Introduction: 3M Jati Bookshelf Game Recreated

About: I've been an artist all my life. Probably nothing I couldn't accomplish according to my grade school teachers who said "I would make a perfect student if I would just stop drawing all the time". I'm …


I've been a huge board game fanatic ever since I was a kid (still am truth be told, only bigger, clearly illustrated by some of my Instructables). My brother and I would play for hours and hours. Him being a huge Civil War buff we'd play Battle Cry (Milton Bradley game) among various other strategy games. Chess obviously. We were both on the chess team at one point, but my brother always dominated me in that game.
However another game we'd play similar to chess is the 3M Bookshelf game called Feudal. Similar to chess with certain pieces only being able to move in specific directions but up to 6 people could play. Because of this love of gaming I've collected a pretty long list of board games over the years. Because of my love for the 3M Fuedal game I started collecting all of the 3M Bookshelf series. 27 games in all. Some are classic board games like Chess, Go, & Backgammon. While others are more trivia based or genre specific like Mr. President (the US election process), Executive Decision (Business negotiations), Acquire (Property acquisition), and Stocks and Bonds. Another group were games specifically designed for 3M like Breakthru, Jumpin, Ploy, Twixt, & Jati.

I've collected all of them, even the sports games in the series. But Jati is and has become my white whale as it was only released as a prototype. Accounts differ on the actual numbers released out to the game testing community. It was never released to the public. So as you can imagine the actual game is quite rare. Oh sure you may see it pop up on EBay or other sites for sale at ridiculous prices. For example the last one I saw listed was asking $$$. You can read more about this game on the web at places like wikipedia, or board game geek. OH and don't be confused by another 3M game by the same name that uses a magnetic wand to move a marble through a maze (thats not the one I'm talking about here).

So since I have the skills an resources I decided to try and make my own re-creation of this game for my collection.

Step 1: Research

By scouring the web to find as many pictures of the game as possible for reference. In some cases I actually found very decent full hi-res images of the game box, the board, playing pieces, etc. I then set about tracking down as much info on how the game was actually played (proved to be harder than most of the rest of the project). And just recently the game was posted on Ebay with higher res pics of the gaming instructions (so I was able to verify my original guesses as to game play).

Step 2: Design Physical Box

Knowing that all 3M games are basically the same size box (bookshelf style). I was able to use one of my existing games to get measurements for creating a physical box. Most of the games have an exterior sleeve. Then a standard box with lid that nestles or stores into the sleeve.

Working with a coworker, we designed the a raw paperboard box (thats what the company I work for does). The raw box base (shown with dimensions) was first, then the lid which has to be a tad bigger to slide down over the base. Too tight and well you've probably run into boxes that are hard to get apart, thats why. Then the sleeve a different design to be able to have the box slide freely in and out of. We also took in to count for the adhesive label material I would be using to decorate the box as well.

Step 3: Emulate the Look of the Game Box

Using the pictures I found online I recreated the structure of the game box in Adobe Illustrator. Laying it out as to how it would fold up for finishing. Some of the images I had to tweak or retouch in photoshop to remove blemishes. For example on the back side image the only image I could find had a price hand written on it with a lot of glare on it as well. So in this case the design elements were simple enough I just redrew and and retyped the text to recreate the back panel. For the remainder of the box I found an image of faux leather which most of the 3M games have in various colors. In this case its a simple brown, so easy to replicate. Then for the spine I redrew and set the type to match what I found online.

Step 4: Assemble the Boxes

With my art and box dies completed I printed out my designs on adhesive label paper. Cutting down and applying to the paper board before folding and assembling the final box. It proved to be a bit tighter than I would have liked. But its not worth redoing at this point.

Step 5: Design Game Pieces and Board

For the game board and pieces I realized right away I was going to have a problem. The original game board was a vacuum formed piece of plastic (which makes sense, lighter weight, for mass production) with wells and indentations for the game pieces to nestle or set into place. I know a few people at some vacuum form companies but didn't really want to trouble them to make something thats just a one or two of.
So I began reverse engineering how and what I could go about to make the game board out of other materials. I initially started off with craft foam sheets. Easily cuttable to get down to the size I'd need. Light weight and fairly cheap too. Luckily for me though my son saw what I was doing and he suggested using styrene and PVC board (he works for a sign company). And if I got him a design he could even route out the shapes for me. So with the known interior box dimension I created a graphic with wells and indentations similar to the photos I found of the actual game board. Making sure to have the same number of squares that were visible in those pictures.

As for the game pieces. Using the final dimension of the squares on the game board I then went to my trusty 3D design program online… TinkerCad. I created a set of pieces 12 pieces each about .75" square, which will set into the squares indents on the game board. With the one set of 12 done I exported the .stl file. My daughter (Yes this is a family involved process) then printed out 2 complete sets 12(24 in all) in 4 different colors (similar to what I found in the pictures of the game) These came out perfect.

Also the game has two sets of multiplier pieces. 2 times and 3 times. I had my daughter print out two sets of these in black. I then painted the indents white.

Step 6: Game Board Production

This has been the longest process to complete. One weekend my son and I sat down and experimented with the design and did some test cuts. The process with the design I gave him was a bit out of his wheel house (in that he rarely does anything this small).
First he cut a base piece of pvc to the dimensions slightly smaller of the inner box (two of these as there are two game boards with the actual game). Taking the design with two wells on the ends we routed out a couple pieces of the pvc (4 in all). I will sandwich those together to make for a deeper wells (for the game pieces to be stored when boxed up). The next or almost top layer he was able to print a marble texture image similar to what you see in the original plastic game board.

Then reprinted the same marble on a piece of styrene (thinner piece). Here's where we ran into problems. The small squares as they were being cut or routed out would pop out causing the sheet (that is held in place by the vacuum board) to shift. And the cutter grabbed and tore the sheet. So we realized we needed to do the inner squares first and leave more area of the board for the vacuum to hold it down in place. We finally got it to work.

Step 7: Game Rules

The games rules were another challenge. I could find no actual rules in a pdf or written form anywhere. Only thing I could find are the pictures that are lo res. So pretty much any different pic I found I downloaded and then zoomed in and painstakingly deciphered the text. I redrew the graphics and then retyped all the text and recreated the look of the rules as best I could. And after reading some of the directions making adjustments so they rules made sense. Like the examples of game play. Luckily, recently, a copy of the game was posted on EBay with real hi-res images of the directions that confirmed most of my guesses and a few mistakes I'd made. So I corrected them.

Step 8: Final Assembly, Ready for Game Play (Soon)

As of this time I've yet to finish as I'm missing two key layers to complete the game boards. (My son's been a little busy dealing with a new baby, so no worries) I know he'll get the two pieces I need eventually. I plan to use 3M (how ironic) spray glue adhesive to glue the layers together.

After I assemble the game boards, all the game pieces will nest in the wells. Stacking the two game boards and sitting them in the box. Which then fit within the out lid, and finally the outer sleeve.

The pvc game boards are no doubt a bit heavier than the original vacuum formed boards were. But I think it will help give the game a bit more sturdiness.

When added to the shelf with all my other games you'd be hard pressed to say its not one of the originals. Hats off to my co-worker, son and daughter for helping me accomplish this recreation.

OH and NO I won't make you a copy… I may do recreations but I don't do forgeries.

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