Lots of wheels and rings. Carrying case helps keep the parts organized. Handle on the case. Comes with tacky putty to help hold the design pieces in place. Thousands of design options.
The pens included could be better and seem to run out of ink quickly.
Comes with 7 design wheels. Putty included to help stabilize the wheels for your designs. A compact size with a sturdy carry case. Can be used with any ballpoint pens.
The plastic in this set is flimsier than you might remember from the original.
Everything fits in the box for convenience on the go. The ring is built into the box. Includes 6 different wheels. Standard sticky notes can serve as replacement paper. Box snaps closed to hold all gears, paper and pens inside.
It can be hard to get the hang of keeping the disks in this set steady while you draw.
Adults can enjoy as much as kids. Lots of templates included. Good for the mathematically inclined. Works well with gel pens. Includes putty to hold the gears in place as you make patterns.
The 75 pieces advertised in this set includes the number of papers.
A set that younger children can handle more easily. Fits a 5 x 7 piece of paper. A good size for traveling. Set allows younger children the ability to enjoy what can normally require too much dexterity for their age.
While this set is good for young kids, the holes on the gears are still too small for crayons.
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There’s something soothing about the rhythmic nature of drawing with a Spirograph. It’s doesn’t matter whether nostalgia fuels your search or simply a desire to satisfy the budding artist in your home — a Spirograph set allows even the most art-challenged folks to make awe-inspiring designs.
There are far more Spirograph sets on the market today than there were 20 years ago. That means you’ve got some choices to make. Not sure what you want or where to start? Don’t worry. Our shopping guide has the information you need to narrow down your options.
Spirographs come in several sizes, including pocket-size travel kits and large table-top models. Before buying, take a good look at the table/counter space you have available. A compact Spirograph set may be best for apartment living while a deluxe Spirograph set may be perfect for a home with a harvest table.
With all those wheels and pens, you’d think Spirographs were meant to stay put, but many are designed to take on the go. Travel Spirograph sets are small enough to fit in a backpack
or purse and store everything you need, though you’d need to replace the paper often. These are by far the most portable sets, but even large Spirograph sets are designed with portability in mind. They come with a carrying case in which to store wheels, pens, and paper so you can make art anywhere.
Beautiful art that goes anywhere
It’s called the Deluxe Design Set for good reason. This set has everything you need, including 19 wheels, two rings, one rack, and a 14-page guide book for inspiration. Keep it all together in a handy carrying case with a handle, which allows you to easily take it to Grandma’s house or school for show-and-tell. This all-inclusive set works for the beginner and the seasoned Spirograph user alike — you’re only limited by your imagination.
Wheels create the magic. Toothed edges and strategically placed holes provide multiple design options with each wheel. Spirograph sets come with anywhere from six to 25 wheels with the following options.
The size of the wheel determines the scope of the design — whether it will have tight, intricate lines or large, swooping curves. Each set, even travel sets, will have round wheels in several sizes. Some of the larger sets also have shaped wheels and racks of several sizes.
Wheel hole size
Each Spirograph wheel has several holes into which you place a pencil or pen to create a design. Some sets have larger holes than others, and newer sets tend to have larger holes than older sets. Larger holes allow for the use of a greater variety of writing instruments. While small holes limit instrument choice, they hold the pen or pencil tighter, which can make drawing easier.
Most Spirograph sets have plastic wheels, but there are a few out there with metal wheels. Of course, metal is more durable than plastic, but metal is heavier to carry, and sets with metal wheels usually have fewer wheels for the price.
Spirograph sets come with at least one pen; some sets include two or three. By using the pens included with the set, you’re assured that they will fit in the wheel holes. However, you can use any pen or pencil that fits in the wheel hole, whether it came with the set or not.
With wheels and pens floating around, there are a lot of pieces to keep track of when using a Spirograph set. A carrying case keeps everything together and allows children to take the fun to school or a friend’s house. Some sets are made of an open table with wheel holders on the back of the table. These sets aren’t ideal for traveling, as the wheels aren’t contained if they fall out of the holders. If you want to take your Spirograph set on the road, look for one with a case that secures with buckles or another latching system.
Plates and rings
To create designs, wheels are placed either within or along the outside of the plate or ring. Plates and rings have teeth on the outside and inside edge. Consequently, wheels can be used on either side. Plates and rings are held in place using Spiro-putty, magnets, or pins.
Spiro-putty, magnets, and pins
A wheel must be placed inside a stationary plate or ring for designs to be drawn. Each plate needs to be held in place with Spiro-putty, magnets, or pins. Sets come with one of these three options (except for travel sets, which have a plate built into the lid).
Pins are the most stable option, but these are usually found only on older Spirograph sets. Sets with a metal table or case may come with magnets to hold the plates in place. The latest addition to Spirograph design is Spiro-putty, which feels and acts like sticky tack. Pieces can be broken off and stuck to the bottom of a plate, holding it in place on the board or table while you draw.
Technically speaking, the plate is called the stator and the wheel is called a rotor, but who wants to be too technical when there’s fun to be had?
Spirograph travel sets cost less than $10. Small enough to carry in a backpack or purse, these sets keep everything contained, including the paper and marker. Between $10 and $20, you’ll find much larger sets with up to 19 wheels plus multiple plates/rings, pens, and guide books. Some of these sets come with a handy carrying case, too. At over $20 are the jumbo sets with up to 75 pieces. Wheels of all shapes and sizes, as well as multiple plates/rings, make these ultimate sets worth the higher price.
The first Spirograph hit the market in 1966 and was based on mathematical roulette curves. Today’s sets follow those same principles but with some brighter colors and more durable materials.
Denys Fisher, a British engineer, invented the first Spirograph and presented it at the 1965 Nuremberg International Toy Fair.
Pocket-size fun for the artist on the go
Need something to keep the kids entertained while you’re out and about? This travel set has everything you need — wheels, pen, and paper — neatly contained in a plastic carrying case. The lid slides open to reveal the storage compartment. Though the designs themselves may be small, this set is worth having in your arsenal of entertainment because the lid is just as fun to play with as the drawing tools.
The sets that didn’t make our list are specialized to a specific audience but might be perfect for you. The Kahootz Spirograph Tin & Pad My Little Pony Playset has the fun of a Spirograph with all of the color and spunk of My Little Pony. If you have an artistic Pony fan at your house, this is the set for you.
If Spirograph was an integral part of your childhood, the Kahootz Spirograph Diecast Collector’s Playset might be the nostalgic set you need. Diecast metal wheels and plates give this set some heft. It doesn’t include the variety of other sets, but if you prefer quality over quantity, you won’t be disappointed.
Q. Can the wheels be held in place with pins that aren’t included with the set?
A. The manufacturer always recommends using the pieces that come with the set, and so do we. However, like pens, if it fits through the holes, you can probably use it. If you have a set that uses pins, but you lose them, Spiro-putty can be used instead and can be purchased separately.
Q. What’s the age limit for most spirograph sets?
A. Most sets are for ages six and up, though there are some that are for ages eight and up. Spirographs require a certain degree of fine motor skill that children under the age of six are often lacking. Following age guidelines is the easiest way to make sure a set won’t be too advanced for a young artist.
Q. Can more than one person use a set at a time?
A. While each set includes only one table or platform on which to draw, if you attach a plate to another flat surface, two to three people can use the Spirograph at one time. Smaller sets may be harder to share but drawing with a friend makes twice the fun.
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