Sizzix cutters are almost surprisingly powerful, able to cut through dozens of materials, plus take on embossing projects. The original Sizzix Big Shot was a bestseller, and the Sizzix Big Shot Express is its newest version. This cutter made the rounds and went through a lot of “sold out” periods during its release in 2016.
The fast sales seem to indicate something great happened with the Sizzix Big Shot Express, but is that just a lot of product excitement? Read through our review to find out all the excellent (and less than stellar) features to help inform your purchase.
What Does the Sizzix Big Shot Express Do?
The Sizzix Big Shot Express serves as a die cutter with a steady range of common crafting materials. You can expect to work with vinyl, cardstock, vellum, fabrics, and other types of papers. For such a small sized machine, it’s got some power behind it. If you can cut through a material with a pair of paper craft scissors, then it’ll be able to pass through the Big Shot Express with no problems.
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The previous Big Shot model had the same amount of functionality as the Express. However, the defining update in the newer model is the lack of a crank.
With the previous Big Shot, crafters had to use the crank to cut or emboss materials. Since the Big Shot has a capacity for smaller-sized projects, this wasn’t an awful strain, especially for casual users. However, those who go through massive amounts of embossing in one sitting start to feel the strain that comes from repeated cranking. Wrist pain was not uncommon.
However, the Express version runs on electricity. Instead of turning the handle, all you need is the press of a button to start your cutting or embossing process. The start and stop buttons work in one switch, which is easy to access and locate. With the simple switch, you can also change the feeding direction. For crafters with carpal tunnel and arthritis, the button-controlled feeding is a blessing.
Without the need to crank, you also don’t have to account for motion space when setting up your embosser. The only potential downside is that you’ll need to keep the Express next to an outlet for it to work, so you may need to change crafting locations when you upgrade from the crank.
The power cord disconnects from the main machine to allow for effortless storage and transport.
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The original Big Shot already had a sleek and modern design. The Express follows on that trend by keeping roughly the same build as the original, just without the crank. This design change makes it look even sleeker.
The lack of crank also allows for the Big Shot Express to take up less space and even weigh less than the original. At 7.5 pounds, this embosser is very light and portable. The rest of its measurements ate 14″ x 10″ x 6″, making it easy to store and easy to operate.
That small size starts to have a downside when it comes to cutting width. The Big Shot Express can only fit materials that are six inches wide. If you routinely work with smaller projects, this isn’t likely to be a problem. However, many other embossers have much more space to give. When it comes to material width, the Big Shot Express is very much on the lower end of the electronic cutter spectrum. You should consider how you want to use this product and if it can handle your crafting demands.
Best types of projects for the big shot include:
- Making cards
- Small signs
- Vinyl crafts
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When you pull the Big Shot Express out of the box, you’re looking at a rather simple set up process. The embosser and die-cutter package comes with:
There are no included dies, so you’ll need to pick up some extras before you can start making the most out of your Express.
A nice touch is that the thin die adapter and extendable cutting board both have printed instructions on them that show you what combination of accessories you need for specific projects and materials. This help is fantastic, especially if you’re new to the whole process. Even for experienced users, it gives you a quick guide to just what the Express can handle and what it needs to get the job done.
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If you want a machine to encourage your kids into crafting, the Big Shot Express is an excellent place to look. Even the original Big Shot was easy for kids to use, but the button operation makes it all the easier. It’s a fantastic embosser for encouraging creativity and getting kids to work with their hands. The photo guides on the thin die adapter and the extendable cutting board make it even easier for kids to handle.
This product is also a durable piece of equipment we’re looking at here. Despite the small size, the Big Shot Express is difficult to break. You can let the young ones use it without working about it breaking, which is a great feature to have in a product that’s rather expensive.
The Big Shot Express comes with a one-year warranty, though you may have a somewhat tricky time putting in a claim if you order off Amazon. Even so, the warranty is there, and you can’t fault Sizzix for that.
The manufacturer also offers email and phone support if you have any questions or concerns. Sizzix is generally responsive if you need to reach out. Even if you don’t have luck with them, you have the whole community on your side.
Sizzix fans love their products and the Big Shot models. They’ve produced lots of instructive videos on dealing with technical problems, plus you can also see numerous crafters showing off tutorials on fun things you can make with the Big Shot Express. Most of the time, the information you need is already available online before you can even think of contacting customer support.
