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You're About to be Redirected to the New Home of Ground Control to Major Mom: PixO-monium!

Sunday, December 28, 2008


The boys received PixOs starter kits from Grammy Vollmer for Christmas. It was something they wanted, they asked her for it and she delivered! Thanks Grammy! The boys love it!

For those who might not remember, Pixos are a "new formula" of craft bead developed in response to the massive Aqua Dots Recall that took place in fall 2007, thus nixing one of the things Jacob was asking Santa Claus for last year!

I honestly don't know what the difference is, but whatever. The boys were very excited to open up their sets and get to work!

As you've heard me describe with both Moon Sand and Perler Beads, I get a bit particular about the mess-factor when it comes to these crafts. Pixo beads are in the same category -- the beads are VERY small (the size of plastic BBs) and you need some incredible dexterity to manage them. They do get everywhere -- but unlike Moon Sand, they vacuum up quite easily. I have to suck up my neat-freakiness for the good of happy, creatively engaged kids.

Pixos comes with an applicator pen. You fill the pen with the beads, and then apply the beads to the plastic template board with the gentle touch of your forefinger. So simple!

Not so simple.

So here's Timmy with his applicator pen working on a kitten pattern.

From 2008 12 27 TimmyPixos

See that fat pen? One has to FILL the pen. You have to unscrew the red top to the pen, and then get the Pixo beads into one of the 4 chambers. Unlike the one shown on the website, this pen has 4 chambers, which you can use to have 4 colors going at once. This took some serious precision, even with the funnel attachment you can use, to get the beads into the pen.

Timmy's pen seemed to work fine. You line up the tip of the pen, depress a button, and it deposits a bead in the location of your choosing. There's a certain finesse to putting the pen up against the template just right, otherwise the bead misses the correct location on the template and bounces elsewhere: into another location on the template, on the floor, into the heater vent, etc.

Unfortunately, Jacob's pen seems much pickier. The pen has to be oriented with one of the 4 chambers perfectly for the beads to come out when you press the button. It was frustrating for me, so for those who know how, um, particular Jacob is, just imagine his reaction! But we got it working and he was able to do some simple patterns.

I'd estimate that for each of the patterns we have, you need to fill the pen at least twice, and it depends on which colors you choose to fill the chambers with.

So -- now that we've filled the template with the beads in the pattern we want, it's time to "fix" the pattern in place with water.

This is pretty straightforward: the starter kit includes cute little spray bottles, which the boys wasted no time filling with water from the dog bowl and then using on each other.

Once we made the appropriate corrections and the boys served out their time outs, we followed the directions: "Evenly spray your complete design".

How much spray? Not enough spray, the beads don't all seal together. Too much spray, and it takes forever to dry. So I don't know the answer to this, except that an adult should oversee the spraying.

Here's Timmy's completed kitten.

From 2008 12 27 TimmyPixos

I was very impressed (again) at how well he did with this project. And once again, Jacob was less patient with this project, but he did a small set of patterns that are on the pink-colored template on the picture below.

From 2008 12 27 TimmyPixos

Straight out of the instructions: "NOTE: Store unused PixOs(TM) in a cool dry environment".

Heed this warning! When you're spraying your pattern, you need to keep the water away from any loose beads, or the applicator pen. Needless to say that the water makes the beads sticky, and the loose beads will congeal together if left out in moisture. That also means if you're in a humid environment, they might not cooperate so well. Thankfully, it's bone dry here right now so that's not an issue.

The instructions claim that the PixOs design will be ready in about 10 minutes, but I don't believe that. Of course the drying time depends on how much you "evenly" sprayed your design, and the ambient humidity. It's taking about 1/2 hour here. That seems a long time for a 3 year old to wait for the fruits of his labors. At least with Perler beads Timmy only has to wait for me to iron his design together and then wait for it to cool, less than 5 minutes!

When all's said and done, you have this cute little kitten. Like the Perler beads, you have this plastic toy that you can do with as you please. Unfortunately, Timmy's kitten fell apart pretty quickly. Just trying to hold it upright, gravity kicked it and the kitten slumped over and the beads started separating.

But simply put the parts back on the template and hit with another shot of water and it fuses back together in about 1/2 hour.

I've come across some other reviews from folks whose kids also received these sets for Christmas, and I have to admit, mine is among the most polite of those I've read so far. Timmy and Jacob seem to enjoy this kit pretty well, so as long as you are flexible with the mess the beads can make, and make sure to avoid getting the beads wet until you're absolutely ready.

One of the reviews even says "stick with Perler beads". After Jacob spilling a tray of about 3000 Perler beads this afternoon, I'm even getting frustrated with the Perler beads!

