“ Manufacturer: Trends / Type: Science / Age: 8 years „
During my usual trip to Home Bargains, I came across a section filled with National Geographic kits. Amongst them were the Mineral Dig, the Explorer Kit and Night Vision Goggles. I decided to pass on the goggles, as I had read the reviews on Amazon saying they were rubbish. "You can only see something 1m away, any further and they didn't work". The sonic ear listening device was useless, "you could hear more with your own ears". The retail price on Amazon for these are £9.99, so when Home Bargains had them advertised for £2.99, I decided to buy the Mineral Dig and the Explorer Kit (which is rubbish, just read my review on the explorer kit to see for yourself).
A word of advice, before you let your children (or yourself) start to excavate the stones from the plaster block. Make sure you have something underneath, as it can make quite a mess. I didn't get the chance, as my daughter decided she would do her excavating in her bedroom, on the carpet. I took me ages to hover up all the mess.
Inside the box you have:
* 1 x Plaster Block
* 1 x Dusting Brush
* 2 x Digging Tools
* 1 x Display Stand
* 1 x information booklet
* 1 x Goggles
* 1 x Magnifying Glass
* 13 x Specimens
The first thing you will notice when you pick it up is the weight of it (nearly 1kg). It is quite heavy. Most of the weight is the plaster block containing the stones. I was quite surprised at the dimensions of the plastic block (approx 20cm X 10cm X 4cm). I probably should have known it would be a messy job as the plaster block had a chalky feel to it. I will tell you this thou, the stones are well hidden inside the plaster block.
I was very impressed with the quality of the tools. They were very sturdy and not too sharp, but I would recommend supervision with younger children. There are 2 digging tools, a small hammer and a chisel. My daughter invited her friend to take it in turns gouging out the stones and take the blame for the mess. At first one person would use the digging tools to excavate a stone, then the other would use the little dusting brush to remove the rest of the plaster (all over the carpet again). They were so please with their efforts they had to come and show me. It was at this time I realised the mess, but it was too late. Never mind, they were enjoying themselves. It was impressed by the actual size and quality of the stones (if a bit chipped at times were they had hit it too hard with the chisel). It took them most of the day to uncover all the rest of the stones, so quite a long activity to keep your child occupied. I must admit, I had to have a go myself. It was reasonably easy to chisel little pieces of plaster away and fun too. I was actually glad they supplied the goggles with the kit as pieces can fly up at you.
The information booklet was very helpful at teaching you facts about the minerals you have uncovered. The booklet itself was very bright and colourful, appealing to the child's interest. Inside the layout was very easy to find information about each stone. Throughout the day, I had my daughter running to me saying "did you know that...?" I found this amazing, as she was having fun and learning at the same time.
After they had finished excavating their stones, the kit provided you with a presentational display stand. I must admit this is the only thing I thought was a bit tacky. A piece of black moulded plastic, but it proudly displays my daughters hard earned gem stones on her bedroom side table and that's all that matters. At least they neatly displayed, and not all over the place.
Overall I would recommend the Mineral Dig as it was well worth its money. I even wouldn't have been upset if I had bought it at the full retail price. So £2.99 was an excellent bargain. I just wished they had the National Geographic Dinosaur Dig in Home Bargains, which is a similar excavating product. This time you unearth various dinosaur bones to build a model of a velociraptor. So I will just have to buy it at full price at Amazon at £12.99. It will be worth it if it is as satisfying as the Mineral Dig. This time, I will make sure she put down some newspaper underneath the plaster, so it a lot easier to clean. You can't go wrong with anything that it fun and educational at the same time.