One of the more popular articles on The Games Journal is the one I wrote in September, 2000, detailing how to repair split corners. It's a procedure that has worked fairly well for me and I've used it a lot—a great many of the games I buy at thrift stores have damaged boxes. I'm quite careful with my own games and so I rarely need fix anything that I've purchased new. Still, there would seem to be a need for some sort of preventative measure to prevent the box from splitting in the first place.
There are two main reasons why boxes develop split corners. The first occurs when you put too much pressure on the sides of the box, pulling them outward. (Many people like to fold their fingers under the box lid when removing it and this can cause the sides to bend outward.) The second is due to fatigue to the corners from everyday wear. If you examine a box, you'll see that the cardboard is not actually connected at the corners. Rather, it's the paper covering that holds everything together. The corners take the brunt of the wear and since this paper is rather thin, it can weaken and lead to a split.
The first problem can be addressed simply by taking greater care when opening the box but the second problem is harder to avoid—very few people will want to start treating their games like ancient artifacts. A new UK-based company called Boxsolid has attempted to address this problem by releasing plastic protectors that slip onto the corners of a box. They come in two sizes (3.75cm and 5cm), are made of clear plastic and look a little bit like angle brackets. Protecting the corners from wear should greatly lessen the chance of a split occurring.
Boxsolid has done a very good job on the specifications for these. One concern I had was that they would fit too tightly on the boxes and would cause damage upon insertion or removal. This does not appear to be the case and I could discern only the smallest hint of wear after putting them on and taking them off multiple times. (This wear took the form of two tiny dimples, small enough that they don't show up on any of the photos I took.) Despite this they tend to stay fairly secure once placed so it appears that Boxsolid has got their tolerances just right.
The portion of the corner protector that lies inside the box is quite thin which is also an important concern—if it's too thick it will prevent the box from closing. As it was I found that in most cases it did not impact the functioning of the box at all. There were a few cases where it was a bit tight but not enough to prevent the box from opening or closing.
The plastic itself is clear and allows the box art to show through quite well—they're pretty innocuous when viewed from a distance. This plastic is rigid so I suspect it to be fairly brittle—good protection from contact wear but ineffective if you drop a box on a hard surface.
Finally, it should be noted that these corner protectors are most definitely a preventative measure and not a cure. By themselves they were next to useless on a corner that had already split.
I do like these corner protectors but, to be honest, I'm not sure that I'll use them. In fact, I'm not sure who will. It seems to me that they cater to a niche that is very small. Since they're a preventative measure (and thus would need to be used for every game in a collection), someone with 300 games would be looking at a total expenditure of about $700US or so. Personally I'm more likely to save this money and use it to replace any games that do suffer damage.
On the other hand, someone who owns only a few games but travels with them extensively (backpacks are notoriously hard on boxes) might be better advised to replace the box entirely with a sealable plastic container. Since such containers are mass produced you're likely to find one that's very cheap and virtually indestructible.
I suppose the gamer for whom the Boxsolid protectors will really appeal is the aesthete who demands to use the original box even for valuable and hard to replace games.
In any case, this is a product that is very unique, so much so that it's hard to objectively judge it. It is what it is and there's nothing else at all like it. Even if I don't outfit my entire collection with Boxsolid protectors I'm very glad that they exist.
- Greg Aleknevicus