CategoriesSupplier Profiles

Studio Ann Carlton – Supplier Profile

Even a chess set can take you places if it is manufactured like a work of art. SAC chess sets are a sight to behold. The UK based company is world famous for their amazingly themed chess sets. The fact that their most famous products are licensed was enough for us to choose them as one of our suppliers. SAC also happens to be our main suppliers for themed chess sets.

SAC – a History

SAC, or Studio Ann Carlton, was first established in 1969 in Hull, Yorkshire. Traditionally all of their products were manufactured in the UK. However, in 2003 the company was sold to Traditional Games and some of their manufacturing was moved to China, with design and development remaining in the UK. In fact, all SAC line poly resin chess sets are currently being manufactured in China while their wooden chess sets are produced in India. Needless to say, SAC chess sets literally travel the whole world before they are ready for distribution and purchase.

The quality of each set has remained intact throughout the manufacturing process. It shows too. Most of their chess sets were recently introduced and exhibit the skill and craftsmanship that is typical of the sculptures of Studio Ann Carlton.

Themed Chess Sets

Nearly all SAC products exhibit historical characters and settings. The chess sets are designed according to a broad range of themes depicting significant events in history that changed people, cultures and civilizations. Some sets are also designed around famous fictional characters and stories like Alice in Wonderland or Sherlock Holmes.

The amount of research that shows is also astounding. In fact, themed chess sets from popular fiction and media have been designed according to how they were introduced commercially. For instance, the figures from SAC’s Sherlock Holmes chess set are based on the original illustrations that appeared in the “Strand” magazine in 1890.


What makes SAC Chess Sets Special?

To say that every SAC chess set is a work of art is almost an understatement. All of the pieces are handmade and are finished with traditional brown or cream colours. Each piece is also sculpted and painted with painstaking detail. Many of the chess pieces are composed of ground stone which is in turn cast and fired thereby making SAC sets some of the most durable sets around.

A work of Heart

Unlike traditional factory made chess sets, the sculptured pieces themselves take months to complete in the hands of an SAC craftsman. Creating the chess sets has more to do with ensuring that the characters are anatomically correct from the sandaled toes to the top of a tiara. Extra care is taken to ensure historical accuracy where appropriate.   The figures are also put through various casting processes until the production moulds are created without having to lose any of the detail.

We receive a lot of orders for chess sets from this company and it is easy to see why. The timeless skill of Studio Ann Carlton artists have been refined to perfection and are enough to make the company one of our best suppliers for themed chess sets.


CategoriesChess Reviews

Lord of the Rings Chess Set Review

Although I’ve watched and really enjoyed all three of the Lord of The Rings films, I’m not the biggest LOTR fan in the world and I must confess that I haven’t read the books. As you can imagine I was a bit surprised when I was asked to review this Lord of the Rings Chess set produced by Studio Anne Carlton, but here goes….Lord of The Rings Pic


This themed chess set is based on the first film in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy; The Fellowship of the Ring and is officially licensed by New Line Cinema, who I understand are the producers of the LOTR films.

The set consists of 32 pieces each representing a bust of a character from the Fellowship of the Rings story and comes bundled with a lovely dark wood chessboard.

All of the pieces in the set are hand painted, with 32 pieces in total (no spare queens I’m afraid) – each piece is made from crushed stone.

The chessboard that comes bundled with the pieces measures approximately 55cm x 55cm. The largest of the chess pieces themselves (the king) is approximately 11.5cm tall.

Unboxing and First Impressions

unboxing lotr chess set
Unboxing the Chess Set!

I wasn’t really sure what to expect with this themed set, although there are some lovely themed chess sets out there, I haven’t been too impressed with some of the cheap ones that I’ve seen in the past, especially from China.

The pieces come packaged in a lovely SAC (Studio Ann Carlton) box, which has a medieval style typeface and the box is a combination of yellow and red. There is no mention of Lord of the Rings on the outside of the box (I’m not sure if it is generic) but it does have a feeling of quality about it and the lid slips off very easily.

Inside we’ve got an information sheet printed on both sides; giving us some background on the Lord of The Rings, and each of the characters that have been used as pieces in the set.

