Equipment Review: The P-40 Set
Shopping for a nice backgammon set? Looking for something you’d be happy to take to a tournament or use in your local chouette? Your search just got a lot easier.
It used to be the case that if you wanted to step up from your old cheap bottom-of-the-line set from China, you had three price points to choose among.
The first was a set in the $300 to $600 range, usually manufactured in Europe or South America. Nothing flashy, but serviceable.
The second was a custom-made set from a good craftsman that would set you back about $1,200. The case would be wood; the inside surface, cloth or ultrasuede. You could pick your own colors for the checkers and the playing surface, although your choices might be a little limited.
If price was no object, you could go for the third option: a custom-made leather set from one of a handful of European specialty manufacturers. Here the price would be a hefty $3,500 to $5,000, but you’d have a leather set that was a real work of art and a joy to play on.
Now, however, some good old American know-how coupled with the latest in computerized precision manufacturing has given you a fourth choice: the P-40. No, it’s not a vintage World War 2 fighter plane. It’s a gorgeous, totally customizable backgammon set unlike anything you’ve seen before.
The cabinet box is a sleek aluminum frame. The playing surface is a washable synthetic that won’t fade over time, with over 32,000 possible colors for the pips and playing surface. The checkers have a rich-looking pebbled surface and are available in 11 different colors. The checkers have aluminum rims (for an easy grip) and can be silver or black, with a chrome or matte surface.
The large doubling cube can match your chosen color scheme and one side slides back to hold your precision dice. You can replace the ‘64’ with a custom logo or your initials if you wish. Lipped cups and precision dice are included.
The most amazing feature, however, is the price. At $825, it’s just 2/3 the cost of a custom-made set, and 80% less than one of the expensive European leather sets. Truly an incredible bargain.
If all this wasn’t enough, you can add some extra enhancements for a few more bucks. There’s a custom baffle box (called a ‘scrambler’) that fits smoothly over the edge of the board. The playing surfaces can be easily swapped out for replacement surfaces in new colors if you get bored with your old layout. If you like to play chouettes, there’s a special chouette cube. One surface of the cube is a little door. Slide it back and out fall four little cubes, perfect for a multi-player game.
When the set was recently unveiled at the 2016 Las Vegas Open, the initial manufacturing run of 100 sets sold out immediately. I ordered my set shortly afterwards and I’m delighted with the incredible quality and the marvelous tactile feel of the checkers. I’ve retired my old custom-made set that I played with for 25 years, and I’ll be happily taking my P-40 to future tournaments.
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