Gel-a-Peel Fashion Maker advertises a fun, easy-to-use fashion toy that can customize backpacks, shirts, bags, and more, recommended for ages 8+. However, this toy isn’t nearly as easy to use as advertised, and would be better suited to older kids.
The Fashion Maker comes in a over-large box that seems highly unnecessary other than to show off the color palette (which is limited to mostly stereotypically “girly” colors). The packaging and materials are really sturdy (to the point that it was difficult to extract the gel tubes). According to the box, the set should have arrived with a Fashion Station with gel tube storage, 25 design stencils, 15 design templates, 2 gel trays, 2 squeegee tools, 3 round tips, 1 star tip, 3 rake tips, a clear drawing sheet, a cleaning tool, and accessory hardware. However, according to the manual inside the box, the set should arrive with a 10 design stencils and only one 1 template. My set arrived with the wrong type and number of tips, which really didn’t affect the process in the long run.
The Gel tubes are fairly easy to use, but the gel has an odd smell that lingers (though not as strong) after it dries. The safety caps are also a pain to put on and take off. However, to clean out the tips, you have to wait until the gel inside dries in order to reuse the tip unless you want to produce a fade/rainbow effect, which is fairly annoying.
Actually designing the patches and jewelry seems easy, up until you try to peel off the dried design and find three or four weak points that break almost immediately. There is no specified drying time for the clutches and it is difficult to tell when the gel is actually dry. If you peel them off too soon, not all of it comes off and what you are left with is a sticky, unusable sheet of mostly-dried gel. To use the templates, you have to latch it into the Fashion Station along with the material you wish to design (which is not specified in the instruction manual although it is pictured on the box), otherwise it turns into a blurry mess.
The idea behind this toy is good, but it doesn’t work out very well in practice. It is fun to squeeze the gel out of the tube, but the drying process takes patience and the final product doesn’t always look like it is supposed to. So, unless you have patience or a good grasp on art skills (or just don’t mind if it doesn’t come out perfect), I would not recommend this toy for you.