Updated 28 Oct 2023
The continuing journey of the Lab Dice
Ever since the premiere of the first wave of Lab Dice in 2019, Chessex has continued releasing new test colours under their Lab Dice premise — smaller runs of new designs to test their popularity and make more informed decisions which of them to make available as regular releases. Below are details on the Lab Dice releases from 2020 and beyond.
Lab Dice Wave 4
After the first three successful waves of Lab Dice in 2019, Chessex released one additional wave of Lab Dice in 2020, with six new designs in pairs of two — 2x Heavy, 2x Nebula, 2x Gemini.
Most strikingly, in terms of difference of this wave, is the new packaging and an addition of a custom pipped d6 to each set. All dice now come in a test tube with a silver screw cap and an additional 16mm pipped d6 that has an Erlenmeyer flask on the face of the 6, and the words “Lab Dice” above and below the 1-pip. Chessex explained that they are now starting to include the pips to separate the Lab Dice sets from those that may potentially be released later as regular lines, as a token of Lab Set authenticity (“only authentic with the extra pip”).
Completely new in this wave is the Heavy line, which are indeed heavier than regular acrylic dice (approx. 50g per polyset, as opposed to approx. 30g for acrylic). These dice are made from the material that Chessex used as the base for their Faux Metal sets. From a tactile point of view, the dice are heavier in your hand (due to their weight), and feel somewhat similar to ceramic dice, without the porous surface. Wave 4 included two Heavy sets whose colours complement each other — orange with turquoise ink, and turquoise with orange ink. It remains to be seen if we’ll see more colourways in the Heavy line in the future.
The other four designs are variations on already existing lines, namely two new Luminary Nebula colours, and two new Gemini colours.
For the first time, Chessex also provided uninked versions of their dice, but these were only available for Nebula Copper Matrix and Nebula Supernova, and only in a limited capacity for retailers that ordered the box of 50 sets (one set each per box). They are now available on the chessex.com website as ‘unpainted’ sets at a price point of $11.98.
Heavy Dice Orange
Opaque orange dice that have very subtle surface swirls and weigh about 70% more than a regular acrylic set. The numbers are inked in turquoise.
Heavy Dice Turquoise
Opaque turquoise dice that have very subtle surface swirls and weigh about 70% more than a regular acrylic set. The numbers are inked in orange to complement the Heavy Orange set.
Nebula Copper Matrix
Metallic copper and black swirls are mixed into a clear translucent die base, the numbers are inked in orange. Nebula Copper Matrix dice have Luminary particles inside that glow in the dark.
Orange and pink swirls are mixed into a clear translucent die base, the numbers are inked in white. Nebula Supernova dice have Luminary particles inside that glow in the dark.
Notably, Nebula Supernova has more luminary particles mixed in than most Luminary sets, which means they really glow strikingly bright in UV light or in the dark.
Translucent clear and opaque pink material is mixed together in the well known two-tone Gemini style, the numbers are inked in white. Gemini Clear-Pink dice have Luminary particles inside.
Gemini Black-White (w/pink)
Opaque white and black material is mixed together in the well known two-tone Gemini style, the numbers are inked in baby pink, earning this set the nickname “cow dice”. No Luminary particles in this one.
Wave 4 became available worldwide in July 2020, none of the designs have been announced so far to go into regular production. All sets come with a 16mm pipped d6 that has a beaker logo on the face of the 6 and the words “Lab Dice” around the pip of the 1-face. Interestingly, Chessex communicated in May 2021 that a small batch of regular Gemini Black-White w/pink 16mm pips without logo was produced as a factory error. These were sold by Chessex for a short time until stock ran out.
Lab Dice Wave 5
In August 2021, the next wave of Lab Dice was announced. First sets were sold at Pax West, Dragon Con and GenCon, they were made available to the wider public in October 2021.
Wave 5 comprised of one new Borealis colour, two Festive, one Gemini, one Lustrous and one Vortex design. The dice, like their predecessors from wave 4, came in test tubes with a 16mm pipped d6 that had “Lab Dice” on the 1-face and a flask logo on the 6-face.
Borealis Rose Gold
I daresay these are Leaf Copper meets Borealis Icicle. The dice have a clear translucent base with metallic copper swirls and blue-purple glitter mixed in. They also have the luminary particles that glow in the dark. The ink is blue.
Opaque dice that have white, yellow, green and blue swirled together with green and blue dominating the look. The set has blue ink.
