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There were moments when I thought this was going to start a scene, perhaps even a fight. Another Tesco impulse buy for Little Nephew. Reduced from £4.99 to £2.44, it consists of a plastic dome and green plastic bottom with some sticks of Play-Doh and a pink plastic knife. Not a wildly exciting set in it's own right, but it all about what you're going to make with it.
Scene 1: With undeniable strength, she finally ripped through the extremely thick cardboard, only to face the dreaded metal twisty things. The child looked up at her, his face serious and his words a prophecy. "First, you have to untwist these ......."
When we finally got into the packaging, the essential parts were rushed straight to the table so that work could begin. I was all for freehand creativity and just making something from the colours and the previous session's 'spaghetti'. Something bright. I really didn't care if it was a mashed up statue of the dog. Unfortunately, The Boyfriend had found the instructions discarded on the floor and was extremely insistent that we make an exact replica of the stuff on the box. Like we were supposed to.
Bah. Although the instructions were easy to follow, some of the shapes you had to make were quite hard. Little Nephew seemed a bit frustrated with parts of it (well, all of it apart from the long thin bits whish he rolled out using his hand). I'm not sure where they got the 3+ age range, because I would have said at least age 8 and up at least to make something of this complexity. I didn't think of this at the time, but where the Play-Doh comes in cellophane wrapped sticks and not little pots, you have to build the whole thing in one go or risk it drying out.
The Boyfriend and I with our combined age of over 60, mechanical / engineering knowledge and GCSE in art, set to work on the construction. It kind of ended up with him watching us make most of it and adding finishing touches like the spots on the toadstool. Not really the idea, but the thing got built and I guess he got 'management experience'. The one thing he could do on his own was the tree stump; this involved putting a blob of Play-Doh on the raised section and pushing the brown plastic tree stump over it to extrude some long green fern. We could have done with a few more sections like this.
Play-Doh by its very nature does not easily stick together with other bits of Play-Doh. They form a seam and unless you're willing to absolutely squash one bit into another and ruin your creation for the sake of solidarity, they can come apart at any moment. There's no glue provided in this set, you can't bake it in the oven like Fimo and your finished article will be flimsy at best with arms and wings dropping off all over the shop. To make it ten times harder, there is no grip on the smooth surface of the display stand for the finished bits and pieces. They really should have put in some kind of poles for me to mount the Rabbit and the mushroom on.
The knife is the size of a normal plastic takeaway knife and has a serrated edge. I was a bit concerned by Little Nephew brandishing it and some phrase about having eyes out sprang to mind. He tried to use the end to give the Rabbit a smile (as shown in the instructions), but the knife was too big for little hands and too big for purpose and nearly chopped the head off it instead. I fixed the Rabbit only for The Boyfriend to start whining that it was 'out of proportion' (there was a tiny bit of pink Play-Doh left over and he thought if we hadn't used the exact amount we were failing in some way).
The display case is the only novel part of this set and was pretty sturdy Finally, after squabbling over whether the Play-Doh symbol must go at the front centre (him) or whether it didn't matter in the slightest and it was hard work to turn the whole thing round (me) we stuck the plastic dome over our efforts. They bore a passable likeness to the picture on the box and The Boyfriend would later confide to me that he had noticed but never read out the sentence 'results may vary according to your child's ability.' (It made me laugh to think someone might have returned a mish-mash of coloured crap and complained that their efforts didn't resemble the factory formed cover image).
Little Nephew proudly presented it to his mummy, who loved it and promised it would go on her desk at work. In carrying it to her from the table, bits fell off and rattled round the inside of the plastic dome and we had to repair it a few times before it left the house. There's not much clean up involved with this - after all, most of the Play-Doh is in the display case and you're going to either lovingly keep it forever or chuck the whole thing in the bin when the child's not looking. I was pleased we had a few small bits of colour left over from each of the sticks and I stuffed it in the pots from the Fun Factory set for next time.
All in all, I'm glad we made it but it was quite hard work. I'm going to give it three stars because it did make a lovely gift and that was the intention behind it.
Make a colourful play-doh scene using the step by step guide - or your own imagination. Display it with pride in the clear display dome! Make it, stack it, re-use it.