Since I have been so busy with other things, I have a backlog of stuff I want to post here, starting with something I bought the other week when I was in Bed Bath & Beyond. It's the Hollywood Nails All in One Nail Art System, which consists of a stamping machine, seven stamping plates, a dotting tool/striping brush combination implement, and a lot of little stones. It was around $20, but of course I had a coupon. (I try to never buy anything there unless I have a coupon.)
The handle sticking out of the side of the machine gets rotated to lock it down to the table (using suction), the top of the stamper is sticking up on the left (that pulls out for cleaning and to use on its own), and the scraper is in front of the stamper (it also comes out for cleaning).
Here's the suction "cup" on the bottom of the unit:
I didn't manage to get good photos of the plates; I'm hoping this image from the back of the package will let you see well enough what designs are available. Because of how the device works, the images in the middle of the plates can't be used with it but have to be stamped the old fashioned way. These plates are the same size as other octagonal plates I already had, so it is possible to use other plates with the machine. Most of the plates I had already aren't octagonal so won't be any good with this device, however.
One of the big selling points for this system is the promise of "perfect placement every time" as the back of the package puts it. The fine print that should go with that is "every time after you figure out how to do it with the particular design you've chosen, which may take a long time". There's a nail guide in the back of the machine that slides back and forth and can be locked down once you get the center of your nail lined up withe the line marked on the unit.
To stamp with this, you lay the plate down in the designated space in the front of the machine and put polish on it, slide the top part of the unit forward over the plate (which scrapes the polish in the process), push down on the stamper, pull the top part back over your nail at the back of the machine, and press down on the stamper. I thought I had my nail lined up correctly, but obviously I did not, as the image was nowhere near centered.
My struggles with alignment were especially amusing when I tried the French tip designs. Oooh la la, that really puts the funky in funky French.
There are two plates in this set that have a circle of numbers in the center rather than an image for toes. These are designed to make two-color designs, where you stamp the first part with one color polish and the second part with another, ended up with the two parts perfectly aligned with each other. I tried this with the love/hearts combination, and it did work out pretty well (by this point I'd messed up all my nails trying to get things lined up and didn't bother putting on a new base color).
Here's the stamper after I took it out and cleaned it:
Here's the scraper, before I cleaned it (the blade is metal):
I suppose if I practiced more with this machine, I could manage to get my images aligned the same on every nail, but that would also be true if I practiced without the machine, and stamping without the machine gives much more flexiblity. Without the machine, it's also easier to keep the scraper clean and possible to use a gentler plastic scraper. I can see the value in using the machine to get multi-colored images aligned, but mrsrexy at Canadian Nail Fanatic doesn't need a machine to do multi color designs, so I think there's hope I could manage the same with practice. If you like gadgets, you'll probably like this, but like most gadgets, it's not necessarily going to make your life easier or better.
I finally drew a winner from the comments on the Studio M Valentine's Polish post; those pretties will be going to Meredith Anne from Polish and Charms.