I've said it before but I love Freecycle. Someone on Freecycle recently gave away two sets of plastic character makers, one was Pokemon-themed and the other was Star Wars. I've seen the Star Wars character maker in the stores and had considered buying it for Nicholas but I wasn't sure if he would really play with it enough to make it worth while. So here was an offer for not only the Star Wars character maker but also the Pokemon character maker - both free. Did it really matter if he didn't play with it much if it was free? I couldn't pass this one up.
The Pokemon set was still in the original box so we started with that one because we knew it would have all of the parts. It comes with an oven, 3 molds, different colors of plasti-goop, and tools for decorating and lifting the characters out of the molds.
You start by filling the mold with the plasti-goop. You can use different colors for eyes, nose, mouth, ears, and body although we found it a little difficult to keep the colors separate since the plasti-goop is so thin and runny.
The oven heats by a light bulb alone. Unfortunately the light bulb isn't included and I didn't realize this until we had all of the stuff spread out on the table ready to start. The box does mention that you will need to provide your own light bulb but it is in small print at the bottom of the box. Fortunately I was able to swipe a bulb from a light fixture.
The oven has some surprisingly nice safety features. First, it will not let you open the door if the oven is on. You put the mold in the oven while the oven is cold then you close the door and turn it on. But the oven will not even turn on unless the door has "clicked" close. The mold then "cooks" in the oven for a few minutes. You don't have to worry about forgetting about the mold and burning it (like I do so often with the real oven in the kitchen) because this oven will turn itself off. When the mold is ready, you turn off the oven and let it cool to room temperature before removing the mold. I love this feature because my inpatient son kept wanting to take the mold out of the oven right away but the oven door will not open if it's still hot. It even has a little temperature gauge so you can see if it's cool or hot.
Waiting for the character to cook is a trying time for a 5 year old. He spent the entire time staring at the oven or the clock on the microwave.
When the mold is finished and the oven has cooled, you use the little spatula to pick it up and place it in the cooling tray to finish setting up.
Once the character has completed cooled, you can remove it from the mold. They are an interesting texture, kind of like gummy candy (but you DO NOT eat these!). They have three dimensional features on one side but the back side is flat. They are not able to stand on their own but Nicholas found that they stick well to windows. I'm not really sure what else you can do with the characters once you make them.
We found the recommended time in the oven to be too long so we experimented and found 5 minutes was the perfect cooking time. Here are our first three attempts starting with 7 minutes and working down to 5.
We had fun making both the Pokemon and Star Wars characters. Even though the characters are non-toxic, I was really upset when I saw Rachel chewing on one of them. They are gummy so her sharp little teeth can actually cut through them and she could swallow little pieces of them. So in the nature of Freecycle, we had our fun with them and have passed them on to someone else to play with.