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After being impressed with the first set of Moon Dough we played with, we were quite excited when my daughter received the magic zoo set for her birthday. If youíve never experienced Moon Dough before then youíll quickly learn that itís a substance made from tiny hollow ceramic beads that are bound together with a polymer. Itís a very strange texture that feels light and squidgy in your hands, yet isnít sticky.
Moon Dough Magic zoo comes in quite a large box as itís got structure to the set just like other varieties. Included in the box are 3 animal moulds, a gorilla, bear and penguin. Two wind up bases for the moulds, magic cage to set the whole set alive and some moulds to make fences. There are also three different colours of Moon Dough which are individually packaged.
To set up the magic zoo you are required to put together the cage which is the heart of the set. There are stickers included in the box for this but adult supervision will be required for a lot of this play set if the children are on the younger age scale. This is because we found the pieces quite tricky to insert into the correct slots. Once the cage is together, the instructions tell you to attach a wind up base into the bottom of the cage. You will hear a satisfying click once this is in the correct position. Itís only fiddly as the winder has to be sitting correctly in the hole, and I found with my daughter being just three years old at the time, she was struggling to have the patience to line up the winder correctly. With the winder in place, you can then move on to stuffing your choice of mould with moon dough. Whilst the box shows colours mixed together, I will warn you that once you have mixed then colours, they donít turn a sludge brown like playdoh would, but it is very difficult to separate back out into single colours again afterwards. We found it easier to stick to using one colour at a time.
When your mould is almost full leaving a small gap at the bottom, you can then slot the mould into the top of the zoo cage. This can only be done one way and again as an adult or older child this will be easy, but for smaller children assistance may be needed. To make the magic of the zoo, the handle on the back of the cage is then turned. The children will see the cage moving downwards towards the winder waiting at the bottom. Once the handle has been lowered enough, the cage will pop open and a moulded animal will be sitting on the winder as it waddles across your surface.
The first time my daughter saw this happen she squealed with delight. It was something quite unlike anything we have ever played with before, and both of us were eager to have more goes to create our zoo. The only negatives I can come up with for this play set is that you can only create one animal at a time, so if youíre playing with more than one child then patience is a must. The other negative is that there are only two winder toys, so your zoo will only ever consist of two animals at a time that can wander. It is possible to remove the animal from the winder base and leave free standing, but theyíre not so much fun this way.
As a parent, I liked the fact that the mood dough substance sat well on the mould and even if the child hadnít put enough into the mould to start with then it would still resemble an animal and stay intact. I loved the fact that this play set doesnít require batteries and we can pick it up and go at a momentís notice.
Overall I would suggest a child of approximately four years old and upwards would get the most enjoyment from this set. It is well made and nothing has broken after months of use. We store the dough in freezer bags, which we do purely for tidiness than any other reason as it will never dry out. I have found that if you get little bits of the dough into carpets it can be removed quite easily by using another piece of the dough to act as a magnet for the rest. Much like removing blue tack from a wall. This set is priced at around £14.99 and I think its well worth the money.