“ Manufacturer: Tomy / Type: Drawing / Age: 1 Year+ „
Aqua doodle is something I became aware of before we had kids when we were at a family party and a large mat was brought out for the children to draw on. The concept is the same regardless of what set you have. You are provided with a special pen which you fill with water and then use the water to magically draw.
The mini kits are available in many different characters, and in the kit you get 4 pictures and one small pen to draw with. Filling the pen is a simple matter. You unscrew the nib of the pen in the same way you would with a fountain pen. You fill it with water from the tap, before screwing the nib back on. I find it very useful to have directions on which way to open and close the pen as I have to check every time I use this as we don't get it out that often.
The pen nib is a tough structure which allows water to be drawn through it onto the mat you are drawing on.
In the kit you get 4 different designs of pictures. The Thomas and Friends logo on the top right hand corner is the main thing you can see on the mat before you add water, though you can see the picture you will be making behind the opaque top layer of the mat. Applying the pen to the surface, you see the picture start to come alive before your very eyes.
At first my kids thought these were great watching the picture appear, but over time, when they realised it was the same picture every time, it did get a bit boring, so I think these are something that is better for young children in my opinion.
I found that if my children only used the pen lightly over the surface of the mat, and were colouring quite slowly, then the water would be evaporating before they had gone over the whole surface and it was a bit pointless. They would end up asking me to do it as I could colour faster as an adult. I also tried this using a damp sponge as we had two children and only one pen. In this case, I found that the mats got too wet and then the picture took quite a long while to dry and I would have to leave the set out for at least 15 minutes after play had finished to dry out properly.
I find these sets are a nice idea, but in reality, they are not something that will entertain children for a long time. Once they have seen the picture a few times, it is not that interesting or creative, and they prefer to do something a bit less dull. It is perhaps a nice thing to have in your bag for visiting someone elses house so it is a rarer thing to play with this, but my overall impression is that it is not that special to play with.
We already had the large original aqua draw but as my boys are very keen on Thomas I picked these up one day as an extra present at Eid time. I find they do gravitate towards these more than the plain aqua draw (although they will still use that too) and they really enjoy the Thomas element of it.
I saw some of the other reviews of this were overall quite negative about this product, and I would say I am more positive. It is a fairly limited item, but for what it is, I've found it quite good and just a nice addition to their activity collection.
There are 4 of the mini mats in each box, plus one small sized pen. This pen is smaller than the one given with the original aqua draw so it runs out of water quicker but it is not a huge problem. We have quite a few spare aqua draw pens, so no problems with sharing. If you do buy this set to share with 2 siblings, I would recommend to buy some spare pens or else buy 2 different sets of mini mats so you have the extra mats, and the extra pen.
The pictures in our set are slightly different to the ones shown here (it must be collection 1 or 2 that we have) and I noticed that the pictures on our set are from the Thomas movie "The Great Discovery" which my 3 year old was really happy about, as he remembered the scenes from the movie while colouring the mat.
What I like about the whole aqua draw range is the no mess aspect. The pens are just filled with water and then the picture is revealed, so even if they do open the pens and spill it, it is only water and will just dry up by itself. I don't allow my children to have the normal colouring things out unsupervised because I don't want to risk my freshly painted walls being ruined! They do have regular access to the crayons, felt tips and all of that but its only when I can be there to keep a proper eye on them, so these mats are good for the times when I may be multitasking with cleaning, laundry or nipping in and out of the room and so would not really want them to be playing with real crayons.
I do find that my boys help themselves to these aqua mats quite often and fill in the pictures, it keeps them busy for about 10 minutes each time.
They last well and I have not noticed any fading on ours so far, they still look as good as new. I find them better than magic painting books as the colours can be a bit dingy with magic painting but these come up brighter and more impressive, in my opinion.
The price is quite expensive at around 6 pounds per pack but if you see them on offer it is definitely worth it. We got ours in a half price sale at early learning centre, so has definitely been worth it for that price. I would buy more if I saw different picture sets on offer, and we do already have the chuggington ones too.
Obviously they are a limited toy and its the same 4 pictures and that is it, but still it keeps my boys happy for a while and is good that they can use this as a drawing activity without me worrying about mess if I am not keeping an eye on them.
My neice always goes for the aquadraw stuff when she comes around too, and she is a couple of years older, so I would say it is quite good for a variety of ages and for both boys and girls.
Tomy is a well known toy company. They offer a range of Aquadraw mats which are plastic type mats which a child can draw on using a special pen. The mat is activated by water in the pen and once dried, disappeared allowing more fun.
The Aquadraw or Aquadoodle Mini Mats are smaller, paper based mats which come in packs of 4. They are different from the larger mats as the pictures are already embossed onto the paper and this allows your child to colour them in to bring the picture to life.
~~Thomas Mini Mats~~
Tomy offer many different characters on their mini mats. Thomas and Friends offered themselves as a character option. There are currently a few different collections of mini mats with Thomas on them allowing different scenes and a bit of variation. The idea is there is no mess and it allows your child to take their first step into creativity.
