Product Type: Tomy Art / Craft
Newest Review: ... I will review this larger version separately as it is a little different to the mats. The Tomy Aquadraw In the Night Garden Mini Mats may... more
Magic Painting In the Night Garden
Tomy Aquadraw In the Night Garden Mini Mats
Member Name: jo1976
Tomy Aquadraw In the Night Garden Mini Mats
Date: 29/12/11, updated on 10/10/13 (81 review reads)
Advantages: Portable, reusable, fun for young toddlers, mess free
Disadvantages: No opportunity for children to be creative, limited long-term appeal, one pen supplied
Having three children, anything that is described as being 'mess free' automatically appeals to me, which is why we've come to own three different sets of these Aquadraw mini mats. These reusable little mats come in packs of four with each set featuring popular children's characters. Amongst the range is this In the Night Garden set which should be recognisable to most toddlers and pre-schoolers.
The pack includes four small reusable mats that appear totally blank (aside from a coloured pattern at the base) and a 'pen' which actually includes no ink and just needs to be filled with tap water. The children use the water to colour over the mat and bright pictures start to appear as the mat gets wet. The pictures then fade as the mat dries and the mats can be painted over and over again. It is an incredibly simple but ingenious idea as kids love colouring and painting and most parents hate clearing up the mess afterwards! This handy little product gives your little one(s) the opportunity to get creative while cutting out all the hassle.
This particular set is bright and colourful, once water is added, and includes the most popular and recognisable characters from the TV series, including Iggle Piggle, Makka Pakka, Upsy Daisy and the Tombliboos. The only noticeable absence is the Pinky Ponk so parents beware if that is your child's favourite character!
The mini mats claim to be suitable for children aged over 18 months. My youngest son is around sixteen months old and is now able to use the 'pen' on these sheets and observe the emerging patterns and images. He doesn't really have the patience or understanding to try and 'paint' a complete picture as yet, but they have proven to be a handy little product to keep stored within a changing bag, ready to keep my little one occupied for a few minutes during his brothers' nativity play, for example! That really is the best use for these kind of mats as the small size and simplicity makes them easily portable and they can be kept to hand for any little emergencies, whenever youngsters need distracting for a few minutes.
The pen supplied with the pack unscrews the opposite way to what you would expect, presumably to make it more difficult for young children to unscrew. The packs only contain one pen, which is a bit of a shame when the pack contains four mats as, obviously, only one child can play with the pen at a time. It is possible to buy replacement pens for the sets but, as these cost a few pounds each, I find it more cost effective to buy an extra pack of the mats, which is why we've ended up with so many packs! I have resorted to using a paint brush with a cup of water in the past, which is just as effective as using the special pen, although that method is obviously not necessarily quite as mess-free.
These are ideal for children under around two and a half, particularly in confined spaces or at times when noisier or messier toys would not be appropriate. Beyond that age, I've found that my children quickly become bored with the mats after just a couple of minutes as they don't offer any scope for creativity or any variety once the initial 'painting' has been completed. My four year old certainly doesn't have any interest in playing with these now and is much happier with a traditional colouring pen and proper paints.
These sets are quite widely available and generally cost somewhere between £4-£7 per pack. I think that is fairly reasonable value as we have owned some of these for a good few years now and none of the sheets have ripped or torn at all. The sheets are quite thin though and quite a few are looking slightly the worse for wear, with a few creases on them. They also absorb grease marks quite easily, so will mark if handled by toddlers with greasy fingers! I've found that the marks are impossible to remove and don't even fade with time. This doesn't really affect the performance and use of the mats though so I'd say they are reasonably durable, certainly for the price tag.
In all, these are a handy mess-free standby ideal for the changing bag for parents of toddlers. They don't offer much entertainment for children as they get older and want to be more creative but I would say they are worth the price paid for the times they are used.
Summary: Good for toddlers whilst out and about