I was able to play this game a few times a s child as a couple of other children I knew owned one - but my Mother was never impressed with the game, and no matter how many times I asked - this is one item Santa never brought it. But one of the great things about having children is a chance at a second childhood. My children own and enjoyed Crayola Spir-Animal so I thought they might enjoy this too, and of course I knew I would enjoy playing with it. For those of you who might be wondering - The Spir-animal sets disks can be used with the Spirograph frames, but Spirograph wheels did not work when we tried them with Spir- animals frames.
For those of you unfamiliar with Spirograph, the game as we know it today was first marketed by a British engineer, Denys Fisher, and sold to American toy company Kenner a year later. It had however existed in similar forms since the late 1800's - in short he sold someone else's invention. Rather ironically, Fisher's company was known both for armaments and toys. One can only imagine if there had a ever been a products mixup. I'm sure my children would have been delighted had Santa left military grade weapons, but the soldiers may have been less excited by a Meccano set.
There are some very detailed explanations of the mathematical theories behind this toy - and apparently is very educational, but all of this was beyond my limited ability to comprehend. If youa re mathematically inclined and are interested in this toy please check Wikipedias entry and google "Spirograph + educational". For us though, this toy is primarily for fun.
Spirograph was originally considered a geometrical drawing tool, but it quickly became simply a toy. It consists of a set of drawing frames which were originally just rings but now come in all sorts of shapes. These all have teeth inside and outside made to match up with the teeth on the gears which come with this set. Each gear will have several different holes allowing for a virtually unlimited number of similar but not identical designs. You simply place a ball point pen inside one of the holes in the gears and run the gear around and around the frame for beautifully spiralled designs. You can change one hole for a very slightly different pattern and use another colour and something about these pictures just screams out 1960's.
This game has been marketed under so many labels it is hard to keep track of which company has the latest rights to this - and I suspect some of the American companies may have been incorporated into one. New additions are always coming out so the actual contents may vary significantly. The basic principle remains the same though, and the pictures will be fairly similar whichever set you choose with the only exception being that different geometric shapes such as the triangle or square will obviously produce a few different designs.
I bought our set from Ebay and paid about £6 including postage. Prices vary drastically. A new set on Amazon sells for between £10.68 and £26.72 for depending on which set you choose. These are all different modern sets. An exact replica of the original 1960's set will cost quite a bit more though with the cheapest one going for £72.16. As much as I would have loved this for nostalgia purposes, there is no way I would spend that type of money and I expect all of these sets sell to adults who want it for old times sake rather than as children's toys.
Our set is the magnetic version which is currently selling for £19.49 new on Amazon but can often be picked up for far less on ebay. Mine was listed as used, and the box was damaged, but it was all there, and looked completely unused.
This set includes:
A magnetic board which is meant to double as storage tray for all parts.
3 magnets ( square, triangle and hexagon with a circles in the middle of the square - unlike most sets the other frames do not have a circle or other opening in the frame).
All of the pieces to this set snap into specially designed slots on the underside of this tray - which looks like a brilliant idea. unfortunately it doesn't really work. They will only stay in place if the tray is kept upside down and immobile. Even if you very carefully slide the tray into the box and gently set on the shelf they all come loose so we just toss them all in the box now, and I've taped the box up very well to try to avoid small gears sliding out, but it does happen so I make sure I am the only one to put this away.
The big plastic board obviously has a very thin sheet of metal completely enclosed in the plastic. Each drawing frame has three holes. You place magnetic peg in each and this does hold the frame in place, which is especially helpful for younger children as a slight movement of the frame will affect the picture. It isn't perfect, the magnets are completely covered in plastic, likely as a safety factor due the risk of death if a young child swallows magnets, but it does work most of the time. If a child starts drawing really wildly it can be dislodged, or if they accidentally drag a hand across it, but overall I find this a brilliant idea.
This toy is recommended for ages 6 -18. My youngest loves this at age 5 and he enjoyed the Spir-animals from age 3, so I do feel this age rating is a bit high. I also feel that most 16 year olds would be rather disappointed with this as Christmas box. A few might enjoy it, as I did, but I would suggest this toy for ages 3 -12 with the very clear understanding that any child who still puts things in their mouths should never be left alone with the magnets. PLEASE READ SAFETY WARNING BELOW.