After removing all the protective foam, we’re left with two trays each containing 16 chess pieces for each side of the board, both black and white.

Predictably SAC have chosen to represent the LOTR white pieces with the good characters from the story (Gandalf, Galadriel etc) and the dark/evil characters are represented by black pieces.

SAC Chess Box
The SAC Box

One of the first things that I picked up on was that this Lord of The Rings set uses busts of the characters rather than an entire figure. This works surprisingly well and in my view helps to bring together the concept of a film and a traditional game in a way that isn’t tacky. I don’t think I would have any hesitation in having these pieces on display in the same way that I would with traditional pieces.

One of the things that I did notice with the SAC packaging is that because of the size of some of the chess pieces (i.e they are big) they do fit rather snuggly into the trays in the box. This is only a small issue, but SAC could look at tweaking the tray sizes to improve on this.

Moving on to the board, again it’s nicely packaged. It looks as though this has been produced by a manufacturer in Spain and has obviously been paired with the pieces by the supplier (in this case Regency Chess). This seems to be normal practice as chess boards and pieces aren’t always produced by the same company.

Opening the board up it is a lovely dark wood/light wood mix. It is a veneered board and the wenge/maple wood is a good contrast with a nice clean finish. No problems here, initial thoughts are that it is nice quality and matches the price bracket of the pieces.

Closer Look: The Lord of the Rings Pieces

As I mentioned above, each of the pieces represents a bust of a character from the Lord of The Rings. Here is a list of the pieces that SAC have used:

Sam Chess PieceWhite Side (Good)

King – Gandalf the Grey
Queen – Galadriel
Bishops – Aragorn
Knights – Gimli
Rooks – Frodo Baggins
Pawns – Samwise Gamgee

Black Side (Evil)

King – Saruman the White
Queen – Ringwraiths
Bishops – Lurtz
Knights – Orc Overseer
Rooks – Moria Orc
Pawns – Orc

I’m incredibly impressed by the level of detail and I really like the hand painted finish, which looks fantastic (especially with the white pieces). The dark side is also intricately detailed and some of the characters are borderline scary!

Weight-wise the pieces range from about 66 grams for pawns to 132 grams for the kings. This is a nice weight for these types of pieces and adds to a general feeling of quality about the chess set. Because the pieces are made from crushed stone the weight comes from the actual material rather than artificial weights, which is great.

Lord of The Rings inscription
Lord of The Rings inscription

On the bottom of the pieces I noticed that they all have ‘The One Ring’ Inscription (another nice touch) and the bottom of the pieces are properly felted to protect the board from scratching.

The pieces range from about 5/6cm high for the pawns through to 11.5cm for the kings.

Closer Look: The board

Returning to the board – The one supplied with this Lord of the Rings chess set is a dark wood, light wood mix and manufactured by Rechapados Ferrer – based in Spain. From what I’ve heard Ferrer specialise in producing mainly veneered boards and this one is about 13mm thick and approx 55cm x 55cm.

Lord of The Rings Chess Board
Maple Winge Chess Board

Whilst I do like boards manufactured from a solid piece of wood, the price can often be a drawback. These veneered boards offer a good compromise between quality and value – and this one is beautifully made. Another advantage with veneered chessboards is that they are much more stable and much less prone to the cracking often associated with solid wood. Unlike solid boards each one is identical and free from the defects / variations associated with completely natural wood.

I think this is a fantastically made board that pairs perfectly with the SAC chess pieces.


I was initially a little concerned as to whether we would be able to remember which characters represent which pieces when we started to play. This has always been something I’ve wondered about with themed chess sets and we did have to refer to the information sheet to help us get us started, but after about 10 minutes of play we soon found our feet and ultimately this didn’t pose a problem.

Chess Pieces
Lord of The Rings Chess Pieces

In the past I’ve been on the fence in terms of themed chess sets, I’m a big fan of the traditional Staunton style and I’ve often struggled to see the value in themed pieces. This Lord of the Rings set seems to have converted me – the pieces are beautifully crafted and I like the Spanish chessboard that Regency chosen to match the chess pieces.

