Review: Mermaid Sequin Journal, K-Mart

A mermaid sequin notebook sitting on a dappled blue and white quilt cover. The notebook is perfect bound with a cover of silver sequins reversed with black, save for a circular emoji-style smiley face in the centre, which is black sequins reversed with silver. The smiley face has two oval eyes and a thin upwards-curving line for a smile. A stripe has been pushed down the front of the cover, showing both sections of sequins with their reverse colours.

Price: $3 AUD.

Dimensions: 14.7 x 20.7 x 1.5 cm.

No online link is available.

K-Mart has these older mermaid sequin journals/notebooks on clearance sale at the moment–$3 AUD down from $5 AUD.

I can’t use these kind of perfect bound books because of my hand pain (I can’t handwrite for long periods of time and when I do I prefer spiral-bound books I don’t need to hold open) so I bought this as a gift for a friend. The pages are white with black lines and a cute pink scalloped trim at the bottom, simple but pretty, although the paper is fairly thin.

(Not quite bible paper but noticeably thinner than your standard 80 GSM copy paper.)

The sequins, I find, are easier to turn on a hard surface, like a book or slap band, over a soft surface like a zip pouch or pillow. I do find the sequins bulk up the cover a bit and I suspect for this reason it won’t be the most comfortable book to write in, but it’s absolutely an option if you want stim-friendly stationery.

Originally posted on @stimtoybox on October 30, 2018.

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Tutorial: Recycled Squishy Plush

A blue and cream hedgehog duster sitting on its side, the base open and filled with pieces of cut-up coloured foam from various old, cut-up squishies.

I’ve mentioned in passing that I’ve found it difficult to glue or repaint torn squishies. All my squishy repair jobs have resulted in the new skin of paint developing splits, to the extent that I don’t think it worth the cost of the paint. So I was wondering how else to recycle a squishy, given that they do not last forever (especially the cheaper ones).

Today I took the broken squishies photographed above (the tears aren’t visible in the photo, but they are there) and experimented with using them as filling for a plush toy. These don’t squish down as well as a Squishimal does, due to the air pockets between the cut-up foam, but they are soft and squishable, if a bit faster rising than commercial foam squishies.

The best squishies to use for this are torn or split foam squishies that have not been glued or painted. I had to cut away hard glue and paint lumps from some of the squishies above so there wouldn’t be anything hard inside the soft toy.

For the plush, you can use a chenille duster (mine came from Daiso), a regular plush toy that’s had the inner stuffing removed or make your own sock plush. You can also stuff a long, fluffy sock with the pieces of cut-up squishy and knot the end closed, if you want a no-sew version of this craft.

I used a duster, but as soon as I have enough broken squishies I’d like to do this to a few larger soft toys I have. I’m really happy with this, both in the sense of recycling broken squishies that I’d otherwise have to throw out and the ability to create soft toys, with plush or chenille textures, that squish. While carving memory foam to the correct shape of the plush or duster will create a denser, slower-rising toy, this way is much simpler.

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Review: Water Game, K-Mart

A small pinball-style plastic game, comprising a water chamber capped with a yellow top and set into a yellow base, with a rotating, translucent purple flower set at the top of the chamber. Small balls in red, yellow and green sit inside the chamber and two large, protruding orange buttons sit in the yellow base, allowing the user to push the coloured balls up towards the flower. The goal of the game is to press the balls into the flower so the balls can be pushed through the chamber and land in small U-shaped recessions of clear plastic.

Price: $1 AUD.

Dimensions: 8.3 cm x 6.5 cm at widest point x 2.7 cm at widest point.

This toy isn’t available online: it must be purchased in-store.

I’ll admit that I don’t find this toy diverting for longer periods of stimming, and it isn’t as kind on my hands as a squishy or Tangle Jr. As a cheap stim toy with a slight strategy component, it rather works, if you don’t mind the bright, unsubtle colours. I can see this working for folks who prefer distraction-providing rather than sensory-providing stims.

The toy makes a rattling sound when the balls are pressed and the flower spins around, so there is a visual and auditory stim element, but they’re not the main purpose of the game.

The major problem with this game is that there’s eight balls and three slots–two containing three balls and one containing two. The two three-ball slots aren’t deep enough to properly contain three balls, so the balls keep bouncing out of the slot once placed within it–meaning I can never “win” the game. I’ve also ended up with two red balls jammed in the middle slot and I cannot shake one of them loose!

This said, for some stimmers this inability to win may be a feature in terms of providing an on-going stim.

For $1 AUD, I’m not too disappointed, but I’ll admit that I better prefer my cheap squishies.

 

Review: Insect Water Ball, Toyworld

A purple-tinted translucent liquid-filled puffer ball-jelly squishy hybrid, filled with pink, blue and yellow plastic insects, sitting inside a clear plastic bag atop a red watermelon slice pillow. The plastic toy insects inside the puffer ball are blurred out by the layers of plastic and the water inside the ball, resulting in pink, blue and yellow blobs. Small, fine purple-tinted protrusions emerge from the ball, but their translucence provides a dimpling effect, like looking at the inside of a see-through golf ball.

