Takenoko – Chibis !

I was lucky enough to stumble upon someone selling the Giant version of the board game Takenoko and we really enjoy playing with the large panda and bamboo pieces. It’s a fun game.

Once we got the hang of playing, we added in the Chibis expansion which adds a Lady Panda and panda babies ! Although the expansion came with a nice big Lady Panda figure, the baby pandas are just these 2 inch cardboard discs to represent what bonus action and points you get:

And that works fine and all, but as one who likes to have my gaming experience bling’d-up to the max I gotta get those baby panda figures! Sure enough a google search finds a whole set of cute chibis that match the artwork of the tokens from the game:

But strangely there is no correlation to which colour they relate to or what bonus. – so you can’t really use them. AND, on top of that, they’re about $15 each ! Uh … no.

So I kept my eye out for another alternative. Someone on the ‘net created some 3D models that could be printed that looked okay, but printing at the library is not reliable (and currently not available) and it would still cost a bit and would take a long time.

Then I came across a post on Reddit by /Luke_Matthews where he had found these cute little figures on AliExpress that were the just about the right size – and at about $1 each the right price!

(yeah, they took forever to get here – but free shipping and i am in no rush). Once they arrived I picked up some 1.5″ wooden discs to use as bases for the baby pandas and primed them:

and then went to the local arts and crafts store from some paint. I guess lots of people are doing craft painting this pandemic – the shelves were nearly bare:

I was lucky to find three colours that were just right, so I painted a bunch of the bases and started testing out the panda positioning. I also printed out the bonus actions to put on each base (the irrigation pipe I used some leftover blue foam I had – more 3D!):

A couple layers of spray-coat to protect them and adhere the paper:

And then all that was left was to hot-glue the pandas on. They look great!

But how do I store them ? They won’t fit in the original game boxes – time to make a matching storage box ! The handy thing is that the original game boxes are made of nice plain plywood, so I can match that easy. Might as well make a card holder as well while I am at it.

The idea is that the storage box would also be the dispenser in the game. This way there is less fiddling during game set-up: just open the box and set it down. We can also use it to hold some other game pieces like the irrigation pipes (which are always lost at the bottom of the bamboo pile)

My original idea was that the card dispenser would be the lid of the baby panda box, so they were made the same size:

But then I realized that I really wanted the front open, so I would have to make a separate lid that would just drop-on:

More leftover blue foam on the bottom (and underside of lid) and ta-da! Everything fits in nicely:

I put a filler board at the bottom of the back channel of the card dispenser so that the improvement hexes could be visible by all players so they can see which ones are left to get. All easy to set up, and easy to see and access ! Not only is it fun to earn and take a baby panda, but you can now clearly see which colours are still available and which bonus actions.

A quick shot of the box with the lid on it:

and the whole Takenoko family is now all happy together! :

..oh, except for that fourth baby panda that came in the set. She is sulking a bit on the test disc :

I hope you enjoyed this little project !

The Canoe Shelf

At some point in the mid to late 90’s, we came into the possession of an old canoe. Although it probably still floated and you could probably have taken it out on the water for a paddle, it was in terrible shape. Particularly the gunwales. So when we moved from the country to the suburbs in the mid 2000’s it was time to commit to this thing being a future shelf and not a mode of transport.

So I cut it into two pieces, about 60:40 so it would be easier to move :

This was possibly the longest spanning project procrastination I had. Case in point, in this photo I have lots of hair and that kid is now in University:

As you can see, it was quite rough around the edges but I used parts from both ends to build “one good half”. The gunnys are a write-off:

And the years have not been kind to the many coats of shellac that was on the inside. That will all have to come off:

So finally in 2014 – almost another 10 years later – with the canoe sections strangely at the side of our house in cramped suburbia, I promised my wife I would actually buckle down and make the canoe shelf for her. No real idea how I was going to go about it – just one step at a time.

I left the stern seat in because I thought it might make a good built-in picture frame:

And the chemical warfare began. This stuff was nasty!

Lots of scrubbing and slowly the wood begins to emerge:

Wow – what a difference! The insides look great:

Now to work on the gunnys. I ended up filling a small box of rusted screws and rotted wood:

Now that it is reasonably safe to work without fear of getting stabbed, I cut some wood for the shelves. This one fits so perfectly between the ribs I won’t need anything to secure it. (I used the clamp to force the canoe wider to get the shelf in):

and a little upper shelf:

Some body restoration:

and a fresh coat of paint for the body:

by this time I had found some trim that I could use to replace the gunwales:

the top part was a little tricky:

staining the shelves:

.. and putting them in for good. Looks awesome !

Now to wire it up and add some LED lights:

And somehow we got it down the stairs into the basement. Really happy with it:

Eventually I decided not to go with the photo in the seat frame because the back lighting would end up making it just a black shadow.

Once I started working on it, it only took a month or so (interspersed with life etc). Glad we lugged it around for a couple of decades ! LOL