The best deal would probably be the Cuttlebug (manual). I know they are at Joann's and Michael's and stores like that, so you can use a coupon. I don't know what kind of deal you can get in Canada though.
I have a cuttle bug and I love it. The machine itself isn't that expensive nor are most of the dies, but the alphabet sets can be pretty prices. I bought one on clearance from HL and I use it all the time so it was well worth the $50 I spent on it. It has probably saved me that much already since I don't have to buy alpha stickers anymore.
Here is something I wrote up for our Yahoo Group in response to a similar question. Hope it helps.
I have alot of machines. Let me try to sum it all up for you:
Sizzix Big Shot
If you like to cut chipboard, felt and nontraditional materials like that you need a hefty machine like this. I would say get this versus the Sidekick or the old red Sizzix machine becuase this takes all sizes of Sizzix dies and is the easiest to use in my experience. They have some exclusive dies from Stampin Up now and some cute designs like Hello Kitty so they are responding to the market on that. I also am really liking their embossing templates -- got a couple of them recently. Every November the Ellison warehouse in Irvine, CA has a big sale on their stuff--that is a good time to get your machine for a deal (that is when I got mine and most of my dies).
This will take ALL dies, including QK dies, with the use of an adapter.
Dies cost about $15 and up, depending on the size. Machine is about $50.
I heard the Cuttlebug is good and takes alot of diff dies but me and ProvoCraft don't get along so hot (they burned the LSS's when the Cricut first came out and I still have not totally gotten over that) so I have personal issues when it comes to recommending their products. Just being honest here. If money is an issue I would say do this one because you can use a coupon on it at the box stores and their dies are relatively cheap with Coupons . It will cut very thin chipboard -- I've seen Cindy Fahrbach do it.
Dies are about $7-12 depending on what the style is and sometimes they come in multi packs. Machine is about $40 with a coupon I think.
QuicKutz (SQUEEZE AND REVOLUTION)
These are the most expensive however, they have been marked down because they are discontinuing them. They have a new machine coming out that is supposed to be motorized and will take 12x12 dies. Plus the Revolution is victim of some labor dispute in China so they are not shipping them right now.
At any rate, I love my QK stuff and have the whole system.
Squeeze tool takes dies 2"x2" so the images are really small. It is lightweight, easy to transport (not like the Sizzix or Cuttlebug which are heavier) and the dies take up little space (but they can get heavy if you have hundreds of them). Drawback is the dies are small and it does take a tad bit of muscle to use.
The Revolution takes 4x4 dies, a set of one to four 2"x2" dies at a time or you can use the 12" platform (sold separately) to cut 12" borders and 4x8 alphabets. They have gotten alot more competitive on the pricing of dies with the 4x8 alphabets at just $40 but they are still pricey when compared to other tools.
QuicKutz just came out with plastic, adhesive sheets, white chipboard, and some other fun materials that can be cut with the Revolution dies. I have some just have not put it to the test yet.
The best part about QuicKutz is that they have excellent customer service, an excellent reputation, and a good quality product. If you have any issues, call them up and they will fix or replace your machines or dies. No other company does this.
Plus there are TONS of dies and designs to choose from--I only own about 1% of what they have on the market and I have a pretty decent collection myself. Dies range in price from 6.99 for a single 2"x2" die up to $199 for a cookie cutter style alphabet.
Revolution machine is under $50 at just about everywhere now and the Squeeze is around $20.
if you remove the foam from the dies you CAN cut felt and fun foam with them too.
These are just more versions of diecutting machines you can get and they all have their own dies. Most dies these companies offer can be used in the Sizzix or Cuttlebug with an adapter. Spellbinders dies can be used in the QK Revolution. Spellbinders dies come in sets for about $25 each.
