It's week eleventy-thousand and ninety-nine of lockdown here in the Daddy & Dad house and we've officially exhausted every possible activity. We've baked, gardened, cleaned, sung, danced, jogged, cycled, camped (in both tent and theatrical sense), painted, played and read every book in the house.
With that in mind, it was with great appreciation and relief we received a couple of very clever looking 'Build Your Own' kits in the post this week to test out and play with. They're less than £20 each from the leading online store (not allowed to name-drop as we're currently happily married to eBay - it's a South American river) or directly from the Build Your Own website, here.
Here, with the help of Lyall and Rich, we put two Build Your Own kits to the test.
Build Your Own Telescope
Before we embarked on our first Build Your Own project, I don't think any of us really believed the contents of such a modest box could accommodate the marvellous-looking telescope on its cover. Spoiler - the resulting masterpiece (even if I do say so myself) is exactly like the picture.
Inside the box, there's an instructions booklet, six or seven 'press-out' perforated cards, some thick and heavy, some thin and light. There's a paper envelope containing a little mirror and lenses. Richard's first observation was there's no 'nails or screws' (I'm not sure why he thought there might be nails in there). Without fixings, how would each component fix together?
Well. To fix pieces together, generally speaking, little cardboard tabs slot into corresponding holes.
Assembly is quite fiddly and takes considerable concentration. First, you very carefully remove a perforated piece from its cardboard sheet. Despite the pieces popping out fairly easily, we (Richard) did manage to tear one critical piece which we repaired with my favourite shiny sticky-tape.
With plenty of perseverance, after a couple of hours our telescope was complete. It's very impressive; admirably large, quite sturdy (considering it's literally made from paper and card) and it works very well, too. It's adjustable - the height/angle works in a clever 'deck chair' type way with little slats, the zoom works in a telescopic way as you'd expect. Rich hasn't managed to stay awake late enough to look up at the stars yet, but it's bank holiday weekend so we're going to let him stay up and look for satellites tonight.
Build Your Own Plane Launcher
Fun fact. Lyall LOVES paper planes. All he needs is a stack of old council tax bills or yesterday's newspaper and he'll happily sit for hours; folding and throwing countless paper planes. It's always been one of his fave hobbies, since long before he came into our lives.
The existence of a blaster-shaped launcher for his planes never occurred to him. So, Lyall was predictably excited when this arrived. Thankfully for Daddy, the plane launcher kit promised to be a little less fiddly than the telescope. Inspecting the card sheets inside the box, they're all thick and heavy this time and generally a little bigger. This should be a doddle. Also, we decided to construct this kit indoors, to avoid the breeze. Much better.
As before, little tabs on each component slot conveniently into little slots on another. To give the blaster more durability, some smaller pieces 'double-up' so to speak, to double their thickness.
The paper plane kit was easy enough for Lyall to assemble without too much help. But it also had some fiddly bits, for instance the elastic bands were a little difficult to manoeuvre into the right place so I helped out here and there.
The resulting plane launcher is actually quite powerful - flinging the little paper planes right across the dining room at break-neck speed. It also makes quite a loud, satisfying 'bang', as the central blaster piece is flung back against the back wall of the blaster's mechanism. Very impressive!
To make things even more interesting, the Build Your Own Instagram channel hosts some great little tutorial videos with home-made target hoops and games to play at home.
So there we are! These Build Your Own kits are genuinely fantastic activities and they get our full approval. In fact, we'd say Build Your Own kits will appeal equally to parents as children, which is why we'll be including them in our Father's Day gifting round-up next week!
Disclaimer time! Here at the Daddy & Dad blog, we work with our favourite brands and businesses to supplement our everyday content. This is a #gifted feature, which means Build Your Own's agents supplied us with samples to test out in return for our honest review. We'd like to say a big thank you to the lovely team at Adrenalin PR x