Personalpokerchips.com Labels: One Customer's Experience
Retailer(s): Jason a.k.a. Hogwild
Price: $59.99 per 1050 labels
Material: Vinyl custom labels
Member Review by: mac40k
For those that want the look and security of a custom chip, but don't have the budget for custom Chipco's or ASM's, custom labels are just what you are looking for. Custom labels are printed on large plotters and cut to size. This produces a much better effect than you can get with pre-cut labels and your inkjet printer. I own a cheap set of chips and wanted to upgrade, but couldn't make the investment in custom chips right now so Nexgens with custom labels seemed the logical choice.
I was planning on ordering paper labels for my Nexgen River Poker Tour chips because I thought vinyl would be too expensive. I contacted Jason from PersonalPokerChips.com before Christmas, but told him I could wait until after the first of the New Year since he had a lot of Christmas orders to fill. When he offered chiptalk members a special deal to get vinyl labels for the price of paper, I was glad I waited. I had read that vinyl labels were more durable, so with price not an issue, I didn't see any reason not to get them. (Note: this sale has expired. Please check current offer.)
I sent Jason my mockup. Over the course of a couple weeks, we went through three drafts before we finalized the design. After that, I just had to wait a few days for the labels to arrive.
The color matching wasnít as good as I had hoped it would be. The green is a lighter shade and the purple is both lighter and redder than the chip color. The gray text on the yellow label is a different shade than the edgespot too. The black and yellow labels arenít an exact match either, theyíre just closer. Check out the pics below to see for yourself. I knew going into this that a precise match wasnít going to be possible and they donít look bad, so Iím not too disappointed.Applying the labels
I had decided to use upper- and lowercase lettering for my ďsloganĒ at the bottom of the chip because I thought it looked nicer. When working on the drafts youíre seeing the image at 3x magnification. You know it is going to be much smaller on the actual chip, but that is hard to mentally visualize. I was disappointed to discover that I had problems reading the small print. Once I put on my reading glasses, the letters proved to be sharp and clear, but since I donít play with my reading glasses on, I now wish I had used a slightly larger font.
I was expecting the labels to be exactly 1Ē and fit snug in the recess on the chip. Actually I was concerned about the possibility of overlap if the label wasnít precisely placed. Turns out they are roughly 3/32Ē smaller than the recess. Precise centering requires eyeballing an approximate 1/16Ē offset from the edge of the recess to try to make it as even as possible. I decided that I wasnít going to be that anal about it and if a few are off center that would just add character to the set. With 2100 labels to apply, I opted for speed over precision. Hey, I wish the chips didnít have mold flash on the edge either, but at the end of the day theyíre still labeled cheap chips, not custom ASMs. I understand some custom clays donít have the inserts precisely centered either, so I donít feel too bad.Print Quality
The labels themselves are thinner and more flexible than paper labels. Removing the excess sheet material from around the labels definitely helps, but the labels are still a bit of a chore to remove from the backing sheet, making the job more time consuming since it was tough to get into any kind of rhythm.
As the label nears the chip, the edge of the label jumps onto the chip surface as if by magnetic attraction. This means you have to lift it back up and try again, often several times to place it exactly where you want it. This combined with the fact that I couldnít just butt it up to the edge of the recess is what forced me to abandon precise centering.
As previously stated, the labels are thinner and more flexible than paper. This resulted in air bubbles being easily trapped beneath the label. The first time this happened I thought a crumb or speck of some sort had gotten between the label and the chip, even though I was working on a clean surface and had washed my hands prior to starting. The problem is that as you are trying to remove your finger from the label, the adhesive is stronger than the label such that the center of the label back along the path from your finger stretches up as the sides are going down resulting in a hill. Eventually the vinyl wins and the adhesive gives way from your fingertip. The end of the label drops down suddenly trapping the air that was under the hill forming a small bubble. Itís hard to describe, but hopefully you get the idea.
I tried prying the label off with my fingernail, but again, the flexibility of the vinyl material resulted in the label edge being pushed back in towards the center. I switched to a knife, but fearful of cutting the label, I used the back (dull) edge of the blade. This worked better than my fingernail, but still tended to bugger up the edge of the label. This was the nail in the coffin for precise placement as removing and reseating the off center labels isnít as much of an option as it is with paper labels.
I suffered a few more small bubbles and had decided to leave them rather than try to peel the label back off, but once I figured out how and why the air bubbles were being formed, it was easily prevented by smoothing the label back and forth with my left index finger as I was peeling it off my right. I just wish Iíd figured it out sooner!
Finally with a system for dealing with the air bubbles and having abandoned precise centering, I was able to pick up speed in applying the labels. Over a span of approximately four hours, I got roughly 250 done while watching Tivo. I did some of each color so I could show them off at work the next day. Thatís almost a quarter of the set, so I figured 3 more sessions and Iíd be done. That estimate turned out to be fairly accurate, so 2100 labels applied to 1050 chips took a total of approximately 16 hours.
The label sheets are cut different sizes. I know Jason prints these things on a wide plotter, so I wasnít expecting 8 ĹĒ x 11Ē sheets, but I had assumed theyíd all be the same size. Since it wasnít just a matter of counting sheets, I didnít bother to count the labels before starting to apply them. I didnít check the labels before hand either and discovered 3 misprinted ones during the first session. During my third session, I discovered three more. Luckily, there were a few extra labels of each color, so I didn't have to request replacements. There is a picture of a misprint below next to a good label on a chip for purposes of comparison. The misprint looks out of focus, but they were scanned side by side, so the out of focus appearance is due to the misprinting. Other than the misprints, the quality of the rest of the labels is top notch.Feel and durability
I love the way the labels feel on the chip, silky-smooth. They feel very much like the inserts on the Pharaohs sample set I have. They make you want to handle them. The vinyl looks tough. I scratched at one with my thumbnail and while it did leave visible scratch marks like you would see on a CD, no color came off. I didnít really try to gouge the label, nor was I willing to take a knife blade to one, but it appears that they will wear well under normal game conditions. I might try a beer soak test to see how the adhesive holds up with one of the greens since I have extras of that color, but I didn't have the time or nerve to do so before submitting this. As resistant as they were to prying up, I would expect them to handle it. I certainly donít think the surface will suffer any.Final Thoughts
The vinyls labels are more difficult to peel off the backing sheets and more difficult to apply than paper labels. However, the finished look and feel of the chips is worth the extra effort. If you are considering getting custom labels for your chips, you should definitely consider getting vinyl labels from PersonalPokerChips.com. You won't regret it.Pics
Pot o' Chips
Close up of labled chips