Play-Doh Touch Shape To Life Studio Review: Should You Buy This For Your Kid?

When we were kids, how many times did we make something out of Play-Doh? A dog, a person, a misshapen monster that eats dogs and people, and wish we could bring it to life? Now, with the Play-Doh Touch Shape to Life Studio, you can do exactly that. Minus the eating dogs and people part.

Designed with young children in mind the Play-Doh Touch Shape to Life Studio is simple to use, simple to play, and will amuse the heck out of your little one for hours at a time. If you want your kids to do more than stare at a screen, the Play-Doh Touch Shape to Life Studio will encourage them to pick up their Play-Doh to experiment with all kinds of wacky creatures to see what they'll look like walking around. And that's what Play-Doh is all about, after all!

A Brief History of Play-Doh

Originally created before World War II, Play-Doh wasn't even intended to be a toy. The putty was, I kid you not, a cleaning tool designed by Noah McVicker of Kutol Products. Way back in ye olden years, houses were heated with coal and coal is filthy. It left a residue all over the place and the putty was meant to remove it from wallpaper in lieu of soap and water which would damage the wallpaper (it was actually paper back then). After WWII, coal fell by the wayside as a heating source and wallpaper became a lot tougher. Kutol was on the verge of bankruptcy.

McVicker's nephew, Joe McVicker was the brother-in-law of a teacher, Kay Zufall, who had read about the cleaner being used for art projects. She hunted a can of the now-discontinued putty down and let her students have at it. They went nuts and she convinced the McVickers to start selling the stuff as a toy in 1956. It was already non-toxic so it was perfect. Zufall and her husband came up with the name "Play-Doh" after the McVickers came up with the dreadful "Rainbow Modeling Compound". Some things just need a teacher's touch.

Half a century and over two billion (with a "B") cans of Play-Doh later, kids can finally bring their creations to life with the excellent Play-Doh Touch Shape to Life Studio!

kid playing with the Play-Doh Touch Shape to Life Studio

The Play-Doh Touch Shape to Life Studio

The Play-Doh Touch Shape to Life Studio is actually two different things working in conjunction. There's the physical, real-world studio and then there's the app. Combined, they allow your kiddo to create a whole bunch of different shapes and characters to scan into the app and bring to life. Technically, you don't need the studio, but some of the molds are specifically designed to do stuff in the app that homemade characters can't.

The studio

With a Manufactured Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $24.99, the physical component of the Play-Doh Touch Shape to Life Studio is a decent buy. Containing an assortment of five character molds, five action molds (we'll get to that), 15 cutters, four shaping tools, and seven cans of Play-Doh, the set itself it a pretty good collection of Play-Doh fun by itself. It also comes with a white circular platform to put your creations on. That's the "studio" part of Play-Doh Touch Shape to Life Studio because the app requires a white background. This is so it can properly scan whatever your child creates.

You're not limited to using the molds and cutters provided but the app has special effects assigned to those particular shapes. So while you can skip the studio, you won't get the full use of the app. Also, buying the studio with the characters molds allows you to unlock 5 additional worlds inside the game. That gives you a lot more room to explore and play. You can buy each additional world with an in-app purchase of $1.99 each but for an additional $14.99 you get all of the worlds, the Play-Doh, and all of the molds not to mention the studio platform. If you're going to open up the full game, you might as well get the full real-world package with it.

Play-Doh Touch Shape to Life Studio  (Amazon Exclusive)


The app

The Play-Doh Touch Shape to Life Studio app is simple and fairly intuitive. It's also glossy and easy on the eyes. It loads quickly, and the video capture is excellent. The tutorial is also simple, easy to understand, and comes with helpful short videos.

Gameplay is likewise simple. It is, after all, meant for young children. You are on an island ring and you go around it collecting little floating colored beads. You also unlock Play-Doh cans which have a variety of effects. These range from changing part of the island to look like your character to popping out duplicates that follow you around to shooting you through the air. Some allow you to scan in a new character. Also, special stones allow you to scan in one of the characters made with the character molds to open up one of five different worlds to explore.

As you decorate your island to your tastes, it persists after you leave. The app allows you to save three different islands. Up to three children can have their own unique world, or one child can experiment with three different looks. Even after you pick a look for one piece of the island, you can always redo it with something new. The possibilities are endless.

The app itself is free so if you want to want to try it out to see if your kid enjoys it before splurging on the extra features, you absolutely can. If they spend a few days ooohing and aaaahing over it, you know you have a winner. At that point, buying the full Play-Doh Touch Shape to Life Studio will definitely be in order.

Overall, we give this product a rating of 

Pros

  • Decent buy
  • It's perfect for little kids who want to stare at a screen, but can be interactive as well.
  • Very simple to set up and play.
  • The graphics are sharp enough that a large screen isn't necessary.
  • Portable
  • Game is infinitely expandable.

Cons

  • The island is small, giving only a limited amount of exploring you can do.
  • A second drawback is the limited number of character and action molds. 
  • While it's cool to make your character float or play music, there's just not enough action molds.

The Competition

There really isn't any competition. The closest thing to the Play-Doh Touch Shape to Life Studio is Lego Fusion. And, honestly, it's not even really that close. First, it's for older kids. Second, it takes your creation and puts it into an existing game that doesn't really need your creation at all. It's not that the games aren't fun and educational (Lego video games usually are), it's just that the physical Lego brick part feels shoehorned in as a gimmick. Third, there are limits to what you can scan in. The Play-Doh Touch Shape to Life Studio will let you scan in any damn thing you want as long as it's not white. I literally scanned a rock my daughter painted for me for Father's Day. The Play-Doh Touch Shape to Life Studio app put eyes and a mouth on it. I couldn't stop laughing watching it floating around my island.

Fourth, Lego Fusion is discontinued. You can still find it but they ain't makin' any more. /There are other programs with Augmented Reality that are extremely limited. Others also let you create your own movies with stop-motion video. But as far as I can tell, there's nothing that lets you scan in your own creation and then animates it for you. Even if it's for little kids, Play-Doh Touch Shape to Life Studio appears to have the playing field to itself.

Should You Buy it?

If you have a child around five that likes Play-Doh, then you should buy the Play-Doh Touch Shape to Life Studio. It will feed their need to stare at pixels but also encourage them to interact with it as well as pick up the Play-Doh and get creative. And the best part is that you can literally try it before you buy it. Give it a test run with just the free app and if your kid is shrieking in delight, go out and pick up the full set.

Worse thing that happens, your kids don't like the app, and you pass. The best thing that happens, they spend weeks creating a new and interesting creature with Play-Doh and making them fly and jump and sing. You know, everything we wish our Play-Doh creations could do when we were kids.

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