Review: Noj Slovenia - BCE Stage 2

MGT88
  • Intro:
    • I'm going to lay the praise on thick, so be prepared.
    • I recently ordered/received a set of the "Best Chessmen Ever" from Noj Slovenia, and while I know that they are already highly regarded in the chess community (they seem to be the Ferrari of handmade chessmen), I just felt compelled (like it was my duty) to promote this wonderful company and their incredible work.
  • Link to the set I purchased:
  • Set review:
    • The pieces are absolutely beautiful; the craftsmanship, attention to detail, and quality of the pieces are far beyond my expectation; they are a true work of art, and are definitely world class. Heavy, impossible to tip over, and definitely handmade; Noj sent pictures of the set being made, and I could smell fresh cut wood when it arrived. I could go on, but I think you get the idea. While the pictures (below) look great, I'm not sure they really do the set justice, especially when it comes to the knights; there is just something about the knights that keeps your eye trained on them, and you just feel compelled to handle them. I own a Zagreb set from HoS, and while it is nice, it is not even in the same ballpark as this set.
  • Company review:
    • A father and son(s) operation, who have a deep passion for their craft and truly care about delivering a high quality product.; Gregor Novak (the owner) is very easy to deal with, accommodates customer requests as best he can, and simply offers great customer service. I feel that, for the product Noj produces, their prices are probably a little low, because I don't see much room for profit considering the amount of labor/materials that go into their work (yes, I'm aware that 500-600 euros is not a small sum of money). You can spend $400-500 US on a mass-produced set from HoS (complete with glue stains and other defects), or spend $500-600 US on a handmade set from Noj...there are not many companies out there doing the kind of work Noj does, so I am happy that I could support them with this purchase.
  • Pictures (because that's all you really care about!):
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magictwanger

Very nice set.I hope you get much pleasure from them....Maybe win a couple of games with them too,except if you ever play me.....-happy.png

MGT88
Youarereallyquitebad wrote:

This reads more like an advert rather than an honest review. Why mention the company father son -dynamic and how little money they make off each set?

 

As I said in my post, I'm making this review to praise/promote Noj out of goodwill; I am very pleased with the set and my experience with the company, and simply want to promote them for this reason. My intention was not to mask a "review" as a promotion, and I thought I was pretty clear about that in my write-up (I say I felt compelled to *promote* the company in one of the first few lines; come on man). I mention the father-son dynamic and cost, because of my experience with the much more "corporate" HoS (a queen was missing, some of the pieces had glue on them, I was mislead about a box I purchased, customer service was not great, piece quality was not great); the nature of the company you're dealing with is important, especially when you are spending this kind of money. With Noj, it seems like quality takes priority over profit to some degree; with HoS, it feels like the opposite. I think HoS is good if you are looking for a "beater" type set (that will see alot of rough use), and their quality is decent in the $200 and below range, but I would never buy a more expensive set from them, given my experience (and what I have read from other HoS reviews).

maik1988

that pretty much sums up my experience with them as well. I own 2 sets from them, actually 2 versions of the same set, and while it was definitely a chunk of money to spend on pieces, every time I analyse, set up tactics on my board or play a game, I feel fortunate and privileged to handle them. The board goes slightly better with walnut pieces but I know that board and it's a very solid choice. Enjoy your set!

Rsava

Absolutely stunning set. 

I am not a huge fan of the design, although I do like it somewhat.

But the craftsmanship is incredible and I love the addition of the stainless ring at the base. 

My only complaint about the board is the gloss. I think the board matches the set well. 

 

Overall a truly magnificent set. 

 

(I also love this line in your "review" -

  • I'm going to lay the praise on thick, so be prepared.

Nothing like a little honesty to start things off!)

 

MGT88

Thanks for the replies; just to clarify again, I’m relatively new to luxury sets, and nowhere near qualified to give a review; it’s also not my intent to “show-off” (I’m not an active member on these forums); Gregor and Noj have just treated me so well, and I am so pleased with the product, that I really do just want to post a little advertisement for them; hopefully this post will result in a few more BCE orders for them! Regarding the board; it is used in most of the Noj pictures (on their website) of pieces with black-stain (including this BCE 2 set), so, while pleasing to my eye, I also assumed that the combo of shades was “correct” (for Noj to use it in their promo pictures). I’m curious to know why some think the shades are off; the board is an Ulbrich, and it is not too expensive ($100-150 range), so no need to spare my feelings! I’m not looking for validation, just curious to learn more about piece and board combos.

MGT88
Another reason for this post; I am a businessman (slave at a large corporation), however, I always wanted to be an artisan/craftsman of some kind (to build or produce something); I was very good at drawing and so forth, and almost went to school for architecture, but copped out and went for business...I am now a patron of the arts, and I think it’s important to support companies like Noj who produce beautiful objects, like chessmen, for us to enjoy.
cgrau
I think the set looks great with the board. Congrats!