ES-KEE-LATORS!!!! If you understand the reference you are now my friend. Today we are a making a real-life version of Eels and Escalators. This classic game made its debut in the Spongebob episode: "Sailor Mouth". It was the game that Spongebob couldn't seem to ever win. Recently, I thought how fun it would be to play that game in real life. Unfortunately, it doesn't exist except for fan-made 2D versions, and sketchy web versions... until today.
On this Instructable, I teach you how to make your very own version of Eels and Escalators. This is one of those Instructables I have been dying to do so "I'M READY!!" - Let's get to it.
Step 1: Assembling the Materials
For this project you are going to need several things:
- Access to 3D modeling software (I used Fusion 360)
- Access to a 3D printer
- Access to Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop
- Assorted colors of paint w/ brushes
- Clear semi-gloss spray paint finish
- 18x18 blank game board (Use whatever size you like) you can find them here for cheap
And that is it! Let's get to it!
Step 2: 3D Modeling the Pieces
I have chosen not to turn over the files for this one for two reasons. 1. I have a goal in the coming year to start selling the 3D files I make on some platform like etsy because I took the "Starting a hand-made Business" class right here on Instructables and I want to see what kind of attention my work might get on a platform like that. 2. The 3D files for this one are so easy that you could finish all of the pieces in probably an hour or less. I used a screen shot from the episode as reference for these pieces.
First you will want to do the escalators which is about the easiest thing to model on Fusion 360. I drew a couple straight lines and a cylinder for the rail - done.
Next you will want to do the Eels. Using the spline function, I was able to re-create the curvy bodies in a semi-random kind of way. If you play around with it, you will make eels that are one-of-a-kind and to your liking.
*Note* You may be asking why I am printing the when in the episode they are drawn on the board. I wanted this game to have something to come back to. If you played with the same game board every time you will get board (The irony). So to overcome that, I am 3D printing the eels in order to be able to move them around the board. This way you will have a new game to play nearly ever time. (Feel free to make the eels different sizes and shapes)
Next I did the small game pieces. These little guys are just funny to look at. I made 4 of them so you could play this game with multiple people (Again to make it more exciting). The shape was pretty straightforward.
And finally, I decided to make the dice. I noticed in the episode that the dice only had eels and esclators on it. This made the squares on the board useless. So i added numbers 1-3 on both dice with one dice having two eels and 1 escalator on it, and the other having two escalators and one eel on it. This way you can still move through the board normally but could also roll the coveted "escaltors" or the dreaded "eels".
Step 3: Priming and Painting the Pieces
This was one of my favorite parts of the build because the pieces have such vibrant colors.
*Note* I don't think you will need wood filler for this project because the geometry is so simple and looks good with just primer on it*
First, lay down a couple coats of primer. Make sure all of the edges are primed up and the deep corners of the stairs in the escalator. This is one of those hard-to-reach spots and may need some extra attention.
Next, you will want to paint the game pieces / eels / escalators. For the eels, you can use just a basic green - no surprises there. For the 4 game pieces, I wanted to feature the two original orange and white pieces and I painted the last two just a standard red and blue. The escalators are the somewhat tricky part. They have the classic Spongebob Hawaiian flower design on the side which you could either freehand or print off an example and cut out the interior - thus making a stencil. I would recommend painting the entire escalator before putting the flowers on though. Then a little light brown for the rails and you are done with the painting!
Step 4: Game Board Design / Printing
Thank goodness this game board has one of the simplest designs ever. Just a couple of red squares and a blue background - which is even better because before this, I have never even touched adobe illustrator/photoshop. If you are in the same boat as me, I would highly recommend watching some brief youtube tutorials to get you started. This is really just a couple of squares arranged in a game board-like fashion so you shouldn't have too much trouble. Just make sure that you start your "canvas" as an 18 inch x 18 inch square so that once you print out the color board, it will fit perfectly on to your game board. As far as the colors are concerned, pull up an image of the game board on google and use the eye-dropper function to get the exact color that was used in the show. However, if you would like to make your own game board with your own colors, go for it!
Once your game board is completely done, save it as a pdf file and send it to your local print shop. At this point you have 2 options.
1. Print the board on an 18x18 sheet of sticky-backed vinyl ~$25~. This option will last forever and will have little to no fray on the edges. (The guy at the print shop said that it could stop a bullet) -_- smh - doubt it. Also, it is super easy to stick on to the board itself.
