Author Topic: DCD Hundred Acres by Beesley and Cthalupa Keycap Review - Vendored by Drop  (Read 419 times)

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Offline HubertThemad

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Hello everyone!

I was given the opportunity to start reviewing Drop keyboard-related items a few weeks ago, and the first item that I've been playing with is another of Drop's DCD (PBT dye-sub) "Cherry" profile keycaps - DCD Hundred Acres (abbreviated as DCD HA going forward), designed by Beesley and Cthalupa.

DCD HA Keycaps

DCD HA Desk Mats

I get no compensation or affiliate link/click/view "bonuses" or whatever. These are simply links to the listings on Drop's website.

While I enjoy making YouTube videos, I find that writing an actual review is very satisfying, at least for me, which is why I wanted to write and post one here! I'll link my YouTube review below too.

If you enjoy PBT dye-sub, can get the base kit at pre-order pricing ($49), or use a DKC coupon (I'll explain more about this further down) on top of retail pricing (or pre-order pricing), I'd say that it's very comparable to JC Studio/Leekbros or XMI. I'm not quite sure which blanks Drop use, and I'm not saying that DCD is on par with CRP, but in my opinion, it's a solid option, especially if you like the colorway or theme.

In this case, if you enjoy the Winnie-the-Pooh world.

Anyways, I'll leave you all with the YT link, and the written review. I appreciate you all, and please do not hesitate to ask any questions or ask me to test this or that. I'm not a professional keycap reviewer or someone who knows everything about the hobby, so anything that you'd like to compare or try out, I will gladly do so to the best of my ability!

Please be aware that the keycaps and desk mats are NOT currently in-stock items as of me posting this review (July 4th, 2024). They are expected to ship around September of this year (2024).

Drop sent me sample/pre-production units of the base, international, and novelties kits for free. However, I bought every single one of these sets again with my own money, and did so twice. I also did the same with all three variants of desk mats (3 variants). Basically, I bought 2 base kits, 2 international kits, 2 novelties kits, and 6 desk mats with my own money.

I will ALWAYS buy whatever Drop sends me with my own money to give away. Drop sends me a base, international, and novelties kit for DCD HA? I will buy a base, international, and novelties kit myself with my own money to give away. Not as a "content creator" give away, but more so, giving it away IRL to friends, family, or anyone (or any causes) that I believe may enjoy the gift(s)!

The reason why I did this twice with DCD HA, is because I want to give all three kits and all three desk mats to my friend, who loves Winnie-the-Pooh, and was super interested in getting into the keeb hobby, but also her daughter, who shares the same love of Winnie-the-Pooh (not a keeb enjoyer yet, but start em young! Haha).

This doesn't mean that I'll buy 2x of every item in the future, but I will always buy at least 1x of whatever items I am sent for free, because I don't want to get things for free.

I also was told to give my honest thoughts, and was given no script or advised what to cover or talk about in my reviews. There was no "send us the video and/or review before you post it" stipulation, no sort of monetary compensation, and no sort of "quota" or guidelines on what I had to do besides giving my honest thoughts on the keycaps and then sharing said thoughts in any way(s) that I saw fit.

YouTube Video Review:

YouTube Sound Test Comparison Between DCD, JCS, XMI, CRP R6 (I'd also suggest checking out the KBCompare link for easier listening):

Background Info:
I know not everyone that browses Geekhack is up-to-date with all the drama and/or vendor issues and general headaches seemingly starting with the Mechs and Co situation last year+, so I just wanted to touch upon the history of the Hundred Acres project.

Beesley and Cthalupa posted the IC for Hundred Acres in September 2022, and that time, the project was set to be vendored by Otakeebs/KBM. From the keycap sets to artisans, switches, and even a mouse and keyboard collab, when the GB started in January 2023, due to the nostalgic and cute nature of the project, a lot of people joined the GB.

Unfortunately, Otakeebs ran into financial and legal issues which resulted in those who joined the GB for whatever item(s) uncertain of if they'd get what they paid for.

