Reviewed by Linda Curtain
With it being the start of the school Easter holiday break, I was delighted to receive the Aquabeads Deluxe Studio to review. Having previously experienced a similar product that required ironing to set the beads, this system of using water seemed great and much safer – both for the children using it and Mum’s iron!!
Invented in Japan in 2004 by EPOCH, this was the worlds first ever ‘stick with water’ toy and has proved really popular worldwide.
The idea behind this fun, safe, creative product is simple. You place colourful beads onto a special, indented tray following the colour charts. Each bead has its own number which you use to lay them out following the numbers indicated – a bit like the old ‘paint by numbers’. When you are happy with the design, a spray of water sets the beads in place. The shape is then flipped from the tray onto the design mat and left to dry. No heat. No mess!
I was very impressed with the sturdiness of the product – very colourful components and a bag of dazzling beads. The blue storage base has compartments to store each colour of bead separately. This kit comes with over 1,300 beads in an amazing range of twenty – four different colours. The crystal cut beads were very impressive. The top working surface is divided into two areas, one being plain for your own creations or to copy a design and the other side has pre-shaped designs for you to fill in.
Although the beads can be placed by hand onto the tray, this kit has a rather nifty bead dispenser tool which can be loaded with beads and used to place them in the correct places. Unfortunately we found this gadget very difficult to use with the beads overshooting the design and having to be manually realigned – no doubt with more practise the use of this would improve.
We decided to use one of the pre-shaped designs – a rabbit in keeping with Easter weekend! The children soon got the hang of placing the beads and when they were happy with their colour choices, they were able to spray the rabbit with the water sprayer. We were a bit unsure how much water was needed and how long to leave them before turning them out of the tray – the instructions were a bit vague. We decide to turn them onto the design mat after a few minutes and then they had to be left to dry. This took over an hour to dry properly so not a quick process but the children were thrilled with the result and had been able to create more shapes while waiting.
For those wanting a bit more technical info about how the beads stick, it is through the use of an ingredient PVOH ( PVA/Polyvinyl Alcohol) which was originally used to stick postage stamps and envelopes. The beads conform to toy safety standards globally and a bitter ingredient is added to the beads to deter children from eating them as an additional safety feature.
There are numerous other kits available including Disney characters and Minions. You can also purchase the bead packs separately to top up your kit.
This is certainly an innovative idea with so much scope for a child’s imagination. A great craft product to encourage the use of fine motor skills and creativity.
This product can be purchased from www.aquabeads.co.uk as well as from many high street and online stores.