Over 1,200 tiny plastic beads can be arranged and set into colorful creations. Just spray some water on the finished design, let ‘em dry, and enjoy the new bead art.
This set come with portable creation station (which doubles as a carrying case), 2 layout trays, 4 key chains, 10 decorations, water spritzer, 6 design templates, bead pen, bead funnel to fill pen, 1200 beads, and color-printed instructions.
We found a great video from Wonder World TV showing how to make a customized image using one of the provide templates. She uses the Beginner Studio Kit instead of the Ultimate, but the premise is the same.
Place the beads onto the tray and spritz with water to set the design. Use an included template, or go free-form.
A number of themed kits can be purchased separately, each with unique templates and more beads. Of course, just buying refill bead sets by themselves and coming up with your own templates also works.
Once put into place on the holding tray, the beads need to be gotten wet in order to activate whatever glue it is that holds them together. Dry, pop off the beaded creation, and enjoy your art.
Firstly, we disagree with the manufacturer that this toy is suitable for 4 year olds. The dexterity required to place the beads without ever bumping into the tray is not typically found in children so young. 6 might be a better age, but again, bumping the tray will dislodge the beads, making for frustration and grumbling.
With that said, this toy does have merit as an arts-and-crafts activity for children and adults whose hands allow them to keep up with these tiny beads. It works well as a way to practice fine motor skills and finger control, but only with patience.
We really like that the beads only need water to set instead of a hot iron, like with Perler beads. However, instead of including a water mister in the kit, there is only what can best be called a water distributor. It acts like a shaker, with large drops of water splashing all over the place. In order to make sure all beads have come in contact with the water and no dry spots remain, you really have to drench the area. This drastically increases the drying time. We suggest just using an old water spray bottle. It’ll evenly coat the beads without sending a deluge across the tray.
Drying time is said to be an hour or two, but that is determined by how much water splashed out. Having a fan blowing on the drying beads will help, but we still suggest just leaving along for several hours or overnight just to make sure everything is fully dried.
Along with the poorly designed water dumper, the pen is also frustrating to use. It’s made to hold twelve different colors of beads, each in its own chamber. In theory, the chambers rotate to allow the desired color to drop out at the press of a button. In reality, pushing the button doesn’t do anything without several shakes of the pen. So, we recommend getting a pair of tweezers to place to the beads on the tray. For us, it proved to be faster and less frustrating.
The pen that comes with the Beginners Studio Playset is probably the best pen we’ve seen from this series. It works like a pair of tweezers though, so there’s not much point in buying that particular set just for that pen.
Two types of beads are included: classic and jewel. The classic beads are solidly opaque and spherical, while the jewel beads are transparent and faceted. Because of their texture, the jewel beads frequently get stuck in the included pen, much more so than the classic beads. Pretty, though.
Storage is a pain. The Ultimate set comes with bags of tiny beads, but the pen only holds a small number of each color, so once those beads are out of the bag, there’s not really anywhere to put them. Maybe they should all be used in one go? The carrying case the set comes in can hold the beads, yes, but they won’t be sorted, so opening the case again later requires picking out all the beads. Though it’s not a huge problem, we are somewhat disappointed that the manufacturer didn’t come up with something better. The Beginner’s Studio Playset has better storage capabilities.
Many users have reported both girls and boys enjoying this toy. Artistic toys are often marketed towards young girls, so we’re happy to hear that boys feel comfortable jumping in, too. Like with the Rainbow Loom, the finished projects are limited only to what the user can imagine.
We are not super excited about the refill kits, and explain why in more detail under Parts and Pieces.
- Any moisture will reactivate the glue on the beads, so keep these dry! We think they make good hanging decorations, such as bobbles to hang on a car’s rearview mirror, or ornaments.
We don’t know how to clean these. If you know a way, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Parts and Pieces
Refill kits are available, but they always contain a large array of colors. Having options is great, but we also want a way to prepare for a certain project without having to buy unnecessary extras. There are three refill packs:
Classic Bead Refill Pack with over 800 beads
Jewel Bead Refill Pack with over 800 beads
Super Refill Pack with over 2,400 beads
All in all, we might recommend the Beginner’s Studio Set. It has fewer beads and different templates, but better storage and pen.
The tiny beads may be a tempting treat for babies still putting object into their mouths.
They will also likely end up on the floor if used in the presence of children 4 and younger.