To Beesley and Cthalupa's credit, they did the best they could with the entire situation to try and salvage what they could. This led to Drop stepping in and agreeing to manufacture the keycaps in their DCD profile as well as also creating the desk mats. While the rest of the items (I heard that LoobedSwitches can assist with the Honey switches, but haven't researched the switches personally) could not be salvaged, at least the keycaps and desk mats would be made thanks to Drop stepping in.

The previous GB joiners could get the DCD HA keycaps and desk mats for $1 and free shipping once the Drop DCD HA listing went live (June 27th, 2024). While not a perfect situation, it was somewhat of a satisfactory outcome for the original GB joiners that paid for the keycaps and/or desk mats. For those of us (like me) that didn't join the GB, it's currently at pre-order pricing for the next week as of posting this (July 4th, 2024) for $49 base kit, $25 novelties kit, $29 international kit, and $29 desk mat pricing.

Update post on Geekhack

I am a HUGE advocate for financial health and being smart with purchases. Please do not feel like you have to buy DCD HA in keycap or desk mat format before the pre-order window ends, because while the listings may show as "unavailable" after the initial pre-order window closes, it will re-open after a few weeks and will stay open until in-stock sales and fulfillment starts in September 2024.

Always make smart purchasing decisions, and never bankrupt yourself by buying things in our hobby. It's never worth it.

Drop Keyboard Club (DKC):
Don’t have FOMO and don’t feel like you HAVE to get DKC. I’m just saying that it’s an option. I don’t get money or a commission for every person that signs up for the DKC annual membership. The only reason that I bring it up is because I pay for it and use it.

For new members, it's $49 for the first two years (it’s normally $69 a year) of an annual membership that has many benefits such as drawings for free monthly giveaways, a few community channels on the Drop website itself, and other aesthetics and bonus points when you purchase items.

The BIG draw, at least in my opinion, is that it gives you a monthly coupon between $30 to $100 off your entire purchase. Each monthly discount has a 70% chance of being $30, 15% chance of $40, 10% chance of $50, 4% chance of $60 and 1% chance of $100. If your purchase total is less than $100, instead of a flat $30/$40/$50 or $60 off, it’s a percentage. So, for example, if you buy a desk mat that’s $30 and that’s all you buy, you don’t take $30 off of that. Since it’s less than $100, it’s 30% off, or $9 off, bringing the total to $21.

Well, it’s still not worth it! Even the retail prices of keeb items on the Drop website and a minimum of $30 or 30% off makes it too expensive. Well, here’s the thing. If something is ALREADY on sale (aka, not requiring a code to lower the price of), you can use the DKC on top of the sale price. For example, it seems like GMK WoB is randomly $89 instead of $110 right now since it’s on sale. You can use your DKC coupon on that $89 to make it even cheaper. Imagine if you had a 60% off coupon. If you lived in the US, right now, you could get GMK WoB for roughly $35 shipped.

Using a DKC on a full retail item is fine, if you want to do that. Me however? I use it on sale items to further lower the price. If it’s a situation where you need to use a coupon code (like the MT3 or DCX BOGO sales where you have to use a coupon like MT3BOGO or something), you cannot combine two coupon codes, so you can’t use the DKC on top of another coupon code.

However, given how often Drop puts things on sale, it’s pretty much a matter of time before a keycap set or some other keeb-related item goes on sale without needing a code, then you can use a DKC coupon on top of that. For me, I rarely buy anything without a DKC code. It is a one-time use each month, but you get a new roll for a $30/$40/$50/$60/$100 coupon (or percentages if your total is less than $100).

But this is NOT something you HAVE to do. $49 (or $69) a year is still money that can be used in other situations. As long as you use your DKC coupon twice a year, however, it’s worth it and balances out.

Not to mention, every now and then when Drop has promos that have you “open” new coupons every day for a set amount of days, one of those coupons is a $1 annual DKC coupon.  If you get that, it’s absolutely worth it. $1 for a year’s worth of DKC? At least for me, that’s worth it.

So keep that in mind as I discuss the price aspect of DCD Hundred Acres. The keycap sets AND desk mats are at pre-order pricing, which is less than retail. You can use your DKC coupon with the pre-order pricing to even lower the price.

