Monday, July 23, 2012

Review and Giveaway: Faber-Castell: Play with Shimmering Iridescence

Metallic Mania has everything you could possibly ever want if you want to explore drawing with metallic colors and black paper.  photo: Faber-Castell

WHAT: Metallic Mania by Faber-Castell
DOES: gives you an opportunity to try their metallic line such as metallic markers, metallic gel sticks, metallic colored pencils, black note pad (20) sheets, black paper cut-outs and more.... the results can be magical!
INVEST: $24.99
TOOLS: Holiday/Birthday Build-Uponner, Express Yourself
EXPERT OPINION: Petra Pankow,  Museum Arts Educator, MoMA, Guggenheim, & Museum of Art and Design
Giveaway Details Below

I first saw Faber-Castell's metallic line when I was snooping around the Faber-Castell/Creativity for Kids booth at the Toy Fair.  It was a busy booth.  People wanted to see the new metallic gel sticks including me.  While I waited for my turn, I ended up having a very pleasant conversation with Jamie Gallagher, the CEO of Faber-Castell USA.  We talked about one of my favorite subjects: grip pencils (because I am a total pencil geek and Faber-Castell has really great pencils).

Those gel sticks were really popular and since I had to keep moving, I never got to try them that day!  However, I'm sort of glad about that because I later found out about Metallic Mania, an award-winning set from Faber-Castell, had a generous amount of their metallic products (including gel sticks) for kids to try out.  For me, if any art set sports the Faber-Castell label, I am game.  Their stuff is great.

Drawing a train has never been more "real."  It's very gratifying when it's on black paper.  But check out that grip - OY!  We still have a lot of work ahead of us!

I'm not the only one who appreciates the quality of Faber-Castell products.  The amazing museum arts educator, Petra Pankow who works in institutions such as Museum of Modern Art , the Guggenheim, and the Museum of Art and Design, loves Faber-Castell.  Petra is from Germany where the headquarters of Faber-Castell is located.  She described how pretty much all the children in Germany grow up with their products.  (Lucky kids!)

Is Black Paper Intimidating?

When you have an open-ended kit like Metallic Mania, you can't help but want Petra's input.   Even on the written introduction to the set were some curious words: "Drawing on black can be intimidating at first, especially if you are used to drawing on a white surface."

Number 2 Son started really loving this set afer he learned how to draw Saturn.  Doing it was metallic markers was incredibly easy.

I thought that statement was odd. How could drawing on black paper be intimidating?  Aren't we talking about metallic art supplies here?  Wouldn't it be the greatest thing for any kid ever?

But the little voice from the introduction was right.  My 5-year-old was very intimidated.  He did not quite know what to do and pretty much refused to use it.  My heart was broken.   I then had my oldest try it (8 y.o.) and he went nuts with the gel stick but a little too nuts.  I didn't know what he was trying to do but whatever robot he drew sort of looked like half-robot and half-blob.  What is going on here? I guess there is a little bit of explaining and demonstration has to be done for sometimes....

If your child doesn't initially go crazy over this set, ask yourself, "Does he know how to draw silvery, metallic, or even outer space themes?"  Once my son understood what he could really do, no amount of paper could satisfy him.

Entertaining Possibilities with Metallics

By coincidence, that same month, my husband taught Number 2 Son how to draw a planet with rings and a five-point star.   Knowing how to draw these two basic things literally made the sky the limit.  Soon, Number 2 Son took another stab at Metallic Mania and this time he rocketed off into outer space.

Petra said of Metallic Mania, "It inspires a different sort of subjects in a way. You get different ideas."  She referred to how drawing on black paper with metallics could make a world's difference in their art.  There is really little comparison to drawing a night sky on white paper vs. black paper.  Additionally, stars and planets alone make up just a fraction of what can be done with the excitement with Metallic Mania.  There are robots, fairy-themed drawing, magic-themed drawing, jewelry, etc.

Petra says that with art supplies like Faber-Castell, you keep using them until they run out.  They'll never break on you.  photo: Faber-Castell

Petra's daughter also loved the set and after making a drawing, she rolled it up to bring it to her "boyfriend" at school because she knew he loved planets.  "It was all very fantastical," said Petra. "There is a certain magic in that."

Incomparable Difference of Metallic Art

I certainly watched in fantastical awe when I saw my children starting to master this new medium.  Over time, they really improved and made some things that they never had accomplished before.  For Number 1 Son, it was magic found in Beyblades, which are fast-spinning metal tops.  He had always wanted to draw them but could never figure out how.  With Metallic Mania, he got closer than ever by exploring themes of serpents and tornadoes which look so much better with metallics.

My son HATES HATES getting his fingers soiled but he'll do it for Metallic Mania.  I was so proud of him.

Number 2 Son became so enthusiastic about it that he actually made some real progress in another area: tactile sensitivity!!!!  Number 2 finds sticky or soiled fingers DISGUSTING.   However with the gel sticks, what glides on smooth on the paper, like oil pastels, do not really have to touch your hands because the gel sticks are in a case similar to a glue stick.  Still, by this time Number 2 Son was so in love with Metallic Mania that he actually took to rubbing and mixing colors with his fingers.   This is quite an historical event in our home.  His fingertips are that sensitive.  My only hypothesis is that he was enjoying himself so much, he forgot or just dealt with the yucky feelings on his fingers.    Again here, this is another great example of how great toy design can motivate a child to overcome challenges.

