Several years ago, my husband and I visited Europe. We decided to do it on the cheap, so we stayed in hostels, travelled by Eurail, and carried all our belongings in our backpacks. It wasn't the most leisurely trip we've ever taken — we spent an awful lot of time cold and tired. But I'm grateful we were able to experience the things we did.
One of things we didn't really consider, though, was that our stuffed-to-the-brim backpacks would essentially prevent us from bringing home souvenirs. We had to be very cautious about anything much larger than a postcard. (As much as I wanted to bring home that giant jar of Nutella, for example, it just wasn't possible.)
The one thing I did make room for, though, was a wood-carved wine bottle stopper from a small town we visited in Switzerland. It's a little guy with a lever on his back, which, when pressed, causes him to raise his wine jug to his opening mouth. I don't have a lot of use for a wine bottle stopper, mind you. But every time I looked at him, I smiled. So I bought him. He still sits on my shelf, reminding me of our trip... and reminding me that making someone smile is a worthy goal for a maker.
Ever since then, I've been intrigued with the possibility of making moving things with polymer clay: mobiles, toys, bobble heads, etc. It's one of those ideas I'm eager to explore... but I haven't settled down and devoted my energies to it yet. So I was especially excited to see that Polyform had created a Pluffy Bobble Buddies kit, including all the supplies to make 3 bobble head figurines.
Sculpey Pluffy Bobble Buddies Kit
- 3 ounces of clay (tan, black, white, yellow, and green)
- plastic needle tool
- 3 metal springs
- 6 wiggle eyes
- black pipe cleaner for penguin's wings
The kit shows you how to make a penguin, a monkey, and a frog. (But they also encourage you to make your own bobble creations if you prefer.) The nicely-illustrated instructions step you through creating the individual clay shapes, pressing them together, adding the spring, and baking.
What I Liked
- Has everything you need. Even though I was interested in making my own bobble head — I went as far as tracking down springs in the hardware store — I was a little worried about how to put everything together. Having the materials, clay and instructions in one box makes it simple.
- Lightweight clay. One lesson I'll take away from this when I make my own bobble heads is that lightweight clay (Pluffy or Ultralight) is ideal for bobble heads. If you want something easier to sculpt, you can use the lightweight clay as the armature, covering it with Premo or another clay for the features. But the lightweight clay means you won't have to worry about the head being too heavy for the spring.
- Enough supplies to make multiple creatures. The variety of clay colors means you can make the animals pictured, or you can create your own. Having multiple sets of the supplies also lets you try different things, or keep multiple kiddos entertained while working on the kit together.
- Well-written (& illustrated) instructions. The instructions show to-scale photos of each clay piece, both before and after assembly.
What I Didn't Like
- Wrong tool? The instructions tell me: "With pointed end of tool, poke 12.7 mm (1/2") hole in top of body. Twist spring into hole." But the spring didn't fit inside the hole. The tool was so much skinnier than the spring that poking a hole was pointless. This wasn't a big deal. I was able to twist the spring into the clay around the hole without much trouble, and my bobble head is plenty sturdy. But they should either eliminate the step where you punch a hole first, or change the size of the included tool or spring.
- Non-stick eyes. The "self-adhesive" eyes didn't stick to my baked clay. Part of the problem is that I was adding flat things (eyes) to a curved surface (head). It might have worked better to press them temporarily into the raw clay to make an indention, then adhere them to that indention after baking. Or (as I did) just add a drop of handy dandy super glue. But it's something that might frustrate kids or new clayers. (Personally, I also felt like the eyes were too large. Sure, bobble heads are supposed to look like caricatures, but these seemed to go a tad overboard.)
- Pipe cleaner wings. This is a personal preference thing, too, but I can't understand why they used pipe cleaners for the penguin's wings. Wings are no harder to create than a monkey's arms or a frog's legs. The pipe cleaners look cheap and ugly to me, and it seems harder than just using polymer clay. Maybe they wanted to add a little variety? I dunno, but I chose to differ from the instructions for that part and make my penguin with wings.
So... do you need a kit to make your own bobble heads? Absolutely not. They're simple to make. Springs are cheap. Buy your own supplies and assemble any old creature your heart desires out of polymer clay.
But I'd still give this kit a thumbs-up. It has everything you need to get started (no more putting off the project til you have time to go to the hardware store). And I know it helped me gain confidence in how to construct bobble heads. If you (or your kiddos) are interested in creating your own bobble heads, I'd say this is $10 well-spent.
- I discovered while writing this review that the Firefly Pluffy Bobble Buddies Kit is listed here as discontinued. But it's currently available at my Michaels for $9.99. (If it indeed is discontinued, you might check the clearance racks soon for an awesome deal.) A Google search also found a couple of online sources. The package indicates it is for kids ages 8+.
GiveawaySince this item was given to me by Polyform, I wanted to share some of that generosity with you. While I had to open the box and use some of the supplies in order to do a thorough review, I tried to leave this kit as intact as possible so one of my readers could also enjoy it. Here's what I'm offering:
Prize: Sculpey Pluffy Bobble Buddies kit (opened). This kit is missing 1 spring and 1 set of eyes. It includes all of the clay packets, unopened (I used my own Pluffy clay for the review), the clay tool, and the instructions. The winner will be able to make any two of the three animals on the box, plus use the instructions as a guide to make lots of bobbles in the future.
How to enter: Leave your name and email address in the Bobble Buddies Giveaway entry box below (not the blog comment form). These are the rules:
- Only United States residents 18 years of age and older may enter.
- Limit one entry per IP address, please.
- The giveaway starts on Friday, March 18, 2011, at 9:00 a.m. and ends Wednesday, March 23, 2011, at 11:55 p.m.
I will email the randomly-selected winner to verify eligibility and get shipping info for the prize. Once it's all official, I'll announce the winner here. Good luck!
Reviewed Materials Source / Disclaimer: The Sculpey Pluffy Bobble Buddies kit was provided by the manufacturer, Polyform Products, for review purposes. No further compensation was received. I always strive to be honest and unbiased in my reviews, but your results with this product may vary.