I never seem to have the best of luck when it comes to pre-ordering albums. My eagerly awaited CD and merch for Epica's The Holographic Principle ended up being shipped late and going to the wrong house. But having finally tracked it down, I opened it up to take a look!
I bought the special edition Earbook (for those unfamiliar with these, they are a 30cm book that hold 3 CDs) and a pair of leggings that feature the cover design. Let's start with the Earbook.
The packaging was a fairly solid cardboard box (a relief after the Retrospect DVDs shipped in a packet and got horribly squashed). Inside the Earbook is wrapped in plastic with a Nuclear Blast sticker, as you can see above.
Underneath, it's a stunning hardback book that will look great on display. The back cover shows you the tracklisting, with CD1 being the main album, CD2 being the bonus tracks (alternate versions of the songs in different styles) and CD3 being the entire album in instrumental. The CDs themselves are held nicely inside the front cover.
The design of the inside is equally great, featuring the lyrics in a readable font (unlike some I could mention), high quality photography of the band and more of Heilemania's artwork. It even contains the lyrics for the alternate versions.
On to the leggings... These came nicely folded in a plastic bag. The print looks great - but unfortunately the leggings themselves are not the most brilliant quality ever.
I ordered Small, which is my usual leggings size, and they are still baggy on me. If you do go for these, I'd probably size down from what you normally buy. They don't seem to be particularly tapered, instead sort of hanging off your ankles. The print lines up a bit weirdly when they're actually on your legs, and the material feels fairly nice but a bit thin and cheap. They're also very see-through...
My overall verdict? I'd definitely recommend the Earbook, but skip the leggings!