Mess Free MESSY play with Little Brian

#AD – Items gifted for review

I’m the kind of mummy that doesn’t mind a bit of mess, to be honest. Glitter and paint have been known to cover the floor but due to the wooden floors throughout it’s always been easy to clean up.

All that changed recently when we converted the garage into a lovely new room with a fabric sofa and neutral walls and it was supposed to the designated adult space. The children have had other plans though and they have taken root and that includes an influx of toys and now #MessFreeMessyPlay is a necessity for my sanity.

Both Emily and Luke love creating artwork for the home and paint does end up everywhere Luke’s not quite coordinated and often spills the water pot over his work and the floor leaving lots of tears and upset. Also, the colours are always being mixed as the paintbrushes don’t get wiped properly.

Call me cynical but can mess-free messy play really be a thing? It’s time to see with Little Brian Paint Sticks and the bundle of goodies that we were recently sent.

Whilst I’m not concerned at my nine-year-old at making a mess whilst creating an ArtAttack (baking now that’s a different bombsite story) she is often the best person to try out the new things in the house and give a child’s eye view but with an educated view. The four-year-old just wants to go ‘all-out’ with no consideration.

Little Brian paint sticks are said to be mess-free sticks of paint, that can be used for a range of different creative techniques including painting  (blending and washing require some liquid), scratchboard and stamping. There is only a need for water for blending and washing effects.

To use the sticks you pick your colours, take off the lid, twist but not too far and simply apply to the paper. The paint only takes 60 seconds to dry but I’d give it a bit longer to ensure the paint is set fully (think like nail varnish – touch dry but do nothing for a bit longer, ‘just in case’).

Any paint is easily wipable from the skin I used the 60-second rule for this one too. Also so far no paint has gotten onto clothes so I haven’t needed to do the wash test but we’ll report back on this at a later date.

There are 15 different options in the Little Brian range, colours can be classic, day-glow or metallic and you get between six and twenty-four in each pack. For this review, we are trying out a bucket, a 24 pack and an art station.

My children like to carry everything from room to room so the Little Brian Paint Sticks Bucket has been the product of choice and retails at £13.00. It includes 12 classic colours, 6 day-glow colours and 2 metallic colours (silver and gold) although they have been mixed and matched. Available from Argos.

Now the Little Brian Paint Sticks Classic Art Station (£30.00) available from Argos. It looks great, not too heavy but initially as it comes with no instructions (believe me, I looked inside the box and read every last bit of text on the box) I found it so difficult to open, I was a little worried that I’d break it. So much so after an hour of trying it got put to one side until the next day.

The next day it was like that jar you’ve been trying to open for an age and low and behold you pass it to someone and voila it opens with ease.

Once you manage to dislodge the clip it gets easier and easier and now Luke is quite happy to open and assemble this himself.

The art station is a double-sided tabletop kit with a whiteboard with a clip to hold the paper in place, make sure you add a few pieces as the clip struggled to hold a single piece of paper in place. The other side is a chalkboard and underneath there is a compartment for the paint, chalks, rubber and paper.

I’d like to say it was ideal for two children to play with and it should be but with my two having a biggish age gap of five and four months it was very much a ‘Pushme-Pullme’ action. When both of their best friends come around I’m going to see if it works better in the toy sharing stakes. The set retails at £29.99 and comes with six classic colours, six smaller chalk sticks, 10 sheets of paper and one duster.

Emily needed to show Luke what to do, it’s her ‘I know best’ attitude but Luke didn’t really need any help but was polite and let big sister play, teacher. Going through the primary colours and what two colours mix to make a third colour.

For the chalks a lid or for the screw-up action also have a screw-down cover action would be great and if there were a second edition the chalk holders could be a little deeper to help keep the chalks in place. But even with those parent comments, Luke loved the chalk sticks, the slimness of the design gave his little hands much better control. The duster was a hit too, he loves orange, you would think you wouldn’t need instructions for the duster, wrong! Guidance would have been great so our simple guide: add a little water, not a lot to get a clean blackboard again.

We tried each colour out over two days and tried lots of techniques to. We’ve not tried fruit or sponges that you can see as video examples on the Little Brian website.

Whist not being completely mess-free (only a chalk issue not paint) we’d recommend these items.

One thing we all agreed on was the packaging as it was bright and engaging and I know they would pick it up as a toy for a friend in future if we had to choose any of the items it would be the 24 pack simply for the range of colours.

I love Little Brian’s little secret but I’m not going to tell you where you’ll have to head over to the website for details.

I’m also happy to report this is made from recyclable plastic (grade 5 which can be recycled but the lower the number the easier it is to recycle).

Do you want to win a bucket of Little Brian Paint Sticks valued at £13.00 then head over to our Facebook page and enter the competition?


Age range: 3+ years


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