Spring is in the air and that means only one thing: cottage season is fast approaching! It’s almost time for good food and good fun with family and friends. For me, this means digging through my closet to find long-forgotten board games that only see the light of day during the summer months.
But what if you could create your own customized, professional-looking board game (as well as other custom cottage staples like playing cards and puzzles) to wow your friends and family? Below are a number of innovative products and companies who are making this level of print-on-demand for games possible.
The Game Crafter is a company established in 2009 and they offer the first web-to-print portal for print-on-demand board games. The website allows amateur game designers to create custom printed boards, boxes, booklets, score sheets, stickers, tiles, and decks of cards, as well as the corresponding non-printed tokens and pieces.
The website offers a myriad of different game components, making it easy to find the custom piece you need to make your game come to life. The company also offers free Illustrator and Photoshop templates for each unique component. Once your designs are ready to go, The Game Crafter will print your game with all of its components and if you decide that your game is worth sharing, you can choose to sell it directly on the site using the same print-on-demand model. Other users can purchase a copy of your game and review it for the community of “makers” on the site. The Game Crafter’s statistics validate the exciting possibilities in the custom game arena. The company has over 75,000 users (with approximately 2,000 more joining each month) and over 68,000 different games created using their service.
Bicycle is a household name in playing cards, but did you know that they also print custom decks? An exciting aspect of this service is that every graphic design aspect of the card (including the back, faces, finishes, and colours) can be customized. For larger quantity orders, even the packaging can be customized, including custom boxes, tins, blister packs, and velour cases. Specialty materials and finishing applications are also available from Bicycle’s Custom Division in the form of die-cut cards, printing on clear plastic, and gilded edges.
For a single print-on-demand product, Bicycle has partnered with Zazzle.com to bring high quality playing cards to those who want a more custom product for an event or gift. Zazzle.com provides an opportunity to customize the back of Bicycle playing cards with a variety of different faces to choose from. A search query of “customizable playing cards” on Zazzle.com returns over 71,000 results!
Check out this great video by Bicycle Cards to see how they print their decks: http://tinyurl.com/bicycleprint
Puzzlesprint.ca manufactures custom puzzles for personal and promotional purposes. They offer traditional cardboard puzzles (printed using HP equipment on Eska Graphic Board), as well as magnetic puzzles. Their products range in size from 4” x 6” to 27” x 38” and they range from 15 pieces to 2,000 pieces. In addition to the custom photo puzzle, the same photo will be printed on the outside of the box, adding a professional touch. Similarly, CreateJigsawPuzzles.com allows individual users to create custom puzzles that are more traditional in nature, as well as magnetic, 2-sided, custom shapes, lenticular, and plastic puzzles. Their products range in size from 3.5” x 5” to 19.75” x 28” and they range from 12 pieces to 1,000 pieces. The company allows for a custom-designed box and customers have the creative freedom to design the images themselves.
If custom 2D puzzles are not exciting enough for you, head over to Shapeways.com where you can purchase custom 3D-printed puzzles! These puzzles will make your brain work overtime, having been designed by other users on the site, and they are printed on-demand using a 3D printer. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can design your own 3D custom puzzle or hire a 3D modeler to make your idea a reality.
Whether it’s a new and unusual board game, custom playing cards, or a custom 2D or 3D puzzle, there is lots of creative, printed fun to be had this summer!