Both of children do really enjoy this. My oldest( age 8) gives this 3.5 stars and the youngest ( age 5) gives it 5+. This is not just an age difference. The youngest loves art, while the oldest enjoys it, but not to the same degree. I enjoyed this too, but in all honesty I think the original set was better. This is thicker heavier plastic though and would be very difficult to break. This is a good toy, and I am really glad we bought it, despite already owning the spir-animals set which is much less expensive, but do I recommend it? That all depends. Personally, unless you have great waves of nostalgia for this toy, as many adults apparently do, I would start with one of the cheaper similar toys. Spir-animals sells for £8.99 new and delivered and Klutz has an absolutely brilliant book and "drawing wheels" set which I have to admit looks more fun than the Spirograph. If I had it to do over again, I probably would have gone with Klutz set instead, ad if they had not been sold out, I would have bought one today.
But this set does have one major advantage over the other sets we have found. It is bigger, chunkier and easier for very young children to use. My youngest does have some issues with his right hand and goes back and forth between being right and left handed. He does have some slight weakness to the right side, and spent months unable to walk or even crawl without falling after a severe allergic reaction. He has almost completely recovered, but he does still fall now and then if the right leg gives way, and at times he has more trouble with the right hand. We have been advised to allow him to work this out for himself without adult interference, but also to provide a good selection of toys help develop fine motor skills and pencil control. Naturally I have gone overboard on this - I want him to have everything he might possibly need. But I do feel this toy would be very valuable to any child working on pencil control, and it is a real gift for us. This is something that encourages children to play with a pen and it does require some pencil control to work. For this reason, I consider this toy to have some educational value as well - above and beyond the complex maths which I do not understand. It does teach something of geometric shape too.
If buying this as gift, please consider the fact that it can not be used without pen and paper. It is much more fun with a variety of colours. You can make do with coloured pencils, but pens do work better. Many felt tips will work as well. I would suggest including a drawing pad and a set of coloured pens with this - unless of course your home is already well stocked with these items.
*~*~*~*~ SAFETY WARNING ! *~*~*~*~
The magnetic pegs are 1 7/8 " long and about 3/4" wide. According to several child safety sites I have been on this size toy is extremely dangerous as far a choking hazard. A few others declared this toy safe though, saying that at nearly 2" long it was to large to be swallowed. In the face of conflicting information, I would error on the side of caution. In America, parents can buy a specially designed toy tester which measures 1 1/4 inches wide by 2 1/4 inches . Any toy which can fit through this is meant to be unsafe. This toy would clearly fail. In addition if a child swallows two magnets or one magnet and a piece of metal they can join inside the digestive system trapping a layer of intestine in between. This seems unlikely to me but several children have died from this. The magnetic version of this toy must never be left within reach of small children without constant supervision unless you remove the magnets. The bad things, the magnets are most useful for the younger ones. Personally, I would allow a younger child to use this, but only if I were helping them.
I have always said I was deprived as a child - when talking with my husband or friends. I never had the best or 'in toys' when I was young, often getting the cheap alternative or going without.
The Spirograph was no exception, I was only able to play with it at a friend's house, but that was rare, as you visited friends to play and interact. The Spirograph being a creative toy didn't seem to encourage that and we therefore had to play outside or with cars or dolls etc.
I became very excited when I went back to work after Christmas and found the girl I look after, had received a Spirograph set. - A perfect opportunity for me to have a go!!!
~ The Box
Measuring 29cm (11.5in) x 38cm (15in) x 6cms (2.25in), As you can see from the photo above, the box has lots going on; colours, pictures, and writing. The title is not very large, so doesn't really jump out at you. The contents do vary, and the box I have contains different shaped frames from those above.
Spirograph is bought to us by MB Creation (Hasbro) and is suitable for children 6 years +
The first part you pull from the box it a solid magnetic board, it's edge it a smooth wavy design, similar to that on the cogs. First impressions then make you think that there is nothing else in the box, if you turn the board over you find everything else you will need. (Well almost!)
There are 3 different shaped frames; hexagon, square and triangle. The square frame has a circular edge on the inside; therefore giving you 4 shapes to work with. These each have three holes at regular intervals around the edge, these are so you can fix them to the magnetic board with some pegs, which of course are magnetic too!!
There are 7 circular cogs of various sizes which you then use with the frames, to create the spiral patterns. These cogs each have a different number on them, (which is part of the cog, part of the mould when being made.) they don't run consecutively from 1-7, they are 15, 19, 24, 25, 28, 31 and 34, which to me seem a strange selection, but on closer inspection I realised that the number represents how many teeth are around the outside of each cog.
Each cog also has several holes in the centre in a spiral formation, allowing you to place the nib of your pen, if you didn't have these then the Spirograph wouldn't work.
~ Place a sheet of paper onto the magnetic table.
~ Place a frame on the sheet of paper, with the teeth facing down.
~ Put magnets into the holes on the frame to hold it in place.
~ Place your cog in or around the frame. Make sure the teeth lock together.
