The first metal cased Collector’s Edition I ever owned was Halo 2. I wasn’t expecting anything special when I ordered it but when I found that the case was made of metal I was quite pleased, as well as intrigued. Looking back I was actually more interested in the packaging than the actual game and I quickly started seeking out other Special/Limited/Collector’s Edition games for the Xbox console. At this point I own nearly every “edition” made for the Xbox platforms and quite a number for other consoles as well.
While the Halo 2 Collector’s Edition case wasn’t a genuine SteelBook brand product, it was actually imitating that design. As the proud owner of many DVD movies and games contained within genuine SteelBook brand cases I can appreciate both the high build quality and appealing visuals that these cases offer over a standard DVD keep case and even over knock-off products like the Halo 2 case. Really isn’t that what a Collector is looking for? Something that not only protects your investment, but cherishes and embellishes it, particularly us game collectors spending $70 or $80 on a Special Edition here in the USA and equivalent to $100 elsewhere in the world. SteelBooks have raised the bar, I now find it disappointing when a Special Edition game is released without one.
You can imagine how excited I was when I was actually contacted by an employee of Scanavo, one of the companies behind SteelBook. I talked with him at length over email and he was kind enough to send over sample cases that they had produced. I received them today and wasted no time putting them in the photo-booth to share with you here. Not to mention I uploaded them at a higher resolution than I normally do for images here on CE so you can take in some of the details.
I also visited http://steelbook.com for the first time and was quite pleased with what I found there. It’s loaded with pictures of the different cases they’ve made and also features “behind the scenes” content discussing the evolution of the their design and the ideals behind the product from the people who actually designed it. It’s essentially the bonus disc to your Collector’s case. I thought it was a nice touch.
One thing that makes SteelBooks special is that steel is not a material you typically find on store shelves these days, nearly everything is plastics and paper, and if you do happen to find something made of steel there is usually an attempt to hide that fact. Metal can be quite beautiful if crafted properly, and it caries with it an association with high quality and value, while paper and plastic are most commonly associated with cheap or disposable products. Take a look at these comparison shots between the NTSC and PAL releases of John Woo’s Stranglehold Collector’s Edition for Xbox 360. Not only does the SteelBook version look sleek, sturdy and much higher in quality, but the graphics have a 3D quality to them and much better color fidelity.
Lets face it, if you’re going to spend extra to get the best possible version of your favorite game, movie, or TV show then it’s only right that it’s wrapped in metal. Of course I’m preaching to the choir here, as I’m sure most collectors would easily opt for a SteelBook over a keep case when given the option. I consider this write up for the benefit of game and movie publishers out there. Take note: collector’s want high quality and unique cases and SteelBooks fit that bill better than any other case design.
Beyond the build quality SteelBooks can do things that just can’t be done with a paper or plastic case. The natural brushed look, the natural shimmering qualities of the metal, the ability to emboss images and create textures, and most interestingly the ability to decorate with not just gloss and metallic finishes but also flat finishes really make them POP in the right light.
Personally some of my favorite features found in SteelBooks are also some of the things that separate it from other metal cases. The use of clear plastic on the inside of the case with printing on the inside of the metal shell to match the outside makes the whole case feel complete, especially considering that most other metal cases either have an opaque plastic or simply bare metal, the inclusion of additional artwork, coherent right across the inside of the spine is something that’s rarely found elsewhere, and when it is, the case is usually made of cheap paper.
The other thing I like about SteelBooks is the way their spine looks when sitting on a shelf. the curvature of the top and bottom of the case sandwiching the slender spine is slimming and gives it somewhat of an hourglass shape. The outline of the thin metal rails on either side of the spine give it a smooth hard detail that just makes every other case on the shelf look sloppy and inferior. The spine is something that separates real SteelBooks from imitations too, as they’re unable to duplicate the slick and slender design. Not only that but the spine on SteelBooks is built better, using a design analogous to stitch welding, which dramatically increases it’s lifespan. I can’t tell you how many Halo 2 Collector’s Editions I’ve seen on the used rack in stores with broken spines.
As you can see the SteelBooks in my collection are easily my most prized pieces, they have the ability to make a mediocre release stand out on the shelf, and to make a great release a prized possession for fans and collectors. I’d like to thank Dave and the other fine people at Scanavo for sending me these samples and hopefully I’ll be able to share more of this stuff again in the future.