I'm a freelance writer and primary school teacher living in SE Melbourne. I love finding adventures for myself, my husband and our four kids to enjoy. Come along! Heart my articles, subscribe to the fun, follow along on www.facebook.com/WNMelbourne
Published September 26th 2016
Create with cubes that join with water; no heat, no mess
While I wouldn't consider the Qixel 3D Maker a "3D printer", it could be used as a basic introduction to the concept of 3D printing. Kids can either use provided templates or build their own designs, layer by layer, brushing them with water to join the cubes into a 3D object.
My Minecraft™ loving kids get a feel for physically recreating their screen-time hobby. My hesitations: The "Age 5 years and up" suggestion is perhaps more of a safety minimum recommendation than a play-development standard; the dexterity and patterning required for the 3D Maker would require very close parental assistance (hands-on participation) for a five-year-old; I would recommend a minimum age of at least seven-years-old for independent creation.
The patterns and supplies provided are colourful, interesting, and realistic (in a pixel-world kind of way). I found the pattern difficult to see through the design tray, but my son didn't seem to have any problems following it.
Excited to start his own creations, my nine-year-old attempted his own 3D pattern after creating two patterns provided. The first one didn't go as well as he had hoped; it's a bit tricky to get the hang of inserting support cubes for the layers that will have "gaps" when dried. Once he sorted that out, there was no stopping him! It's important to note, however, that the 3D Maker needs 3D cubes, and you cannot use regular Qixel cubes with the 3D set, presumably due to the support dimples in the tops of the cubes that hold the top layers, and probably layers of the dry glue on top as well.
Speaking of glue, the drying time was significantly longer than the one-hour suggestion given in the instructions. After 90 minutes, I still used my hairdryer to solidify the creations beyond a tacky stickiness that still remained.
The only other downside with the 3D maker is the lack of storage for the extra cubes. Thankfully we had Qixel cube trays from previous purchases; it would be wonderful for them to consider including a tray or two in future releases of this amazing new toy.
Moose Toys has this to say about their new Qixels 3D product: "Now you can create awesome Qixels 3D designs using the Qixels 3D maker. All you've got to do is build it, fuse and flip it again! When they dry, they stay and you're ready to play. From 3D jungle animals, to 3D to crazy bugs, to 3D spaceships - there's something for everyone! Make an entire pixellated 3D world with Qixels!"
Qixel 3D products are available at Big W, Kmart, Toys R Us, and many more local toy stores. Recommended retail price for the 3D Maker is $40, with 3D refill packs at $10 (but I saw them for $9 at Kmart).
My nine-year-old son rates this toy as an easy 10 out of 10, and he can't wait to get the "Space Command" refill set.
Have you tried out the new Qixel 3D Maker? What do you think? We'd love to hear your feedback in the comments.