~ Choose a pen. Put the nib into one of the holes in the cog, hold it upright and get Spirographing! Always make sure the teeth are locked together as you move the pen around
~ Keep going until your Spirograph pattern is complete.
The instruction leaflet gives you some great designs which you can follow: it gives you all the info you need, even what size cog, which hole etc.
I had great fun creating spiral pictures. There are so many different options; you will create a different pattern every time. If you use a variety of colours too, you'll never be able to stop.
I found that using different sizes and colours on top of each other can create some great effects, which could be used to decorate cards, especially making a picture of flowers. The spiral effect can create some nice shapes which look jut like petals on a flower.
To start with you need to take it slow, as it is quite easy for the cog to slip from the teeth, and it's then very difficult to get it back into the exact position you want it in. I spent lots of time playing with the Spirograph but probably spent at least half of that time making mistakes, which can be really annoying.
At one point I found myself concentrating so much I didn't notice my phone ringing. Oh dear!! I did get rather excited though when I had completed a full spiral without making any mistakes, when you look closely at what you have created you realise that this is not something you would be able to draw on your own. You need the Spirograph kit to help you.
The magnets hold the frame and paper in place very well, so there is no worry about the picture moving. I would say though, that the board is only big enough for an A4 piece of paper. If you want to create a larger picture you would need to keep moving the paper around, and be careful not to push down on the outside of the paper with your arms whilst spiralling!!
It is recommended for children 6+ and I feel this is the case, as you do need to concentrate on what you are doing, and the movement you need to follow to guide the cogs around does take some practise. I'm not saying children of 4 or 5 shouldn't try it, but they may not be able to get to grips with it as easy older children. It is definitely not suitable for children under 3 due to small parts.
Pen and paper is not included, so ensure you have these to hand when you use it.
There really are endless spirals and pictures you can create, so why don't you give it a go!
If you have any problems with your Spirograph, or you want more info, you can contact Hasbro:
Hasbro UK Ltd
Thank you for reading
Nicola xx 10/2/08
For my twins birthday i wanted them to have something that will let them express themselves.
I remember having this as a child and i used to spend hours creating crazy funky shapes and patterns.
The Spirograph was dubbed 'Toy of the Year' in '67, it was made in 1965 and this amazing toy was nothing more than plastic circles and shapes with ridged edges (like gears) that created intricate designs when a pen traced the line of the plastic insert as it rolled round the outer guide.
Made for ages five and up, the Spirograph was a great unisex toy for all ages. Even the most destructive child could spend countless hours covering sheet after sheet of paper with unique patterns. The more adept they got, the more elaborate the patterns became. Once the Spirograph bug had bitten it wouldn't take long until whole houses could be decorated in pieces of paper covered in mad swirls and sweeps.
Mine came in a bright green box but there are different versions, with lots of bright colours upon it.
There is a bright orange magnetic table, 3 magnets which are green, 3 different shaped frames which are yellow and 7 different shaped cogs which are blue.
~How to use~
Place a sheet of paper onto the magnetic table then place a frame on top of it. Within the frame there are 3 holes where you place the magnets, this then sticks the paper to the magnetic table, (didn't have that bit in my day you just had to hold it).
Each frame has grooves all the way around the edge and with the square frame it has a circle cut out of the middle which again has grooves all the way around.
Then get which ever size cog you want to use and place it either in or beside the frames. The cog has grooves in it to along with a number of holes in the middle where you put your pen or pencil.
Then line them up together and start drawing, because of the way the holes are situated you will never go over the same line, this is where you create really crazy and pretty patterns.
Easy to put away because on the back of the magnetic table there are slots where all the pieces fit into so you won't lose them, this is very helpful
I don't know who the bigger kid is at the moment because I love it to.
A definite must have for anyone, your children will have hours of fun, designing different patterns, and my children are so proud of themselves when they create a master piece.
No two pictures will ever be the same.
I think i am going to have to invest in another one maybe slightly different to the one i have but because there are 2 of them they both want to use it at the same time, so it must be good.
It lets your child use there imagination and brings out their artistic flare, i think it is much better then them sitting in front of a TV screen or playing video game
I brought this from Argos just before the catalogue came out it was between £10 and £15 but for some reason it is not in the new catalogue.
It is available on-line from www.hasbro.co.uk priced at £14.99 and also available from Toys-R-Us at £9.97, this one comes with different shapes but still has the same effect.
It is excellent value for money.
It is made by MB Creation so it is a brand that you know and trust.
It does say on the box for children 6 years and older, as some of the cogs are quite small.
All parts are made of a hard plastic, i think it would be very hard to break or crack. Also all parts are washable.
I am really glad it has made a comeback you can't beat the old toys.
Geometric drawing toy, which produces mathematical curve.