Pricing Continued:
For someone that isn't in the hobby, or just new in the hobby, the retail pricing for the base kit ($79), international kit ($35) and novelties kit ($29) may seem super expensive, even IF you use a DKC coupon on top of it. However, for those individuals, typically, their purchasing decisions are predicated on how keycaps look. At least, when I first joined the hobby in 2017, all I cared about was how keycaps looked, and price. I didn't know anything about sound, feel, or even keycap manufacturers or knew that much about PBT vs ABS.

2017 Hubert would NOT buy keycaps for $79, regardless of them being DCD, GMK, or even OG Doubleshots. Honestly, I might've purchased the novelties kit, since if all I cared about was price and looks, $29 for novelties (Disney sold a 12-pack of Winnie-the-Pooh novelty keycaps themselves, which seemed to have sold well) would be something that I would've done.

Pre-order pricing? Definitely a buy for the novelties (since, again, all I'd care about is the price and if I liked the looks of the keycaps, which in this case, I would've since I grew up with Winnie-the-Pooh books and watching the VHS tapes). I'd definitely buy the base kit too, since even I was stupid and bought an HK Gaming keycap set for $40 back in the day without even knowing HK Gaming's reputation or anything other than "wow, I like this Pegaso colorway". I also stupidly bought QWER and ASDF keycaps for $19 in 2021 without research either.

So either as someone who isn't in the hobby or just recently joined the hobby, pre-order base kit and novelties would've been a buy, and for retail, buying just the novelties probably would've been what I would've done.

For an enthusiast? Again, this is my opinion, and in this hobby, we each have our own preferences. DCD at pre-order pricing (and a DKC coupon) compares favorably to JC Studio/Leekbros and XMI sets with similar kitting. Heck, I paid $70 shipped for James' XMI Vintage set when it ran. I enjoy JCS, XMI, DCD, and CRP. While I still regard CRP as the "best" PBT dye-sub in my collection, I think for the price and for the kitting, DCD is on par with JCS and XMI.

For someone that isn't a hobbyist, or someone that just recently joined, usually, purchases are based upon how keycaps look and their price, like I wrote about earlier. I won't say that EVERYONE has the same mind set, but I definitely did when I first joined the hobby. Price and aesthetics went hand-in-hand for me. Even if someone offered me BNIB GMK Greg for $79, I absolutely would not have bought it when I first joined the hobby, because I didn't even know what GMK was, or was focused on other than "that keycap set looks nice, how much is it?"

As an enthusiast, I know that buying clone PBT dye-sub sets of GMK designs for $100+ is obviously stupid. Now, I've attempted to use a caliper as well as a digital microscope to measure and compare my JCS Arabic, XMI Vintage, CRP R6 2551 HAD, and DCD HA kits below.

I'm not someone that's a huge stickler for the details as long as the price isn't outrageous, so for the pre-order prices of DCD HA, and even retail (given the use of a DKC for retail OR pre-order pricing), I see no problem lumping DCD with my JCS and XMI sets in terms of appearance. And while I obviously don't use keycaps under a microscope, I figured it may be a bit neat to look at the R1 1/!, R2 Q, R3 A, and R4 Z keycaps.

And even if my caliper measurements are off (they are a bit), hopefully they can show the difference between which keycaps are thicker than others.

To me, DCD passes the eye test, and I didn't see these samples have any problems like bolder legends than others, bleeding, inconsistent legend placement, and so on. As long as things don't change drastically from the samples to the production units, I give them a thumbs up and comparable to JCS. I did catch one issue with a duplicate sublegend on the international kit, but I quickly sent that feedback and it will be corrected to the correct sublegend for the production run.

Imgur link has the caliper pictures (me measuring the thickness of each keycap) and the below digital microscope pictures. Please note that the Q is the same color as the other alphas in the DCD HA kit. It's just the digital microscope not having enough light on when I took the picture that resulted in the Q looking like a darker color.

