Saturday, February 18, 2012

Red Monkey's Planeswalker Messenger Bag: A Review

A while back (shortly after they were announced in this Arcana on the Daily MTG "mothership"), I placed an order from Red Monkey for a Planeswalker Messenger bag. At the time I ordered it, I promised a full review of it to my Twitter followers, as we were all curious as to whether it was really deserving of the $50 price tag. Here, at long last, is that promised review of the bag (the item page of which is here).

First I will comment on the service aspect. It took a LONG time (in my opinion) from order to final shipping. I suppose it is possible that either:
  • they make these bags on an as-needed basis, and it takes a while to construct, so there's a delay; or
  • they were overwhelmed with orders after getting the top spot on the aforementioned Arcana article
Regardless, I will just state that I ordered on January 18, and the bag shipped on January 30, arriving via UPS on February 3. I cannot say whether this is a normal turn-around time for them or unusual. Your mileage may vary.

Now as for the product itself, here's what I can say. It seems quite sturdily constructed, and seems (so far) like it will hold up to a great deal of use and wear. Of course, as I have had it less than a month, I cannot be absolutely certain of this.

My biggest complaint about the product page (and the reason I decided to write this review) is that it was very difficult to get an idea of what the bag was like, exactly. They only show one image of the bag, and that's with it closed. I am a man who loves pockets, and I wanted to see what the various compartments looked like, and just couldn't do so in this case. I took it on faith that the thing would be useful, and figured that if I started using it to lug my netbooks around for the events I TO for I could at least write it off as a business expense!

Some photos for you, with comments added to flesh out the review...
The Planeswalker Messenger Bag
 So here's a shot of the full bag. The strap is quite adjustable, and comfortable on the shoulder (it's nice and wide, so doesn't dig in). The large flap on the front gets held in place by two Velcro strips.

Flap open

You can see the Velcro strips in this shot. Note that the strips on the inside of the flap run horizontally, while the ones on the front of the bag are vertical. Presumably this is so that if the bag is stuffed full, and the flap can't hang down as far, it can still connect with the Velcro on the bag.

If this picture you can also see the four smaller pockets of the bag. There are two on the front, and one on each side. More on these later.

The interior
So here's the bag's main compartment. Note the small extra zippered pocket attached to the back of the main section. It's not that large, but would be good for pens, random loose dice, life pads, that sort of thing. I use it for the USB-charger for my cell phone, a pen or two, and some spare business cards and stickers :)

Open wide!
The bag's base actually sits flat, so when fully opened the bag can stand at attention. Once anything's put in here, of course, it will tip over to one side or the other unless said item can stand on its own as well. But as you can see there's plenty of space in here for trade binders or smaller boxes of cards (an 800-ct long box is just a bit too long, but anything smaller should fit nicely). The base of the bag is right about the width (front to back) of a typical card storage box.

My two netbooks, a mouse pad, and a playmat fit quite nicely with room to spare.

Side pocket snap-action
Finally, my main interest - the pockets. The two side pockets are too small to fit the Ultra Pro magnetic flip boxes that I prefer (see here for an example of what I mean) but the two front ones are large enough to accommodate those. The side pockets can, however, fit the smaller plastic deckboxes (like these). The side pockets have (as you can see in the photo) a snap to close them off, a feature the front pockets do not have.

I use the front and side pockets for power cords & corded mice to go with the netbooks.

So, would I personally use this as my "gaming bag"? Probably not. I'm not one to tote around trade binders, nor do I bring boxes of cards to things. I generally travel with several decks, which would either be banging around together in the copious main compartment, or I'd be limited to 4 decks (2 of which would have to be in smaller deck boxes) if I used only the outer pockets. For me, something like this is better.

HOWEVER - that said, I DO think that this bag would work for a LOT of other gamers out there, from what I have seen at the events I host. If you're heading to an event, and only going to be bringing 1 or 2 decks with you, plus binders of cards to trade...I honestly think that this bag could do very well for you.

Now - is it worth $50 plus shipping? That I can only leave up to you to decide.


Alex said...

Hey, did you register for the Helvault prerelease kit? Would be nice to read about your experiences about it on your blog.
Looking forward to your next entry.

Anonymous said...

Nice review, wish i would have found it before I purchased it but still looks worth it. I use the smaller Ultra Pro boxes so it's awesome that it fits. I hope my 15" laptop will fit in.