While the community at Hi-Def Ninja tends to swarm towards the SteelBook section of our forum, there’s another little section that’s been booming — one that could be considered niche and even strange to some collectors. That section belongs to Blu-ray Slipcovers (i.e. those flimsy cardboard sleeves that keep your Blu-ray amarays clothed and warm at night).
I’ve personally been a collector and fan of slipcovers (aka slipboxes, o-rings, slipsleeves, slipcases, etc.) for years now. I used to think that I stood alone in the world, but it’s nice to know that there’s other crazy collectors out there just like me. In fact, slipcovers are becoming so sought-after that even major SteelBook retailers such as Plain Archive, Blufans and Kimchidvd are now using them as part of their exclusive SteelBook packages. North American retailers such as Walmart, Target and Best Buy/Future Shop also know of this growing hobby, hence recent and incredibly popular exclusives such as the ones for CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER and GODZILLA.
Ninjas Chat is a new column here at Hi-Def Ninja and one that will be used to hold discussions between myself and fellow ‘ninjas’ on the forum. For this first column, I’ve decided to dedicate it to Blu-ray Slipcovers to help non-slip collectors better understand the hobby. Joining in on this discussion is forum members Robert (kryptonite), G (PunkNinja) and John (dirtyoak).
Feel free to chime in at the end with your own thoughts regarding Blu-ray slipcovers. Enjoy!
Which slipcover — Blu-ray or DVD — made you realize that you loved collecting slipcovers as a hobby?
Ken: Technically, I guess you could say that my VHS collection featured the first slips amongst my collection, but since we’re going with DVD or Blu-ray… I suppose it’d be the release of Peter Jackson’s KING KONG on DVD where I began to truly appreciate a slipcover. It was with that title where I purchased the 2-disc Limited Edition and then a few months later, went and bought the 3-disc Extended Edition because I loved the gatefold slipcover on it so much.
Robert: Nothing in particular, really. When I first joined a slipcover thread at another forum, I said to myself, “These guys must be crazy.” Then it slowly dawned on me that my Blus would look great with the slipcovers. Initially, I researched which of my Blus were missing the slipcovers and hunted them down one by one. Then I realized I can also import slips for the ones that do not come with slipcovers (in my own country). It came to a point where I needed to hunt every variant slipcover for each Blu-ray that was my favorite. In the end, I was mostly collecting the slipcovers themselves like trading cards or something.
G: I’m pretty new to the game. I wasn’t into collecting slips when I was still collecting DVDs. I really didn’t care if the DVDs I ordered came with a slipcover or not and if a DVD did come with one, my reaction was just like, “Okay, cool.” Even when I started collecting Blus — actually all my Blu-rays before were all ‘naked’ amarays. And then I saw the DRIVE Future Shop exclusive slipcover. I just got blown away by the superb artwork and the embossing and debossing was a killer. That’s it for me. I got hooked, line and sinker. (Laughs)
John: I bought my first DVD back in 2002 or 2003. It was BLADE II imported from the UK. At first, my one and only concern when buying DVDs was, “Do I like this movie?” After a year or two, I had a nice little collection and noticed that some of them had either came with a slipcover or a digipack and those became my favorite — but it didn’t change my buying habits. I always loved it when a movie I wanted came in any type of special packaging, especially digipacks and slipcovers. It wasn’t until 2011 when I began actively seeking out special packaging for movies I liked. I then discovered SteelBooks and got hooked on them, but after a 7-8 month long addiction to SteelBooks, I stopped collecting them and started looking for different kinds of packaging to collect since I didn’t want to stop movie collecting altogether. Since there were so few digipacks being released, I decided to go with slipcovers. The first one that really caught my eye was DRIVE from Future Shop… and I haven’t looked back since. (Laughs)
What was your first slipcover ever?
Ken: On DVD, it was the X-MEN digipack that came in the slipbox. That was actually my first DVD ever. On Blu-ray, it was THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS TRILOGY slipbox.
Robert: I never collected DVD slipcovers. My obsession started with Blu-rays. My first slipcovers were most-probably Disney titles, but my first real hunt for slipcovers started with CASINO ROYALE and BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA which were quite scarce at the time.
G: I can’t remember my first DVD slip, but my first Blu slip was the Diamond Edition SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS in Blu-ray packaging. I remember I bought it for the DVD and not the Blu-ray.
John: I can’t recollect exactly what my first DVD slipcover was, but I do remember buying SAVING PRIVATE RYAN and THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION digipacks fairly early on in my DVD days. My first Blu-ray slipcover was SE7EN from the UK. It was one of my very first Blu-rays and I bought it solely for the movie, but was thrilled that it came with a slipcover. I hadn’t even started collecting SteelBooks yet at that point.
What’s your favorite slipcover?