An opaque swirly set with a white base that has a fun rainbowy look of green, blue, yellow and orange-red swirls, reminiscent of those kaleidoscope toys. These also have blue ink.
Gemini Plasma Green-Teal
A half-and-half mix of actually three colours — one half a milky, almost neon yellow, the other half a translucent mix of green and teal (the same mix used in Gemini Translucent Green-Teal). The yellow part has luminary particles mixed in that glow in the dark. The ink is a dark orange.
This set doesn’t photograph very well, but is actually really pretty if you get a good mix with nice swirls. The base is a pearly dark teal with subtle metallic swirls of silver, gold and copper. The set has dark orange ink.
Opaque red dice with swirls of black and bright yellow. They are inked in yellow. Who knows why the paper slip is purple…
All sets come with a 16mm pipped d6 that has a beaker logo on the face of the 6 and the words “Lab Dice” around the pip of the 1-face.
Lab Dice Wave 6
Wave 6 was first announced in the July 2022 Chessex Scoop newsletters. Wave 6 is comprised of two new Lustrous, three new Borealis and a new Nebula colour. Chessex started selling them at some of the fairs and conventions in summer 2022 and beyond, official street date was set as Nov 02, 2022.
Borealis Blood Orange
These are very reminiscent of the old version of Borealis Orange. They are almost the same shade of orange, perhaps a tad darker, but what sets them apart is the luminary particles and the slightly less shimmery glitter. However, for those who don’t own the old version and don’t want to spend upwards of $500 on a set of them on the collectible market, these will be an excellent stand-in. The amount of luminary particles in these isn’t very prominent, the ink is plain white.
The long awaited and much requested colour yellow was added to the Borealis line-up with the name Borealis Canary. Design-wise, they are similar to Borealis Icicle, with subtle swirls of slightly darker yellow and the blue-purple glitter in these comes more in swirly streaks throughout the dice. These also contain luminary particles, but they are not as prominent as in other luminary lines. The ink is white.
This Borealis set is a bit more varied in colour than Blood Orange and Canary. They have a clear base with teal and dark green swirls, the glitter is a blueish purple and interspersed throughout the dice in streaks rather than homogenously. These have light green ink and luminary particles.
Lustrous Azurite is a mix of a semi-translucent blue material and copper metallic swirls. There’s luminary particles in these, which you can see in the more translucent parts of the blue acrylic. The blue materials also has blue glitter mixed into it, which I daresay makes these look better in hand than in the photos. The set has gold ink.
Lustrous Sea Shell
These are the more classic Lustrous design with a pearly grey-white base and subtle red and teal swirls. I think it would have been improved if they’d also had a mother-of-pearl sheen, but they’re just the regular pearl material. For those familiar with older dice, they look very reminiscent of King Cards Rainbow Teal-Pink. The ink is black and they have luminary particles that glow in the dark.
Nebula Black Light Special
This design is a Nebula set called Nebula Black Light Special, thankfully without luminary particles. The dice are a clear base with neon pink and darker blue swirls inside that light up brightly when under blacklight. The ink is white.
All sets come with a 16mm pipped d6 that has a beaker logo on the face of the 6 and the words “Lab Dice” around the pip of the 1-face.
Lab Dice Wave 7
News of wave 7 first hit in April 2023 when Chessex teased that the next wave of Lab Dice would be six new translucent colours (and no luminary!). In a Chessex Scoop in June 2023, they showed first photos of the six new colours and later in the year they started selling them at conventions in the US and Europe. Actual street date for them for the wider public was October 25, 2023.
Hard to say a lot of interesting stuff about unicoloured translucent dice, so I’ll just stick to mentioning these are a nice, deep red with gold ink.
This shade of purple is almost pastel and fairly unusual for translucent dice. They come with gold ink.
Translucent Neon Orange
One of the super bright, neon colours of this range, and hard to capture in photos. Yes, these are really vibrant and they also glow more neon under black light. They are inked in white.
Translucent Neon Yellow
These are the yellow equivalent to the neon orange. Also very bright and also glow under black light. They are inked in white.
Translucent Rad Green
While not named neon, they are a very bright green that’s pretty close to neon, and they are black light reactive as well. They come with white ink.
Translucent Tropical Blue
This colour is actually either close to or maybe exactly the same colour as that of the base for Frosted Caribbean Blue, hence also the “tropical” theme in the names. They are inked in white.
