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scalable mass production of labeled wood checkers

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Anonymous

My first post, so bear with me. :)

There's this game my family invented back in 1982, it's a 2 player strategy game, with some (I think) unique quirks. Anyhow, I was idly thinking about how it might be produced.

One problem, it uses checker style tokens, 70 of them, with 14 different labels (obviously some appear more than once.)

Well the prospect of applying 70 labels to individual, say, tiddlywinks per game, is not appealing. The process needs to be automated. But how?

Also, I don't want to have to buy 10 million pieces to get a good price. So I need a process that's scalable from just a few units, on up. Or that would be nice.

I had one idea, but I'm not sure how feasible it is. I realized that if I slice the tip off a 1 inch dowel, that's pretty much a checker, right there. If I line up 70 dowels in parallel in a device made to hold them, then slize the tips off 70 dowels at once with a big band saw, then I just made 70 checkers with one cut. I figure I can get about 192 checkers out of a 4 foot long dowel, at about $0.02 per checker. But, the wood grain runs the wrong way, so I don't know if they will be good enough quality.

Then comes the labelling part. I need to be able to label them all at once. My idea on that was to print out the labels on a piece of paper in a pattern which matches the 70 dowels all lined up for cutting. Then sandwich the labels between two pieces of wood, (with metal facing). These two pieces of wood would have holes already drilled for the 70 dowels, the first piece all the way through, the 2nd about 1/8th of an inch deep. Then, I apply glue to the tips of the 70 dowels (all lined up in parallel) Slam them into the wood/label/wood sandwich, thus simultaneously cutting and gluing the labels on. Then remove the 70 dowels, run it through the bandsaw, and bam, 70 labeled checkers.

The above is probably not too clear, so here's a crappy picture I drew. (shows only 4 dowels, not 70, but the idea is the same.)

Not sure that image is working, if not, here's the url
http://www.geocities.com/smcameron/jig2.jpeg

I'm not at all sure that this would actually work though. Anyone have any other ideas how this might be accomplished?

jwarrend
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Joined: 08/03/2008
scalable mass production of labeled wood checkers

If you're thinking about having a company produce your game, I wouldn't worry too much about the details of implementation -- if they like the game, they'll find a way. If you're looking to self-produce, check out this thread and talk to Greg Lam (slam), who's done almost exactly what it sounds like you want to do (but without the woodshop class excercise!).

Good luck!

Anonymous
scalable mass production of labeled wood checkers

Well, that thread is interesting, especially caseyswood.com
Thanks for that link.

But, it still leaves me with the problem of figuring out how to apply 70 designs/labels onto 70 checkers per game.

Hmmm. Maybe a grid-box to dump the checkers into to line them up, and then a big giant branding iron to burn on 70 designs all at once. Seems kind of crude though. And hot.

Spending say 15 seconds to apply each label means that I would spend almost 20 minutes per game just applying labels. Seems too long. Ideally it needs to be like ripping a bandaid off, all one motion. And preferably less painful. :)

Anonymous
scalable mass production of labeled wood checkers

Well, if you think you're going to have 1000 immediate sales, then yes, I would tend to agree that you need to mass produce the game. Considering though, that you'd be doing this on a small-scale level... maybe 100... even "produce to order" you'd be ahead to not waste your time building an elaborate rig and just print some lables.

If your family designed the game... get them to help out.

Tyler

Torrent
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scalable mass production of labeled wood checkers

Depending on what you want to do with it, there is always the following sort of unpleasant choice. Just include a bunch of wooden disks and the label pages in the box. "Some Assembly Required". Most games have some setup when you first buy it. Buffy Board Game has stickers for blank dice, most games have trees that you punch out cardboard bits from. 70 Labels is a bit high, but probably not enourmous if it s a good game and not too expensive.

The other option is to see if you can get reverse labels. As in the sticky is on the outward side. So instead of picking off 70 labels and sticking them on,you just stick 70 disks onto the sticky side of the paper and pull ech one off. I've even seen some goo on Tv that you put on the back of a photocopy, let dry and then wet the paper to pull it off, leaving the copy image on whatever you stick it to. I don't know if it works to wood though.

Andy

Yekrats
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Joined: 08/11/2008
Re: scalable mass production of labeled wood checkers

TimeWarp wrote:
My first post, so bear with me. :)

There's this game my family invented back in 1982, it's a 2 player strategy game, with some (I think) unique quirks. Anyhow, I was idly thinking about how it might be produced.

One problem, it uses checker style tokens, 70 of them, with 14 different labels (obviously some appear more than once.)

It might be possible to find some company that would produce "wooden nickels" fairly cheaply. They are mostly used as industry tokens, but there's no reason they can't be used for a game. (I think Looney Labs did a game using this kind of thing.) I think it's also possible to have your custom design put right on the piece.

I was googling for these the other day. I googled for "custom wooden nickel" and found this place that does 1000 pieces for about $13 + $20 plate fee. I'm not sure if that price is good or not.

http://www.k-read.net/custom_woodennickel.htm

Best of luck. Shop around, and tell us what you find! :)

FastLearner
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Joined: 12/31/1969
scalable mass production of labeled wood checkers

Wooden nickels is exactly what I thought of, too. They might not be quite as thick as you want, but they come in several different styles.

Of course that's 14 setup fees...

-- Matthew

Anonymous
scalable mass production of labeled wood checkers

The wooden nickles is a great idea...

though... I read .128 as 12.8 cents per nickle, meaning that a run of 1000 would be $128 + $20 plate fee...