Normal pens, crayons and pencils won't work on these mini mats. You are supplied with a special pen (a mini version of the one provided with the larger mats). The pen is yellow with a red lid and a soft tip nib. The lid screws off and needs filled with a small amount of water before using.
We have a collection of 4 however I cannot see our set listed for sale at the moment. Other variations are available. The mini mats came in a blue cardboard box with a picture of the included mats inside. The mats are recommended for toddlers age 18months upwards.
Each mat is rectangular and embossed with the Thomas and Friends logo in the corner. The scene on the paper is visible before your child even gets started on colouring in. The designs included in this pack include :
*Knapford Station - Thomas and Percy in the station waiting for their passangers to get onboard
*Kranky - James and Thomas at the docks with Kranky
*Tidmouth Sheds - Gordon, Percy, James, Emily and Thomas in their sheds under the starry sky
*On the Rails - a few of the trains are out at work on the rails and across the bridge
~~Availability and Price~~
These mini mats are available online and in stores such as Boots at Christmas. Amazon and Play stock these around £7.00 a pack.
For Ryans 2nd birthday last year, we bought him a large Aquadraw mat based on recommendations. He loved it so much, for Christmas last year, we decided to purchase the Thomas Mini Mats for when we are out and about. I bought our set from Boots on a 3 for 2 offer last year and Ryan was delighted to receive these last Christmas.
To be honest, I feel these would have been a better option prior to buying the larger mat. These offer an easy option for a younger child whilst the larger mat offers more room to create whatever pictures your child wants whilst having the option to colour in the pictures on the outside of the mat. With these mats, there isn't much too them but enough to keep a younger toddler amused for a short while. Recommended for 18mths, isn't too far off but with supervision, these could be used as soon as your child is comfortably able to hold the pen.
~~Colour In and Watch Thomas Disappear~~
These mats aren't huge. They are quite flimsy and your child needs to be sitting with something hard underneath the mat. 4 is a good amount and the scene variation of these is really good as it incorporates quite a few of Ryans favourite characters and also a day to night scene. The pen is rather small and easy for Ryan to grasp. It only needs the smallest dribble of water to fill it up.
It is impossible to make mess with this pen which is the reason why we like it so much! Because we take these out and about with us (to my Mums house, restaurants etc) I feel confident that Ryan cannot draw on walls, tables or carpets and make a mess and me rather embarressed! He now knows he cannot use these pens on anything other than the mat. The chunky pen he has for the big mat can also be used on the mini mats so we have 2 pens. He has tried to draw on me and his Daddy but it simply leaves a wet trace on the skin.
~~Wheres Thomas Mum?~~
Ryan doesn't like sitting around doing nothing so these are often in his backpack for visits and for occasional use at home. Ryan has his favourite mat which he will often approach and decide to use. The designs on the box showed very vivid coloured pictures and yes, they do start off this way but from continued use, we have noticed the colour quality reducing.
These pictures are very easy for Ryan to colour in and using the small pen allows him to spend a good 5 minutes on each picture. His favourite is the Tidmouth Sheds picture. The characters are life like and the sky and stars add something extra to the picture. As soon as the nib of the pen makes contact with the paper, the picture starts to develop. Not much pressure is needed to transfer the water.
The pictures cover the full mat with the exception of the logo in the corner. As Ryan applies the water, the picture comes alive like a watercolour type painting. The paper stays quite wet and takes a few minutes to dry. There is no ink there to transfer to the skin so there really is no mess. The mats that don't get used often, are certainly more vivid in colour which Ryan likes as he is getting bored of Thomas looking so dull. I feel the other mats will get used more often now.
~~Dry Up, Go Away~~
The water dries in quite quickly and the picture begins to fade. It can be reactivated by sweeping some more water in the pen over it to refresh it. If left out, exposed to air, the mat will dry freely and quickly and is ready to be put away. Unlike the big mat which sometimes remained stained with colour, the pictures on these mini mats completely disappear ready to be used the next time. They store flat and often we just keep them in the backpack.
Ryan does like these mini mats but I think its moreso because they are Thomas related. He now much prefers his larger mat as he can draw what he wants on it without being stuck to certain scenes. They are ok for out and about but the quality of them is fast deteriorating as the colour is fading and I we don't see them lasting much longer.
I would say these are ok for a younger toddler due to the lack of mess. Ryan hates mess so these are good for him but he does love his crayons (even if my walls don't) and these aren't a patch on real pictures that can be put up on the fridge or kept to show your child when they are older.
Ok for the price but nothing amazing. Ryan has fun colouring in and watching Thomas disappear though wants more.
Thanks for reading :)
Whilst browsing on Amazon I came across the Thomas and friends mini mats, they reminded me of the 'magic' colouring books that were popular when my daughter was little. The fact that they were half price also attracted me to them; there are different character mini mats available, this particular set can be found for around £6.99 which I think is expensive.
Having a busy toddler who likes to create mess at every opportunity I thought these would be good, as they are 'mess free' and I thought it would be something different for my son to do. All children love to draw and paint and remembering how much fun the magic painting books were I was expecting the same with these Aquadraw mats.
-What's in the box-
The rather flimsy box contains four mats and one Aquadraw pen.