As usual, all sets come with a 16mm pipped d6 that has a beaker logo on the face of the 6 and the words “Lab Dice” around the pip of the 1-face.
From Lab Dice to Regular Production
In an August 2020 webinar, Chessex owner Donald Reents disclosed that Nebula Red, Oceanic, Nocturnal and Wisteria from the previous Lab Dice releases were going to go into full production. However, Nebula Spring would undergo some design changes, as per Don R. it was “not a bad colour, but it was supposed to have more orange in it.” Nebula Nocturnal was going to get an ink colour change as well — from teal to blue. These five designs got a full release in March 2021.
The full release versions were given new product codes and were sold in the regular plastic bricks with black lid and a regular Chessex paper insert.
Nebula Nocturnal: CHX 27557
Nebula Oceanic: CHX 27556
Nebula Spring: CHX 27555
Nebula Red: CHX 27554
Nebula Wisteria: CHX 27545
12mm and 16mm pipped dice were also produced as per regular production run Chessex custom. 30mm versions are known to exist for these five lines.
More Lab Dice were fully released in May 2022, Gemini Gel Green-Pink and Gemini Translucent Red-Yellow. Pictured below is the original Lab Dice packaging, but the full release versions were given new product codes and were sold in the regular plastic bricks with black lid and a regular Chessex paper insert. No changes were made to the Lab designs for the full release.
Gemini Gel Green Pink: CHX 26464
Gemini Translucent Red-Yellow: CHX 26468
12mm and 16mm pipped dice were also produced as per regular production run Chessex custom. 30mm versions are known to exist for Gemini Gel Green-Pink as well.
In a conversation with Chessex owner Don Reents at the Spiel 2023 convention, he mentioned that Gemini Plasma Green-Teal and Borealis Kelp are slated for a full release, and possibly Lustrous Alpestris, Lustrous Azurite and Nebula Black Light Special as well.
Lab Dice Pips
Not all Lab Dice releases had pipped d6s made, and those that did only had them made in 16mm size, with the exception of those Lab Dice lines that later got a full release. Here is an overview of what pips exist.
|Lab Release||Wave No.||Full Release||16mm Pips||Pips from Full Release|
|Borealis Blood Orange||6||no||Lab Logo|
|Borealis Canary||6||no||Lab Logo|
|Borealis Kelp||6||likely||Lab Logo|
|Borealis Rose Gold||5||no||Lab Logo|
|Festive Garden||5||no||Lab Logo|
|Festive Kaleidoscope||5||no||Lab Logo|
|Gemini Black-White||4||no||Lab Logo||16mm limited run|
|Gemini Clear-Pink||4||no||Lab Logo|
|Gemini Copper-Turquoise||3||no||—||16mm have appeared in PoDs|
|Gemini Gel Green-Pink||3||yes||—||12mm, 16mm, 30mm|
|Gemini Mint Green-White||3||no||—|
|Gemini Plasma Green-Teal||5||likely||Lab Logo|
|Gemini Translucent Red-Yellow||3||yes||—||12mm, 16mm|
|Heavy Orange||4||no||Lab Logo|
|Heavy Turquoise||4||no||Lab Logo|
|Lustrous Alpestris||5||possibly||Lab Logo|
|Lustrous Azurite||6||possibly||Lab Logo|
|Lustrous Sea Shell||6||no||Lab Logo|
|Nebula Black Light Special||6||possibly||Lab Logo|
|Nebula Copper Matrix||4||no||Lab Logo|
|Nebula Nocturnal||1||yes||16mm||12mm, 16mm, 30mm |
|Nebula Oceanic||2||yes||16mm||12mm, 16mm, 30mm|
|Nebula Red||2||yes||16mm||12mm, 16mm, 30mm|
|Nebula Spring||2||yes||16mm||12mm, 16mm, 30mm |
(different colour mix)
|Nebula Supernova||4||no||Lab Logo|
|Nebula Wisteria||2||yes||16mm||12mm, 16mm, 30mm|
|Translucent Crimson||7||?||Lab Logo|
|Translucent Lavender||7||?||Lab Logo|
|Translucent Neon Orange||7||?||Lab Logo|
|Translucent Neon Yellow||7||?||Lab Logo|
|Translucent Rad Green||7||?||Lab Logo|
|Translucent Tropical Blue||7||?||Lab Logo|
|Vortex Snow Blue||2||no||16mm|
|Vortex Snow Pink||2||no||16mm|
|Vortex Underworld||5||no||Lab Logo|