Crayola Color Explosion Glow Board - Fun but Frustrating!
Dec 10, 2009
Review by MaryTara Wurmser
Rated a Very Helpful Review
User Rating: OK
Pros:Inspires creativity, cool concept, it does work
Cons:markers dry out, bad caps, surfaces hard to clean, battery sucker, replacement markers?
The Bottom Line: Cool concept, Design is flawed
The Crayola Color Explosion Glow Board was one of the few items my son really expressed an interest in receiving last year - of course, how could it not be as there were a million ads and commercials for this before the holidays. The ads showed a board that looked similar to a "magnadoodle" type of toy but with neon pictures reminiscent of one of those glow in the dark black-light posters.
Recommend this product?
The Glow Board is similar to a magnadoodle since it has a drawing surface but it is more boxy and actually has not just one but 2 clear drawing surfaces. The design is such that the inner surface slides in and out like a plate and can be stacked and clicked into the front of the board for drawing purposes. When done drawing - it gets unclicked and then slid inside the "box". The set comes with some pictures that can be traced onto the plates to create some more "complex" moving pictures including a space and underwater scene.
Then using the switch you can control lights inside the Glow Board that shine either simultaneously or alternately (steady or blinking) on the 2 drawing plates. This will work best in a dark room and create a result that looks kind of like a moving picture, neon sign and displays the images on the plates. In order for this to work you need to use the 6 special markers that are provided and keep the drawing surfaces nice and clean in between use.
This toy was priced at $32.99 and has since come down to the $20 range (where it belongs). It is suggested for children ages 6 and up and runs on 3 AA batteries.
My 8 year old son received not one but two of these last year - one for his birthday and then another a week later for Christmas. Since my kids were fighting over it, I decided to hold onto the second one and give it to my 4 year old daughter to have one of her own. Obviously at 4 she doesn't totally "get" that you need to draw a picture on both boards and have the pictures be cohesive with each other in order to really get the full impact of the board. She just draws on it and then turns on the light to see her picture in the dark. She's happy with that.
Now, my 8 year old is very artistic and he understands that you need to draw a picture on both plates. He is able to trace the images and use the board as intended. He likes to draw, draws well - and enjoyed playing with this glow board at first. Its cool to see your drawing light up in the dark and there is even an easel/stand on the back of the board so you can view this board almost like you are viewing a monitor or a TV. He especially liked to write his name on one plate and then draw Wall-E or a Cat or some other favored item on the other plate and then put it on the flashing setting between the two images. The end result, once you've taken the time to draw on both plates and get it set up properly is stunning.
The problem is getting there.
First of all, these markers are bad. They aren't just any standard Crayola marker. They are special glow in the dark/neon markers that go on almost clear. The markers are meant to be wiped off of the plastic plates in between use with "a damp cloth". The problem is that a damp cloth doesn't really cut it once the image gets dried onto the plates. And if you leave the image on for any appreciable amount of time (more than 5 minutes) it will get dried on there pretty darn good (especially with a lightbulb shining on it!). The instructions state that if the image gets dried on there to use a soap solution to wash the plates. Since washing the plates off is a messy job and paper towel and dishsoap wasn't really working I thought I'd try baby wipes. It seems no matter what they still look cloudy and not clear. Over time they have also become scratched and some marker just does not come off at all.
The 6 markers that come with this have storage "slots" that the markers click into place on the front of the glow board. They are the small slim markers that are not much larger in size than a standard crayon. We managed to lose 2 of the 6 markers somewhere along the way - I'm sure due to the small size. Either that or the kids threw them out because they were dry. These markers dry out extremely quickly and just earlier today when my daughter was playing with this she complained that another marker was no longer working. The instructions give tips on how to revive the markers but we haven't had very much success with it. I also find that the caps are hard to remove and then hard to click back on all of the way. In the process the tip of the marker (which is felt-like) tends to get damaged. As the markers get dried out, lost, or damaged the board becomes less fun. Without markers it is useless. Crayola doesn't seem to sell replacement markers for this set anywhere that I can find.
The other downside to this is the lamp. It reminds me of light-brite a little bit, where the toy is a box with a bulb that shines inside of it. It does auto-shut off after a few minutes (I was afraid it could melt or start a fire). If the lightup part is used a lot it will eat up batteries. Since the whole point is lighting it up - you will go through batteries.
Overall, the Color Explosion Glow Board is a let down for me. The kids like it but it is a lot of work for not a lot of results. I don't know what frustrates me more - the plates that don't come clean or the markers that dry out and then can't be replaced. In the end, I'm left with a useless piece of battery powered plastic.. two of them, actually. Crayola needs to take this one back to the drawing board.
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Amount Paid (US$): gift
Type of Toy: Arts and Crafts
Age Range of Child: 6 to 8 Years
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