General. The staple for Palladium Books has once again fallen upon us and Palladium Books elves are busily working to fulfill the requests of the all the good little boys and girls that submitted a request. The Grab Bags have been a Palladium Books staple for what seems like forever. In it, Kevin and company actively “grab” what they can to best fulfill the requests. For the price of US$55.00 plus a modest handling fee (really?) and then shipping, Kevin promises you a minimum of US$95, typically more in the range of twice the Grab Bag price. Not a bad deal!
Request List. The process for the request involves submitting a list of requests for product, and then selecting whether you want a T-Shirt included in the bundle, signatures from Palladium Books staff (writers and artists), and to name your favorite system and an alternate system you would like to try. For the numerous times I’ve ordered, the first several items listed were pretty much the items “grabbed” and thrown into the box. For the most part, I can say my typical totals registered somewhere in the $105 to $115 range.
International Shipping Woes. So, for the most part, American customers are getting the real deal. For the price they pay, shipping is marginal and means that they are really benefitting. For the international gamer, myself included (although one could argue that integrated Canadian-American logistics blurs this distinction), the shipping cost pretty much doubles what you are buying. In my case, the product sold for US$58, with US$60-ish for shipping charges. After the exchange rate, the total cost in Canadian was in the Cdn$150 range. Compared with the original price tag, it certainly blurs the “deal” element. That said,
My Request. The following list was what I submitted:
Favorite Game: Rifts
NG One Limited Edition Print
Red Borg Print
Rifts Merc Town
Rifts Merc Ops
DB 10: Hades
DB 11 Dyval
DB 12: Dimensional Outbreak
WB: NG 1
WB: NG 2
SB5: Shemarian Nation
WB 31: Triax 2
WB 19: Australia
Game I Would Like to Try: Beyond the Supernatural
The Packaging. There have been some strange videos and reports of people getting a box that wasn’t quite sealed properly, or banged up upon arrival. I can attest that once I received a box with a couple of mangled corners, but the packaging protected the books inside so that none showed any wear or damage. In this case, the box came somewhat larger than expected. My first instinct was “hey, there must be an art print rolled up in there!” Opening the box and removing the packing paper (not a Michigan newspaper to be found this time!) revealed the tell-tale tube for an art print. Below was the usual box that I recall these grab bags being shipped in. A box within a box - huzzah!
What I Got! The real interesting element to this is how close they came to matching the request. All the books came with signatures. So far so good! As you can see, the first three items on my list were art prints. Aside from my Master’s degree diploma, my commissioning scroll from the Governor General of Canada, and a painting from my recently deceased paternal grandfather, I have a hankering to decorate my basement office/man cave; I thought some Rifts prints would go well. This was followed by several books that, for the most part, I have neither the PDF or the hard copy. As you can see from the photo, things pretty much fell out exactly like I wanted.
Northern Gun Limited Edition Print. Signed by Kevin Siembieda, Matthew Clement and Chuck Walton; numbered #188 of 290
Kevin Long Red Borg print
Kevin Long Ley Line Walker print
Beyond the Supernatural rulebook (“Trust the Lazlo Agency!” and signed)
Rifts: Merc Town (“Gun for Hire!” and signed)
Rifts: Merc Ops (“Wanted: Dead or Alive” and signed)
Dimension Book 10: Hades (“Give ‘em Hell” and signed)
Price Comparison. In particular from a Canadian perspective, the Grab Bag can be a bit daunting for a “deal” that comes up closer to what you would pay for the sticker price if ordering direct from Palladium Books. I decided to try out the list of items I received in the Palladium Book store and the price tag came out to US$130, without tax, shipping or customs. As any Canadian that has bought from the United States will know, the price in Canadian is always, *always,* a chunky percentage more. And this isn’t factoring the heavy sigh you will exhale when you add in the shipping costs, which end up being near identical. In my case, comparing the US$130 sticker value (no shipping or tax) for what I ended up receiving to the Cdn$150 I ended up paying, makes it a decent enough deal. The true comparison would come from what I would have to pay if I ordered the same products from one of my local game stores. This isn’t a fair exercise to the LGS, nor would I insult the owners of the various LGS in the Fredericton region by asking them to cost compare for me.
Would I Order Again. The question pretty much answers itself. I’ve ordered something like 4, maybe 5 of these. Given the relative value of the bundle in the context of what it would cost ordering from Palladium direct, I certainly would. That said, I’ve started reaching the culmination point, where there are few books that I don’t own either in PDF or physical copies. For the time being, there is enough of a reason for me to continue with perhaps another one or two before I start risking duplication of the various RPG Rule Books.
For the most part, American residents are getting an absolute bargain out of the Christmas Grab Bag! For all-in somewhere around US$65, you get near double the cost you pay. For international purchasers, it certainly bears a little math to determine whether this is worth it and you would be willing to fork out for. I very much doubt this is for everybody outside the continental United States. I still order the odd book or two from my LGS, to be upfront; for some like myself, the balance of the math is enough to continue considering the Grab Bag in the near future. After that, short of Palladium Books sending me books for free in order to continue these reviews (wink wink, nudge nudge) or art to hang on my wall, I’ll likely have to keep looking to my LGS to fulfill any future needs.