In summary – I think this set makes both a beautiful display piece and a chess set that can be used day to day. It gets my thumbs up and makes an ideal gift!!

Review by Daniel Edgebrook

The Lord of The Rings Chess Set is Available Here

2018 Update: The pieces in this set have been discontinued due to the demise of SAC and the expiration of the LOTR license. The Regency Chess Company have a VERY limited number of ‘New Old Stock’ sets left in stock which are available for sale on our website.

CategoriesNew Products

New Range Of Garden Chess Sets Now Available

We are delighted to be writing this post in the middle of a heat wave. 2012 has involved a lot of waiting when it came to the summer weather, but it seems that it’s here at last. As if the timing couldn’t be more perfect we have just launched a range of four outdoor chess sets.

These sets are all high quality, weather proof plastic models in eight, twelve, sixteen and twenty four inch (king height) variants. The twenty four inch set is an epic chess set with a board that spans ten feet across. The board is sectional and ideal for the lawn while the pieces can easily be filled with sand or water to weight them down during windy summer days.

We have sourced these sets directly from the manufacturer and cut out the UK based middle man. This means we are able to offer you the best prices on outdoor and giant chess sets.

Giant Garden Chess Set
Our largest Giant Chess Set




CategoriesNew Products

New Dal Negro Backgammon Sets In Stock Shortly

The Regency Chess Company is famous for selling chess sets. But it’s always worth remembering that we are the UK’s biggest stockist of backgammon sets. We stock the famous names in Backgammon including the legendary Dal Negro sets. Dal Negro need little introduction as one of the worlds most famous producers of high quality wooden games. Their company started in the 1700s, so to say they have heritage would be an understatement.

During the last 12 months they have completely changed their range of backgammon sets, during the transition they stopped making wooden sets which meant we were unable to supply them for a few months. They have just released three new models however, and as the UK’s best stockist of Dal Negro sets we are about to add them to the website.

Whats surprising is that Dal Negro have managed to increase their level of quality and finish on these new sets compared to their old ones. The standard of finishing on the wood is amazing, the construction solid and the weight and feel is what you would expect from such a top end luxury product. The only thing that we feel lets these sets down is the dice. They are good quality, but not amazing quality like the rest of the set. Keen players may wish to upgrade their dice. We will of course be feeding this back to the company.

CategoriesNew Products

Manopoulos Backgammon Sets Now In Stock At Regency Chess

The Regency Chess Company is very proud to introduce a brand new supplier to our ranks. Manopoulos are based in Greece and have been manufacturing finely crafted wooden products for over twenty years. A family run company with in house production and an obsession with quality and design.

One of the things we loved so much about their backgammon sets was the amazing variety of rich hardwoods on offer. The company isn’t resting on their laurels or heritage, instead they create new products every year and strive to further improve production and quality. We have high hopes for the range of backgammon that Manopoulos are supplying and expect them to form an essential part of our Backgammon selection.

Before I sign off there should of course be a mention of the amazing Greek chess sets coming from this superb brand. With pieces and boards made from solid metals with amazing lacquers and antique style finishes. When we have finished selecting the sets we plan on stocking, we will have a small but excellent range of fine Greek chess sets for your perusal. Check out the current range of Manopoulos products here

Backgamon Set

CategoriesNew Products

Tournament Chess Equipment Now Available From Regency Chess Co.

Tourament chess supplies

Since 2008 The Regency Chess Company have become established as the UK’s number one retailer of high quality and luxury chess sets. We have imported luxury sets from all over the world and gained a solid reputation based on the high quality of our products. 2012 however sees us move into a new niche, that of the mass produced tournament chess equipment. Our obsession with quality still applies of course, which is why we sourced a range of very high quality, tournament grade plastic chess sets and boards.

Our bulk purchasing power means we can offer these sets to you at very competitive prices and clubs and schools can buy at the best possible price when they purchase quantities of more than five sets. To keep things simple we have added bundle deals to the website that allow you to buy in bulk and make significant savings. All of these sets are stocked in large volume in our warehouse in Frome, Somerset.

For those of you who require custom orders get in touch via phone or email and we can price up what you need. Check out the new category here