallmarks, both of which find themselves nicely exemplified in the Vessel Steel Alloy Miniatures Case, or, as Pavel Chekhov likes to call it, the Wessel.
Which is a transliteration of his thick Russian accent, learned at his mother’s feet in his noo-klee-arr family, and not at all an homage to Horst Wessel, hero and so-called martyr of the NSDAP, who was shot and killed in his apartment, apparently over unpaid rent. Those rascally Nazis… always moving into places where they’re not wanted, and needing to be evicted with heavy applications of firearms!
And here you thought this increasingly WWII-centric blog entry was just a floofy diversion? Heck no, this is educational! (For those of you who graduated from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Public School System, that means you can actually learn stuff here. But why is Gamer Bling even writing this? CMS grads can’t hardly even read none.)
Vessel literally means “little vase,” which, if you forgive that we’re talking about a rectilinear metallic solid instead of a curvilinear ceramic bowl, is a pretty accurate description of what it is. A more accurate description is this:
The Vessel is a lightweight and portable miniatures case for CMG figures (that you likely buy not for CMGs but for RPGs). It measures 8” x 7¾” x 2”, and is made of the same metal alloy that is employed by Rook for its Tokkens and by Johnson & Johnson for boxes of Band-Aids, which is another brand that almost lost its trademark. And, unlike Horst, the Wessel comes in a variety of colors. The one Gamer Bling has is called Relentless Gray, but it’s more of a Laid-Back Lavender, which is kind of a girly color for carrying around orcs and stormtroopers and the like.
The box is engineered to stack securely with others of its own kind. The top and front both have areas where you can inscribe the contents for ready reference. The top has some nice-looking embossed logos and markings and the bottom has some sales text that is too technical and not enough sales.
Side note: the box-bottom photo disclaimer says, “Miniatures used in this photo are mockups and do not represent any actual miniatures or brands of products available for sale.” Uh… Gamer Bling calls shenanigans. Do they seriously expect us to believe they mocked up minis for a single photo shoot when they use clip art for their logo? It looks to Gamer Bling like they grabbed what was available and spray-painted them black. For illustrative purposes. This evaluation by Gamer Bling does not constitute an endorsement, implicit or explicit, of any brand of paint, spray or otherwise, that might or might not be used on any particular brand or product of miniature or other painting surface, whether or not such paint is used for illustrative, decorative, or punitive purposes. Your mileage may vary.
The lid comes with a handy finger hole (handy? finger? get it?) that can be used to quickly pop open the friction-locking lid.
Inside the Vessel is Rook’s cool Storage-GRID CMG Storage Tray. Basically, the Storage-GRID provides four columns of mini storage. Each column is flanked by two slotted arcs of plastic made to hold the miniatures’ base. As Buffalo Bill might say, “It puts the base into the slot and it will hold the toys you got.” The Storage-GRID is actually pretty hard to describe in words, so take a look at the picture and then Gamer Bling won’t get the hose again.
Gamer Bling figures you can put between 18-22 figures in a box, more than enough for most CMG minis battles and even plenty enough for RPGing. The quantity you can place inside depends on how tall the minis are: you might only be able to fit 12 minis with large overhead axes, but you can fit up to 28 hyper-cool dragonmarked fire-breathing kobold rogue-sorcerers… or even 76 low-profile rot scarab swarms if you’re planning on running your PCs through a version of The Mummy.
Even better, the box displays the miniatures nicely, so it’s easy to find what you’re looking for. The minis are flat and on one layer, not jumbled in a shoebox or buried beneath layers of foam. This makes it quick and easy to grab what you need.
In short, this is classier and easier to carry and use than the big honkin’ plastic-and-foam suitcases that hardcore minis gamers carry. And cheaper, because it doesn’t have the Games Workshop logo on the side. Because Games Workshop actually pays someone to design logos, which means they have to pass the costs on to you. Along with, apparently, many, many other costs.
And since you were wondering, both Vessel and Storage-GRID are trademarks of Rook Steel Storage, Inc. But neither has a logo. Because that would involve art.
The first weak point is a flip side of a strong point. Because the Little Vase is small and portable, it can’t hold sizeable miniatures. It is the rare large-based figure that will fit. Even moderate miniatures may prevent the lid from closing, for example the medium-based Knights of the Silver Dragon promotional figure that Gamer Bling got from WotC, which has a healthy wingspan both front to back and side to side. And anything bigger? Forget it. The Colossal Red Dragon could almost use the box for its base.
Pursuing this line further, you may need more than one Vessel to carry your stuff around if you have need of a lot of miniatures.
Beyond that, it’s hard to come up with anything weak, other than Gamer Bling doesn’t have enough of them. Sure, the metal could get dented, and then you’d have to take your Vessel to an auto body shop to get the ding pounded out and bonded over and repainted, but that’s a small price to pay.
The Bottom Line
Light, portable, water-proof, and indestructible under normal gamer use, if you find yourself lugging around a dozen or more plastic minis in a baggie that still has Cheetos dust, you need to upgrade your system right now.
Bling Factor: 8
You need: 1-3 for gaming use, more for storage
Rook tries very hard to use traditional retail channels. But you can order online if you order a minimum of $30 of product. No bennies for mentioning this website, but please do so anyway. If you want to order lower quantities, use the big phat button to the right.
We suppose it’s possible that they might do larger boxes for larger miniatures, but Gamer Bling seriously doubts it.