Ken: That’s a tough one because there’s so many! My favourite was probably the Canadian lenticular for the Blu-ray of THE MIST, but I had to sell it when times were tough. In my collection right now, it’d probably be the Future Shop exclusive slipcover for DRIVE. I also love the dual-slipcover over top of Kimchidvd’s exclusive SteelBook for LÉON.
Robert: Currently? The most treasured slipcovers in my collection are the Canadian lenticular slipcovers because they were the most difficult and expensive to acquire. I still have all of them and have no plans to part with them. I make it a point to stay current with the lenticular slipcovers from Canada. Another favorite of mine is the Marvel Cinematic Universe slipcovers and the DC Comics slipcovers.
Ken: Well at least now I know which house to rob if I want to get THE MIST again. (Laughs)
G: Hmm, let me think. DRIVE FS exclusive.
John: Oh, that’s a tough one. (Scratches head) DRIVE would definitely be in contention, but it’s almost too easy to choose that one. At this very moment, I’m gonna go with CHINATOWN from the US. Although my answer is bound to change from time to time.
Which finish do you prefer most on your slipcovers?
Ken: I’m a sucker for a lenticular slipcover, though the embossing on some of the slipcovers out there today — like the Future Shop DRIVE or the WILD CANADA Blu-ray from Canada — has been blowing my mind!
Robert: I prefer the lenticular ones like Ken. Though, I don’t mind owning the embossed and metallic ones. But if I should choose only one, definitely the lenticulars.
G: I like lentis, too, but not as much as the heavily embossed ones.
John: Lenticulars can certainly be very nice, but I’m not a huge fan of them in general. There’s several titles that have both regular slips and lenticular slips and I often prefer the regular one. Some nice embossing, however, really gets my heart pumping.
How many do you have in your collection and how do you store them?
Ken: My collection has greatly dwindled over the years, sadly. At one time, I had over 3/4 of my Blu-ray collection covered with slipcovers. I generally hate a “naked” amaray case. I do have one rule, though: only own a slipcover if you want to own the movie. I’m not someone who stores thousands of empty slipcovers in a shoebox… though I’m sure one of these other guys will probably kick my ass for saying that. (Laughs)
Robert: Aside from the Blu-rays with slipcovers, I also own hundreds of spare slipcovers or slipcovers without Blus. They are flattened and stored in a drawer. The rare ones are inserted in a plastic sleeve for extra protection.
G: I can safely say that my collection is not as big compared to these slip-psychos. I think I’m one of the normal ones in this asylum we call HDN. I like to enjoy my collection and I don’t separate my Blus and slips. I just put them in plastic sleeves and store them on the shelves. But from time to time, I take one out from its plastic dress and have some fun with it and my girlfriend. (Pause) What? Who do you call a psycho?
John: Can’t say I’ve ever had a threesome involving a slipcover, but it does sound very erotic. (Shares awkward look with G) My collection is a little spread at the moment having moved almost a year ago. I just haven’t gotten around to organizing them properly. Given the fact it’s a little hard to give an exact number, but I’d guess it’s somewhere near 100. Most of them are placed on my shelves, but some are still in moving boxes. I only have plastic sleeves for five of them right now, but I’m thinking about getting some more sleeves to give them the care and protection they deserve.
Why do you think slipcover collecting has stayed such a niche hobby?
Ken: I suppose it could have something to do with the regular Blu-ray buyer not caring about “that cardboard thing over top of the movie.” I think you have to be a little bit OCD to collect anything — whether it’s a slipcover or SteelBook or Digibook. When there’s a dent or ding or scratch, there’s a collector out there crying. I don’t cry — I just build an excessive amount of rage. (Laughs) My wife laughs at me.
Robert: It is still a relatively new hobby and still unknown to the general public. Maybe if a well-known public figure came out and shared to the world that they had this niche hobby of collecting Blu-ray slipcovers, then it might give it a much-needed exposure. I am just waiting to become famous and who knows? (Laughs)
G: I think Ken is absolutely right. You have to be a little OCD, especially if you’re collecting a piece of paper, plastic or steel ‘cause normal people collect garden gnomes instead. (Laughs) I used to collect Blu-ray SteelBooks, too, but there’s this one incident where I realized that I should just focus on collecting Blu-ray slipcovers instead. I’m gonna make the story short: I put a Blu-ray with a slip and a Blu-ray SteelBook on the table and my nephew knocked them down. The Blu with slip had a minor ding on the corner, but the Steel got a big dent on the middle. I realized that it’s financially smart for me to just focus on collecting one hobby the second that I used to go crazy when I received a dented or dinged Steel. I can stand a few dings and dents on a slipcover, but on a SteelBook I go insane. It’s pretty healthy not to live in a box and go wacko at the same time.
John: I agree with the points my slipcover colleagues have made. I also think that many movie collectors don’t see them as anything special because they’ve been around for so many years while SteelBooks and Digibooks are a littler newer and also give collectors something a little different. The fact that it’s hard to know if you’ll get a slipcover with your movie when you order from Amazon or any other retailer possibly makes it less desirable, too.
