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My daughter recently turned 7, and she is a nightmare to buy for, and when we asked what she would like for her birthday, the only thing she could tell us was this Glow Station, because one of her friends has it and its 'cool'! So, we hunted high and low for it in our town, and it was out of stock everywhere. She received some money from relatives, so we bundled the kids into the car and headed over to Toys R Us. She was ecstatic when she finally found this after turning over the whole store, and we thought it was a bargain at half price, £12.49, compared to the £25 plus price tag we had found in the shops it was out of stock at. She had told us it was like a big easel, so I was a little confused at the relatively small box it came in, but she knew it was the right one. When she ripped open the box, I saw what she meant. It is kind of like a 'screen' that was folded in half, and you pull it open so it hangs down. Its lined at the top and bottom with a chunky plastic, the top has a moulded 'handle' which we used to hang it on a hook on the wall. There is another moulded plastic strip along the bottom, and this has little hooks which you can hang the plastic cards on (I'll explain more in a minute!) The screen itself is like a rubbery kind of material, and it is obvious straight away that its glow in the dark. It is supplied with a special pen. The pen is large and chunky, so great for small hands, but also not to easy to lose or misplace. It requires 3 AAA batteries, and when you turn the pen on, the tip of it glows in a UV light. It also comes with another tip that clips over the end, this is a big, plastic diamond, and it creates a diamond effect when used to draw with. To use, you simply use the pen on the screen, and you get brilliant glow in the dark pictures! As I said earlier, it also comes with some little plastic cards, some of these have stencils on, so you can hold them up against the screen and colour them in to create pictures, such as animals, or a spaceman! It also has some patterned squares, and if you hold these up against the screen and rub the pen over them, it leaves a pattern on the screen, my daughters favourite is the leopard print pattern! The bonus with this is that you don't need to hold the screen up against a light to make it glow better, and that it doesnt need to be particularly dark for the pen to show up. The first time my girls used it it was the middle of the day and the results were very clear. It is great though to wait until it is dark and then turn all the lights off, it is really bright and the kids love it! You also do not need to clean the screen, the pictures eventually fade away and the board looks as good as new again, also another bonus as if you were using real pens or felt tips, eventually the screen or easel etc looks used and worn. We have this hanging in our living room for now, as we noticed that on a night, once we turned the lights off, the whole screen glows leaving a hanging green square on our wall, and as our 7 year old shares a room with her 4 year old sister, we didnt fancy one of them waking up and getting scared of the glowing wall, so thought it best it stays downstairs! All 3 of our girls absolutely love this, and the only downside we have had with it is that they argue over who's turn it is to use it next! I would happily spend £25 on this product, but if you can pick it up for half price it is an absolute bargain and will keep kids entertained for hours!
The toy I will now review was the only real thing that I had picked for my son as part of his Christmas box, this year, well last year I should say, both of my children had a well thought out lists of what they wanted! The product I will now review is - "Crayola - Glowstation, create with light". I have to be truthful, this was brought from my catalogue with the briefest of information available, but I truly thought it was similar to a "lights alive" type product, this is where you can draw pictures with lights through a board, so thought this would be ideal for my son. We didn't actually open this set until a good few weeks after Christmas, and I was pretty impressed with what this set actually comprised of. Within the set you get - A "glow" board, this is a sheet of cream coloured plastic, with a top end and bottom end perfect to hang this on the wall and with space at the top to hold the wand and accessories, meaning that there should be less chance of losing all the pieces....theoretically anyway! The other major piece of equipment is the wand, and that looks just like a thicker version of a roller ball pen, there is an cross head screw holding the battery case together at one end, and on the other there is a small torch bulb that lights up when switched on. The batteries to be used are 3 x AAA alkaline batteries, these are easy enough to put in, and longevity wise, my son has had a good few hours worth of play with the wand, and it has yet to dim or run out. Also included in the set is a selection of stencils, these are everything from animal shapes to rockets, shapes, these are the inside part of the stencils, these can be used in conjunction with the texture sheets which in a nutshell are sheets of plastic with a load of different patterns on, the point of which will become apparent soon! The final piece in the set was the one that completely threw me, not only did I not understand (initially!) what the set was for, but the large diamond shaped piece of plastic that attached over the end of the light wand completely baffled me! After removing everything from the box, inserting said batteries and unrolling the plastic sheet, this has to be done as the sheet is rolled to stop it from cracking in transit, but this means that for a while after unpacking it will roll itself back up again! Then once the protective sheet is peeled away from the plastic sheet you can begin! For best results you should use this set in a darkened room. You then switch on the light wand and start to draw with it across the sheet. What happens is the light leaves a UV memory on the plastic sheet, meaning that for a couple of minutes after drawing a masterpiece it will still be visible before eventually fading away so the child can start drawing again, it's like a UV aqua draw with actually having to use water! We did start just writing our names and silly faces initially, but once bored of this we decided to check out the accessories that came with the set, these really made drawing a lot of fun! To start with we laid a selection of stencils out on the now lying flat sheet, then just shone the light over the top. Once the shapes had been removed it left a delightful picture that I thought was a little blurry round the edges due to it having started to fade straight away, it was blurry in actually fact due to us not place the light wand close enough to the sheet, so on our second and third try the picture was much crisper and lasted a bit longer too! Alongside the stencils there was the texture sheets too, these could be used on there own simpy by laying the sheet of patterns upon the UV sheet then shine the light over the top to leave the imprint, or, as we did, laid one of the larger stencils down with a texture sheet beneath it, then very carefully drawing over it with the light wand, I say carefully as with any stencil, going outside of the lines would only ruin the effect. The effect is pretty impressive, with the tree that we had used having a tiger print running up it's trunk, this added a fun aspect to the picture. The final part, which I mentioned earlier really confused me, is the large diamond shaped attachment for the light wand. After easily clipping it onto the end of the wand, then carefully holding it onto the sheet, though not touching as it states that this attachment could quite easily pierce the sheet, I removed the wand and was left with a perfectly shaped star, this is by far one of the most used attachments in this set, though my daughter uses it as a twirling baton, the diamond shape reminds her of a marching band twirler! Price wise this is available from www.amazon.co.uk for the sum of £17.99 plus P&P, which is much cheaper than I paid for it, which was around the £25.00 mark jus before Christmas. Is it worth the money, yes! I truly think this is a clean and ingenious way of letting your child explore their artistic side, the fact that unlike some other drawing sets it has enough hooks and compartments to hold all the attachments and the facility to actually hang it too is fantastic, all I have to do is make sure he puts the stuff away! For more information visit - www.crayola.com Thanks for reading x