These days not a lot of merchandise comes out from Danzig. It sure seems like we’ve reached or are nearing the end when it comes to music releases as the man, Glenn Danzig, has turned his attention towards movie-making. And that’s his right, since Glenn Danzig has been making and releasing music for over 40 years at this point and if he wants to do something else then more power to him. It just means for someone like me who has collected Danzig stuff for years that I really don’t have much to seek out anymore. Unless I want to buy every reissue of a past Danzig album on vinyl (you can now easily get a copy of Danzig 6:66 Satan’s Child for the first time in over 20 years), and I don’t, I get to keep my money and throw it at other things so when something as innocuous as a “Gamblers Box” came around I basically said “Why not?” since I hadn’t bought anything “Danzig” in awhile.
Psycho Unlimited is a company that handles lots of merch for various music acts, most (if not all) of which fall under the heavy metal umbrella. Psycho also has its own annual festival, Psycho Las Vegas, which it promotes and last year one of the headliners was Danzig so it’s no surprise to see that Psycho partnered with Danzig to do a unique item. And that item is the Gamblers Box. I don’t know why the word “Gambler” is pluralized and not a possessive, but that’s how it’s listed so we’re going with it. It was solicited last fall and it’s mostly what it sounds like. When it was put up for preorder, it was priced at $99 and for some reason it seemed like a thing to throw my money at. It’s limited to 666 copies, naturally, and there are still some available at the time of this writing only Psycho has upped the price to $139. Marking it up to $139 instead of $138 seems like a real missed opportunity.
The Danzig Gamblers Box appealed to me most because it comes in a rather neat package. It was over 20 years ago when Glenn Danzig first started floating the idea of a box set of unreleased material which he envisioned being packaged in a box in the shape of an inverted cross. To my teenage mind, that sounded way too damn cool and I wanted it instantly. It would be several years later that collection of unreleased material would finally be released as The Lost Tracks of Danzig, and while the packaging was pretty awesome, it was no inverted cross box. The Gamblers Box has taken its place, and while the contents are far less interesting than a collection of unreleased music, the box itself is bad ass. The box measures 11″x8.5″x2.25″. It’s a matte black and quite thick and sturdy. The classic
Michael Golden Danzig skull is in the center set on a crimson depiction of the Danzig skull/cross logo from the Lucifuge era with the only addition being the Danzig logo appearing at the top of the cross.
Unfortunately, the box is far and away the most interesting part of this release. Not that it’s anyone’s fault, but the contents are what they are. This is a novelty Texas Hold’em set, basically, except it doesn’t come with chips. For some reason I thought it did, but it actually never advertised poker chips, I just lost track of what was advertised over the months between order and release. The interior of the box is as nice as the outside. It’s done in a red felt material, but it’s nice and thick. It’s basically a foam material that’s quite firm and it’s thick enough that an imprint of the “Psycho” logo appears at the top. It’s not that cheap “felt over plastic” tray that the Misfits Box Set featured which usually cracks over time. Aside from the insert, the contents of the box boils down to the following: a deck of cards, a dealer coin, and 3 dice.
The dice set is done in a slate gray color with each number carved into a side and painted black. When you open the box, each die will be set to display the number 6 so that you get a 666 staring back at you as they surround the cards. In place of the number 1, each die has the Danzig skull partially printed on it. Rather than try to squeeze the whole image onto a panel, it’s cut-off similar to the cover of the first Danzig record. I’m not much of a gambler, and when I do I usually don’t bother with dice games, but these feel a little on the light side to me. They’re fine though and they’re probably the most usable part of the set as they’re not likely to get worn much when actually played with.
