At first glance, if I'm totally honest, I must admit I wasn't overly impressed by these large colouring sheets. But they kind of suck you in ! Do you remember the Magic Eye pictures, where you had to stare at a graphic mess until your eyes started watering and going blurry and then suddenly, miraculously, just as you thought you'd have to blink or your eyeballs would dry out, a totally invisible picture suddenly appeared out of nowhere and made you go "oooh oooh I can see it, I can see it ... can you ?"! Well, this is similar. The more you look at it - especially if you step back and look from a couple of feet away - the more you can see because the pictures sort of merge into each other and make new pictures and shapes. Also, different people see different things so it's fun to compare notes and explain what you see as you gaze into the picture !
According to the website, "Colour Buddy can help with concentration, behaviour, memory skills, hand-eye co-ordination and team building." The designer, Michael Harman, says : "Teachers have been amazed how engrossed children become when given Colour Buddy to do and how well they interact with their peers and siblings". And that is what totally amazed me. Juliette (aged 4) and Sophie (aged 8) spent a whole rainy Sunday afternoon colouring in together, whereas they would normally lose interest after a couple of pages of a normal colouring book.
We started off with the Imagination Poster game, a hectic A1 sized black and white poster made up of hundreds of small drawings in which you have to find 58 small pictures. It's just like a Where's Wally book - it'll drive you insane but it's strangely addictive, for children and adults alike ! It was good as a family game, with no complicated rules so even the youngest children could join in, and making it a bit competitive by seeing who could find the most pictures. (A simple way of keeping score is one coloured pencil per person and you colour in the little picture you've found in the big picture and also around the edge.)
When tempers started fraying (because Juliette kept colouring in things that weren't in the 58 things to find !) and Sophie started looking seriously boggled-eyed whenever she looked up (!), I decided it was time to move on to the gentler, slightly less crazy Fashion Garden. This time, there were no items to find so no competitive element - it was just time for some nice friendly colouring-in together as a family. It was lovely to all sit down together around the table and work together as a team with no bickering ! And as with the Imagination Poster game, different people see different things and images sort of emerge as you're colouring, so it keeps everyone interested for ages. The final piece of artwork can be hung up on the fridge door as a reminder of how lovely things can be when we all work together as a team and make a combined effort (I can dream !!)
If you want to see for yourselves, you can download a sample picture to try out on the Colour Buddy website : http://www.colourbuddy.co.uk/download.html
They're quite pricey but for a peaceful afternoon of nice playing together as a family, it's a small price to pay !
star rating : 4/5
Colour Buddy®™: The Imagination Poster game - Poster Size A1 £7.99
Colour Buddy®™: Fashion Garden - Poster Size A2 £5.99