* Prices may differ from that shown
Crayola was a brand that I always used in my childhood and now rather a lot of years later the brand has expanded massively and is a brand I often buy for my daughters. My eldest daughter loves anything creative and I always look for new ideas in the areas of arts and crafts when I am looking for presents, looking on Amazon I came across this contraption and as it only cost £6.99 with free delivery I felt it was a decent enough price to buy and give it a go.
The product comes packaged in a plastic package which has to be cut into to be opened so is completely useless for keeping the product in which is quite poor in my opinion, I'm sure every parent will know how annoying it is to have toys with bits to go with them and nowhere to keep them properly. The packaging is wrapped in cardboard top and bottom and shows two children playing with the product and you can see the product and the pens inside, on the back it shows pictures that have been created using the pen.
==What You Get==
Inside the package you get the pen which is made of red plastic and is a slight s shape which I would think is supposed to make it easy to hold however from the way my daughter holds it she would have been better using it if it had been straight. On one end of the pen you have a battery pack which is secured by a screw, the pen takes 2 x AA batteries and they are not included in the set which I always think is poor for a childs toy. In the middle of the pen there are two sliders, on one side you have a slider which has a zig zag setting on it, then the middle is the off position and then there is a swirly circle setting. On the other side of the pen the second slider allows you to set the speed at which the pen makes patterns, each slider is pretty stiff to begin with but Sophie is 5 and she did eventually manage to work out how to get them to move although it really didn't help that she has next to no nails. On the other end of the open there is a hole where the pen sits for the pen to be able to make patterns, in the set you receive 6 mini markers which are red, orange, green, purple, pink and blue.
To use the pen you first have to insert a pen, above the hole on the pen there is a bright yellow knob which you turn to open the hole up to get the pen inside and then twist again to hold onto the pen firmly. Sophie is unable to put the pens in herself as even when fully open it is pretty tight to get the pen in place and so she has to ask for help, I always find if Sophie has to ask for help to play with something then it seems to put her off playing with the toy at all. Once the pen is in place then you simply select which pattern you would like the pen to make and switch it onto the speed you require neither of which is too difficult, the end of the pen will move to make the pattern and you just simply have to move the pen around the paper for where you want the pen to draw. Sophie finds it quite difficult to hit the paper with the pen when it is moving and at first she would ask me to help her start it off but now she does it herself, at first she was a little scared of it I think she thought the paper would fly off or something similar.
Sophie finds it easy to make patterns with the pen and she will make loads of pictures happily with different patterns on but she didn't find it very easy to actually make proper pictures with the pen until we came up with an idea. If Sophie wants to make a picture with the pen then we either get a ready drawn picture out of a colouring book or we will draw the picture ourselves first, the pictures we use are really simple as you couldn't have anything too detailed with this pen, this makes it much easier for Sophie to make a picture which is recognisable and she really enjoys it this way.
Sophie enjoys playing with the pen but we find that as she cannot change the pens herself it is only really suitable to play with when I am not busy with something so that I can do it for her. The pen is meant for children aged 4-8 years and Sophie is only a few months from being 6 years old so I would have thought being nearly mid age range she really should have been able to fit the pens by now. The pen makes some lovely effects and you can also layer the round swirls with the straight zig zags to get further effects too. Being Crayola the pens are washable which is brilliant as no matter how careful my children are they still always get in a mess with pens, you can use other pens and pencils with the pen it doesn't just have to be what comes in the set but we tried it with pencils and for all it still worked well Sophie prefers to use it with the pens. I would say the pen would get used more in our house if Sophie could do it completely on her own but when she does play with it she makes some great pictures and really enjoys herself so I would rate it 4 stars.