All in all, this die cutter is a lot more powerful than its size and design might suggest. It doesn’t have all the big bells and whistles of larger electric models, but with that it does, the Big Shot express does it well. When you pick this product up, you’re looking at something that can fulfill fundamental crafting needs on a small scale with a convenient size and supportive community.
Pros and Cons at a Glance
- Motorized cutting
- Same excellent cutting and embossing quality as previous Big Shot
- Family friendly
- Easily understandable instructions for use
- Higher cost due to electric
- Small size for an embosser
- Limited accessories
The Big Shot Express has an MSRP price of $229.99, making it roughly fifty percent more expensive than its non-electric predecessor. Sizzix is charging a premium for the electric convenience of this model, which isn’t rare. When you consider it, this decision makes some sense, but you do have to wonder about the exact increase amount.
At base value, the Big Shot Express does cost less than other machines, like the Silhouette Cameo 2 and the Cricut Explore Air. However, the gap in prices isn’t quite enough to make the Big Shot Express the best deal on the market. If you’re looking at spending a little more just to go electric, you may be better off saving up a little more cash and getting a much more comprehensive machine while you’re at it.
Crafters who use the Big Shot Express seem to love it to pieces. Complaints about the product are few and far between, and some people’s biggest wish is wanting a few more accessories included with the purchase. There have been very few reports of product failure and incapability, though crafters who order through Amazon seem to have more troubles than those who go through other retailers.
For the most part, those who use the Big Shot Express are converts from the original Big Shot. Many of them felt drawn to the lack of a hand crank and the new automatic running features. The Express is very popular amongst crafters who suffer from and wrist difficulties, like carpal tunnel and arthritis. The automatic function serves its purpose of eliminating the need for a crank well.
All in all, it’s a very functional machine with a dedicated fanbase. Even two years after the Big Shot Express’s release, it continues to sell out across retailers.
How it Compares
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When you look at the Big Shot Express in comparison to the original Big Shot, the parallels are apparent. You’re getting a lot of the same high level of functionality for a small machine, just without the annoyance of the hand crank. At the same time, you’re also looking at a steeper price point as a result.
The two machines are comparable on types of functions, but there’s a little difference in use as well. The spacing between the platform and rollers is a bit different between the two Big Shots, so you’ll need to adjust how you work with it if you’re upgrading from the original to the Express.
Stepping back to look at the bigger embossing picture, though, the Express is on the smaller side of embossers. You can get much more out of an embosser for a little extra cost than what you’re putting into the Big Shot Express. Embossers like the Silhouette Cameo, Cricut Explore Air, and the Sizzix Big Shot Pro provide a radial jump in cutting capabilities and might be the smarter purchase in the long run.
What We Think
The Sizzix Big Shot Express does what it promises: it provides the same capability of its predecessor, all with the convenience of a motor instead of a hand crank. Instead of tolling away to get your embossing and cutting work done, you need to press a button, and you’re ready to go. This function is easily the most appealing feature.
Even so, the price point makes it a little hard to wholly recommend this product. As mentioned, an extra cash investment just for electric-run feeding capabilities may be better for saving up towards a more versatile machine. It’s not to say that the Big Shot Express doesn’t do the job well, just that you can get more elsewhere.
However, if you love the original Big Shot, you’re probably the audience for this die cutter. Users who find that the Big Shot fulfills all their needs but think that the crank is inconvenient or unwieldy can find solace in the Express version. Crafters who struggle with carpal tunnel and arthritis will see the electric functions to be a welcome relief.
In the end, smaller scale hobbyists who don’t need a massive amount of functionality with electric convenience can purchase the Big Shot Express and feel more than satisfied. However, if you’ve looked at the specs and feel like this isn’t the die-cutter or embosser to meet your needs, then continue your search. With so many excellent products out there, you’re bound to find one that suits your crafting needs.
Sizzix product prices tend to fluctuate a lot, as do their availability. It’s not hard to find at least one or two sites online where the Big Shot Express has sold out, including the official retailer.
The price on Amazon tends to be a little cheaper, but not by a substantial amount. You may strike it lucky if you stay vigilant, but it’s not a guarantee.
However, Scrapbook.com hosts regular sales on Big Shot products, including dies and accessories. While not always available, the sales price for the Big Shot Express cuts the cost down to $159.99, which is a more worthwhile investment than the MSRP. Scrapbook.com also has several bundles for the original Big Shot, making it an excellent place to keep an eye out for die-cutter and embosser purchases.