Product Review: Dragon Shield Matte Japanese Size Sleeves

The Dragon Shield Matte Japanese sized sleeves are considered by many to be one of the best sleeves for the Yugioh TCG. The choice of sleeve can be a polarizing topic in the TCG community in general, so knowing what sleeves are out there is valuable information. These Dragon Shield sleeves are sized specifically for small cards such as Yugioh and Cardfight!! Vanguard. They come in a variety of colors such as black, white, purple, slate, copper, silver, and more.

In terms of composition, they are acid and PVC-free, made of 120μm polypropylene, measuring 59x86mm. They have a textured matte back and a clear front. They cost approximately $7-8 depending on color and come in boxes of 60 (although there are usually 1 or two extra). I have been using the black sleeves for 5 weeks now and recently bought a set in copper to prep for this review. Here is my breakdown of these sleeves:

Aesthetics

Sleeve color is as advertised, which I value. I hate ordering a product online only to receive it and be met with a color that is slightly off from what is advertised. If I order black sleeves, I want sleeves that will absorb every wavelength of visible light, not some dark grey sleeves. To my delight, my black sleeves are blacker than the hearts of True Draco players. My fresh copper sleeves are reminiscent of dull pennies, just without Lincoln’s face. The matte finish has a bit of a shine when hit with light at a certain angle, but absolutely no glare.

Some sleeves sport a matte front and matte back, but Dragon Shield has opted for a matte back and a glossy front. This is a decision I can appreciate quite a bit. Matte fronts tend to dull the sheen of a foil card. Why play the blinged-out print of a card if you can’t see it shine properly? While I recognize that matte front vs glossy front is a matter of personal preference, I have to make note of how good of a glossy front these sleeves have. Should you prefer the glossy front, you’ll love the clarity of these sleeves. Pop your prismatics in here and let them sparkle.

The only knock on the aesthetics of these sleeves is that they tend to accumulate dirt and dust with relative ease. This isn’t so much a problem with the looks of the sleeve as it is a problem with my playing environment. As such, I cannot fault the sleeves too much for this problem. I enjoy how these sleeves look and am happy with how they display my cards. 

Feel

These sleeves shuffle very smoothly and quickly. They move even better after some use. I typically use overhand and pile shuffling. Overhand shuffling tends to be easily bogged down by sleeves sticking to each other. To my delight, these sleeves facilitate overhand shuffling very well. When in hand, the matte finish is textured and provides some grip. The glossy front is slick and doesn’t stick to your finger the same way other glossy fronts may. When thumbing through the deck for a search there are no problems with cards sticking. This eliminates a momentary state of panic over your lost card that’s just stuck to the back of another card. A product that saves me from producing an audible gasp and subsequent heart palpitations is a product I can recommend. 

Durability

I have yet to experience any issues with the durability of the sleeves during regular play. They have been fairly rugged and devoid of any tearing or splitting so far. One could easily attribute their ruggedness to their 120μm thickness. Boi these are thicc. The size of the sleeve provides a small amount of space between the opening of the sleeve and the top of the inserted card. Having this little buffer space makes the card less prone to slipping out of the top of the sleeve and getting damaged. I have used other sleeves that lack such a space and have had cards get slightly damaged at the top. The reason for using card sleeves is to protect your precious shiny cardboard, so sleeves that fail to do so are quite frustrating.

As far as non-regular play goes, I have tried to split the sleeve by inserting my index fingers into the top of the sleeve and pulling the front from the back. I split the sleeve at one seam on my first attempt with an astonishingly low level of effort. However, a subsequent attempt to do the same thing was met with far more resistance from the sleeve. This may be indicative of infrequent sleeve-to-sleeve variances in durability. Other critics who have reviewed this product note the same issue and agree that it is disappointing but also uncommon.

Price

I picked these up from my local shop for $6.99, which is a bit cheaper than most online options. Prices listed on popular online vendors of trading cards and supplies vary depending on the sleeve color. The black and white sleeves tend to cost more than the other colors and are closer to $7.50. These sleeves are not cheap but also are not outrageously expensive. They are definitely worth their cost, supplying a premium feel at a premium price.

Conclusion

Really good products for proper prices excite me. The Dragon Shield Matte Japanese sized sleeves are one such product. They provide a superior feel and function, a high-quality look, and all for a competitive price. As quirky as this may sound, I appreciate that little space at the top of the sleeve. I feel that this aspect of the sleeve is something that may be overlooked as it may be a solution to a niche annoyance, but it is my niche annoyance. These are my sleeves of choice until something else can change my mind. I would recommend these to anyone searching for: a matte sleeve with a glossy front, a durable sleeve, a sleeve that has a premium feel, or all of the above.

(Please do note this article is not sponsored)

Spankratops

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My favorite archetype is dinosaurs. Pankratops or die babyyyyy.
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