Price: 2 for $10 AUD

Dimensions: 7 cm across when slightly flattened.

On paper, this should be an amazing toy: it’s a liquid-filled squishy with soft spikes on the outside, like a puffer ball, and hard plastic toy insects inside the ball.

I can roll the ball in my hands for texture and poke a finger inside the ball to touch the coloured insects through the skin of the ball, providing more textured things to grab and stroke. I can also squish down on this like a balloon stress ball or puffer ball, causing the ball to bulge on the sides, and pull on the fronds like a puffer ball. And, for all of those things, this ball is amazing. For a fantastic design mingling multiple forms of stimming and sensory options, I give it all the points.

(I promise that those coloured blobs are plastic insects. My old camera isn’t capable of handling a layer of plastic bag, the translucent skin of the ball and the water inside the ball to focus on the insects.)

So why do I have this ball remaining inside its plastic bag, as far away from my desk as I can get it while still remaining in my room?

Smell. I don’t mean the usual plastic puffer ball smell, which I find abhorrent as is but consider a fair risk when buying these. I’m not sure what this smells like–chemical plastic crossed with ammonia? It’s bad. It lingers on my hands for a long time after handling and I can’t wash it away with ordinary hand soap. I’m going to put it outside to see if I can air it, but I’m not hopeful.

If you don’t have any difficulty with chemical odours and you really like the sensory possibilities in this kind of puffer ball/jelly squishy hybrid, you may wish to take a risk on it. Otherwise? I can’t recommend it.

Originally posted on @stimtoybox on November 22, 2018.

Review: Jumbo Squishies, Typo

image description: two jumbo squishies, housed in white mesh bags with a translucent white clip fastening each bag, sitting on a red and green watermelon slice pillow. The squishy on the viewer’s left is a large half-cut lemon, sitting with the cut side facing the viewer, with a yellow rind, white pith and seeds, and eight segments of fruit inside the lemon, painted yellow. The second squishy is a pink, standard jumbo peach with darker pink blushing, large green leaves and a brown stalk. Both squishies have white cardboard swing tags attached with small type in a variety of languages.

Price: 2 for $10 AUD.

Lemon Squishy Dimensions: 10 x 10 cm.

Peach Squishy Dimensions: 10 x 9.5 x 9 cm.

I’d buy these in-store if you can, as they’re $7 AUD each online.

With the increasing Americanisation of the world, we now have Black Friday sales in Australia, too. I’ve known about Typo’s squishies for a few months, but as the usual price is $10 AUD each, I haven’t felt compelled to buy.

These are pretty standard jumbo squishies available in a selection of food and animal offerings, and while $5 AUD for a jumbo squishy is a decent price, I wouldn’t rush out to buy most of them.

I do recommend buying the hamburger, the lemon and the peach (I squished all the variations available in-store) because they’re the softest, most slowest-rising squishies I have ever handled. (The others are nice, but they’re nothing special compared to the vast array of other cheap squishies online and off.) The lemon in particular is amazing–I timed it on my stopwatch app and it took a full 22 seconds to rise from a moderate-flat squish to its full shape. They’re silky soft to touch, and the lemon is so soft and squishy that I have nothing else in my kit to better it. The peach isn’t quite as soft as the lemon, but it’s still firmly on the soft and slow end of squishies. Very nice, just outclassed by the lemon!

These are scented, but lightly. It’s a slight floral-sweet scent, artificial but far from pungent. If you don’t mind a slight scent but dislike strongly-scented squishies, these will work for you.

My only drawback is that the mesh bags make it difficult to spot marks on the squishies when buying; my lemon has a small stripe where it seems to have brushed up against something with brown paint. I wish these were housed in plastic bags to prevent the foam getting stained or dirty in the warehouse or the store, not mesh bags.

You all know that I don’t exactly need more new squishies, but the lemon is amazing and I absolutely recommend it for folks who like soft, slow-rising squishies. Honestly? I’d just get two lemons…

Originally posted on @stimtoybox on November 24, 2018.

Tutorial: Bead Ring Necklaces

Several bead ring necklaces with black rubber or brown and black braided necklaces cords.

Bead rings are a common and easy-to-make stim toy. They’re pretty, colourful and easily fastened to zippers, keychains and belt loops. (For those wishing to buy and not make, autistic crafter Pi sells them at Stimtastic or their own etsy store.) I generally fidget with these by rolling my fingers over the beads. As an autistic with chronic hand pain, though, I wanted something that I didn’t have to grasp to use, as even holding onto the ring with my bad hand could cause pain flares. I also wanted something, as someone who isn’t always out as autistic, that works as a stealth fidget. While there’s a great selection of chewable necklaces available for stimmers, there’s less in the way of non-chewable fidget jewellery.

Inspiration struck one day: why don’t I attach a bead ring to a necklace?

Several months later, I own fifteen necklaces in various pride colours, have made necklaces for friends and family and never leave the house without wearing one.

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