Tonic Tangerine die cutting machine review
With a slimline footprint and easy-to-use sandwich assembly, the Tonic Tangerine is a lovely piece of craft kit – as long as you like orange
What is the Tonic Tangerine?
The Tonic Tangerine is a manual A4 die cutting machine manufactured by Tonic Studios and launched in 2015. Despite its age, the Tangerine is still a favourite with crafters, with 69 out of 72 crafters reviewing the machine on the Tonic website giving it 5 stars, and the remaining 2 crafters giving it 4 stars.
Tonic Tangerine functions
The Tonic Tangerine comes out the box with the plates you need to cut paper and card with dies up to A4 in size, to emboss details using embossing dies and to emboss with embossing folders. You need to purchase the craft dies, embossing dies and embossing folder separately to use with this machine
Is the Tonic Tangerine easy to use?
The thing that really makes the Tonic Tangerine stand out from the bulk of its die-cutting-machine competitors is its clear, simple cutting sandwich assembly. All die cutting machines will have different cutting sandwiches you put together for different functions. The different combined thicknesses of the sandwich elements will give you the correct thickness for either cutting with dies, embossing with dies or embossing with embossing folders. But this is usually a bit complicated, especially for a beginner, with flaps you fold in and out, then top and bottom plates and rubber mats and shims adding to the assembly you need. Once you learn the set up you need for your machine, you are fine. But when you are new to die cutting, this can be very intimidating and off-putting.
The Tonic Tangerine cuts through this (no pun intended) with some super-easy to use cutting plates. Each one is brightly coloured in different shades for easy identification, and with the name of the plate written large in white lettering on the front – die cutting plate (orange), embossing folder plate (cerise), die embossing plate (lime green, with accompanying padded matt in matching line green for ease of recognitions) and top plate (white). To build the sandwich, you make the bottom plate by choosing the function you want eg. die cutting, put your die and card in the middle and add the universal top plate on top of the sandwich. This is so much simpler than most other die-cutting machines on the market.
The plates are A4 to give you a large cutting area, and super chunky plastic too, at about 5mm thick. This combined with their bright colours and size does given them a bit of a kitchen-chopping-board appearance, but also makes them easy to handle and grip. They are still very light, so good for those with limited dexterity in their hands. Once of the extra benefits of these boards is that, thick and chunky as they are, they won’t bend over time, as many thinner perspex boards do after they have been run through the pressure of the die cutting machine time and time again. The surface is resilient and hard wearing, but you will get some marking from dies after repeated use, though this does not affect functionality – this picture shows my die cutting plate after about 9 months of crafting service.
Tonic Tangerine quality/durability
The build of the machine is very high quality too. With metal internal gears and rollers, it’s strong and durable and distributes pressure evenly across the build which means you don’t get any cutting blank spots – all enclosed in vibrant orange plastic for a more pleasing, warmer-to-the-touch exterior. All that metal does make the machine pretty heavy (9.8kg), but this is a benefit in some situations – when you turn the handle to move the plates through the cutting rollers, the weight of the machine makes it really stable, despite its slim footprint. There is a soft-grip finish on the handle that makes it nice to hold, and those metal internal cogs run smoothly with a very pleasing resistance when you operate the machine that make it a really sensual delight to use. Interestingly, the Tangerine has rubber foot plates on both the bottom and the top of the machine, so it operates just as well upside down if you want it to, just with the handle sitting off the edge of the surface the machine is on as it won’t have clearance to fully rotate otherwise.
How big and how portable is the Tonic Tangerine?
Despite its weight, it does not do badly on the portability either. There is a small footplate at the bottom that twist out for added stability when in use, but is easily twisted away for storage without the need for any tool. The handle comes off too, though you will need a small alum key for this – one comes with the machine. Without these 2 parts, the Tangerine is a very tidy rectangle shape, complete with a moulded plastic lifting handle to help pick it up. It fits easily into the included storage bag, which has space for the cutting plates, too. Stored, it is heavy but compact, so you could easily transport it around but you would not want to carry it too far – out to your car would be fine.
The Tonic Tangerine is about 22cm tall, but only 8cm wide, which gives it a very compact footprint – all the metal bulk of the machine comes in the height rather than the width. The central cutting aperture of the machine gives you a clearance of 10cm above the surface the cutting machine is sitting on. This is a very handy feature if you tend to have lots of dies and inks out on your craft desk, as you have space for the cutting machine plates to run though the machine even if these craft materials are all around it. If you have things more than 10cm high within the a4 space at each side of the machine, however, they will be knocked over as you feed the plates through it, so watch out for that.
How much is the Tonic Tangerine?
The RRP of the Tonic Tangerine is £169.99, but, as an older machine, it tends to be either on offer at a slightly reduced price or available as second hand models from auction sites like ebay. Its build quality means that you can expect excellent results from a pre-used machine – you may just have some wear and tear on your cutting plates.
Is the Tonic Tangerine good value for money
The price tag is at the higher end of a manual die cutting machine price range. So value for money is not its key feature. But when you consider the novel features and high build quality, the value for money is acceptable.
Our verdict: Should you buy the Tonic Tangerine
This is one special and very orange die cutting machine that will serve you well for many, many years. The orange is a marmite issue. Personally, I love the orange finish and distinctive design, so I have purchased a Tonic Tangerine and do not regret it. The small footprint is unique for an A4 machine of this size and the smooth manual action makes it really pleasing to operate. If you want an A4 machine because you love craft-a-card large dies, and want a lot of power and pressure to minimise the number of passes you need to make with your cutting sandwich, you’ll do well with the Tonic Tangerine – if you can get hold of one. But if you are prone to craft spillages, the way the plates move through this this machine may not be for you, and if you only ever use smaller dies, you could get better value from a quality A5 machine.
Where to buy
Buy the Tonic Tangerine on Ebay