Art is not my strong suit. In fact, the last time I did anything remotely artistic prior to my son being born was when I took a mandatory art class my senior year of high school. However, I’ve learned to get creative with stick figure comics, and my game has stepped up dramatically with the 3Doodler I’ve been testing!
The 3Doodler reminded me at first glance of a hot glue gun crossed with a chunky marker. It’s easy to operate, just plug it in, set the type of plastic, and wait for it to warm up. You insert a tube of plastic in the color of your choice and can extrude it either fast or slow, depending on what you’re looking to make. And you can make some pretty cool things!
My son saw the 3Doodler and immediately requested we make a race car and an airplane. He did not believe in following the booklet’s instructions to start slow and small. So, we learned by trying, and while my racecar looks sort of like the “Cars” universe has gone post-apocalyptic, I managed to eventually create an item that looked kind of like an airplane. One of my prior attempts didn’t go so well so I turned it into a windsurfer, which my son deemed “cool, but not an airplane”.
Doodling a design is pretty fun. You can doodle a flat design on paper, or you can build it out to a 3-dimensional design by layering the plastic as it extrudes from the doodler. I was able to make my son an airplane by first outlining a skeleton, then adding layers by starting an extrusion and then rolling it around the skeleton. I would imagine someone with better baseline art skills would have better stencils from the start and therefore their wings and such would be more even, but I like to think my lopsided airplane has a certain charm. Alternately, I can just pretend my 5-year-old made it, and then I don’t have to admit my inability to draw in a straight line!
In addition to making fun 3D toys, I played around with other uses for the 3Doodler. The manual suggested it could be used to seal off broken wire covers and such, but since I didn’t have any broken chargers lying around, I decided to make a DIY fishing jig. I popped a weight on the end of a plain hook, and then used the 3Doodler to cover the setup. I haven’t tried my jig yet, but it was a lot of fun to make!
That kind of sums up the 3Doodler — it’s not necessarily going to make something super useful without a lot of practice, but my son and I enjoyed playing with it, and we often lost an hour or so to our projects. The plastic hardens fairly quickly, and while the pen gets very, very hot, the end results are available to play with fairly quickly. What struck me as we played with it was that this is a very cool concept that can grow with my son; he’s too little to handle it alone, but he can enjoy it with parental help. As he gets older, we can work on different designs and ways to use it, making it both a fun novelty and an educational tool. At $99 for a deluxe bundle, 3D00dler is fairly reasonably priced and offers a world of possibilities. It’s simple but deceptively complex once you get involved!
Source: Manufacturer provided review sample.
What I Liked: Easy to use; many color choices; can be used to repair or create; lots of templates and ideas on their website.
What Needs Improvement: Can get very hot after a few minutes; a longer cord would be nice; will not miraculously make you a better artist. 😉