Is there any way to innovate a Blu-ray slipcover further than it is already is?
Ken: We already have lenticular, gatefold, debossing, embossing, glow-in-the-dark and the list goes on and on. I really like the pop-up slipcovers, but country’s rarely produce them. I think a pop-up slipcover that plays music — like those $10 birthday cards at Hallmark — that’d be cool.
Robert: I like it as it is right now. I don’t like the battery operated gimmicks. Just continue making them and make it mandatory for every release.
G: Pop-up slipcovers that play music is a great idea. Super-embossed like the UK’s JENNIFER’S BODY — one of my all-time favs. I hope they make more like that. Maybe a slip that’s super-embossed, glow-in-the-dark in all of the right places. A reversible cardboard slipcover would be great. I don’t know how the hell they’re gonna do it, but that’s the designer’s problem. (Laughs)
John: Although a slip that plays music might be fun or cool, I see it as a novelty and seriously doubt there’s much of a market for it. Commenting on what Robert just said about making slipcovers mandatory, I think that would be fun in the beginning, but it would ultimately be the death of slipcover collecting — that’s just my view. But to answer the question, I’m creatively challenged, so I can’t think of anything they could do to innovate slipcovers, but if there’s anyone that can do just that, it’d be Plain Archive. They’ve raised the bar for slipcovers after only a year. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for that exciting company.
How do you get those nasty stickers off of your slipcovers?
Ken: I’ve heard of Goo Gone and Ronsonol lighter fuel working, but I’m so skeptical about putting a liquid chemical on to my cardboard slipcover. I usually just try to peel a sticker away very carefully. If that doesn’t work, I’ll just leave it and try to ignore it.
Robert: Only used Goo Gone so far and it mostly worked for every slipcover I have owned.
G: I really don’t mind those stickers. It doesn’t bother me a bit.
John: I hate stickers, but I’m too afraid to put Goo Gone or something similar on my slips, so I either very carefully peel them off or if I see that it’s tearing or leaving a nasty stain, I just leave them on. If it’s a very old release, I won’t even try peeling it off. The horror…
In your opinion, which country is producing the best slipcovers at the moment?
Ken: Japan has released some nice-looking ones, but you usually have to be rich to collect Blu-rays from that country. I’ve been impressed with Korea’s output of slipcovers lately, too. My favourite country is probably still Canada, though. Alliance produced the best slipcovers during their day and when Entertainment One took over, they never missed a beat.
Robert: I still believe the US is the leader in terms of consistency of producing slipcovers. The UK slipcover art may sometimes be better, but the 14mm width is too much and the rating logos are an eyesore. Some Canadian slipcovers are also nice, but the dual-language on the cover kills it. Recently, Asian markets have been producing awesome and unique art for their slipcovers, but the cost and presence of foreign language on the cover art makes it a no-go for me sometimes.
G: Canada has some great ones. Korea is killing it with awesome slipboxes and the UK has some excellent alternative cover art. I think Thailand have some really, really good ones. The US have some good ones, but they’re usually pretty plain except for the Target exclusive THOR: THE DARK WORLD which I think looks great. The US should make more slips like that. Japan, in my opinion, has the best overall artwork.
John: The US puts out so many that in terms of percentages, they might not be the best, but when they do deliver, they really deliver! South Korea has been making some awesome slips lately. Plain Archive in particular have been knocking it straight out of the park. UK, Thailand and Japan are also favorites of mine, but perhaps my favorite would be Canada who’s still producing fantastic slips.
Slipcovers or slipboxes?
Ken: Slipboxes — if there’s a choice, always the slipbox. They’re sturdier and they protect the bottom of your Blu-ray case.
Robert: It doesn’t matter to me. My motto is a movie with a slip is always better than no slip at all.
Ken: I like that motto.
G: Like Rob said, it doesn’t matter slipcover or a slipbox with different cover art.
John: The artwork is always the most important thing if I’m choosing between two editions for a movie, but if they both have the same artwork then I’d go for the slipbox. Sturdier and a little classier I think.
Is there anything that you’d like to say to the Blu-ray collectors out there who don’t appreciate a slipcover?
Ken: Yeah… my name is ‘tridon’ on the forum. If you’re chucking your slips out, ship them to me instead. (Laughs) I called dibs!
Robert: Don’t throw them out and don’t hate on us collectors. Send the slipcovers to me.
G: Keep collecting. I’ll send you my addy so I can take care of those filthy, virus-ridden and nasty-looking paper sleeves.
John: My colleagues beat me to it. (Laughs) Besides that, I’d encourage all the movie collectors out there to stop by the slipcover section of the forum at Hi-Def Ninja and take a look at all the different artwork, finishes and flourishes that these wonderful cardboard slips we love so much have to offer.