October 13, 2005


Capsters. By the editors of Klutz. Klutz. $14.95.

Building Cards: How to Build Castles. By Doug Stillinger. Klutz. $12.95.

Design Your Own Charm Watch. By the editors of Klutz. Klutz. $21.95.

Draw Christmas Thumbprints. By the editors of Klutz. Klutz. $7.95.

     There’s a distinct chilly tang in the air in many areas right now, meaning it’s time to think of great indoor games for those even chillier (and, often, rainier or snowier) days and nights to come.  This makes it a great time to turn to some of the new offerings from Klutz, a company whose innovation apparently knows no bounds – and whose creativity inspires your creativity.  Take Capsters as an example.  It’s simply a bottle-cap design set that comes, as usual with Klutz products, with everything you need to create art projects.  If you use lots of bottles with old-fashioned caps, you can make tons of refrigerator magnets, belt-loop hangers, backpack decorations and other such stuff with the punch-out art and craft lacquer included with the instruction book.  If you don’t use lots of bottles with caps, don’t worry – Klutz includes 15, all of them (in a particularly nice touch) with safety-coated edges.  You can easily make Capsters showcasing a car, penguin, alien, lizard, short word, photo – just about anything that you can fit into a bottle cap.  Cool.

     Castles are cool, too, especially when built with the new Building Cards set.  These cards are unusual: there are 58 of them that break apart into 158 pieces along carefully marked perforations.  Those pieces are square, skinny, arc-shaped or rectangular.  Each piece has slots that you line up and use to push the cards together.  It’s a little like making a house of cards with stronger-than-usual cards that fit together a lot better than playing cards do.  These particular houses of cards are, of course, castles.  Interestingly, Klutz here does not give step-by-step building instructions or design templates.  Author Doug Stillinger shows how to make parts of castles, but leaves it up to you to create a design of your own.  Yes, there are pictures of some castles you can make with the cards – and even a buildable windmill – but you’ll have to figure out just how to make them by yourself.  Really neat for budding architects.

     Castles tend to attract more boys than girls, and Design Your Own Charm Watch is likely to attract more girls than boys.  It’s a…well…charming offering, nicely explained on the back cover: “This box contains 4,000,000 watches.  Your job is to pick one.”  The kit includes a cool-looking bracelet watch with interestingly wavy numbers (3, 6, 9 and 12 only); a dozen charms; more than 100 glass beads; rings and wire to attach things to the bracelet; and instructions on making a blossom watch, fashion watch, seaside watch, ribbon watch – or any watch you can think up.

     If you’re thinking of the weather getting still colder – with Christmas and other winter holidays not too far in the future – then think about drawing Christmas thumbprints with (what else?) Draw Christmas Thumbprints.  This is pure cold-weather (or any-weather) fun: you get red and green ink pads and a little black pen to use for making designs that you decorate with your inky thumbs.  Make Christmas stockings or lights, trees, ornaments, Santa, carolers and more.  The instructions are simple, and there is plenty of blank space in the book to make thumbthing special for the holidays – even gift tags sealed with a thumbprint!

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