Wednesday 29 April 2015

Big Shot, Big Shot Plus or Big Shot Pro?

Este post esta traducido al español aquí.
Since the pre launch of the Big Shot Plus back in January, I have been inundated with questions from all sorts of crafters regarding both the Big Shot Plus and how it compares with the regular Big Shot and/or the Pro.

Well here are my thoughts.

I am lucky. Very lucky. My full time job is crafting and I specialised since 2006 in die cutting. I love die cutting, even when I am just playing, it is rare that I step away from die cutting. Because of my professional ongoing relationship with Sizzix - I am part of their European Design Team and licensed design for them, but I am a freelance - I get to have all three machines, the Big Shot, the Plus and the Pro.

And, you know what? I use all three of them almost everyday.

There is no easy answer for me to say which one I recommend, because I just don't recommend the same one to everyone, the same way that you wouldn't recommend to everyone to get a motorbike, a convertible car or a 4 x 4 car. They all have advantages and disadvantages.

All three of them are designed to work with the four consumer Sizzix technologies ie: wafer thin dies (Framelits and Thinlits), embossing folders, chemically etched plastic back dies (Sizzlits, Embosslits), and Bigz dies. This also means that, because the dies and folders thicknesses are pretty even  across the craft industry, you will be able to use 99% of all the craft dies and folders out from different manufacturers with the Sizzix machines.

All three of them are platform based die cutting machines, meaning that you adjust the pressure by selecting the right sandwich of platforms and cutting plates to go through the opening. The Big Shot and the Plus are pretty much identical in the opening depth (meaning the distance between top and bottom roller), but the Pro is a bit deeper allowing for use of non craft industry based dies (more on this later).

(I am using the White and Grey new 2015 images, but just remember the colour is just a cosmetic thing, the inside of the teal one or the black and pink are identical. Also, I talk about the machine only, no starter kit as that is another whole debate!)
Opening: 6 1/8"
Price: £99.99 RRP (found online for £65)

Advantages: Price, space, mobility, availability, storage
Disadvantages: limited size, some larger dies wont fit, is the less stable of all three (though the most stable of all of this size machines)

Perfect for: crafters on the move, newbies to die cutting, for teenagers, when space is limited.

Perfect starting point and, overall, you will be able to do with it 85% of what you can do with the bigger machines, as I would guess that 85% of the current (2015) dies and embossing folders in the market will fit through a opening that is 6" wide. 
It is the one that I use the least now, however, I would not get rid of mine. Undoubtedly, it is the most portable and easy to store away.

Opening: 9"
Price: £160 RRP (found online for £118)

Advantages: A4 size, super stable, even pressure throughout perfect A4 embossing.
Disadvantages: price (really? £118 seems very reasonable!), storage.

Perfect for: serious crafters, people who like to make boxes and Home Decor, craft groups.

I will be honest, after four years with my Pro I did not think I would have any need for the Plus. Seriously. How wrong was I? 

I find for intricate detailed dies and for embossing it is the best machine out of all three. Also, even though it is larger and heavier than the standard, still feels very portable. 

Out of all of them, I feel is the smoothest operator, that requires less effort. for this reason I find it that is the one I tend to use more, it is the one that makes me happier to use.

PS: In March, I had the opportunity to get a Big Shot Plus  Starter Kit for my mum. She was a complete papercraft novice and within hours of using it for the first time she was hooked. My mum is absolutely delighted with the machine. She had tried the regular once before and didn't fall in love, much prefers the Plus because of the stability issue and the fact that can make big enough boxes. For this reason I do think its also a good option for a beginner if the money is ok.
Opening: 13"

Price: £285 RRP (found online for £225)

Advantages: 12 x 12 size = super saver of paper, incredibly stable, love the storage underneath.
Disadvantages: price, storage, embossing with an A4 folder is uneven, super heavy

Perfect for: professional crafters with dedicated large craft rooms, wedding stationery makers, shops, schools and craft groups with a dedicated all the time space (ie no moving around the machine too much.

For the last four years, this has been the machine I would have taken to a desert island. To me - as a professional crafter that specialises in die cutting - is the workhorse, the one that I first go to. Partly due to the fact that because takes so much space and it is so very heavy, it means that it is the one that is always on the table, ready to go. I have set it up with one of the 6" Big Shot platforms, so it takes little effort to die cut Bigz, emboss smaller folders or use Thinlits - yes, even the most intricate ones.

However, I do find that the A4 embossing folders do not emboss that well across, whether on the PLUS they work a treat.

