“Does anybody know what these dice are?”
This question is asked a lot all across the dice groups, and it’s a blessing that we have many members in the community who have a vast knowledge of the different dice makers and manufacturers, and how you can tell them apart. However, it doesn’t require that you actually own or even know all the dice ever made to be able to come to a conclusion what “these dice” are.
This guide is aimed at showing and explaining some basic differences to help you make conclusions about the manufacturer from the way your dice in question look. It will focus mostly on plastic dice, as there is not quite the same abundance of manufacturers out there for metal, wooden, gemstone or dice made from other materials as for acrylic or plastic dice. I will also not include handmade dice, but focus on factory-made dice only.
There are three basic indicators you can use to identify dice:
- The mould, which influences
- The colour/colour combination
- Colour/colour combination of the die material
- Colour/colour combination of the die and the ink
- The feel and weight
I’ll start with the moulds on page 1 and will cover colours, ink and materials on page 2.
Perhaps the most important piece to narrow down which manufacturer the dice are made by, is the mould. There are many differences in moulds, and it would go beyond the scope of this blog entry to explain all the existing moulds and their variances. Let’s try to get you started on a few basics that may be useful in determining what manufacturer we’re looking at.
As a disclaimer, I would like to add that this list isn’t exhaustive and doesn’t cover all the intricacies of mould variances per manufacturer. Some of these rules cannot be applied across the board for all lines of the below mentioned manufacturers.
Most of the existing Chessex lines (except some of older lines) use the same mould and font, which is exclusive to Chessex and can relatively easily be identified. The typical telltale signs that you’re dealing with Chessex are an underlined 6 and/or 9, a 7 with a hook on the horizontal line, an upstroke on the 1, and a running track shaped 0 (straight lines linking the top and bottom arcs). The percentile dice are aligned perpendicular with the die’s equator. The numbers on the d4 are always top-read. The d20 has an 8 below the 20.
There are some older Chessex lines that use other moulds, for instance the Chessex Rainbow line (that has moulds similar to Crystal Caste), or the Marbleized, Sparkle and Glo-Dice line. Koplow also sold dice made with that same mould and design (made by the same Taiwanese factory), which makes it hard, or sometimes even impossible, to tell them apart.
The newer Chessex mould:
The modern Chessex acrylic dice are made at the German acylic factory, the opaque and Speckled dice are made the Danish urea factory. The Danish dice use the same font as the modern Chessex acrylic dice. There are older versions of Chessex Speckled and opaque dice that used an older mould, which is most recognisable by the d12 (smaller font) and the d20 (dots behind the 6 and 9 rather than underlined).
You may come across statements that talk about moud differences even between the newer Chessex mould acrylic dice, which stems from the fact that Chessex has severeal (at least three) physical acrylic moulds they use more or less in parallel which are all very slightly different. These differences are fairly minute (slightly longer or shorter curve on the 2, slightly more or less pronounced upstroke on the 1, etc.) and not many collectors know these well enough to even tell them apart in the first place.
One dice collector in particular with a keen eye has labeled these three different physical mould types Clarity, Standard and Nu. I don’t know enough about them to describe the exact characteristics, and these mould types are of little consequence since Chessex has all three still in use and the moulds don’t necessarily say anything about the age of the dice except that certtain dice made with the two newer moulds can’t be older than the date the moulds were made.
Crystal Caste moulds have changed somewhat over the years, which makes them harder to pin down. However, there are a few general indicators that may tell you that perhaps your dice are Crystal Caste. Their 6 and/or 9 usually has a dot behind the number, the 7 is not hooked, the 1 often doesn’t have an upstroke, the 0 is more rounded, and the 3 often has a triangular top half rather than rounded. The percentile dice have smaller numbers and are aligned in parallel with the die’s equator. The numbers on the d4 are always bottom-read.
Most Crystal Caste d20 moulds have either an 8 below the 20, or a 14. Crystal Caste dice also tend to be somewhat smaller compared to Chessex or newer dice out of China such as HD or Udixi. It is said that the d20 mould with the 14 below the 20 is older than then one with the 8.
