“ Brand: Grafix / Type: Craft Supplies / Age: 4 Years+ „
After having read some glowing reviews of a new product called Bendaroos, I thought wax sticks might be just the thing for my son to create a new DNA model with. He had been using a magnetix set, but his younger brother kept running off with them, as really enjoys playing with magnets too. In the hopes of preventing further episodes of chasing around the house shouting "Give me back my DNA". I decided to buy something for a more permanent model.
I looked up Bendaroos and found that this product was far less expensive --- but there does appear to be a reason for a lower price. I can not directly compare the two, as I have not tried the original product yet, but reading reviews here, it appears that the proper Bendaroos are far more sticky, and hence more versatile, but this set is not entirely without merit.
I purchased Graphix Twisty Sticks from Amazon for roughly £5.00 delivered. The current price is £4.95. The set comes with 300 strings in 15 colours. For some reason the box has a panel which shows the colours and only gives six, black white, green, orange, yellow and pink. Had I been buying this in shop and seen this, I would not have purchased this, but thankfully it is incorrect. The kit really has a good selection of colours, including, brown red, blues and purples. Each stick is very nearly 6" in length.
The box also shows several designs you are meant to be able to make from these sticks. My sons saw the silly goggles and immediately had to have these, so this was our first project. Although this product is listed for ages 3+ I never expected my three year old to be able to actually make anything with it, so of course I made his goggles, but my oldest son ( age 6) was having trouble getting the bits to stay on right, so I ended up helping him quite a bit as well.
Next came our DNA model, with my son choosing 4 colours to represent g,c,t,& a and winding these together. This was fairly simple as you are basically just making a multicoloured ladder, and for the most part he was able to do this. He did not get all his links pressed together firmly enough though and I ended up patching this back together later when it started to fall apart. It was also not quite right to get the twisty double helix shape - but it is close enough and his model is still displayed in our computer room. The glasses, getting a lot more handling quickly fell completely apart. The DNA model has dried out quite a bit, and the pieces will no longer be suitable for reuse, but I think that is to be expected as this is out in open air all the time.
I do not believe this set is ever as moist as the Bendaroos. It never leaves residue on your hands, and does not seem to stick very well unless you have twisted the strands together firmly. The box clearly shows pictures formed from just sticking this to other pieces. While you can do this, the finished object will really not hold together with any handling at all - and even without handling will fall apart if not laid flat. However, laying the finished product between two sheets of paper and carefully ironing it will fuse the sticks together more, making a slightly more durable decoration. This does of course mean you can not reuse the pieces though. It also only works for flat projects, three -d shapes seem to fall apart. The product does not stick to paper as claimed in the Amazon advert either. Because I do not feel the product lives up to all claims, I have deducted one star.
On the other hand - my three year old spent two hours playing with the bits and pieces the first day, and my six year old enjoyed himself as well. They made a number of smaller projects which did not hold together well enough to keep, but they still had fun making them. The sticks that were played with were able to be straightened out and put away for future use, but they do dry out even more and the wax cracks a bit with frequent use. I would expect you could only get away with reusing these a few times - I wouldn't expect these to last forever. The children enjoyed running about with the silly glasses, and my son likes his DNA model. We still have plenty left for Christmas decorations. I am planning on candy canes which will be very easy to make by just twisting a red and white together. I also plan on stars and trees, and having experimented to be sure ironing will hold the sticks together better, will iron these shapes before hanging them on the tree.
I can't say this is the greatest product ever, but at only a fiver, we have already had one fun afternoon with it, and we do have most of the kit left. It is an inexpensive, no fuss, no mess craft project. Both children really enjoyed it, so I can not fault it too much. In fact I very may well buy another set when this runs out.
So do I recommend this? It depends on what you are looking for. If you want a top notch product to make 3-d models then no, I do not recommend choosing this set. If however you are just looking for something to pass in a few rainy afternoons, a no mess activity to take to Grandma's, or even a fun quick craft for a party or scout group, then yes, this just might fit the bill. I would expect at least 7 - 8 children could each make a small craft, like goggles from this. I do think this is fun for little ones - but best suited to 6+.