Mint Tin Mini Apocalypse label challenge

As a game maker I do lots of assembly at home for the games we* publish.

With the current first pair, Mint Tin Pirates and Mint Tin Aliens, a big labor point is the labeling (second printing in full swing).

I don’t mind it but it’s slow at about 70 an hour and, because I use distilled water in the process, I think they should dry overnight. Since they have to be out where a fan can blow on them, I use the dining room table and can only fit 140 at a time, but that’s part of what defines them as maker movement or kitchen table industrialism (literally!).  =)

For the next Kickstarter, I’d like to do a pair of games again. It offsets the shipping cost and provides a better value for backers. It costs the same to ship one as it does two . . .

One of those games is close to hardcore-legit-outside-play-testing and I’d like those copies to be close to the final version. This allows play testers to concentrate on game play and not wonder what the final this or that will look like.

For this game, Mint Tin Mini Apocalypse, there’s an extra challenge of being in a mini mint tin. The current labels I use, from MOO of Rhode Island, are exterior grade vinyl that fit fairly well on normal-sized mint tins but MOO doesn’t have a smaller rectangular one. They do have 11⁄2 inch circles and that could work, but. . .

 . . .rather than settling, maybe I can do better?

My tin supplier can do embossing and lithography, but only for runs of 10 to 20,000! Apart from the massive quantity, they cost more than the current hand applied label and tin (I don’t count anything for my labour – I’d just be watching TV anyway). I’d rather keep the price down, if I can keep a consistent and decent look.

After all, a game box (or tin) affects game play by setting expectations and reinforcing the game’s theme.

Could I emboss these myself?

It just happens that you can have hardened steel hand stamps custom made!

But what about color and fine print? o_O

Well, color would be out (I looked at two color rubber stamping for industrial purposes but wasn’t moved by it). And the fine print? The stuff like don’t let 3 years olds eat meeples and this game is for 2 players?

That won’t fit on such a tiny surface (13⁄4” x 11⁄4” usable space) and can be included as a piece of paper or maybe the MOO circle label could be on the back with that info – as a utilitarian, rather than design, piece.

The custom hand stamps are awesome but I’m stamping very thin steel, so do I need something that heavy duty?

Nope, well at least I don’t think so.=)

I’ve had 3D printed stainless steel and sterling silver done by Shapeways in the past and both are very durable. Turns out I can do a stainless 3D plate for this game for $50!

No need to have tins dry overnight and never worry about running out of labels.*thumbs up*

I made the following 3D file and for $6 I’m having a plastic one printed to see about its size and detail (I bet the holes in the letters don’t show up in the tin – too small). I’ll blog about it when I get it in a few weeks.

Hmm, 18K gold for $7,000 or platinum for $16,000? Now those are kickstarter rewards! =)

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas! =)

* –  we = (Kate & I) times the most fantastic backers2 in the world! =)