Protective Card sleeves in Australia, Are KMC Sleeves the best here as well?
I think as KMC gain popularity in Australia, the common question that will be arising is "Do I really need KMC?". You will see more people begin using these sleeves especially as you become part of the competitive arena of your favourite trading or collectible card game, but that doesn't necessarily mean that you should also buy into them without thinking about your actual needs and the costs involved.
KMC Sleeves like the ones we offer have become popular not because of their brand, but because of their quality, however they've always had the main issue that they're comparatively expensive to many other brands when shopped for in store and generally a lot harder to source within Australia, it's usually only small specialist hobby shops that stock these types of items in Australia because of their relatively low demand and niche market and realistically games will not expand quickly enough to support the brand to become mainstay anytime soon.
Prices in Australia - Online
I'd like to show you a quick, comparative search of the sleeves commonly available to you within Australia online, at the time of this blog post:
Ultra Pro 100 Pack "Deck Protector" sleeves (Various colours) - Mind games, $12.99 + P&H:
Ultra Pro 50 Pack "Deck Protector" sleeves (Various colours) - Good games, $6.00 + P&H:
Max Protection 50 Pack design sleeves - Games Empire Australia, $4.99 + P&H:
Legion Sleeves 50 Pack (Various designs and colours) - Games Empire Australia - $5.99 + P&H:
Dragon shield 100 Pack Regular/Matte - Good Games - $18/$20 + P&H:
KMC Sleeves Hyper Mat 80 Pack - West End TCG (It's us!) - $11.50 + P&H:
Surprisingly enough, KMC Sleeves which are touted for being the most expensive brand (Along with Dragonshield) are actually some of the most economical thanks to our store (To be quite honest, I didn't expect this to be the case as I began writing this blog). But that doesn't mean they're the cheapest at all.
Prices in Australia - Retail (In store)
When you factor in shipping and handling, a KMC pack will still be more expensive than the typical pack of Ultra Pro sleeves you can find at your local hobby store, I can give you this list of average prices off of my own experience in Australia:
Ultra Pro (Regular) 100CT - Retail Price: $12.00
Ultra Pro (Designs) 100CT - Retail Price: $14.00-15.00
Max Protection/Legion sleeves - Retail Price: $10.00-12.00
Dragon shield 100CT box - Retail Price: $17.00-$18.00
KMC Hyper Mat - Retail Price: $14.00-$15.00
On this list, you can see that KMC are actually on the upper end of the price range, and that Ultra Pro, Legion and Max Protection brands are considerably less expensive at times.
One of the downsides of 'shopping' for card sleeves is that most of us do it out of impulse or need, I've been victim myself many times of the desire of 'new sleeves' for that upcoming tournament or my brand new deck that I just put together. The reality is that when that happens, you will think about buying a pack of Dragon shield or KMC sleeves as a much bigger investment, and may end up with one of the other brands, which makes a lot of sense if you don't want to use up your budget too quickly. The other, more important reality is that when you're shopping for sleeves out of need or impulse, you will always be restricted to buying whatever is in stock at the time, and less common brands such as KMC Hyper Mat will often not be available to begin with, or in colours that you don't care much for.
Brand summary (Quick look)
However, when you're at home and have the time to do some online shopping, which brand would you really want?
There are quite a few reviews out there for different card sleeves, and most of them come down to the same conclusions which I will summarise:
Ultra Pro - Very affordable, decent quality, extremely fragile on shuffling and easy to scuff after little use. "Buy, use a few times and replace" type of sleeves.
Max Protection - Very affordable, very fragile, harder to shuffle. Overall a not great brand unless you're looking to spend less money, which is fine at times!
Legion - Very affordable (sometimes), very fragile, harder to shuffle, wide variety of designs on the back. Overall not great if you're looking for card protection, but a good option if you want your cards to stand out.
Dragon shield - Most expensive, extremely sturdy, backs are relatively easy to scuff as well as corners (Although they're trying to fix that with their new Matte line). These sleeves used to be the very best, until they changed ownership, ever since there's been a fair bit of uneven sleeves or badly trimmed edges (Although I hear that's stopped in the recent months); they are still considered great 'long term' sleeves.
KMC - Middle-Upper range in terms of cost, shuffle great, Hyper Mats are tough to scuff and the corners don't wear too much; not as sturdy as Dragon shield but will never split from shuffling. These sleeves are currently touted as the best quality sleeves in the market, and it also helps that they're the best to double sleeve with the best inner sleeves (KMC Perfect Size).
Simply put, if you don't have a big budget or really love the feeling of new sleeves then you should probably consider the less expensive brands; maybe you don't play that often, so your sleeves won't have to stand that much wear after all.
If budget isn't a concern, then you should definitely consider the best two brands available depending on what you prefer, as they will last you much longer and will usually only need to be replaced when you think it's time to rather than due to a sleeve splitting or being too damaged. Are you a fan of double sleeving? KMC is king. Do you just want completely indestructible sleeves? Aim for Dragon shield. Do you love shuffling? KMC again. Do you want some spare sleeves with your pack? Dragon shield.
I hope this has been a bit useful to you if you're residing within Australia; I figured another review on card sleeves would be unnecessary, especially with such great reviews already on Youtube; here's one that I have linked on most of my KMC sleeve items (I know, convenient right? But really, it's pretty objective and impartial!)