$1,405
pledged of $30,000pledged of $30,000 goal
12
backers
0seconds to go
Funding Canceled
Funding for this project was canceled by the project creator on Oct 15 2015
Austin and SteveBy Austin and Steve
First created
Austin and SteveBy Austin and Steve
First created
$1,405
pledged of $30,000pledged of $30,000 goal
12
backers
0seconds to go
Funding Canceled
Funding for this project was canceled by the project creator on Oct 15 2015

About

American Catapulism is an exciting live-action game. It's fun for all ages, from toddlers to grandparents. With everything from block towers to catapults to corporate intrigue, this game has it all. It will keep your kids (and you) away from your screens for hours on end.  

Catapulism in all its glory. Note: the final product has some slight differences from this image.
Catapulism in all its glory. Note: the final product has some slight differences from this image.

As a Catapulist, you are the one calling the shots at a major corporation. Your arch rival stands before you, ready to steal your employees and your market share. Assemble your corporate structure carefully to best protect your most valuable personnel. 

Example Corporate Structure
Example Corporate Structure

But even the most stable structure will eventually fall. In the free market, offense is your only defense, so if you wish to stay in business, you must attack. (See the rules document for more information.) Catapulism is a game made for the living room floor (that's where we developed it over the last decade), but it can also be played on top of a long table, out in the yard, or anywhere else you may prefer.

Better than TV!
Better than TV!

The basic game requires just two players, but there are many ways to include the whole family. The jobs of timekeeper, bell ringer, and projectile retriever are all helpful positions to have filled. Round-Robin-style tournaments can be a blast. And of course, by purchasing additional catapults, you can play two-on-two (or ten-on-ten:). 

A Team Effort
A Team Effort

 But American Catapulism is not just a game, it's also a high-quality set of wooden toys. We've found that older kids and adults enjoy the structured game that allows for strategy and competition. But younger kids prefer to create their own games, like constructing enormous block pyramids together and then joining forces to knock them down. Regardless of how closely you follow the rules, the basic premise is the same...using a catapult to fling things across the room to knock other things down is a whole lot of fun! In developing this game, we wanted to fill the void between the cheap, imported, poorly-designed, and heavily-marketed plastic toys and the old nostalgia-based wooden toys that grandparents love but kids ignore. We wanted to create a high-quality, hands-on game that is made with renewable materials and most importantly, is fun to play. And in the process we wanted to take a few jabs at some of the more ridiculous aspects of our incorporated culture. This game will last a generation, so that your kids can play it with their kids. The components are made from American grown and milled hardwood, cut to shape and assembled by hand in Colorado.

Rules

Rules Document - Included in Every Set
Rules Document - Included in Every Set

We spent many late nights in the basement evaluating different versions of this game. The set of rules shown above struck the best balance between interesting complexity and fast-paced action.  But it is by no means the only way to play. We created versions with paper money, a government building with an election wheel, communities, the environment, reinforcement blocks, a bulldozer (battering ram for purchase)...and many other add-ons.  Along with your sponsorship, we're also looking for your input. Please join our community and take part in the discussions in our forums to help us improve the game. 

Background

"The Catapulist" has done years of research
"The Catapulist" has done years of research

Over a decade ago, my son and I were developing this game with random block sets and Lincoln Log catapults. We had these unlucky little ornate elephants that served as the targets. Then a few years ago, when my nephew was old enough to want to play, I made a couple of catapults for his Christmas present. We spent most of the holiday weekend together on the living room floor flinging random objects back and forth in different variations of the game. It was pretty clear then that this was a game that needed to be available to everyone, and now we're finally getting around to commercializing it. We've made a few changes to the theme, but the essence of the game is unchanged.

Designing a catapult for our litigious culture was a sticking point. It took quite a few prototyping rounds to achieve a safe design. But now it is virtually impossible to pinch your fingers in this catapult. Hitting yourself in the face is still an unpleasant experience (we've both done it on purpose), but with the rounded corners it won't do any lasting damage. If it concerns you, feel free to have your kids wear safety glasses, grinding masks, or whatever PPE you see fit.  

Catapult at Coworkers!
Catapult at Coworkers!

Fine-tuning this version has been painstaking. Even the projectiles took dozens of rounds of development. If they were too heavy, total destruction occurred in just a few shots. If they were too light, only a direct shot would do any damage. Bean bags (money bags) were too inconsistent. Oil barrels didn't perfectly fit the narrative. Rolls of paper bills and foam parts wouldn't last. The solution: 12.5 gram rolls of bills made from soft silicone rubber.   

