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I bought my daughter (then aged four) the fisher price art studio as a christmas present. The thing that attracted me most to it was the many things your child could do without the mess of paper glue and crayons around the house. When you first use the fisherprice studio you can either use the installation disk provided or just plug it in and downoad it from the fisherprice website. Fisherprice also provide a help section for instillation and furthar updates can be downloaded....meaning you can always stay up to date with etxras completley free of charge. The sort of things your child can do with the studio is nearly never ending. Stampers, invitations, party hats, 'freedraw', colouring, scenes and even decorating family pictures are just a handful off the thigs you can do. My daughter is now nearly six year old, and still uses her studio. I think she will be using it for a good few years to come as the activitys are 'age limitness' . Another benefit is all work can be saved to the program, so no tears if you have to tell your youngster to turn it off before theyve finished their masterpiece, itl still be there when they return. once you switch the studio on your desktop and hard drive is blocked, meaning you can leave the room knowing no 'wrong buttons' can be pressed resulting in costly computer repairs. And if your childs print happy, it allows you to set a print limit meaning kids cant use a full pack of paper in a hour. The fisherprice digital art studio is made from sturdy pieces, the stylus pen comes attached by a wire which is habdy as stuff like that always ends up lost in our house. I can honestly say ive not had a one problem with it and would 100% reccomended it for anyone with youngsters.
Even before my son was born, I was adamant that no child of mine would be put to sit in front of the television all day or even becoming boggle-eyed whilst playing computer games. However, despite my good intentions and fairly hefty investment in 'real' toys, at four years old, my son has already acquired the skill of using a mouse and clicking on the homepage of CBeebies and The Disney Channel, so I decided to take into account the fact that he also loves drawing and painting and headed off to Toys'r'Us to purchase a Fisher Price Digital Arts & Crafts Studio - which essentially provides a good mix of art work and computer skills, albeit designed for the younger generation. The 'studio' has, what seems, a never ending choice of projects to do including drawing, painting, making crafts, making books, party invitations and colouring in pictures, and each project is undertaken by using a pressure pen on what is the equivalent of a mouse pad. In my opinion, this is a very unique 'toy' in that the child can use their imagination to make a wide variety of artwork. ~~~What's in the box?~~~ In addition to the main digital studio, referred to as the 'studio base', the box also contains the relevant CD software together with the USB cable for connecting to the computer. The studio system that I purchased also included a promotional piece of software centred around a dinosaur theme for use on the system. Also included was a fairly in-depth, yet easy to understand, instruction leaflet. ~~~Getting started~~~ Before your child begins to set the world alight with his creative talent, mummy or daddy needs to set the system up first. This is a very straight forward process and is no different from installing any other program. The USB cord is simply connected to the computer and the disc inserted. Once the program has been installed, remove the disc and the studio is ready to be used. ~~~Layout of the Studio Base~~~ The studio base is essentially placed in front of the computer monitor and the USB cord is connected to the computer. On first appearance, the base itself looks a little on the 'busy' side with a plain white mouse pad in the centre which is surrounded by the various paint colours, project options etc. on either side. However, once the child has used it a few times, everything soon becomes familiar and easy to use. To the left of the studio base, there are four buttons which the child can press, giving the options of spray painting, normal painting, pencil drawing and eraser. Each button has a hole in the centre in which the child can push the pen to activate that activity. Below the paints section lies a set of seven buttons, providing the options of undo, paint bucket, toolbar switch, stamper, backgrounds, type, special effects, and erase the whole screen. To the side of these buttons is a small lever which brings up various sub-sections of each of the above. For example, when selecting the stamper, the lever will show a selection of different stampers which can be added to the picture. On the right hand side of the studio, we find the colour palette which gives a selection of nine different colours. However, if the middle button of the palette is selected, you are offered a further 256 shades which can be added to your picture. Above the colour palette, there are two additional buttons - the project studio button (homepage) and the utilities button. There is also a holder in which the pen is placed. The on/off switch is just at the back of the studio on the right hand side. ~~~And now the clever bit - what does it do?