Recently I received a press release which really caught my eye - an introduction to Simbrix, a new creative craft and construction toy, which is billed as a cross between fusion beads and Lego. As regular readers of my blog will know, I blog all the time about how much we enjoy creating with Hama (fusion) beads, so I was really interested to try out Simbrix.
I was sent a small selection of prototype beads for the children and I to play with. My beads were in ten colours - red, orange, yellow, green, blue, pink, black, white, grey and brown. The little square beads slide smoothly together to create your design, and they even slot firmly enough together that you don't need to have your work resting flat on the table. This means that you can easily carry your partially finished design around without the worry of dropping it and ruining all your hard work.
The beads can be easily ironed in the same way as fusion beads, but I only ironed one of the finished designs as part of our testing as I found to my surprise that the children were quite happy to take their creations apart and use the beads again for different designs.
Simbrix are aimed at children aged 5 and above, but with supervision Mia (nearly 4) was easily able to use the beads, with no problems putting them together or taking them apart. They are a great way to encourage younger children to develop colour matching and patterning skills.
Simbrix was invented by Assim Ishaque at home as a way of improving the play experience of his own young children when they made patterns with small fusion beads, and in particular looking for a more robust way to connect the beads together. As a family we really love Hama beads, but they do have their problems. You need a pegboard to lay out the beads which is very easy to knock, and as I've found out it can cause a lot of upset and frustration when a carefully put together creation is damaged before it has been ironed. A design made with fusion beads is also not very satisfying to admire until it has been ironed, which means that we get through a lot of beads.
I was pleased to see how well Simbrix addresses these issues. The design is sturdy as you build it and almost impossible to knock apart. You can re-use the beads easily, and as I said I was surprised by how readily my children took their designs apart once they'd finished with them - perhaps I don't need to iron every single thing that they make after all! The only big difference from Hama beads is that you are limited to designs which can be formed on a grid shape as the beads are square. But on the plus side you don't need to worry about running out of space on the board, so it's easy to make much larger pictures.
Here are some of our first creations! They are all made by Harry apart from the 'rainbow' stripy design which is Mia's work.
I've left the beads out on the table for a couple of days now, and Harry has been asking to play with them as soon as he comes in from school, sitting there for ages playing with them. I was very impressed with this particular creation - he's made larger versions of the Simbrix beads that lock together (he was a yellow bead short so decided that the brown bit could be a bit of dirt!).
We've really enjoyed playing with the beads and I think that they are a fantastic, creative product.
Now that the beads have been fully developed and tested, the creator has launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the first manufacturing run of the beads and to enable Simbrix to be packaged for buyers so that kits will be available to purchase from Amazon and eventually from High Street retailers at a fair price. You can see full details of the Kickstarter campaign here and make a pledge to back the project.
We received a prototype bag of Simbrix in exchange for this review.