Projectile development
Projectile development

We are super happy with the end result. The game is fun to play and the catapults just feel good in your hands. 

 Manufacturing

Trees Become Catapults!
Trees Become Catapults!

We make our catapults ourselves at the Tinkermill in Longmont, Colorado. In the interest of full-disclosure, here's what goes into that process:

  • Poplar trees grow (in America) and get sawed into rough lumber
  • A local mill shapes that lumber into boards the exact thickness and width that we need.
  • We cut the shapes in those boards using a CNC router.
  • Each piece is hand-routed out of the parent board. Several parts require additional holes to be drilled at this point.
  • Graphics are burned into each piece using metal brands 
  • Catapults are either a) finished (sanded) and assembled, or b) shipped in kits

There are some other details, like the platforms (cut on table saw and laser cutter), the adjustment knob (ordered from a domestic lathe shop), the tensioning wingnut (drilled at our machine shop), and the money-roll projectiles (injection molded in food-safe silicone rubber). That last one is NOT domestic because...well, it just seemed appropriate that for American Catapulism we get our money from East Asia.  Hopefully that will change in the near future.

So far we have the major tools - CNC Router, Laser Cutter, Vertical Mill. Your support will help us make and buy some critical items that will automate our process and drive the cost down to the point that it makes sense with our selling price.  We need to build a self-feeding block cutter/brander, accurate jigs for CNC part cutting, a wing-nut hole-drilling jig, wood spacer hole cutting jigs, injection molding tools, and game box cut and print tooling. 

Quality and Cost

A note about quality vs. cost: you've probably noticed that these toys are pretty expensive. That is for a few reasons:

  • Hardwood isn't cheap
  • Metal dowel pins and springs aren't either
  • Making sure they are built correctly means doing it ourselves

We could have made these things overseas and we could have charged less for them. But they would be like every other toy that is made as cheaply as possible - they would break after a dozen games. They would probably be toxic. They might shoot projectiles at you while you're sleeping and make threatening phone calls to your parents. It's just not worth all that risk.  As a result, our catapults are solid. They won't break under reasonable use. You can play on a table top and not be scared when they inevitably drop to the floor. We guarantee it.

Solid
Solid

Risks and challenges

Domestic manufacturing! It turns out it is expensive, but we think it's worth it. The final product is a higher quality. We plan to do all the manufacturing here at the Tinkermill in Longmont, Colorado. We have all the capabilities right now, but to drive cost down for higher-rate production we'll develop some tools. That will take time. The main challenge is to meet our target delivery dates.

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    We'll send you a wooden block character of your choice. Options include: worker man, worker woman, office slave, golden parachute exec. Or you can have a rubber money roll. But that's not as fun.

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    Pledge $52 or more About $52

    Get a catapult! Say you like flinging things across rooms, but the "what", "at what", and "why" aren't important. These things are solid, strong, and safe.

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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge $89 or more About $89

    American Catapulism kit! The whole set, including 2 catapults, 28 character blocks with necessary floors, and 8 projectile money rolls. Requires sanding and assembly with wood glue.

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    Pledge $124 or more About $124

    Christmas special Catapulism kit! Same as the American Catapulism kit, but we'll ship it out to you by 12/12/15. Fling barrels across your living room on Christmas morning. Requires sanding and assembly with wood glue, so we'll get it there a couple days early.

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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $139 or more About $139

    American Catapulism! Fully assembled and delivered in a handsome box. Ready to play! Includes two catapults, 28 character blocks with necessary floors, and 8 projectile money rolls.

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    Pledge $168 or more About $168

    Christmas special Catapulism! Same as the American Catapulism, but we'll ship it out to you by 12/14/15. Fling barrels across your living room on Christmas morning.

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  7. Select this reward

    Pledge $542 or more About $542

    Personalized Catapulism set! We will laser-engrave your photos on the character blocks. It could be your family, or your boss(es). Whichever provides you the most enjoyment knocking over with a catapult.

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    Pledge $10,000 About $10,000

    Executive Edition Catapulism! So ornate..so elegent..so refined. Exotic mahogany hardwood elaborately carved and hand-massaged with Vernicia Fordii oil. Embossed with 24K gold accents and read to nightly from the selected works of Ayn Rand. An excellent accent to the discerning billionaire's drawing room. A toy truly worthy of a Catapulist.

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Funding period

- (25 days)