My daughter is great at imaginary play – her dolls are always talking away to each other, her twin brother on the other hand loves to build. I love to find toys for them that work for them to play together and that encourage her to build and him to exercise his imagination. Build & Imagine, make a series of toys that encourage children to do just that – first they get to build with the magnetic playset, then use it for storytelling and imaginative play. I recently tested out one of their newest playsets- the Pet Portrait Studio.
The set comes with 10 magnetic panels- 6 square, 2 right-angle triangles and 2 isosceles triangles. Each panel is double sided with different designs on each side. The panels can be put together in any configuration the child likes to create a StoryWall which acts as backdrop for imaginary play. They can use all the panels or just a few, create a one story building or multi-story. The square panels have pictures of indoor and outdoor scenes on them including an art studio, a grooming salon, a darkroom and a photography studio. There is no right or wrong way to put them together, each time they play children can create different combinations.
Once they have built their StoryWall the child gets to add characters to the story. The set comes with 2 wooden dress-up dolls, a boy and a girl, and 4 wooden pets- 2 dogs and 2 cats. There are lots of magnetic accessories too. As well as using the accessories to dress the pets and animals the child can also use them to decorate their studio- each panel has a star on one side of it, and the magnets will stick to the starred surfaces. The accessories include clothes, a pet bed, leash, grooming and art supplies. There are also lots more magnetic pets that can stick to the walls- including dogs, a bunny, a snake, a lizard and a toucan.
With all the different animals and pet-themed rooms and accessories this set is great for creating stories about pets.
The magnetic panels and stand up wooden dolls seem sturdy and well-made and are very bright and colorful. I found that a few of the accessories, such as the artist palette and grooming brush, that were designed to stick near the edge of a doll were a little tricky to keep in place. However, the magnets stuck very well to the panels and bodies of the animals and dolls. The one criticism I have is that its easy to lose all the small magnetic pieces so I’d like to see a storage bag included. A nice feature is that all the different play sets can be used together so if you own more than 1 Build & Imagine set you can create even more play possibilities. I would love to also see more magnetic accessory sets sold as an add on item.
Overall, the Pet Portrait Studio Magnetic Playset by Build & Imagine is a great toy to encourage children to both build and use their imagination. They use their left brain to build the backdrop and their right brain in acting out imaginary stories. I like that it is something that will appeal to both my son and daughter and that they can play with together.
Designed for ages 4+ (and not suitable for younger children due to small pieces), this is a toy my 8 year olds still enjoy.
NOTE: A product was supplied by the company for review purposes, no other form of compensation was received, all opinions stated in the review are those of the author and have been offered honestly.