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Friday, December 30, 2016

**REVIEW** Metal Earth 3D Model Kit by Fascinations Inc


You're only as old as you feel, goes the cliche. Well, I must feel about fifteen because I got this for myself while I was Christmas shopping:



At least, that's what I will (or should) have once I put it together.

That's the 3D metal model of a praying mantis It's from a collection of kits from Fascinations, Inc's Metal Earth kits. I got mine from a local store (they are available on Amazon and from Barnes & Noble stores, etc).


My niece and I saw the praying mantis, different military machines, and some iconic buildings. My niece got one planes (I think the F-22 Raptor) and another machine for her brother. The praying mantis was my favorite because it was just so pretty. Thankfully, it was one of the cheapest models which ranged at that store from $12-15. 



They show the end product on the label
just to lure me in!


 At least, it will be (maybe) once I get it assembled.

Assembly might be tricky for someone with my motor skills and other brain (mis)functions.




My soul shivered with some regret the minute I opened the instructions. Those pieces are not as clearly numbered as the diagram indicates. And that is only a small portion of the instructions.


I don't see numbers on some of the piece...

 Still, this is such a cool concept. Most people, I imagine, will be able to put these kits together without too much hassle. I love the gleam and precision of the metal. (Warning here: be VERY careful handling the metal sheets and pieces.)

I was able to view some fully assembled items in the store and I'm impressed. One of the pieces we looked at had quite a few moving pieces. That one was pretty elaborate.

These make great gifts for certain people. My nephew, for example, likes tinkering and he has the patience to work on something like this. I am nervous about starting mine. I took it out of the wrapper and spent half and hour with a magnifying glass just inspecting the sheet of pieces. I will work on it with my nephew when he is assembling his plane.

I gave the warning about the sharp edges of the metal, but I think that once these are fully assembled (by an adult), they would be great to put on display in a child's room. DJ is really into dinosaurs right now.I'd love to have those kits put together for his room. How cool are these?



Check out their site and Amazon for the different ones. When I get my mantis done, I will update this post. Or not. Depends on how decent it looks!


Peace
--Free

**REVIEW** Smithsonian Interactive Library

Here's what I am learning about my gift-buying talents: I pick wonderful gifts but I pair them to the wrong people...

This is something I picked up a few months back (for a great price) at Costco:




That's the Smithsonian Interactive Library.  There was no clear marking of suggested age levels when I bought it, but I checked out the Amazon product page and see that it's "perfect for children aged 6-10". What I want to know is who are these brilliant six-year-olds? Where are they? DJ is only 5, but I don't think that he will be ready to really get into this gift until he's about 7 or 8.

Let me back up and tell you more about this product. Here's what you get for the price ($40 at Costco and $100 on Amazon)

  1. A really cool SD-X Reader pen to hear audio and interact with pages of the books.
  2. 6 interactive books.
Yeah. Glad that I got the Costco price.

Actually, the set is worth the $100 if you have a more diligent (or precocious) kid. I think that DJ would love this is the voices of the narrators were a little more animated. When I heard the voices, I was reminded of those museum tours with the slightly bored guide who is thinking of changing careers. That's fine for an older person who really wants to dig into the information. For a child like DJ who can't sit still long enough to sing the preschool class song, it's a little big of a challenge. (We are working with the little mister on his attention span, by the way.)



The books are interesting - as is the interactive information provided. The pen is very cool and is the one thing that might hold DJ's attention. It's a tiny bit like the Livescribe smartpen I use for writing and recording. Except the SD-X is limited to interaction with the books. I found that adjusting the volume (with interactive book buttons) was tricky. Either the included batteries are weak or the volume doesn't go very high.



The included books in this set are:
  • Natural History (DJ will love the dinosaurs)
  • Great Americans
  • American Experience 
  • Animals
  • Space
  • Air
I was pleased to see the range of topics covered. In the American Experience volume, slavery, the Vietnam War and, oddly, "Disability in America" are included.

When I picked this up at Costco, I did see similar sets. On Amazon, I see that Brittanica has sets covering various areas and there are probably other sets at local bookstores. Shop around for the best price. Like I said, I scored by getting this one at Coscto.

Other choices from different Sellers
I'm not sorry that I got this, but I do wish I had looked around for something more currently age-appropriate for DJ. I will work with him to take an interest in this set, but it is going to be a little bit of work. This would have been the perfect gift for the 13-year old daughter of a friend. 

This year, I congratulated myself for shopping early and more frugally. Next year, I want to top myself by doing better at matching gifts to people.

Peace
--Free