Imgur Link With Caliper Measurements & Digital Microscope Pictures

R1 1/! key (1.57mm)
R2 Q key (1.57mm)
R3 A key (1.69mm)
R4 Z key (1.61mm)

R1 1/! key (1.77mm)
R2 Q key (1.77mm)
R3 A key (1.69mm)
R4 Z key (1.72mm)

R1 1/! key (1.41mm)
R2 Q key (1.47mm)
R3 A key (1.45mm)
R4 Z key (a Y, but in German layouts, it's a Z, and it's in R4 profile for CRP R6 2551 HAD (1.37mm))

R1 1/! key (1.73mm)
R2 Q key (1.61mm)
R3 A key (1.63mm)
R4 Z key (1.66mm)

Control (Top to bottom XMI, JCS, CRP (two pictures. Grdst/Strg and Abbr), DCD

For me, CRP has the thinnest keycaps of the four, then XMI, then DCD, and then JCS having the thickest.

Keep in mind that DCD HA has a different font than JCS, XMI, and CRP, hence why it's not exactly "black" or as "bold" as the others. DCD Bird Jungle, another DCD kit I have, has legending and sublegending comparable to JCS.

I feel like whether it's someone who isn't in the hobby, someone who just joined, or someone who's an enthusiast, everyone can state whether a keycap is smoother or rougher than another. For me, this review section was the shortest as all four felt basically the same. CRP MAY be a bit smoother than the other three, and DCD MAY be a tad rougher, but nowhere near what I'd consider rough, and I can't definitively rank them accurately besides CRP probably being the smoothest.

For someone that isn't in the hobby, unless they are sensitive to sounds, I don't know if sound plays a huge role in selecting keycaps. Heck, I daily drove two Logitech G710+ with Cherry MX Blues and Browns with dry, rattly stabs for years without realizing it. They just sounded like keyboards! Well, the blues were louder, but besides that, sound was a non-factor.

For those that just joined the hobby, they might have been entranced by the foamy sound signature that PE foam and/or any other foams can give off. That, coupled with thicker keycaps, usually lend to that sound profile. Since none of these keycaps are DCS level of thin, I'd say that any of these four keycaps (DCD, JCS, XMI, CRP) will give off similar sounds when compared to each other during normal typing. If someone was going for a more muted and deeper sound signature, any of these four PBT dye-sub choices would be a recommendation over something thinner.

Feel free to check out the KBCompare link here to see if you can determine the differences! You can also hide and scramble the titles to guess. For me, personally, DCD and CRP may be a tad higher pitched than JCS and XMI, but for me during actual typing, they all sound pretty much the same.

Miscellaneous/Final Thoughts:
If you like something, don't feel like you shouldn't enjoy it. No matter what it is, your preferences are your preferences, and while you can get useful nuggets of information from other people's opinions, only you will know what you like once you've tried it out.

For me, I enjoy PBT Dye-Sub just as much as I enjoy ABS, with many JCS, CRP, XMI, DCD, GMK, KKB, DCS, JTK, and any other 3-letter acronymed sets you can throw out there. I was already deadset on buying and supporting DCD HA once I found out that Drop was stepping in to help salvage the project (see my comments on the Geekhack DCD HA post as well as the comments in the Bees Keys discord (or ask Beesley, Cthalupa, or Hoff if you don't believe me)), even before being asked to review the sample kits of DCD HA.

I think in a world where there are numerous PBT dye-sub options out there from various different vendors, DCD is a nice choice if you don't want to venture near the CRP range in terms of price, and are happy with JCS and XMI sets.

I appreciate all of you, regardless of if you read the whole thing, watched the entire video, or just parts. I'm just a dude that enjoys keyboards, and doesn't consider himself a content creator, professional, or expert in our hobby! I hope that I was at least able to help in some way, and I appreciate the opportunity to review DCD HA.

Again, please feel free to ask me to test them and/or compare them in any other way, and if I can, I will do so. Any criticisms too are also welcome, be it things I can improve on, or the keycaps themselves. I've already jotted down a lot of things that I've done incorrectly and will do better for upcoming reviews. Also, sorry about the rough formatting. I'll get better as I remember more about using this style of formatting. Very humbling haha.

Until next time!  ;D

DCD Hundred Acres (HA) on Taiwanese James'/Masjewerke's Muramasa and UK James' isOGR
« Last Edit: Sat, 06 July 2024, 14:16:55 by HubertThemad »