2. Print the board on an 18x18 sheet of regular paper / card stock and mod podge the paper onto the board itself. ~Roughly $15~ This is quite the undertaking to save a couple of dollars. Also, I don't know how well the modpodged paper would react over time.
* There may be a better option (cost-wise) than what I have presented here, but if money isn't an issue, method 1 is definitely the easy, quality way to go. I personally went with option number 1 and it looks and feels great.
Step 5: Stick the Print Onto the Game Board.
This step is probably the easiest but the highest stakes step of them all. This stuff is super sticky so if you mess up, the whole thing goes in the garbage. (No pressure right?) With a steady hand and the help of a friend, you should have no trouble getting the print to stick onto the board in a matter of seconds. Peel off the back to expose the adhesive and slowly attach the print to the game board. Take your time and don't mess up :D. There is a good tutorial of how to attach adhesive prints to a game board with finesse (and to make the game board itself if that is something you are interested in doing) here. As you will find in the tutorial, it helps to expose a small section of sticky and attach it right away. Then you can slowly peel the excess away while with your other hand flattening down the printed side onto the board.
You are going to need to cut one side and score the other side. The clean cut is on this side : (Picture 2) And the score (cut but not all the way through is (Picture 3))If you cut all the way through this part you will ruin it and will have to start again. Then if you have done it right, it should quad fold like this: (Picture 4) Once you get the game board in hand, where you cut will become more obvious.
If I were to do this again however, I would probably invest in a higher quality game board because when it folds up into fourths, as it doesn't lay perfectly flat. Just a little nit-picky thing but it would make it perfect.
Step 6: Reference Photos / Painting the Pieces
Thank goodness for such a strong Spongebob fanbase that gives us so many good reference photos. If you type in Eels and Escalators on google more than enough photos will pop up for your use.
Find a comfy spot and throw on some Netflix because this is going to take a while. If you have an airbrush, now is the time to use it because painting with acrylic takes forever - which is what I did. One eternity later...
Escalators: I did a couple base coats of light orange for the majority of the escalators and I did brown for the steps. The color of the steps changed between photos and I thought brown looked the best. For the rails, I mixed brown and yellow to try and create a bamboo look but it wasn't 100% perfect but I think still looks great all things considered.
Eels: This one wasn't too bad. I took a light green and covered the entire eel and added dark green in for the eyes and for the definition of the fins/contour of the body. Also, if you remember from the episode, there is an eel with "You Lose" written on it. That is also included in this game and is the dreaded, deadly eel.
Pieces: Again, if you remember from the episode there were two pieces that were orange and white used by Spongebob and Patrick so I painted two pieces orange and white and included the red mouth things and the black eyes. I also made a light blue piece and a red piece so that this could be 4 player game rather than just being limited to 2 people. Be creative and use whatever colors you want.
Dice: The dice are both orange and green with some purple, light and dark green elements to it. I did include numbers on the dice which I will explain on the next step.
We are all done painting! All hail the magic conch! Alooloolooloolooloo! Again, if you get the reference you are my friend.
Step 7: Instructions
The way SpongeBob and Patrick played this game in the show was well... a little unrealistic. I assigned numbers to the dice to allow the players to move through the spaces while still being able to roll a pair of eels and escalators. Then you can roll numbers and advance through the board instead of exclusively rolling eels and escalators. Also, it makes rolling eels and escalators a little more rare and as a result - more exciting.
I also included 3D printed pieces rather than just drawing it on the board so the pieces could be moved around. This is to ensure a different experience each time you play. You can play around with the sizes of the escalators and eels and the amount you want to use, but I have found 3 escalators and 4 eels is plenty. Again, you can add more or less if you so choose.
The game follows a chutes and ladders format so making up rules for it shouldn't be too exhaustive. Be creative and have fun! Now let's play!
Step 8: Done! Let's Play!
This Instructable was an absolute joy to make. I found myself laughing and reflecting on my childhood several times while making it. It was really such a neat experience to see something I watched as a kid come to life in front of my eyes. My wife and I played it 3-4 times and laughed the whole way through it. We also changed up where we put the escalators and the eels each time we played. This is a game not only for the young kids but for the whole family to enjoy! I hope this reminded you of your childhood and I hope you get a chance to make it at some point!
If you enjoyed this Instructable, please leave a comment, a like, and a vote for the Toys Contest here on Instructables. I hope this Instructable was as nostalgic for you as it was for me! Thanks for checking this Instructable out and I will see you on the next one!
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