I have spoken to many people about this and they ALL have different answers. Personally, I have the Cricut Expressions 2, but I have found that most of the cartridges have very insipid graphics and drawings. If you are happy to have tons of graphics for babies, weddings, kiddie birthdays, sports or Christianity, DISNEY, look no further than Cricut.
If you want a more industrial (like I wanted) and utilitarian graphics find something else. There are no cartridges available that has a collection that I prefer. To get 1 single gear graphic, you have to buy Paper Lace 2, for a clock face you have to get either Picturesque (which has 1 clock face with no numbers on it) OR Sophisticated which has 1 stop or pocket watch graphic. To get a key, there are several cartridges like Damask Decor. If you want tools, the cartridge called Handyman has some tool drawings that could have been drawn by a 2 year old. Very simple line drawings.
That is not to say all of the cartrdiges are silly. but they are outnumbered. Damask Decor, Art Nouveau, Ornamental Iron 1 & 2, Over The Hill (this one is a crack up and I use it a lot for Halloween and what I call, "Poor me" cards for when my friends are feeling old or are having a pity party for themselves.)
Other things you can do with your Expressions 2 is emboss, there are ways to do it on Youtube. You can cut your own stencils, make a special KISS cut for your own vinyl stickers for decor or your car, (the vinyl comes in all sorts of colors and isn't really expensive if bought online), You can change the cutter to a deep cut for chipboard and such,and you can get a scoring tip. This tip is very helpful if using a folding type of cartridge like Tags, Bags, Boxes & More, or the Rosettes. The tip will go back over your cut and put the fold lines in for you. I use the tip for embossing, but there are others who would disagree. Another thing you can do is draw with the E2. Cricut sells 4 different colored marker sets and recently I have seen they sell an adapter for the machine to use mini gel pens as well.
At least the Cricut Imagine Machine has cartridges that are made more for adults. Like JT and Industrial Glow. The Cricut Imagine cartridges will fit in the Expressions 2 machine, but it will not print the background. The Imagine cartridges come with layered imagines, patterns printed by the enclosed ink cartridge that has inks in it associated with the color palette of the cartridge plus JT comes with bonus content and 10 icons. The Industrial Glow is the same, but with my kind of patterns to it, gears, steel plating, cross hatch plating, spool tops (think Tim Holtz) and the color palette is in the vivid greens and blues. Unfortunately, I cannot print the palette with the E2.
If I had to do this all over again, I would have bought the Vagabond die cutting machine. My children are grown and I have no need for preschool graphics that the Cricut cartridges offers.
Having said that, I will say the moment Tim Holtz designs cartridges for the Sizzix die cutting machine, I will purchase it that day!
The only thing I can offer is this, go to Cricut.com, look at the top of the page for Products, then under Cricut hit Cartridges. This will show you a list of the Cricut Cartridges. Pick any one of them and let the page open, down under the small pictures and description is a pdf file that you can open called "Digital Handbook" or "Digital Tri-fold", some of the cartridges may have an interactive link called, "Want to see the Look Book". Open any of these and you can see up close what images are on each cartridge. I wish I had known about this before I bought my E2.
Note: If you do purchase the Cricut make sure you also purchase a spatula to lift the cut images from the mats and a pick of some kind would be good too to get all of the little bits out of the holes. Scrapbook.com sells both picks and the spatulas set. You may think about getting a new set of mats as well. Only one comes with the machine.
I hope this helps?
I cannot thank you enough for your critque on the cricut......I did not know what in the world was wrong with me, and why I was not cricut crazy like most of my friends.....but you hit the nail on the head...!!!!!!! No industrial stuff...no clocks, gears, wheels, dress forms, etc. etc. etc. Thank goodness...I kind of feel stupid for not figuring that out for myself.....but now I know. I bought the first cricut and have a few cartridges and never could get up the enthusiasm to buy more.....like you said there are one or two things I like on most of them, but most of the stuff I will never, ever use. I do use the Home decor one...for all the swirls etc. and some of the flowers, and there is another that slips my mind at the moment but has similar items on it......Those are the ones I use the most. I do live in Florida, so I do use the Beach Cart a lot and now that I have my dgd's expressions I find that I can print the titles and words on the Beach Cart also. I am happy with that....but like you........I will wait for Tim Holtz to design for sissix. LOL Thanks for your insight!!!!!
You guys might want to look at the Sizzix web site - Tim Holtz has designed cartridges for the eclips and they're coming out in July, I believe. They're called Stamp2Cut and they're designed to go with his stamp collections.
I have a Gazelle because I did not want to be limited by cartridges, I can design anything I want in the software.
If I were buying a new machine today it would be a toss-up between the eclips, the Gazelle, and the Silhouette Cameo.
I agree that a lot of the Cricut cartridges are very childish. I'm a big fan of the more adult/more realistic carts like Destinations and Quarter Note. Baseball Solutions has a great non-kiddie style. 50 States is great for travel needs as well, and has some wonderful fairly realistic birds and flowers.
But in general I agree, there is a lot of cartoony stuff on the Cricut. (Which I do own some of them - Fast Food and Everyday Paper Dolls delight me, and I don't have kids.) I've got about 20 cartridges, about half of which are alphabets, and I really don't have need for any more, not like the people with dozens or hundreds of carts.