Product Type: Tomy Art / Craft
Newest Review: ... patterns on the mat. As the water dries, the marks fade and you can start again. To start with, she loved to make patterns and run the ro... more
Experience the magic of Thomas on his tracks
Tomy Thomas & Friends Aqua Draw
Member Name: KLockwood75
Tomy Thomas & Friends Aqua Draw
Advantages: Mess free, minimal time to set up, enchants children
Disadvantages: Not so easy to use on carpet
I'm all for encouraging my toddler's creative streak. I'd just rather it didn't extend to redecorating my living room walls with his crayons (unfortunately a frequent occurrence in our house - those bath crayons were a BAD buy), or involve me spending three times as long setting up a painting activity and cleaning everything afterwards, than he actually spends painting. Therefore, the Aquadraw concept has been perfect for meeting his needs to express his creativity. We have a range of Aquadraw products - from the little Peppa Pig and Teletubbies mini mats where scribbling over them with a water-filled pen brings a faded picture into vivid colour, through a portable folding set which is perfect for travelling, and finishing with the large Thomas the Tank Engine Aquadraw which he received as a Christmas present.
For those who are unfamiliar with the basic concept of the Aquadraw range, it involves filling a chunky pen with water and using the spongey tip of the pen to draw on the special plastic mats. It is an activity which requires a minimal amount of setting up (i.e. unfolding the mat and filling the pen with water), creates no mess and can be tidied up quickly. In my opinion, this makes it a fantastic concept - after all, I'm always looking for a creative way to entertain my toddler which doesn't result in a trashed living room.
The Thomas the Tank Engine Aquadraw comes in a large blue box, containing the folded up mat, a Thomas train, a roller which is used to make the train tracks and a normal Aquadraw pen for drawing with. The box itself is fairly large, but you can easily take out the contents and store then somewhere which doesn't take up so much space.
To play with the toy, the first things you need to do are to unfold the mat and lay it out on a flat surface (usually the floor), and fill both the pen and the track roller with water. You can then start to draw. There are two ways of using the Thomas Aquadraw. The first is simply as a large blank canvas for drawing on - you can draw using the water-filled pen and it will leave blue lines on the mat. When the mat dries, it will return to it's original white colour and your child can start drawing all over again.
The second way is the most exciting - especially for children as obsessed with Thomas the Tank Engine as my son. Using the track roller, you can design your own train track on the Aquadraw mat and put the special Thomas train down on this track. Once switched on, Thomas will follow the track line that you have drawn while playing the Thomas theme song. My son has been playing with this toy for months now and never fails to be amazed by the fact that Thomas is following the track that we have drawn - once the track dries, the Thomas train will become confused so you need to draw a replacement track to set him off again. The way in which Thomas follows the track is magical - I can't work out how he does it although I'm assuming it's some kind of inbuilt sensor - but for a small child it is amazing to watch.
Although I think overall this is a great toy, there are a couple of definite drawbacks with it. The first is that my little boy finds it difficult to draw the track himself - he gets very frustrated trying to make tracks with the roller and I end up having to do it for him. Obviously, this is good in that it makes us spend time playing together, but he would love to be able to do it by himself having a strong independent streak. However, the toy is labelled as suitable for 3+ and my little boy is only 2 and a half, so maybe he will gtow into being able to do that. The second issue is that it is harder to draw the track on a carpeted surface - I've noticed that it works much better on the laminate in our conservatory than the living room carpet, so if you don't have anything other than carpeted floors, it might be worth bearing that in mind.
The recommended retail price for this product is £29.99 but it is currently available on Amazon for £22.00. I think it is worth the money as it is a toy that my son comes back to time and time again.
Overall, I would highly recommend this product alongside others in the Aquadraw range. There is also a girly equivalent which is the Cinderella Aquadraw where Cinderella and her Prince dance along a pathway of stars, but for a small, Thomas the Tank Engine fan, I think the Thomas Aquadraw is a great buy. It's worth it just to see his face as Thomas heads off round the track seemingly by magic.
Summary: A lovely way to encourage your child's creativity
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