There are exceptions, such as Crystal Caste Satin, Porcelain, Ice Cream and Silk lines, which use different moulds altogether (12 above the 20). Crystal Caste also makes gemstone dice, or barrel shaped dice sets.
Example of one of the more common Crystal Caste moulds (made at the D&G factory in England):
Please note that Crystal Caste d20s in this style can also have an 8 below the 20 (made at the German acrylic factory).
Dice & Games (D&G)
D&G is a now defunct UK factory that both sold dice under the D&G name (via eM4 Miniatures) and also supplied dice to Crystal Caste (and other brands in the past). One example is Crystal Caste and D&G selling the same dice under different names, e.g. Crystal Caste Firefly and D&G Gem Blitz, or Crystal Caste Spectrum and D&G Magma.
Sometimes there is some confusion around the D&G Marble and Crystal Caste Silk lines. Please refer to this guide to tell the difference between the Crystal Caste Silk and D&G Marble dice, which are often confused with each other.
GameScience is one of the manufacturers that produced sharp-edged, untumbled dice, which makes them quite unique and easy to identify. GameScience dice are very pointy with crisp edges, are usually sold uninked, and have visible sprue marks.
HengDa (HD) and other Chinese brands
HD dice are manufactured in China, and it’s unknown whether they use several factories or just one. The moulds for the HD dice are perhaps the closest to the new Chessex mould, but there are a few subtle differences.
While the 6 and 9 are usually also underlined, they are more rounded. The 1 has an upstroke, which is more pronounced than with the Chessex mould. The 7 is not hooked but has a curved vertical line, and the 0s are also more rounded. The percentile die has the numbers aligned perpendicular to the die equator. The numbers on the d4 are always top-read, the d20 has an 8 below the 20. The d6 is somewhat bigger than the Chessex d6.
HD and other Chinese brands tend to sell both acrylic and resin dice, and the fonts are very similar for both. Below is an example of the HD resin mould:
It’s harder to pin down an exact Koplow mould, since they seem to have been using different factories or moulds over time. They also sold the same dice Chessex does or did under the Koplow brand name (e.g. Chessex Sparkle and Koplow Glitter, Chessex and Koplow Speckled). There are a few lines that have very distinctive moulds that seem to be specific to Koplow, and that can you tell relatively easily by the way the font on the d12 or d20 looks.
The 1 has an upstroke and a horizontal line at the bottom. The 3 has a triangular top half, the 6 and 9 have a dot behind the number, the 7 has no hook and a curved vertical line, and the numbers themselves look rather wide. The d4 is usually bottom-read, and in some Koplow lines, the dot behind the 6 and 9 is quite large. Other Koplow moulds also have a dot behind the 16 and 19. For some moulds, the d20 has a 7 below the 20 (same as the Chessex Marbleized mould), for others a 17 below the 20.
Example of one of the Koplow moulds:
King Cards is an older German company that no longer exists, who sold a number of different dice, some of which were the same or similar to existing dice (e.g. King Cards Marble, which is virtually identical to Chessex Rainbow), but also produced a few lines that seem to have been exclusive to them.
King Cards specific lines are King Cards Pearl, which are visually similar to Crystal Caste Pearl, but have a deeper pearly sheen, and use the same mould as the Chessex Rainbow line. King Cards also produced a line called King Cards Rainbow, which uses the same mould as the Crystal Caste Satin, Ice Cream and Silk lines.
Example of one of the King Cards moulds:
Please note that King Cards d20s can also have slightly different d20s with an 8 below the 20, and a different d6 (no upstroke on the 1, font is a little smaller).
Kraken Dice has a number of signature lines exclusive to Kraken that use a special mould for the their d20s and d2s with a stylized logo of a kraken as the 20 and the 2, respectively. While their mould is similar to other Chinese factory moulds, their font is somewhat leaner, and the top-read d4 sometimes has the numbers aligned close to the tips of the die. Another more distinctive feature of Kraken signature sets is that the diagonal line of the 4 is slightly convex (i.e. bends outward).