The coin is placed at the top of the cross and is quite heavy. The side facing out features a raised Danzig skull with the number 777 above it. The base color of the metal is basically a brushed nickel gray and the area around the skull is painted black, as are some of the details on the skull itself. I suspect it wouldn’t be hard to scratch this thing up so do be a little cautious. The skull itself is slightly off-center on my set and I’m not sure if that’s true of all. I’ve already seen some sets where the numbers on the dice weren’t facing the same direction so there could be some production variances to be mindful of. The rear of the coin features the Angel and Demon Yin Yang featured in the Danzig IV booklet. The art was done by artist Michael Kaluta and has long been one of my favorite pieces of art associated with Danzig. The demon half is painted black while the angel side is natural steel, but it’s been polished so it’s a little different from the color of the rest of the coin. It’s a neat little novelty item and I suppose you could utilize it as a dealer token in a game of cards if you wanted to, but I’d hate to see this thing sliding across a table unless you were playing on a felt-top table.
The deck of cards is the last item we need to talk about. I suppose it’s the item most could find a use for, but cards ware out fast and I personally haven’t played a game with a novelty set of cards since I got X-Men ones as a kid. The box is a dark gray with black detailing. There’s a cross-hatching texture and what appears to be thorns. On the front and rear we have the same logo printed that appears on the box itself only now the red is done with a shiny, foil, finish rather than the muted shade on the box. On the long side is the words Psycho Unlimited printed in the same red and on the top and bottom we have, in gray, the phrase “Devil’s plaything in my hands” printed in the Danzig font. A reference to my personal favorite song from the band.
The box is a bit tricky to get open without ripping the lid. I had to go super careful and I did slightly crease the center of the top flap in doing so, but better than a rip. The numerical cards are pretty standard stuff while the rear of all cards resembles the card box itself only with a purple filter on the background. The face cards and the ace cards are where some opportunities present themself to incorporate some Danzig art. The jack features the classic “Demon strangling Jesus” image from the “God Don’t Like It” t-shirt sold during the band’s early years. The queen features the cover image of Thrall-Demonsweat Live while the king uses an illustration of the cover image from the first Danzig home video of Glenn with a goat mask tied to a cross. The ace reuses the Kaluta Yin Yang. All four have that purple filter applied from the rear of the card and look pretty cool. I do wish there was a different color filter for each suit. All of the suit images on the card faces are in black except for the symbols right under the numeral. Clubs and spades are black across the board while diamonds are purple and hearts red. Some sets also include four 1 cards. These can be brought to Psycho Las Vegas and exchanged for something. What that something is, Psycho hasn’t revealed. And I don’t know if they’ll let you keep the cards. Psycho sent an email indicating these are only in some sets, but so far I have yet to see a fan not find the cards. Each deck comes wrapped in cellophane and arranged by suit so it seems like the type of thing that would be more trouble than it’s worth to filter out, but who knows? If you’re going to Psycho Las Vegas it wouldn’t hurt to bring a set and if you have no interest in this box there’s probably some cards out there that people don’t want.
The Danzig Gamblers Box is a true novelty item. It is what it is and whether you’re into card and dice games or not it’s unlikely something you’ll get much use out of because who wants to ruin a $100 deck of cards? This is really a display piece and something for people to go “What’s that?” when they’re looking at one’s collection of Danzig memorabilia. And as a display piece, I do think it’s pretty cool. You could even display it closed or open since the interior displays well too. It’s just not the type of thing that’s for everyone and I can easily see a lot of fans passing. At $100, it felt a little pricey, but it seems few limited collectibles are rarely under $100 these days. At $139, it’s too much. The development cycle for this item ended up being longer than Psycho predicted so I wonder if they’re trying to recoup some additional costs they previously didn’t budget for. At 666 units, it will probably sell out eventually, but maybe not at that price. If they still have stock after the event in August then I could see it getting discounted so it may be worth it to wait if you’re on the fence. For most though, I think they already bought it if they thought it looked cool. I’m reasonably satisfied. I don’t know that it was worth $100 (plus shipping), but I paid for it over 6 months ago so it’s easy to separate the cost from the item. It’ll look cool on a shelf, and that’s pretty much all I wanted it for.