Each mat has a different scene:
* Thomas, James and Percy in their engine sheds.
* Thomas and the Fat Controller.
* Thomas, James, Henry and Mavis travelling through the Island of Sodor.
* James travelling through the hills, looking at sheep.
The Aquadraw pen is an empty shell which unscrews to fill with water, and the nib is made from foam. Once the pen is filled water it will last for one of the pictures and will need to be refilled. Once your little one has finished 'drawing' you will need to empty the water and leave the pen to dry otherwise the nib will turn brown. Each of the mats is quite small, smaller than what I was expecting approx A5 in size, they are made from thin card with a plastic coating. Although they are flimsy they are fairly durable so your little one shouldn't be able to tear them. They make an ideal travel activity, although if you have more than one child it could be a problem as only one pen is supplied, at the high price you would think they would provide you with two seeing as there are four mats, so it's not ideal for sharing as preschool children don't understand sharing at such a young age. However, if you want an extra pen or need a replacement you can order one from their website for £3.00, and I'm sure with the postage on top of that you would be better off buying a second set.
The mats are recommended for children 18 months and up and are designed to introduce your toddler to drawing. Each of the mats has a faint outline of the picture, and once the pen is moved over the paper the picture should magically appear.
As well as being fun for your little one these will help to improve hand-eye coordination and they will also teach them how to control a pen. They will also improve focus and concentration skills, as well as helping to boost self confidence. Completing the pictures will give a child a sense of achievement.
-Time to get creative-
I was quite excited to try out the mats; I put one of the mats onto my son's tray and showed him the pen and demonstrated how to use it on the paper so he could see. He was quite eager to have a go and started to draw on the mat, he seemed quite pleased with it but not overly excited by it, more puzzled. Unlike the magic painting books where you use a brush, the pen nib is quite small so it takes a lot more effort to colour in the picture, and the lines which are created do not fill in the picture easily, as the pen doesn't produce anywhere near as much water as what a brush does so it doesn't spread about the page as easily. The novelty didn't last for long and it didn't have the same 'magic' effect to it as the painting books, I didn't find it anywhere near as much fun. The advantage that these mini mats has though is that they are reusable and once the water has dried the picture will fade so you can start all over again, seeing as the paper doesn't get that wet in the first place it doesn't take too long to dry. Even trying to fill the picture in myself it took some time and effort!
Tomy claim that these are going to be cost effective as they can be used over and over again saving you money in crayons and colouring books. Personally I think that children will soon become bored of just four pictures and they certainly don't have the same feel as drawing with a crayon.
Although I feel they were a bit of a letdown and they really didn't get much use, I passed them onto a friend as my son and I prefer messy play. I do think they are a good way to teach your child how to use a pen as they will not leave any mess or marks on furniture, and they are great to take out on travels, as they are small and easy to slide into a bag.
Your toddler may not be able to make a mess with these but do remember that they will need to be supervised as the pen could be dangerous if they are running around with it or putting it into their mouth.
They are great for travelling on boring car journeys and for taking out and about for mess free play, however, do shop around for them, as at full price they seem expensive especially if they are not a hit with your little one either.
These can be purchased for the Tomy website or Amazon, and most good toy stores.
I bought these for my 3 year old daughter whilst she was in the middle of a thomas the tank engine phase. She already has the large thomas the tank engine aqua draw floor mat, which she adored, and I thought these would be a good toy for her to take out and about to avoid boredom.
The idea of the tomy aqua draw range is creative play for children without the mess, as all painting/drawing is done with water. Similar to the 'magic paintbooks' I used to have as a kid.
The retail prices for these vary, but the RRP is £6.99. I got mine in the wilkinsons sale for half price.
You recieve a pack of four different mats, each with a different scene from Thomas the tank engine. The mats are only small, about A5 in size, and made out a white plastic/paper type material. They are tough, and not easy to tear. You also get an aqua draw pen, which had a foamy nib which unscrews and you then fill it with water. The pen is plastic, and quite durable. The mats appear white at first (with a faint outline of the image) and your child will use the water filled pen to 'reveal' the colorful image.
I presented my daughter with the mat and pen and she was quite excited, and instantly started to reveal the different areas of the picture. She quickly revealed it and then moved on to the next mat. Well, needless to say she worked through the mats in less than 10 minutes, and then we were left with four soggy mats and nothing to do while we waited for them to dry!
Another problem was that you only get one pen. This means that if you have two children you'd have to buy another pen if you want them to share, or if you lose the pen you'll have to buy a replacement (you can get two replacement pens on amazon for £3.99).
After playing with these a few times she lost interest in them, I really wouldn't describe this as a creative toy, my daughter is creative but she treated these mats as more of a 'task', i.e "I MUST reveal all of this picture in the quickest time possible!!". It was starting to feel like groundhog day, you reveal a picture...let it dry....just so you can reveal the same picture in the same way again? She would much rather play with her magnetic drawing board when traveling or out and about.
I would say if you've got a thomas the tank engine mad little one then you might want to give these a try if you can find them somewhere cheap, but they are not worth £6.99!