~~~ The numerous options available on the art studio appear never ending: (Projects) When turning on the art studio, the home page automatically takes the child to a page of options including colouring pages, paper projects, create a party (party hats, invitations etc.) free draw, crafts, create a book, and dot to dot. (Drawing Options) Here, the child can create their own pictures using the various colouring options such as pencil drawing, painting and spray painting. With the spray painting option, you all get sound effects of...spray painting no less. (Special Effects) In my opinion, this is a wonderful feature because the child can create a picture, and then mix it all up, swirl it around and reverse it. (Stampers) There is a fairly wide selection of stampers available which can be added to any picture the child creates. The child can create a picture themself or use one of the backgrounds (explained later in the review) and can then add little pictures to their creations. Cats, dogs, suns, cars are among the options available. (Backgrounds) Again, a fairly wide selection of backgrounds is available to start the child off on creating their picture. Additional pictures can be added to the background, together with downloaded photographs. (Picture Gallery) When the child has finished a picture, these can be saved by pressing the green tick at the end of the project. The gallery is the place where completed pictures can be viewed. (Type) On selecting the 'type' option, a small keyboard appears on the screen and the child can practice their spelling. Typed words can also be added to completed pictures. There are various styles of type which the child can choose (italic, bold, large type etc.) (Erase Screen) This basically does as it says - with the press of a button, the whole picture on the screen can be erased. This is ideal if the child wants to have a practice before creating the 'real thing'. (Share Pictures) The pictures created on the art studio can be e-mailed to friends in the same way as one would normally send an e-mail attachment. When selected, the pictures can be saved to the 'share' folder from which they can be retrieved to forward via e-mail. (Add Pictures) The child can add pictures retrieved from elsewhere on the computer and can incorporate these into their studio art picture. (Print ) This is self explanatory and, provided you have your printer set up to accommodate the digital art studio, the child can print off their artwork. This is particular useful if the child is making things such as the party hats, party invitations etc. ~~~Matthew's Masterpieces (and experience of the art studio)~~~ Although not yet quite addicted, I would say that this is one of Matthew's favourite toys (if you can call it a toy!) Within a couple of days, he had sussed out which buttons needed to be pressed to create his chosen projects, and he ended up having to show me how to use it. (It's amazing what you can learn from a 4 year old!). At the moment, Matthew's favourite project is adding stampers to the various backgrounds and we are currently inundated with lots of doggies and pussy cats sitting around a farmyard. Another favourite is making 'messy' pictures with the paint and then mixing up the pictures to make even more of a mess, though I daren't mention the fact to him! Whilst I watch my little man pulling his funny faces when concentrating on his pictures, I am fully aware that, although this is a computer generated pastime, he is using his imagination to quite an extent as he is thinking of things to create and ways in which to arrange pictures. This is also his first experience of dot to dot and, after a shaky start, he has really got the hang of it now, even if we do sometimes start at the end! He has recently learned how to write his name so is also having great fun in creating pictures, typing his name on the keyboard and adding this to the top of the picture. ~~~Technical Bits~~~ I doubt that many of us are still using computers built before 2003, but if any of you are out there, Fisher Price suggest that you may have difficulties in running this program on an older computer. As for further technical information, here are the system requirements: Operating System: Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows 2000 Processor: 750MHz Memory: 256MB RAM Hard Drive: 200MB available Video Resolution: 1024 x 768 Video RAM: 64MB USB Port: 1.1 (...no, I haven't got much idea of what it all means either!) ~~~Age Group~~~ The art studio is suitable for children between the ages of 4 - 9 years old. ~~~Price~~~ I paid £39.97 from Toys'R'Us, though I notice from the website that they are now selling at £34.97 if purchased online. ~~~Good Points~~~ In my opinion, this is a fantastic way to develop your child's creativity and imagination. There are so many options available to create pictures, artwork and even books and the range of colours within the colour palette is just as good as a real paint palette, if not better. You can also purchase additional programs for this system including Fairytales, Go Diego Go, Dora the Explorer and Dinosaurs. As I mentioned earlier, we had a free copy of the dinosaur program and I must admit that Matthew uses this one quite a lot. It includes lots of background scenes in which you can place numerous species of dinosaur of all colours and sizes. ~~~...And the not so good points~~~ To be honest, I don't have any particular bad points to mention on the digital arts studio. However, I would say that we had a slight problem in getting the system to work properly on Windows Vista. There is the possibility that this was down to a problem with the computer, though everything else was working ok. The art studio kept switching itself off which made for a very frustrated little boy (and an even more frustrated mummy who had to keep switching it back on). We ended up installing Windows XP and, as it has been working properly with this system, it does seem more compatible. ~~~Recommended? ~~~ Absolutely! However, it can be difficult when you have to chuck the little'ns off the computer to do your reviews!! Thanks for reading. (Reviewed on Ciao and Dooyoo)
Fun, Provides 85 arts & crafts projects including;Colouring pages, storybooks, paper aeroplanes, signs & banners, party hats, greetings cards and many more. Lots of tools to draw & create. 300 stampers, 75 scene starters, 256 colours and more.