Product Type: Flair Art / Craft
Newest Review: ... But despite a few rogue beads we have found this a really good craft activity. The pack comes with beads, a tray which you form the ... more
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Flair Aqua Beads Starter Set
Member Name: abbadabbado
Flair Aqua Beads Starter Set
Advantages: keeps children amused
Disadvantages: beads are lost easily, designs take longer to set than required time
Each and every time the advert for Aqua Beads appeared on the TV, my soon to be five year old daughter was begging me for a set. "Look at what I could make" she would cry.
When my older daughter was young, there was nothing on the market to resemble Aqua Beads. I immediately liked the concept of being able to use water to stick beads together, so we researched the best set to get her started with once her birthday rolled around.
For £9.99 we bought the starter set which contains over 800 beads. This price is fairly stable wherever you look, but it is usually found in the two for £15 from Argos which makes it slightly better value.
Inside the set as previously mentioned were a large amount of beads all packaged nicely according to their colour. There was a good colour range included. Also in the box was a plastic compartment box with a lid, which although looks quite flimsy has done a good job of housing the beads. A small plastic bottle with nozzle acts as the spray bottle. This could actually double as a small perfume bottle in little girls craft sets, but it's a decent size for an adult to use, but perhaps a little small for children to grip and be able to use properly one handed. The bead tool however is a different story being a nice size to fit smaller hands.
No craft set would be complete without the standard templates. We were given four different ideas sheets which fit snugly into the bead board. I thought this was a nice idea, as the templates were in full colour and made using the correct size circles to fit the bead size perfectly. So often in sets, templates are an afterthought and don't really fit the set they are packaged with, so a bit plus for Flair, the maker of the set.
Obviously my daughter was eager to get started so she sectioned off the beads into the plastic compartment box. Immediately I could see the small plastic beads being lost quite quickly, and this would be the one downfall to the set. Like many smaller children, girls especially when they start playing with beads etc., you invariably hear the familiar "ting ting ting" if you have laminate floor as one or three drop from the table to the floor. The hoover will often be heard collecting stray beads from under the front of the sofa or table.
Once our beads were sorted into colours, we set up the bead board and worked out how the tool worked. The board is made of clear plastic sitting in a pink tray. This is a good fit and there is space to remove the clear board and place a template underneath. A couple of grooves on the templates and plastic board enable everything to stay in place quite nicely.
The board itself has small bead like grooves which the beads nestle into when they are placed on the board. If you imagine an old fashioned solitaire board with the larger dips, then this is a much smaller version.
The next step is to use the bead tool which is essentially a fat plastic pen with a hole instead of a nib. The top part of the tool is pink coloured plastic and serves no purpose other than to be held comfortably. The base of the tool is clear and shows when you have managed to place a bead into the hole. This is done by pressing lightly down into the beads until one pops into the tool. It's a very easy process but children do have to remember not to press too hard otherwise the beads tend to splay out everywhere.
To get the bead from the tool onto the board, there is a small button that acts as a release when the tool is above the board. We learnt very quickly here that the tool has to be quite close to where you want the bead to fall as it can jump into the wrong groove very easily.
Some practice is needed for first time Aqua Bead users to master the technique, but once mastered, it's a very easy and quick process to create a design.
The main negative part of the tool is that it will only hold one bead at a time. There are other sets on the market that hold multiple beads, but not the starter set which is a shame.
Once your design is in place, the time has come for it to be glued together with water. A spray of water will create a sticky substance from the beads which sets the design in place.
I researched how this happened and essentially the beads are made from PVA based glue that is activated when it comes into contact with water.
The instructions told us that the design will take approximately an hour to "set" once sprayed. With only one board included in the starter set this meant that once a design was completed the toy had to go away until it was ready to be removed from the board. This was a bit of a disappointment to an excited five year old who wanted to carry on creating.
After the required time limit we learnt a couple of really valuable lessons. Make sure the water has been sprayed evenly over the beads, and make sure your design is thick enough to withstand someone lifting off the board.
It would appear that sometimes the designs need longer than the required hour to set. I started encouraging my daughter to leave them overnight to give them a good chance to set properly.
Overall I think this set is good value for money. It's a good concept that is safe for children. Obviously the beads are minute and need supervision around children. I think the design could do with some tweaks to make it more user friendly and replacement beads and parts should be made more readily available as they aren't at the moment.
It is however a good present for a crafty child and one that has definitely proved its worth in our house.
Summary: a nicely priced gift idea
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