Reviewed by Debbie Talbot
I am a 40 something big kid so when my twin sons and I got the chance to review a 3Doodler Start Essentials Pen Set we were very excited. My twins love to draw and create their own little artworks. I am so glad it arrived quickly as I was chomping at the bit to try it out. Yes, me as well as my twin boys.
The 3Doodler Start Pen is a child-safe 3D printing pen that uses low heat to create 3D doodles and brings kids creations to life.
The box contained:
- The 3Doodler pen
- 2 plastic packs each containing 24 strands (marked as suitable for age 8+)
- A USB lead (no plug is provided, which for me is not an issue as these tend to be readily available in most households). You can either charge the pen using your computer or by plugging the USB charge lead into a wall socket.
- An instruction booklet
Firstly, out of the box, the pen needed charging. The pen LED light shows orange when it needs charging and green once it is fully charged.
The pen itself is clearly very well made. I think it well stand up well to some pretty robust use from my boys. The age suitability range of 6-13 for the pen is great, my twins are 7 and my teenage daughter 14. I think she would love this too and be quite confident in attempting some of the more intricate designs.
Ok, so now for how to use the pen. I found this YouTube video very helpful.
First of all, I switched on the pen. I then waited about 30-40 seconds until the pen had turned green. I then chose one of the plastic strands, I chose green as I wanted to (attempt to) make the sunglasses in the instruction booklet. I then turned to the relevant page of the booklet and it clearly showed me which 3 components I need to 3doodle to make my sunglasses. I then pushed the green strand gently into the pen until I felt it grip. To start the pen you click once, then again to stop it. To take the strand out of the pen (leaving it in when the pen is in use is not a good idea) you simply click twice.
Having clicked once to turn the pen on, I doodled the frame part of my sunglasses. The pen works very much as if you were doodling in a notebook. If you run out of strand you simply insert another and carry on.
I seemed to get better the more I practised. My children had a go at making the arms of the sunglasses. This was so easy as the design is provided in the instruction booklet. I think as we get more confident we will try the multi-colour designs such as the plant and helicopter. My twins are vehicle mad so I can definitely see the helicopter being high up our list of things to try.
For those more confident than the not very artistic me, you can also freestyle items. I hope to get confident enough to try this. Whilst for the purposes of this review I have mainly described myself using this 3Doodler pen, it was so simple for my children to use too. They could even doodle their names in 3D.
The pen does not take up much space which in a home where space is limited is a godsend. It can be neatly packed away after each use, although I don’t think it will be packed away for long as it is such good fun and brought out the creativity in the whole family. I think that this is an excellent product to encourage learning at home and it is also useful for coordination too. I think it really helps that the pen is so comfortable to hold and uncomplicated to use.
For safety conscious parents like me, I was glad to find out that the plastic strands are BPA free and non-toxic plastic is used (Biodegradable Eco-Plastic made entirely from food-grade materials), it is safe and does not get hot when in use (it uses a very low heat so nothing is hot to touch) and the melted plastic hardens extremely quickly. One important thing to note is that only the 3Doodler Start plastic can be used with the pen and that strands should be snipped before they are reinserted. Also, used strands cannot be reused.
We all had great fun with this 3D pen, it really is a fun way to get little artists to really see their creations come to life.