A couple of weeks ago I received several items from Faber-Castell. At first I was perplexed. I had no idea what several of these things were. One was obviously a box of paints. Or so I thought. Actually it turned out to be so much more. But I'm getting a little bit ahead of myself.
Faber-Castell was founded in Germany in the 18th century, to make pencils. It still makes pencils, but also a whole lot of other drawing and painting products, with an emphasis on innovation.
It is just the perfect time to be looking at things like this. The Spring term is drawing to a close. Holidays are nearly here, and the weather forecast is for (sadly) rain. Something to keep little ones occupied, and stock up on supplies for school, all in one hit. Even better if you can find them something a bit more unusual, to hold their attention. A little bit of German precision engineering, if you will!
So the Faber-Castell Connector Paint Box I received isn't just for holding paints. The item that looked like a stylus actually turned out to be a paintbrush, the dish became a pot, and the world's weirdest looking pen was in actual fact a ... well read on and find out!
Actually this is about the most effeciently designed paint box I've ever seen. The lid clips down really firmly with the rubber ties. My son had a bit of trouble with these actually, they're so tight. Then in the lid you have a series of small indentations, like shallow pots, where you can mix paints up to get the colours you want. And each paint tablet is in its own detachable holder as well, which can be easily removed from the paint box.
There's room for brushes to go in the middle of the box, and there's a tube of China White in there as well.
The recommended age for this paint box is six and upwards. However, you may want to consider this for a more mature six. There's plenty of room to make a lot of mess with this paint box, and to also ruin all the paints, if the child decides to put the whole thing away without cleaning out the lid first.
The paint colours are quite vibrant, and smooth to work with. I've been getting paints from the poundshop - well the tubes of acrylic are so cheap. That's been fine in that its taken a while for my son to realise that mixing all your paints together is only every going to give you a murky grey, and no matter how much blue you mix in, you're not going to magically change the mix into blue. For example.
However those paints are truly rubbish, and just how awful they are to work with is really shown up when you use a good set of paints. I think I'll be inclined to spend a bit more now, especially as he's getting older and more keen to do proper art work.
The good: excellent, efficient design, ideal for taking to school or out on a trip
The bad: mixing in the lid is all well and good but who's going to clean it?
Overall verdict: 8/10. Would have been higher if the paint blocks had been a little big bigger/thicker.
Faber-Castell Clic & Go Water Pot
Once I got it out of the packaging, that strange dish I mentioned earlier turned out be a water pot. It just fold down to dish size - handy to carry around. Here I think this product's true value is probably for children or young adults who do a lot of painting on the move. Perhaps at secondary school or college.
The Faber-Castell Clic & Go is pretty reasonably priced too, just £2.95 atStone Marketing.
There isn't a lot to say really. It pops up, and can be pushed back down again, fairly easily. The sides are quite thick, so it has a good amount of stability when it is up and full of water. The top third, and bottom third, are made of a much more rigid material that can take a lot of knocks. So when folded down, this should last fairly well even if tossed into a school back pack.
The good: handy design, portable, functional
The bad: nothing really, it is just a pot
Overall verdict: 10/10
Now this is an interesting little gadget. I first thought the Faber-Castell Clic & Go brush size 2 (£2.71 at Stone Marketing) was a stylus, and wondered why I had received one. But no, it is in fact a brush. You push on one end and it just clicks out. Then retract when you're not using it to protect the brush.
I assume that this is to keep the bristles safe if it is put in a pencil case or similar. However, I didn't find the brush to be that high a quality. The first time I opened mine some of the bristles were already sticking out.
The good: excellent design
The bad: could do with better bristles
Overall verdict: 5/10
Faber-Castell Perfect Pencil III
Finally, the odd looking pen. Well it wasn't a pen at all but a pencil. And the odd shape is due to the attachment at one end. This protects the end of the pencil, so you can keep it very finely sharpened indeed. It also holds a sharpener. At the other end is an eraser.
I gave the Faber-Castell Perfect Pencil III to my friend's son as he's studying art at the moment for his A levels. He really liked the design, and loved that he could just carry it about in his pocket. Then was ready to whip it out when needed to do some pencil drawings. He's already made three using the pencil, and the detail in them is pretty fine indeed.
However, the really great thing about this from his point of view was that the holder/sharpener fits any standard sized pencil. I'm afraid that he soon ditched the pencil for his favourite one to draw with. But he did keep using the sharpener.
The Perfect Pencil III is new - it will be launching in April. The RRP is £3.95 and you'll be able to buy it from Stone Marketing.
The good: an excellent design, very portable, good pencil for fine detail
The bad: not a very long pencil
Overall verdict: 10/10 as the holder/sharpener will fit any standard sized pencil