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I really enjoy doing crafty activities with my 2 girls aged 7 and 5. Though plasticine and play dough have long been great standbys on a rainy afternoon, up until now I have not used any Fimo (polymer clay you bake) with them, as having made models with it a lot when I myself was a child, I remembered how hard it was to work with. It turns out that staedtler now make Fimo Soft, and have done for a while, as the name suggests Fimo Soft is a more maleable, workable clay. As an introduction to this craft I bought this small set for which I paid around the £5 mark - it was an impulse buy in Hobby Craft. The set can be bought for a more reasonable £3.84 from Amazon at time of writing.
What you get:
The set contains 4 half blocks (25g) of Soft Fimo in red, black, orange and white and opens up to reveal full photo step by step making instructions and information as to how to cook your models so they set and become solid.
Using the set:
The guideline for this set is age 8, but that didn't stop my 5 year old having a good go. She had no problems tearing off bits of the clay and moulding it, unassisted. We made a first model together following the instructions - and orange cat which came out rather well I have to say. Once we had made this she was happy to carry on by herself and soon produced a rather impressive sleeping cat - (at least I think it is sleeping rather than being deceased!), and a dog, totally on her own with no intervention from me, other than to put the models in the oven. Results were not quite as picture perfect as in the photo on the packaging, but they were certainly unique!
The clay can be mixed to make other colours and also lends itself to being marbled and re-shaped again and again. It is much easier to mould than the original Fimo in my opinion and just as easy to pop in the oven for 30 mins at 110 degrees centrigrade. The models, once made, aren't quite as solid as the original, non-soft fimo, but they seem to be solid enough and thus far no body parts have fallen off. You can draw with pen onto the finished items, once they have cooled - we added eyes and whiskers to the ginger cat. Care must be taken when the models are taken out of the oven, they do get quite hot.
In terms of longevity of the set, 100g of clay in total does not sound like a great deal, but actually, it goes quite a long way. You can easily make 5 or 6 little models. Play value wise the only thing that limits you is your imagination - and the range of colours you have in the set. The clay can be stored in foil or the original packing between uses. Using it is really good fun, I enjoyed it almost quite as much as a my 5 year old, though some patience is required. It's good to have the photos as inspiration but, like all clay this Fimo is a good toy as you can make so many things. It's all fairly mess free though you might want to make sure you use it on a table where you can roll out the clay and not anywhere where stray bits can get trodden into the carpet. It's a shame there are no tools included in this set - but we found bar using a normal kitchen knife for some cutting and a skewer for adding eyes and detail, we didn't really need anything.
As a first set this is, in my opinion, pretty ideal. I think that for young crafters soft fimo is an improvement on the original and this set is inspirational enough for them and doesn't have unattainable models, and neither is it too prescriptive. I will certainly be buying more Soft Fimo and investigating other sets in the range for my own children or for presents for others. Recommended, a great little craft set!