(caveat: free copy fell into my mailbox, below is an honest review)
I hate oragami. Not the thing itself: the end product of intricate paper folding is one of my favorite arts at which to look. No, what I hate is the act of doing oragami -oragami-ing if you will. No matter how careful I am, no matter how closely I follow the instructions, no matter how detailed and exacting those instructions are, my pieces never come out right. And don’t tell me it’s meant as a meditative exercise and the end result doesn’t matter. It totally matters.
I can manage those balloon things, but they’re the limit of of my capacity: my cranes are inevitable lopsided, my chrysanthemums fall apart, and forget anything like a frog that’s supposed to hop or fly or whatever. In my world, origami is a tool I used to demonstrate to my kids that even mom has a hard time with things on occasion and there is stuff I’ll never be great at no matter how much I practice and that that’s okay.
I want to be good at it though, because you can make cool stuff and I like making cool stuff. Cool stuff is fun. It’s magical. And it entertains the wild hellions when they’re too tired to run around or when it’s raining. Or when they ask to do a craft and I haven’t had time to think of something. Which is all the time.
Enter Papertoy Glowbots: 46 Glowing Robots You Can Make Yourself by Brian Castleforte.
I should start by saying the book is intended for independent use by kid 9+ and there’s enough fine manipulation of potentially tearable little tabs I’d agree with the assessment. This isn’t to say younger kids won’t enjoy the crafts; my kids are 4 and 6 and we now have 46 robots we can make together which we find to be most excellent. When collaborating, adults can do the fine work while kids can apply glue, fold along the preprinted lines, adjust tabs, and apply the glow-in the dark stickers
Glowbots is very well organized as papercraft books go: the instructions for all of the bots are in the first section (each assigned a difficulty level from “easy” to “advanced”), the templates in the second section, and the glow-in-the-dark stickers in the third. Each instruction page lists the page number of the template and vice versa, while the template pages tell you on which page the corresponding stickers are to be found. The template pages are perforated, allowing you to detach them from the book’s spine and leave Glowbotp open to the instruction page specific to your project while you work.
No flipping back and forth, I repeat, NO FLIPPING BACK AND FORTH! I know that seems like a little thing but it’s not, especially when you have a really, really excited kid sitting next to you. Every single piece we’ve used so far has come away from the template neatly and without tearing; even the tiniest of tiny tabs have remained intact and attached to the project. All of the tabs are neatly and clearly labeled and either white (outside of fold) or gray (inside of fold). I will warn you the numbers are tiny and if you have any vision issues, you may need reading glasses or a magnifier.
The “easy” designs take 15-20 minutes, the intermediate a little bit longer. We haven’t tackled any of the advanced designs yet because I’m an engineering chicken, but I’ll let you know.
The robot designs are stunning and varied. The colors are bright and the detailing is intricate but, because the majority of it is printed onto the paper or in sticker form, there’s no struggle or frustration in achieving end game. Fourteen different designers were involved in the project and the range of what you can create is fantastic.
We’ve assembled several different robots from Tiki to Pokemon-esque so far and I can’t wait to continue our discovery. And because the finished project is something the kids can play with (the kids… yeah… sure…the kids) their exposure to the different art styles doesn’t end when construction does. Glowbotp is a sort of gateway art history lesson in that one can keep an eye on which robots their child chooses and introduce them to similar artistic styles in other forms. Hooray for sneaky education! Even better than zucchini in a turkey burger.
My only, very slight, nit that requires picking is: the book doesn’t specify that one needs to use school or crafting glue to assemble the bots.
I immediately went glue stick with the first bot the girl and I did because glue sticks are 1) less messy and 2) easier for a four year old to manipulate, allowing her to participate more. Unfortunately, we quickly discovered glue sticks don’t hold the tabs together well. We used thin washi tape next because, again, less messy and easier for the four year old; it worked but definitely ruined the aesthetics of the bots.
We finally went school glue, which stuck without a problem but which the girl and I ended up wearing (caveat: we did have to widen the tip of our glue bottle for some reason I cannot now recall so the excessive glopping was, in part, our fault). My husband poured glue into a cup and used a toothpick, which worked quite well but requires more coordination and dexterity, and thus a little less participation for younger kids. I wonder about the viability of peel and stick glue dots or preprepared adhesive with paper that can be peeled off. I imagine that increases cost significantly, so… trade-off.
That last bit said, my kids and I absolutely adore Glowbots and I recommend it highly. It’s a great tome of projects to suit any aesthetic taste on rainy days, unbearably hot days, or anytime you’re looking for a quick project. It’s definitely going on my potential birthday party gift list for several kids, and also some adults I know.
Cute, kid-friendly, stress-free, and you have your robot army when you’re done! Crafting success. And maybe even a jump on those plans for world domination…
Papertoy Glowbots: 46 Glowing Glowing Robots You Can Make Yourself by Brian Castleforte (Workman Publishing) is scheduled for release on August 23rd, 2016 and will be available from all the usual suspects.