Wishblade (Xyron), Silhouette (Quickutz), Craft Robo
These are all the same basic machine, just made by different makers. They all use the same Craft Robo software with some various upgrades, like some machines you can weld words (link all the letters together to cut out as one shape) and easily make shadows. They all retail for about $200-350 each. You will need a computer to operate these machines. The software is not always intuitive so you might need a class or some help to get started but if you are just a little computer savvy it should be no problem getting started.
Maintenance on these machines is the cost of replacing blades and mats. Blades range from about $10 each (just metal part of blade only) up to $45 each (blade with full assembly package). Mats range from $10 each to $25 for a pair depending on the manufacturer.
The upfront cost on these machines is high but once you have the machine, you have access to an infinite number of free fonts online that you can download and cut to any shape or size. Also you can buy shapes from other people who make and sell them, buy shapes form the manufacturer, or even make our own shapes. There is alot of versatility in these machines but you have to be willing to work on the computer.
These machines usually just cut paper and cardstock -- any other materials may damage the blade or wont cut all the way through. I have a QK Silhouette I am happy with and another friend has a Wishblade she loves.
Pazzles is more pricey (starting at $300 up to about $3000) but it will cut chipbaord. It is basically the same as the other machines otherwise. I have the Pazzles software and think it is difficult to use.
SILHOUETTE SD (Quickutz)
This is a Qk Silhouette that takes an SD card like the Slice. I tried it out at CHA and got it--just haven't taken it out of the box yet. Basically you use the computer to load shapes onto the SD card at home. Then you can take just the machine and the card to a crop and cut all the shapes loaded onto your card.
This is made by Making Memories . The machine is about 5" cube in shape. The shapes it can cut are super cute. Goes up to 4" tall on shapes. The bag it comes in is super cute too. It takes SD cards so storage is not an issue. Also it can be operated without a cord in case you go to crops alot. And it does not require a computer. You have to hold it while it cuts which is a major drawback. It comes with a glass mat that you have to apply adhesive to in order to cut your paper on it so that is a bummer. It is like an alternative to the Cricut.
You can cut paper and cardstock with this but also MM sells acetate and some other materials you can cut with the Slice.
I have not used this one yet but heard good things about it. It requires a computer as well and works kind of like a Wishblade .
CRICUT (by Provocraft)
The Cricut has two sizes -- the orignal which cuts 6x12 and the Expression which cuts 12x12. You CAN cut chipboard with the Cricut if you buy a special blade but I have heard that people are not very successful unless it is really thin cereal box type chipboard. You can also cut paper and cardstock with this machine.
The Cricut costs between $100 for the small one up to $300 for the Expression. Cartridges are about $40 on sale up to $80 each. You have to buy a cartridge to get new shapes and fonts so it is alot like a manual diecutting machine in that way. If you don't like computers Cricut is the next best thing to a Wishblade since you just type out what you want on the screen. It is bigger than a Wishblade or even bigger than a printer but you don't need a laptop to use it so that helps with space issues while using it. There are TONS of cartridges out there for it too but you will find yourself spending alot to get a good variety of shapes. And it is made by Provocraft who I don't really like. Again, just being honest here!
Blades are about $10 each and so are mats.
Hopefully this helps you in your decision. If you can wait, take some time to try out the machines at stores when they have demos or ask a friend to bring theirs to a crop so you can try it out. That way you can see for yourself if it is something you will use before you invest hundreds of dollars.
Edited by Jennifer Priest on 03-18-09 10:25 AM. Reason for edit: No reason given.