Tyler

Anonymous
scalable mass production of labeled wood checkers

Also, the wooden nickels are typically 1.5 inches in diam. A little too big (forcing my board to be bigger.) Plastic poker chips are about the same..

Custom brass tokens would be the ultimate, but are way too expensive. Man they sure would be cool though.

Another idea I was thinking, small melted colored glass blobs (like some "go" sets I've seen) with an impression pressed into them while they were still hot, But, melting glass seems . . . difficult. Hmm, but maybe plastic glass blobs or discs could be microwaved or baked just enought to soften slightly, then slam an impression into them., en masse. Still entails making a kind of die, somehow.

Bottle caps (like for homebrew beer) was aonther idea I had: I see a gross (144) for $2.25, but again, no labelling. Not sure how much custom printed caps would run. Also not sure I really like the idea of bottle caps, ( unless maybe it was a beer themed game. :) ) Maybe bottle caps could be embossed en masse as well.

Anonymous
scalable mass production of labeled wood checkers

I read a post once (maybe here, maybe not) from someone that included a link to a company that was producing "blobs" with images on the bottom... they were very akin to the glass beads people use as counters for anything and everything, except that you could chose their designs or have your own designs pressed into the bottom...

......I've spent the past 10 min or so searching, to no avail... maybe this will jog someones memory?

Tyler

Anonymous
scalable mass production of labeled wood checkers

Well, today, I bought some plastic discs, about one inch diam, red on one side, white on the other and some round labels, printed out some stuff on my inkjet printer. Wasn't too bad labelling them. The "some assembly required" method starts to look not too bad. Also, Ifigured out how to reduce my piece count down to 42 instead of 70 without changing the game. I realized that I can eliminate 14 pieces outright, and 14 more are supposed to represent "asteroids", so I went down to the railroad tracks, and, Eureka! picked up a bunch of pebbles of these wicked volcanic rocks, really super asteroid-y and alien looking, as good as anything I could have manufactured at any price. And totally free, just there for the harvesting. Well, some labor involved in hunting up ones of the right size, etc. But, still pretty cool.

Also printed up some artwork for the boards, turned out pretty cool, but being mostly black, (outer space theme) used up a lot of ink in my stupid ink jet printer :( Looking at the cost of the materials going into all this, mass production, or, more likely, manufacture-to-order one-off production and making enough of a profit to be worthwhile seems, well, a little farfetched. Even if each game were sold for 100% profit (if labor and materials were somehow magically free.) the number of games needing to be sold to make any kind of decent money seems pretty high. So, more than likely I will confine my "manufacturing" to just a few units for my immediate family, as gifts.

RookieDesign
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Joined: 12/31/1969
scalable mass production of labeled wood checkers

TimeWarp wrote:
The "some assembly required" method starts to look not too bad.

Just to let you know the game Empire Builder from Mayfair (a respectable company) have disk like poker chips for goods and have me label them all, about 150 of them. Once it's done it's done.

Oracle
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Joined: 06/22/2010
scalable mass production of labeled wood checkers

RookieDesign wrote:
Just to let you know the game Empire Builder from Mayfair (a respectable company) have disk like poker chips for goods and have me label them all, about 150 of them. Once it's done it's done.

I don't think there's much problem expecting the buyer to attach the stickers. The difficulty I see is pre-cutting the labels into circles to fit the pawns; there is no way you can expect the customer to do that. A die cutter will cut through the backing too, making it very hard to apply them.

http://www.rolcogames.com has 1" plastic interlocking poker chips for $151 for 5,000 (~3 cents each) or $375 for 25,000 (1.5 cents each).

They come in an assortment of colours, so maybe you can even use colour to distinguish them and not have to have labels all.

Jason

Anonymous
scalable mass production of labeled wood checkers

Oracle wrote:
[...] The difficulty I see is pre-cutting the labels into circles to fit the pawns; there is no way you can expect the customer to do that. A die cutter will cut through the backing too, making it very hard to apply them.
No problem there. I bought pre-cut circular labels at Office Depot, 1000 for $5, 28 to a sheet, and I can run the sheets directly into my printer. Takes about a minute to print up all the labels for one game.
Quote:

http://www.rolcogames.com has 1" plastic interlocking poker chips for $151 for 5,000 (~3 cents each) or $375 for 25,000 (1.5 cents each).
Yeah, that seems do-able, roughtly $1.00 per game for pieces. The rocks for asteroids are cool, but gathering them up and cleaning them might be too much labor. Though I already have enough for 5 or 6 games probably.

Quote:
They come in an assortment of colours, so maybe you can even use colour to distinguish them and not have to have labels all.
Hmm. I think I need to use colors to distinguish the players. Ideally, 4 colors, but 2 is really sufficient. So I think I need the labels.

Anyway, it appears that my "piece problem" is more or less solved, or at least appears solvable, if I want to seriously try this. Thanks guys. The boards, screens, and boxes are probably where the most money would have to be sunk, I guess.

BTW, the game in question is described in this thread if you didn't already see it.

slam
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Joined: 07/28/2008
scalable mass production of labeled wood checkers

Hi TimeWarp.

A later thread, which goes into more detail of what I'm doing, is here:
http://www.bgdf.com/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=743

A game I'm thinking of publishing involves 60 tokens, which I would create by using wooden disks and small labels that I can print on my home printer.

You might also think of creating 14 small custom stamps at your local Staples or Office Depot, then stamping your tokens.

Either method is labor intensive, but doable.

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