Kraken signature dice sets are usually sold as 12-piece sets (regular 7-piece set plus a d2, one extra d20 and three extra d6s) or 14-piece sets (regular 7-piece set plus d2, three extra d6s and three extra d20s in different sizes).
In recent years, Kraken has changed their moulds and fonts, Please consult their website for how their different lines look these days.
The Polish manufacturer Q-Workshop makes dice with very distinctive designs, which are often inspired by certain themes such as runic, steampunk, Cthulhu, etc. Q-Workshop dice can usually be identified by the intricate patterns on their die faces that surround the numbers, or by the way the numbers themselves are depicted. There are many different designs in different colours available, and moulds and patterns are too diverse to cover the full range in this blog entry. Please note that most of the Q-Workshop dice are engraved and the numbers not classically moulded like in most of the acrylic and resin dice.
Wiz Dice are not always easily identifiable by mould, since they changed their moulds over time, and sometimes within the same line as well. Characteristics can vary within sets, e.g. some dice having underlined 6s and 9s, some dice having dots behind the 6 and 9. There are Wiz Dice lines with top-read d4s, and those with bottom-read d4s. Some Wiz Dice lines have larger d6s and tiny d4s, some lines have percentile dice that look the same as the HD mould (perpendicular to the die equator), while others have moulds with the number alignment parallel with the die equator and quite a large font. Some lines have very small d12s. The d20 has an 8 below the 20
Wiz Dice sets are not easy to identify by the mould alone, it is often the overall combination of mould, material, colour, design and finish that will tell you whether a die is by Wiz Dice or not. Below are two Wiz Dice sets that use completely different moulds.
The list of manufacturers above is not exhaustive, and there are several brands not featured, such as Udixi, YuSun, T&G or Haxtec. The dice landscape has become rather complex over the past year or two, and it’s become more difficult to track and pin down brands and manufacturers.
Adding to that, not all dice lines will be attributable to one specific manufacturer or maker. It has become easier for small businesses or even private persons to have access to Chinese factories and get dice designed and manufactured. We see some of these in Kickstarters, but we also often see retailers or online stores selling dice where we don’t know the exact source. Small dice designers start cropping up here and there with exclusive lines, like Bryce’s Dice, Beholder’s Gaze, Libris Arcana or Cozy Gamer. Some factories sell their dice directly from China via brokers or Wish or Aliexpress.
While the combined knowledge of the dice community will most likely be able to attribute Kickstarter lines made exclusively for one person or business, you may just end up with a die that you’ll have to ultimately catalogue as “unknown Chinese manufacturer”. Kickstarter or signature lines sometimes use d20 moulds that have a logo or symbol instead of the number 20, e.g. Critit ‘Spirit of’ dice, MDG’s Unicorn line, etc.
Lastly, there are also specialty dice, such as life counter spindowns or Amonkhet dice for Magic the Gathering, or level counter dice for games like Munchkin. These are usually quite specific and use very different moulds than the regular polyhedrals or pipped dice for the more classic RPGs.
- Michael Schäffer’s Dice DB (incl. dice moulds information)
- Kevin Cook’s Dice Collection website
- Jon Peterson’s ‘Identifying 1970’s Dice’ YouTube video and blog post
- HD website #1, HD website #2
- Mel Shaw’s HD Dice Comparison Spreadsheet
- Bescon website
- Chessex website
- Crystal Caste website
- Dice & Games website
- GameScience website
- Koplow website
- Kraken website
- Q-Workshop website
- T&G website
- Wiz Dice website
- Chessex Borealis Glitter Identification Guide
- Crystal Caste Silk vs. D&G Marble Identification Guide
- Kevin Cook’s dice mould identification guide
- Michael Schäffer’s Dice DB page on dice moulds
- Orientation guide for pipped d6 by Lord of the Dice