The cricut now comes in a third option, the Create, which cuts LARGER than the original bug but smaller than the Expression,,,,,predictabl y it is more expensive than the baby bug and less expensive than the Momma bug,,,
I got mine on Ebay for 155.00,,,
It can cut up to 11.5 inches. The Create ALSO has some features of the Expression, such as the Flip feature not found on the original Baby Bug,,,,
I lovvvvvvvvvvve my Create,,,
Also, Blades are 10.00 for TWO, and mats are 10.00 for TWO for the 6X12 size,,,,the larger mats for the Expression might be 10.00 for one,,,
I really like my QuicKutz --I started with the Squeeze, but upgraded to the Revolution a few years ago (and now rarely use the Squeeze). I like being able to buy exactly what I need for a die--if I want an ice cream cone, I get that (not 50 other things) so it's great when you are on a budget. Alphabets can be pricey, but with the platform extention you can get some that are only $40 regular price (and between HL, Archivers, and my LSS I never pay full price for my QuicKutz supplies)
I have a cuttlebug and a cricut and Love them both. The cuttlebug you can use you a coupon and get them fairly cheap and the dies and embossing folders are not expensive at all. I have cut chipboard, fabric and felt with mine. I also have purchased other brands of dies and cut with those as well.
Cuttlebug, Zip é Mate, Sizzix SideKick and in a few days...cricut. I love the Cuttlebug, its handy, easy on the hands and its sturdy. It does the di E-Cuts and dry-embossing, only down side I feel is the fact ya cant put 12x12 papers thru it to emboss the sides of the papers. The Sizzix SideKick is handy for small projects and for the long 12inch dies as they have very lil space on the sides to move all over the place. Lil less sturdy tho. (or mine is just getting old n worn )
See if there is a LSS in your area that has specials on QuicKutz (or other systems). I have a Silhouette, a Revolution and a Squeeze. I bought them all new at a LSS for incredibly cheap prices- $150, $40 and $10 respectively. The LSS is a QuicKutz platinum retailer; don't know if that made a difference.
I have the cricut expression, which I love, the sizzix bigshot and sidekick and the quickuts revolution. If you can get the expression, that is what I would reccommend. Moneywise the revolution has been on sale lately for a good price and is a great size. I'm not sure about other stores but my local HL sells the revolution for $40 and I used a 40% off coupon on top of that! Couldn't pass that up!
I also have a Cuttlebug which I bought with 50% off coupon. It can handle all dies from the biggest Ellison to the smallest Nestabilities. I've used the Big Kick at LSS & friends house & my bug is so much easier to use & so much cheaper.
I love the embossing folders for the cuttlebug but not a huge fan of the dies. I still use my older dies & I do buy some cute sizzix or QuicKutz dies still but since I got the cricut that meets most of my needs. The alpha dies can get costly
I started with the Sizzix Sidekick. It was affordable and has lots of dies. Sizzix dies are often on sale for 40 or 50% off at ACM, M's and J's, or you can use a coupon.
I have successfully cut Sizzlits and Cuttlebug dies, BossKut and QuicKutz dies (with DIY shims). The newer Sizzlits alpha have fewer dies per set with multiple letters, so they are less expensive than the older sets that contained one die per letter.
I got an original Sizzix a couple of years ago for Christmas (on clearance I think). I have a few dies for it, but now want the converter (hard to find) so I can use one machine and expand my collection with some of the larger dies that don't fit in the Sidekick.
Of course I would prefer to get a Cuttlebug and dump both or upgrade to a Cricut (which just isn't in the budget).
I went back and forth between the Cuttlebug and the BigKick/BigShot for the longest time. I have a Pazzles Inspiration and wanted a smaller machine for embossing (although the Pazzles does emboss paper up to 12x12). Coupons can be used on both items and the prices are pretty close, but in the end I decided on the Sizzix for one simple reason - the multipurpose platform. Not having to worry about shims is a big plus. There's no need to sit trying to figure out what combination of cutting pads is best for the die you're trying to use; just look at the instructions on the platform, add your die, paper, and a cutting mat and you're good to go.
Best LONG TERM deal would be the cricut with scal. remeber all those manual machines you gotta keep buying dies for $ adds up. With the cricut if you use carts u get a much better deal than the dies but with scal u buy it once and can cut anything you can find a pic of and any font on your computer. No more investment besides mats and blades and even the mats can be "refurbished"