TDmonthly Magazine!
January 2009 | Vol. VIII - No. 1


“Woodman” Roundtable Proud of Vehicle Construction

Families Applaud Woodworking Set for Quality Parts and Back-to-Basics Play

“They were all eager to paint and glue to make this project come together.” Veronica Flamenco, mother
TDmonthly Magazine’s Boys Roundtable went back to the basics with a Woodman Concept woodworking kit from Woodland Magic Imports. The Safari Jeep kit won rave reviews for including all items needed to complete the vehicle, but the instructions fell short for some reviewers.

Age: 6 and up
Gender: Boys and Girls
Category: Wooden Toys
MSRP: $35.95

TDmonthly rating:

What It Is: Containing everything necessary to complete a safari jeep, this woodworking kit includes beechwood precut pieces and dowels, paint, wood glue, a model maker’s hammer, paint brushes, and a picture-based instruction guide.

What the Parents Thought: “It was nice for me to see my sons sanding, painting, and gluing parts together,” Christensen commented. Richardson also enjoyed watching her son Alexander (8) build something from “scratch.” She called the instructions “innovative,” since they were picture-based and featured little text.

“I liked that it was made out of wood and no batteries were required,” said Flamenco. Ledford appreciated the quality of the wood pieces and the tools included. She thought the details on the jeep “added to the charm of the finished vehicle.”

“That it is nice wood is also a very attractive feature,” said Richardson, who added that “the assembly can be enjoyed, and then the final product can be played with.”

What the Kids Thought: “OK, let’s do this! What do I paint red?” was overheard at the Christensen house. “Seven-year-old Ben enjoyed painting the most,” Christensen said, and “11-year-old Joshua liked that the model included small details like the gear shift and fenders.”

Joe (9), who had never completed a carpentry kit before, thought the kit was “cool.” He enjoyed the painting but was frustrated when the glue set on some pieces that were off by 1/8”. Fortunately, Dad was able to shorten the pieces so Joe could complete the project.

“[Alexander, 8] quickly opened the package up and began to lay out the pieces,” Richardson observed. “He is very proud of what he was able to put together, and how nice the final product looks.”

Steven (8), who did most of the construction at the Wilson household, “loved that the instructions were visual.” He also liked the color selection and the quality tools.

What the Kids Learned from this Toy: Christensen said of Ben (7), “He’d never really put together a model that wasn’t made of LEGOs, so the whole sanding, painting, gluing process was new.” Alexander (8) learned “to be methodical in his approach,” Richardson noted. Steven (8) learned to organize before painting, gluing, etc., Wilson observed.

Joe (9) learned that precise planning is important, and now knows to look several steps ahead before gluing. He also learned basic carpentry and model-making skills. Ledford thought the visual instruction booklet made close observation of the pictures necessary to discern the correct orientation of each piece.

Flamenco’s four boys worked together on the vehicle. “They were all eager to paint and glue to make this project come together,” she said. “They learned that when they work together as a team or group they could actually create something.”

How to Improve It: Several participants reported problems with thickened paint. The Ledford’s black paint was dried up upon opening. Although the company sent replacement paints, when they arrived, the blue paint was dried up. Richardson wasn’t sure “how best to clean up spilled paint.” Ledford discovered that answer after the paint spilled on the dining room carpet and the dog — just use soap and water. She also found out, the hard way, that the glue came out of the bottom of the tube rather than the top.

“My sons would have appreciated more specific instructions for each stage,” Christensen observed. Flamenco’s boys also needed adult guidance on the project.

Although several participants appreciated the text-less instructions, they would like to see improved instructions with pointers for novices, such as “paint smears when touched by wet glue” and “how to sand — one direction or back and forth,” etc.

“Pictures of the items to be assembled should be identified and shown where they should be attached,” Richardson recommended. She and Ledford would like to see spatial orientation noted. Ledford pointed out that it is difficult to discern which way the body sides go, since they feature slight differences in each end.

Richardson also saw discrepancies in which lights went on the top of the vehicle and which went on the front of the hood above the bumper. “I think if the instruction book was improved, it would address several of the challenges we faced,” she said.

Would You Want Another Toy Like This? “I like the concept, and would like to see more simple, back-to-basic toys on the market,” Christensen noted. Ledford agreed, “I am interested in a simpler kit with fewer pieces but similar in premise for younger children, such as my 3 ½-year-old son, who, with great envy, watched his older brother work on this kit.”

TDmonthly Magazine Roundtable and expert reviewers are independent and are not compensated monetarily. Manufacturers pay Magazine to set up reviews, but payment is not reflected in the rating or evaluation given. A manufacturer can opt to withold from publication a review of less than three stars.

Participants were homeschool parent Sue Christensen with Mac (14), Kent (13), Joshua (11) and Ben (7); substitute teacher Veronica Flamenco with Matthew (12), Jonathan (10), Emilio (8) and Brandon (6); freelance writer Susan Ledford with Joe (9); World Bank policy advisor Gail Richardson with Alexander (8); and Teresa Wilson, editor of “HOMES Newsletter,” with Timothy (15), Andrew (12, and Steven (7).

Susan LedfordWriter's Bio: Susan Ledford is the writer, editor and publisher of the "Homeschool Resources Directory for S.C."  She has been evaluating toys and games for TDmonthly's Roundtable reviews since 2005. She also is a homeschool veteran of seven years. Read more articles by this author


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