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My five year old son is a big fan of the CBeebies 'Mister Maker' television programme and often wants to go straight off and make the fun little items that Mister Maker creates on the show. He was delighted to receive this Mister Maker branded Craft Drum amongst his birthday presents a few months ago and was eager to set about making some of his own craft creations using the bits and pieces included inside.
The Craft Drum contains a mixed assortment of arts and crafts items including 'chenille straws', which turned out to be those brightly coloured flexible pipe cleaners that always seemed to be featured heavily on Blue Peter during my childhood! The set is a little heavy on multi-coloured pom poms, including both tiny little one and slightly larger glittery pom poms. It also includes small plastic beads, foam lollipop sticks, small plastic straws, stickers in the shape of eyes, various foam shapes and a large clump of coloured shredded paper.
I think my son was disappointed that the set didn't include any 'googly eyes', as googly eyes seem to feature quite heavily within the television programme, especially the simpler 'Minute Makes'. The small paper eye stickers included here don't really have the same appeal and aren't quite as versatile or as much fun.
One of the best features about the set is undoubtedly the jar itself. This is a surprisingly good quality, robust lidded plastic jar complete with carry handle. It is ideal to keep all of the items safe and secure between uses, especially as the set includes so many random tiny pieces. There is also plenty of room to add (much needed) extra accessories into the set, to keep all of the craft bits and bobs together.
The contents do seem a rather random selection, including a few unusual and potentially useful bits such as the pom poms and pipe cleaners, with the remainder being a mish-mash of odd craft items. I do think the bold statement on the side of the jar - 'EVERYTHING you need to start your own creative project!'- is a pretty meaningless and pointless phrase. I think the key word is 'start' a project, as I don't think there are many children (or parents) that would be able to pull together a particularly enjoyable activity based on the contents of this jar alone.
One of the main disappointments is that there is no indication whatsoever of just what you could be expected to use these items for. Despite the Mister Maker branding and the picture of the cheery spotty waistcoat wearing gentlemen himself, there is no reference to any activities featured on the show. I had expected the drum to include just a small leaflet inside with a suggested activity or even just a few pictures, but there is nothing at all of that nature to inspire any mini Mister (or Miss) Makers out there. In fact, there aren't even any images featured on the paper sleeve surrounding the drum to illustrate any possible activities or projects, aside from a picture of a pom pom person which features items that aren't even included in the set.
I must admit I'm not particularly creatively minded and don't really enjoy these kinds of activities. My sons do find craft projects entertaining but my five year old ended up making some rather uninspired bracelets (pipe cleaners and beads- very imaginative!) and pom pom people. We've yet to find a useful (or fun) purpose for the straws or the foam sticks, although I dare say we'll come up with something really imaginative and inventive such as sticking the pom poms on top.(Hmm, I did admit that arts and crafts aren't my forte. Looks like I'll have to spend far more time watching Mister Maker.)
This was, admittedly, an inexpensive purchase, available for just £1.99 from my local Home Bargains store, but the whole kit just feels like a few remnants of other projects have been shoved together in a pot and sold on at a low price to get rid of excess stock. There is also a larger 'Jumbo Craft Drum' available for £3.99. In all honesty, whilst this isn't expensive for a character branded craft item, they still aren't particularly great value for money as all you actually get is just a random assortment of basic 'craft' items. In order to make any of the items featured on the programme, this is going to need to be supplemented by a pretty extensive selection of other craft items as the stuff included here doesn't even scratch the surface.
The Home Bargains store in my local town seems to have sold out of the limited range of Mister Maker products it had in stock, including this small drum. It may still be in stock in other stores but, despite the cheap price, the contents aren't really anything to get excited about and I wouldn't recommend anybody making a special trip to try and get hold of one of these kits. If you do put one aside as a cheap stocking filler, I would recommend supplementing it with some other craft supplies and a decent arts and crafts book, to offer some ideas and inspiration for what to do with the drum's random set of contents.