Monday, October 12, 2009

Do-It-Yourself Monopoly

I was looking for a great low-budget gift idea for my boyfriend's recent birthday. Metallica tickets wouldn't work - not only was the concert the day I had to shoot a wedding, it certainly didn't qualify as low-budget. I did a scavenger hunt last year, so I couldn't reuse that one quite so soon. I racked my brain and suddenly found an inspiration - a custom Monopoly game! Monopoly is pretty much the only board game he'll play, and it is definitely the only one he owns. I wish I could claim this idea as all my own, but I remember being in high school and one of my friends created a custom Monopoly board and I thought it was just about the coolest thing ever. And a little online searching revealed that he was not the first to think of it either. So armed with inspiration and a good idea, I had to figure out how to execute it. I'm writing this blog post in hope that my efforts will help inspire and guide other people out there because there aren't a whole lot of resources for this!

So my search started online, where I did find a Monopoly kit (Make Your Own Opoly) you can buy and customize (somewhat) to make it work for you. After looking into it a bit, I found that it was much too limiting for what I wanted. Not only are the cards different sizes from the originals, the whole board is different. It has only 9 spaces on each side of the board instead of the traditional 11. Lame. I also came across Hasbro's option for custom Monopoly - My Monopoly - where you can create your own Monopoly board online and they print it all and send it to you. Which seemed promising, until I saw the price tag and the fact that they ship to UK addresses only.

It was back to square one - I decided had to do it myself. I began looking for a template online... something to save me a bit of time so I didn't have to completely recreate the whole board from scratch. And I found a brilliant one, from a dude who had done the same thing I was aiming to do as a Christmas present. It was pretty much exactly what I was looking for, but I still had to make all my modifications. The template was a layered Photoshop document, sized to actual Monopoly dimensions, so all I did was download a few appropriate fonts, and make all the changes to the text. I wanted to have a slightly different theme from regular Monopoly, so I went with the idea of Trip-opoly. Instead of buying properties and building them up with houses and hotels, Trip-opoly would consist of purchasing different trips and enhancing them with tickets and passes. So "rent" became "reservation," "houses" became "tickets," and "hotels" became "full access passes." I made all the properties into places Paul and I traveled to in our year together. I also included a photo (faded into the background) of each place. I turned the railroads into our favorite restaurants, and the utilities into video games. Next I adjusted the property colors a bit to better match the original game. Only problem was I didn't have an original Monopoly game in my possession so I had to do it from memory. Turns out I was a little off, but not too bad. The result? The board you see a few paragraphs above.

I had it printed at WHCC (which services most of my photographic needs) as a 20x20 (actual board game size), lacquer-sprayed and mounted onto masonite. Masonite is a hard board, about 1/8inch thick - very durable. My only regret is that it doesn't fold so I couldn't really put it into a box.

Next I made the playing pieces. I bought polymer clay in a few different colors. Polymer clay can be sculpted into pretty much whatever you want and then you bake it in the oven to make it harden. That worked great. I created a few little cute clay pieces which came out like this:

Next up were the Chance and Community Chest cards. While the template I used had the appropriate sizes for these cards, that's about all it had. I created my own fortunes for the cards, but still kept the main ones from the original game as well (go to jail, advance to go, etc, etc.) I added a few clipart graphics to make them extra fancy, then printed them on yellow and orange cardstock from my printer at home.

Next step for me was to create the property cards. I retyped all the verbiage to match that of the game board, then had them all printed on one 16x20 sheet of photographic paper (from WHCC as well), took it to Office Depot, had it laminated and then cut them out. Worked better than I thought it would - they were even (pretty much) the correct thickness of the original cards.

Finally, I had to make the tickets and passes to replace the house/hotel pieces. I sculpted these out of clay too, but they weren't super cute or anything special so I didn't bother photographing them. The sheer quantity - 35 tickets and 12 passes - was enough to limit my creativity on that front.

So the only thing we'll have to use from the original Monopoly game when we play is the money and the dice! I guess you could make your own money too, but I wasn't about to attempt that..

My apologies if this is fairly tedious and boring for my usual blog readers (if I actually have any.) My hope is that I'll be able to help someone trying to do the same thing I did in the future. Plus I was kind of proud it of, so me writing about it on my blog saves you from having to hear about it in real life. Haha. All in all, it was a big job, but well worth it!