Petra also says that that combining the different tools (here markers and oil pastels) is a great way to achieve different effects within the same drawing (coverage, detail, different thickness of lines etc. ).  This is Petra's daughter's drawing of a princess!  photo: Petra Pankow
This is my work.  The set also comes with a blending stick which you can use to etch a design on top of a thick patch of color.

This kit has so many ways to explore how metallic colors can be used.  Both Petra's family and my family used it to make cards for special occasions.  Inside the kit, are also punch-outs for projects that can stand on display or in a mobile (rocket ship, Saturn, flowers, robot, shooting star).  You can also use felt-like sheets that Petra says might go really well with the gel sticks.  She described the gel sticks as creamy. I think they are a bit like oil pastels.  Either way,  I can't wait to try out her suggestion on the fuzzy paper.  Additionally, I haven't been able to find Faber-Castell's metallic markers outside of the kit and thus, I am wondering if the metallic set is the only way to buy the markers.  Of course, the markers are everyone's favorite. Mine too!

Number 1 Son realized that he could draw themes that were in line with things that interested him like Ninjago and Beyblades.  
Metallic makes an ordinary homemade graduation card really special.  Petra's kids used it to make Father's Day cards too.

Petra and I both praise the high quality of Faber-Castell products .  "They have a long lifespan.  You use them up rather than they are dying on you," said Petra.   To be sure, the Faber-Castell colored pencils that we received years ago, are our shortest colored pencils.  We really do use them up.   Still I believe this set belongs in our Holiday/Birthday Build Upponner category because it is something that you can get a gift and then gift again by buying additional gel sticks and more black paper sketchbooks ($4.99 for 40 sheets of 9x12 paper)  For certain, we have run out of black paper but do not fret about buying reams and reams of black paper because the special part about black paper is that it is black!   You'll always be able to use the other side without hearing complaints, even if you use a marker!  Hooray!


Now it's time to win your own Metallic Mania!   This the first time we've reviewed a Faber-Castell product here.  Sometimes when that happens I always go for an "eye-shopping-trip-giveaway" where I ask you to suggest something that you want to see reviewed.  If you are entering the giveaway, please grant me the kindest of favors while entering for the maximum entry of giveaway points. Remember to leave your request of what you want to see reviewed next in a blog post comment below!  Follow the directions in the Rafflecopter widget below.  Ends 8/8/12  12:01 AM

Can't wait to see if you've won?  We understand.  Use my Amazon link to put Metallic Mania into your shopping cart today.   Please remember that MSRP is $24.99.  Hope you get a great deal!

In case you are wondering.... Toys are Tools has not been compensated in any way by the manufacturer of this product.   Toys are Tools did receive this product in order to facilitate a review.  Toys are Tools supplied the product to Petra Pankow.  Reviews are never promised.


  1. review the Faber Castell colored pencils with the triangular grip. I wonder how kids with sensory problems would find these...easier or harder to use ?

  2. Can you review the Do Art books? How does the watercolor pencil stuff look compared to regular watercolor paints.

  3. I would like to see the young artists texture painting set.

  4. Review the learning resources video recorder, we're thinking of getting one and would love a review to be sure :)

  5. Hi Jenny,
    It looks like you meant to put this in this review..

    Thanks for your comment!-jenn

  6. I love the toy review in this page. My little one loves art, and this art kit might be perfect for him.

  7. Review about Accessories ie., sharpeners to keep pencil & crayon supplies in tip-top shape for use.

  8. Mossy meadows gnome

  9. I would love to see a review of any of the paint by number sets. I think that would really help by little artists focus and help my littlest artist with number recognition.

  10. Deb, I love the way you think! You using a strength to tackle some goals you have! Bravo!

  11. Love those gel sticks. Especially since they come in the size that is in between chapsticks and gluesticks. Any particular reason you like gel sticks? I would love to know! Thanks for writing!

  12. Arielle, I know what you mean! That is soooooo cute. I love gnomes.

  13. Wow, what an interesting request! Thank you! I just looked at them here. That collapsible cup is cool! And that grip eraser looks like it will get the job done. Erasing is so aggravating!

  14. I have never tried their eco-pencils with grip but they do look great. I only have the "regular" colored pencils that my son received from a classmates over the holidays. That was three years ago. We still have ours albeit a lot shorter and they are wonderful. You really don't know that you have greatness until you throw them all in a box with other brands and then while you color you realize, :"what is wrong with this pencil?" and you figure out that it's because it's not Faber Castell. It's so smooth and that is better for the children. (and me)

  15. Great review. Any metallic type markers I have tried have never lived up to my expectations. Good to know there is a brand out there that does.

  16. triangular grip pencils and kids with sensory issues

  17. I would also like to see a review of the paint by number sets. Mine are pretty good with number recognition, but they need some help with staying interested enough to stay focused.

  18. I've always loved Oil Pastels and would like to introduce them to my children. I always had a challenge at blending them and shading so any tips on this would be great in the review. Sometimes people don't think too much outside of crayons and colored pencils.

  19. Review graphite pencils and how to introduce children into artistic use of them

  20. I'm interested in the water color pencils too. I was excited to try some and the ones I bought were disappointing and my son quickly lost interest. Maybe I was using them wrong? I haven't tried the Faber-Castell ones. I'd love tips for how to use them because they sound like so much fun!

  21. Everything looks so appealing that the young artist's gift set would be fantastic. It contains all of their major products, which would let a child combine mediums. I could see my daughter doing some really cool art with this set.