Now for the physical product. There are a number of extras in the box that I figured would be useful to me no matter what. Extra battle mat, cardboard miniatures, set of dice. The miniatures especially will helpful as I am still running my 4E-derived game, and my players love their tactical combats. They are heavy enough to feel like they won’t be falling over all the time during play, unlike anything I would be able to print out and make on my own. These were popular enough that Paizo is planning to release a standalone Bestiary Box this summer. The only downside is they did not include as many bases as minis, so you have to swap the bases around, which I imagine might wear out the cardstock after a while.
The box itself is very nice, and I don’t mean the cover art (though that is good too). It feels very sturdy, and is quite deep without being bulky. I might even start using it to transport my gaming materials as I have been trying to reduce the quantity of stuff that I bring to sessions. I like making arbitrary rules, so I give you THE PATHFINDER BEGINNER BOX RULE: everything needed for a gaming session must fit inside the Beginner Box such that it closes entirely. This includes notes, dice, campaign notebook, miniatures, writing implement, etc. It could easily fit a set of hardcover D&D core books in terms of the depth, but for some reason the dimensions are such that it is a bit too small (even for Pathfinder-branded hardcovers, which seems like a strange design decision).
If I was going to buy an intro RPG product for someone, and I thought they could handle it, I would buy them the LotFP Grindhouse Edition. The Pathfinder Beginner Box would be my second choice, I think, despite the risk of embedding the combat grid in a new player’s consciousness.