When an email pinged into my inbox asking if we'd like to try out The Original Spirograph Deluxe Set, there was an audible squeal of delight. It wasn't coming from the Madhouse kids though, it was from me, because I had the real original Spirograph set way back in the seventies, and even then, it was old ! (I've just checked - it was first created in 1965.) I was intrigued to see if any changes had been made and how it would compare to my memories.
Glancing at the back of the box, it didn't look all that different - you still get the various sized transparent plastic cogwheels with a spiral of holes that you can use with the circular or long guides. Then my eyes moved lower and I spotted the four non-round wheels, giving you even more creative options.
The box contains 45+ elements, including nineteen spirograph precision wheels; two sprirograph precision rings; one spirograph precision rack; 0.21 ounces of reusable spiro-putty; three retractable ball point pens; a fourteen page guide book; twenty sheets of design paper and one carry-along storage case with built-in work surface. It all packs neatly away so you won't lose any of the kit but we did find it a bit tricky getting some of the wheels out of their plastic compartments.
The guide is very complete but we didn't actually use it much because most of the fun I used to have with my original Spirograph set was just picking a random wheel and a random hole and marvelling at the designs which "magically" appeared.
It does give you some great ideas for things to strive for though, and shows some of the truly amazing patterns that you can create by colouring in the different sections of your finished designs.
Often, when classic old toys are given a new lease of lease, they end up lower quality than their old-fashioned counterparts, but whoever was involved in revamping Spirograph has done a great job. The old version required pins to hold the rings in place, which was pretty dangerous for young children and also resulted in occasional slips which would wreck the design that you were working on. It's been replaced by Spiro-putty, which is basically Blu Tack. I was unconvinced when I saw it in the box and muttered about blooming health and safety wrecking things again, but it actally works really well. The wheels are slightly thinner with slightly bigger holes too, so you can use most pens or fine felt tips with it, unlike the older version which really only worked with ball point pens.
I'd never thought of using the finished designs as componenets in a bigger drawing, but the advert gives you some great ideas. Roller coasters, elephants balancing on balls, fireworks, hot air balloons, ... there really is no limit to how creative you can be.
Spirograph are actually on the lookout for the UK's best young Spirograph designers, so once you've had a practice, you might want to try winning prizes with your more inspired designs. Head over to Cool Create Club to download an entry form and while you're there, make sure you enter their competition to win your very own Spirograph set too.
It's a lovely toy that will appeal to children of both sexes, not to mention any grown-ups who remember the fun they had in their own youth. The recommended age is 8+ but now that they've done away with those pesky pins, younger children could also have a go.
star rating : 4.5/5
RRP : £24.99
For more information : http://www.flairplc.co.uk/
Disclosure : We received the product on order to write an honest review.