Time magazine ranks it as one of the all-time Top 100 toys. Adults smile at the happy childhood memories it evokes, and now Netflix has ignited the flame of excitement by introducing it to a new generation.
What am I talking about?
That’s right. The sticky plastic shapes of your childhood are back to inspire a new generation of imagineers and creatives.
And guess what?
Netflix has taken the Colorforms® logo and bought it to life as the title character in an original series: “Charlie’s Colorforms City.”
Charlie’s Colorforms City – The New Netflix Show
The 26 stories follow Charlie and his best friends, the twins Red and Violet as they experience new and challenging situations in Colorforms City. Each story begins with Charlie asking the viewer “what should our story be about?” and this sets the tone of the show. Those of us on this side of the screen are treated as an intrinsic part of the story, with Charlie asking us questions throughout the 11-minute episodes.
That’s not to say that the inquisitive and excitable Charlie is alone in Colorforms City. Other residents include Charlie’s best friends, the twins Red and Violet who manage to be traditionally “twiny” whilst also bringing their own, unique personalities and voices to the stories.
Violet is an impulsive bundle of energy who brings along her drawing tool to supplement Charlie’s Colorform shapes. Violets free-form drawings reflect her free-form personality and she can magically lift what she draws, from the page, and use it in the story. This is a handy skill when Charlie, Violet, and Red find themselves in need of, for example, some wings to help a dragon to fly.
Meanwhile, Red is the more measured of the two. The kind of kiddo who likes to hang back and consider a situation, Red carries a backpack from which he can pull white-bordered objects. These are his contribution to the ideas and solutions which the three brainstorm before coming up with a collaborative way forward.
Who’s It For And What Do We Think?
Pitched firmly at the pre-school set, the series is fun, upbeat, and encourages your little ones to use their imagination. Rather than spoon-feeding them a story, Charlies Colorforms City encourages your child to interact with the show. It was an immediate hit in our house and my only complaint is that, at the moment, there is only one season.
This has resulted in lots of repeat viewings. Please, Netflix, for the sake of my sanity, please commission another series and give this mom of a Colorforms Charlie fan a break.
Oh, and another thing.
Colorforms – The Classic & Not So Classic Toys
You do not have to buy any of the toys for your kiddos to enjoy the show. However, in our home, we have an Original Colorforms Classic set, which comes complete with a storage box in which to keep your pieces from migrating around the house. There is also a design guide and a history of Colorforms. So, for example, we found out that:
Founded in 1951, Colorforms® was one of the first toys to be advertised on television. The toy’s popularity meant that it wasn’t long before a licensed character line began.
Colorforms – The New Wave
While today’s children would probably be mystified by the first sets to receive this treatment – Popeye, they’ll probably be excited to know that Paw Patrol, Frozen, Daniel Tigers Neighborhood, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are some of the modern-day offerings.
Colorforms – What Do We Think?
The Colorforms Classic Set ticked several boxes for me before we even opened it.
I like toys and activities which come in a sturdy container. Not only does this mean there is a place for all of the pieces to live but the construction of the box is such that it’s not going to fall apart after a week. This pleases me because I do not have to buy a plastic box for storage and nor do I have to make constant tape repairs to hold the box together.
There is plenty of scope for imaginative play, without constant adult oversight. I can sit at my desk and work while the littles play with this and I’m not under a constant barrage of questions such as “What do I do?” and “How does this work?”
We found that the Colorforms set was one of those toys that the little ones came back to again and again, especially once they discovered the sticky shapes work just as well on the windows as they do on the blank picture board included.
Play And Learn With Colorforms
As well as the creative “free-form” style of play, Colorforms are also a fabulous resource for play and learn activities with more structure.
We use them for, among other things:
- Replicating patterns
- Predicting the next item in a pattern
- Creating images to reinforce other learning – such as creating an under-water scene as part of an ocean animal lesson.
- Making letter shapes
In fact, now I’ve said all of that I think I’ll have to write an additional post full of “Get Your Brain Ready For Back to School” activities – watch this space!
If you don’t have any Colorforms in your home, give some serious consideration to getting your hands on some.
Although I should warn you about one thing.
It can be very distressing when you have spent a quiet few minutes in the evening, creating your very own Colorforms masterpiece and then the kids bounce in, wanting to play with it themselves.
I may have to get one of my own…..