I already mentioned above that the Pro is the only one of the line up that has a deeper mouth (distance between the top and bottom rollers) which allows for use of the All Star dies and other made to order steel rule dies, such as the ones used in the professional printing industry. This is something of a relative bonus, but since those dies are pretty pricey I believe is not relevant for most crafters.

At £285 RRP ( though I have found it for as little as £225), it is over £100 more expensive than the PLUS and only about 4" wider. It means you can use the 13" Bigz dies, but at £42 each, how many of them are you going to buy and use enough to justify the cost of the machine? For people who make wedding stationery or sell their handmade projects? Worth every penny. For most crafters? No, I don't think so.

Ultimately, I recommend to ask yourself:
  1. What do you need or want it for?
  2. Do you have space to store and use a large, medium or just the space for a small machine?
  3. How much money do you want to spend?
Me? Right now? Loving the Plus. And, if in doubt, I would recommend to go for the Plus too.

The truth is all three machines are brilliant and will be a great addition to your crafting. But wether you need the largest or smallest or just the Plus is something that only you can answer!

Disclaimer: Though I have a professional relationship with Sizzix, this is NOT an sponsored post. All opinions are mine and mine alone.


Ange J Lee said...

Good write up Paula....I was recently debating whether to go for Plus or Pro machine. Really would like the Pro as it does have the ability, as you say, to use deeper dies etc BUT after actually getting to try out a Plus I had to admit to myself that although I have a dedicated studio....I cannot afford to give over dedicated space and table to a Pro machine. One thing people forget to tell you is how big and heavy it is. It's not the sort of thing you can just pop up on a shelf and take down, place on your table as and when you need. It needs a space to remain in situ, permanently. The Plus however, is surprisingly light and obviously takes up less foot print than the Pro. Yes, it takes up more table space than many other machines on the market but is still what I deem to be within the 'transportable' boundaries. I ordered a Plus machine this week and am now eagerly awaiting it's arrival. I've used many die cutting machines over the years from manual to electronic and hand on heart will say I always go back to Sizzix....a brand you really can trust.

gwen70 said...

Hi Paula, I have been using my big shot plus since it came out and I love it, always loved my big shot standard, but you do need a bigger machine at times. Used to have a Grand Calibur but much prefer My big shot plus. Sometimes find the plates a little bulky but find I can use the plates from my standard

ros hodgkins said...

Hi Paula, thank you for your honest and personal appraisal of all three machines. I think it helps a lot when someone like yourself, can go through all of the pros and cons of each machine. Many thanks Ros Hodgkins

Unknown said...

Hi Paula, Thank you for your review of the available machines but wondered if you could let me know if any of them are suitable to cut tweed fabric. I am new at using die cutting machines and find that my crafting business is growing so am thinking one of these machines could be very useful to me. I only cut small images so don't require a large cutting area but just a machine sturdy enough to cut through a heavy fabric. I have also noticed that Sizzix make an electric machine. I would welcome any advice you can give me with all your experience. Many thanks Jules X

Paula Pascual said...

Hi Jules,

There is a misconception about die cutting machines and that is to think that the machine itself cuts. It's actually the die that does it as the blade is in the die. The machine only applies pressure. Basically think of it as the die is a pair of scissors and the die cutting machine is your arms. It's the combination of both that will determine whether you can cut certain materials.
For thick materials like jeans you need a steel blade die such as Sizzix Bigz dies.
Machine wise, you just need a good solid machine that will take that type of die. Obviously, I prefer machines that are manufactured by the same people that have been making the steel blade dies for a while, ie, any from the Sizzix range.
I hope this helps!

Dawn's Bear Adventure Blog said...

Hi - Great write up. Can you tell me if the Bigshot Plus takes Pro dies that are less than 9 inches? In particular I am looking for a machine that will cut 8 inch squares.

Unknown said...

I am considering the big shot pro, do you know the distance between the roller and the surface, don't know how to explain, but pretty much, I had some custom dies made and I need alot more room than the big shot offers:( the dies are about 1" in height, do you know the exact distance of the big shot pro? I would appreciate it very much!! I am desperately trying to find a machine to fit these dies!:) Thanks!!! Btw they used .918 steel rule if that helps any

Paula Pascual said...

No, I am sorry I don't know that. You should contact Sizzix direct.

Ebony Love said...

The Big Shot Pro will accept dies that are 1" tall and 12" wide or less. To use these dies, you need to take everything out of the tray and place the die directly in the tray. HTH.

Unknown said...

This is a great article. I'm considering buying a die cutter and would like it to cut an 8 or 8.5" square as my maximum size. I'm wondering how thick of a die the Plus could handle. I'm afraid that the Pro would take up too much space. Do you know where I could find a chart of other dies that are compatible with the Plus?

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