When Character Options got in touch and asked if we'd like to review the Qixels Turbo Dryer, I knew that it would be a big hit with Pierre. The concept is very similar to Aquabeads and Hama Beads, both toys that the girls have had and that Pierre has enjoyed getting involved in, but Qixels are specifically aimed at boys aged 4 and over, with edgy, boy-oriented designs such as Skeletons, Warriors and Monsters.
Unlike the other products of this kind that we've had at The Madhouse, Qixels are square, not round, so the designs really reminded us of Minecraft - an aspect that is sure to appeal to young fans of the game.
Inside the box, you get : 1 x Turbo Dryer, 1 x Water Spray Bottle, 2 x Design Trays, 4 x Design Templates, 2 x Stands, 2 x Display Bases, 2 x Plug in accessories, 1 x Bag Tag and thread, 500 Qixels, 1 x Storage Tray, 1 x Instruction Booklet. I was actually surprised to learn that there were 500 cubes because the bags are very small, but I'll take their word for it !
The designs are on double-sided templates so you can make a Viking, a rocket, a scorpion and a dinosaur. There's nothing to stop you going freestyle and creating your own designs or using your own colour schemes though, particularly if you buy refills of the cubes.
Pierre jumped straight in, knowing exactly what to do without needing to read the little instruction booklet.
They're quite fiddly because they're very small but they slot quite snugly onto the little peg boards so they stay in place while you're creating the design.
The enclosed storage tray for the beads makes it easier to find the exact colour that you're looking for, especially as some of the colours - the greys in particular - look quite similar.
Within about ten minutes, Pierre had finished creating the Viking design.
This is where the clever bit happens - when you spray the cubes with water, they expand and go sticky so they fuse together. I love the fact that, unlike Hama beads, there is no need to use the iron because I invariably have designs waiting on top of the washing machine to be ironed (I'm usually in the middle of dinner then they get forgotten about and knocked and the beads fly everywhere !). Using just water means that Pierre can be totally independent and do it all himself without even needing my help.
After spraying twenty squirts of water across the whole design, you place it in the turbo dryer and press the button repeatedly so that it spins and throws off the excess water. Make sure you wash your hands afterwards because if you put your fingers in your mouth, they have a disgusting bitter taste from the cubes.
After twenty minutes, you can carefully peel it off the pinboard. The Viking worked perfectly but the Scorpion, that we made afterwards, lost a claw because it was only held on with one cube thickness. According to the instructions, you can add more water if this happens, but we still haven't managed to make it stick. I'll have another go though !
Pierre is quite content to just make the designs at the moment but once he's played with it a bit longer and totally got the knack, we'll look at making one into a bag tag. There are also two special green cubes that are open on both sides, allowing you to attach accessories to the finished designs, such as the battleaxe seen in the picture.
I've been looking at the refill packs, because I know Pierre will want more, and I was pleased to see that they come in themed packs : Monsters, Medieval, Martial Arts, Deep Sea, Space, ... He's also spotted the Fuse Blaster which is like a water pistol that you can use to spray your designs with water. I think I know what he'll be getting for his birthday !
star rating : 4.5/5
RRP : £19.99
for more information : http://www.character-online.com/products/Qixels/Turbo-Dryer/
Disclosure : We received the product in order to write an honest review.