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At Tuesday, December 30, 2008 at 7:07:00 PM CST , Blogger Southern Girl said...

thank goodness grayson doesn't really "do" crafts. play doh is messy enough for me. a friend gave us moon sand this year for Christmas and it's already been relegated to the deck. :)

At Saturday, January 17, 2009 at 11:48:00 PM CST , Blogger The Newman Family said...

I was glad to find your website. I am a stay at home mom of a 3 year old. I will try to make this short, but it is a long story and maybe you can give me some advice. My son will be 4 in april, still not completely potty trained. We work on letters and numbers but he gets frustrated, but seems to be able to sing the ABC song. Anyway, I am an arts and crafts person. The Pixo set was number one on his list, and wanting to see the glimmer of joy in his eye on his first REAL Santa Christmas, I purchased the studio and portapak for Christmas. I got the response I wanted, but it goes downhill from here. First I see your son using the pen and being able to put them on the colored dots. How old is he? My son got frustrated with even picking out the right colors. He does well with his colors otherwise. Sometimes he seems to forget. Orange and brown are his worst. Anyway. I ended up making even the easy ones myself. and gave him a blank tray and let him pick up the beads with his hands to make his own creations. After some screaming and crying over the frustration of the toy, Mommy made quite a few for him, but I had no idea "what" to do with them really. So I internet searched and found there are some usefull purposes and kits for the thingies that have 3D and stands, and special beads for suncatchers, suction cups, book marks, pen toppers, sticker dots. I picked up some magnet tape and keychain rings at a local craft store. I told my husband, I am crafty enough to make the hard ones and we can work together on some easy ones (but I get frustrated and just want to do it). Ugh. Anyway, I had to go to target to purchase the little boogers again. So about an initial investment of 150.00 on this. He still is much happier just doing his own thing. In the UK they have Bendeez and Aqua Beads which are the same things and the variety and availability of their refill kits and what nots are much cheaper than ours and you get more. You can even just purchase the beads, which you can't here. Anyway, I noticed we were running low on beads and Pixos ain't cheap. so I googled them and ebayed them and found there is another SAFE cheaper brand that is only sold through amazon and it is Manley Bead Magic. If you go to Amazon, put in Magic bead. The Mega starter set has 1200 beads and 10 designs, cool neat durable stands, zipper pulls trays A variety of colored beads. I also grabbed the 4000 bead set on Amazon when some craft store was selling them for 9 bucks. I got three of them with free shipping. I picked up 2 other kits at 14.00 a piece. If you just get the kit. Keep in mind, they do not give you enough beads to make all the projects. I did not know this and complained to Amazon and they gave me a 20.00 credit. The pens are easier to use for me. I still just prefer to use my hands unless I have to use one color a lot. The great thing is? they work with Pixo trays, pens, stations and the pixo beads. I find they have a slightly different feel to them. but they don't easily roll around on the trays either. Anyway. Should I be concerned that my son cannot line a bead in a little hole? Match color? My doctor says "NO" After all, in the UK the suggested age is 6. I have a UK friend who is sending me a bunch of bendeez and aqua beads with the safe formula as all of them were recalled last year. All the beads work together. So the total investment, in a toy #1 on his list - too much. But from now on I am continuing with the Manley beads, even if I have to pay shipping. they are cheap. I just looked at your son sitting there holding his pen so happily placing those yellow dots on that kitty and my heart hurt. Is there something wrong with my son? They look about the same age. Or was mommy in the background helping push the beads in place. LOL. I would love your feedback. Please email me at Warm wishes to you and your family. Kelley, from Indiana - sitting at a desk covered with pixo and manley art stuff feeling exhausted creating all these and I really don't think he gives a big hoot.

By the way I talked to SpinMaster who owns pixos. Great Customer Service. I voiced my concerns and those of a forum group I belong to. The VP of some department called me asking me to put them all in an email and send to him. He called me back and said this would be discussed in the next staff meeting but they are sending me a bunch of stuff. If you want to see the email let me know.

At Saturday, January 17, 2009 at 11:55:00 PM CST , Blogger The Newman Family said...

Also, I would suggest visiting Oriental trading for key chain rings, suction cups, ribbon for the bookmarks, magnet tape, sticky stuff to make moveable stickers and what not as buying a pixo or Manley kit just for accessories is too expensive.

At Sunday, January 18, 2009 at 12:02:00 AM CST , Blogger The Newman Family said...

I think I had to send another post to get notified of updates to your blogsite. Maybe I will start blogging. Right now, I am up to my ears with beads and don't have time. Do you know of any sites that have their own creations and templates posted?


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