Unboxed: ‘Game of Thrones’ Seasons 1-2 SteelBooks

While many other studios have stopped releasing TV shows on Blu-ray at all, HBO has taken the bold step of reissuing the first two seasons of ‘Game of Thrones’ with newly remixed Dolby Atmos soundtracks and swanky SteelBook cases. The disc packaging, unfortunately, turns out to be a mix of some good ideas and some very bad ones.

First off, these aren’t just SteelBooks. Each case is enclosed in a plastic shell. While the shells are handsomely designed, they only open at the top and prying open the lids to get the SteelBooks out is kind of annoying. The shells are also very prone to showing off fingerprint smudges.

Game of Thrones SteelBooks Front

Game of Thrones SteelBooks Back

Once you slide the cases out, each still has a plastic tray resting on top of the front cover. This holds the “Collectible Sigil Magnet,” which is obviously based on iconography from the TV show. Each one represents the crest of a prominent family, Season 1 for the Starks and Season 2 for the Lannisters.

Game of Thrones SteelBooks - Plastic Trays

Game of Thrones SteelBook Magnets

With the trays and magnets removed, the same imagery appears in the center of each front cover. The artwork on the cases was designed by Elastic, the agency that created the show’s opening credits sequences. It’s a clever idea and looks nice.

Game of Thrones SteelBooks No Case

Game of Thrones S1 SteelBook Open

Game of Thrones S2 SteelBook Open

Where we get into trouble is after opening the SteelBooks. From the outside, you can tell that each case is a standard width used for SteelBooks that typically hold only one or two discs. Yet each season of the show comes with five Blu-ray discs worth of episodes. How do they all fit in there?

Sadly, the designers chose to stack the discs one on top of another onto just two hubs per case. Three discs are stacked on the left side and two on the right.

Game of Thrones SteelBook Inside - Discs Stacked

Game of Thrones SteelBook Inside - Discs Displayed

To be blunt, this is a terrible idea. The discs are extremely hard to pry off the hubs. I fear that I’ll snap them as I struggle to remove the discs. I’m also concerned about the bottom surface of each disc getting scratched while resting like this.

My immediate thought was to take most of the discs off the hubs and put them in paper sleeves. Unfortunately, the inside of the case is so tight that there’d be no room to store them that way. Inserting paper sleeves between the SteelBook and the outer plastic shell also looks pretty terrible. I have no choice but to either leave the discs on the hubs or take them completely out and store them somewhere else, which would of course defeat the purpose of this fancy packaging in the first place.

As an Atmos owner and someone who had never gotten around to purchasing the previous Blu-ray editions of ‘Game of Thrones’, I’m glad to have these new copies. However, I’m also very frustrated by the impractical design of the SteelBook cases. A little more thought and effort could have made this a much better product.

The SteelBook editions of ‘Game of Thrones: The Complete First Season‘ and ‘Game of Thrones: The Complete Second Season‘ will be released on November 3rd. Similar reissues for the third and fourth seasons have also been announced, but not yet scheduled for a release date.


  1. William Henley

    I wouldn’t be too concerned with the discs getting scratched. I am way more rough on Blu-Ray discs than I ever was on CDs, DVDs or HD-DVDs (the last of which you had to handle with extreme care – you looked at those wrong and they got scratched), and never so much as had a scratch. I leave discs sitting around all the time outside of their case – particularly television shows – the cases get put back on the shelf to keep the living room tidy, the discs get stacked up behind the television while I am watching them. Cat is always knocking them off, so at least once a week, and the apartment is so small, that in stumbling around, I am always knocking over discs, speakers, and a couple of times the television. Also have a few discs that the center hub is broke in some way and I open up the case and find the disc sliding around over broken plastic. Still no scratches. Point I am making – the anti-scratch coating required on Blu-Rays is VERY good.

    What concerns me here is how hard you are saying it is to get the discs off the hubs. I have had a few discs like that, and I know what you mean about feeling like you are going to break the discs (ahem – BTTF). That’s quite unfortunate.

  2. Even though the claim in Blu Ray is the scratch resistance, I have personally observed MORE playback issues. Probably due to data density. One speck of dust covers more data than with previous generation discs.

  3. Well in any case, I’m sure you’ll enjoy rewatching the first two seasons, Josh. I find Game of Thrones to highly rewatchable, especially if you can squeeze in more episodes per viewing session.

      • Josh Zyber

        Not me, sorry. I got the discs early and decided to take pictures of the packaging for our SteelBook collecting audience, but I’m not scheduled to review them.

        I would open them up again to take photos of the inside art, but that would require me to pry the discs off the hubs again and I’m wary of doing that too often.

        • timcharger

          I got an idea!

          You can pry them off once more and do both the picture-taking
          for the interior art and pop the discs into your player to test the

          Josh, you are in rare company. It is unusual that fans of the
          series that buy optical media, do NOT already own them. So for
          most of us, this would be double-dip. And any advice on the
          packaging and Atmos would be very helpful.

          • Josh Zyber

            Unfortunately, I wouldn’t be able to do a comparison with the standard 5.1, other than memories of the heavily-compressed broadcast audio. I also just plain don’t have any time to be rewatching the show right now.

  4. Timcharger

    Great pics, Josh. But one is missing. What’s the inner artwork like?
    (So I guess 2 pics are missing; inner artwork of each season.)

  5. timcharger

    Josh, no inserts right? Except for the digital copy code insert, right?
    There’s no episode guide? No insert foldout of maps, characters, art, etc.?
    Contrasted to the previous non-Steelbook editions that had stuff like that.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *