The Lagoon Group have recently released Ready, Steady, Sculpt! A team game that can best be described as a modelling version of charades, or a three-dimensional Pictionary. It comes with two packs of Plasticine and a host of cards, oh, and an egg timer.
Did you know Plasticine was first created in 1897? No neither did I. This childhood favourite was created in Bath, England, by William Harbutt, in need of a non-drying clay for his sculpture students. I don’t know about you but I have fond memories of peeling off strands of Plasticine as a child. My three sons were not going to have this memory as Play-Doh has muscled into the market since its accidental-invention in 1955. That is until my family got hold of Ready, Steady, Sculpt!
Ready Steady Sculpt! is a very simple game to fathom. If you have played charades the gameplay will come naturally to you. This game is certainly akin to the ‘sculptorade’ element of Cranium that spawned its own ‘Sculpt It’ spin off. Players of Rapidough will also be more than familiar with the basic premise. However, if you are unfamiliar with these other incarnations on a similar theme let me tell you a little more.
The box says this game is for two plus players, which is lunacy! Four players is a minimum and I would say six to eight is probably the perfect amount. Why is two players lunacy? Well, you have to split into teams, with one player as a modeller and the others as guessers – good luck doing that in a team of one! The instructions do not cater for a two player variant either before you ask.
The designated modeller draws a card which has two words on it, one supposedly easier than the other, the modeller then has to choose one and sculpt it out of the Plasticine. If another member of the team guesses correctly they get one point for an easy word and two for a trickier word. If the sand timer runs out and a correct answer has not been guessed the opponents can have one guess to try and steal the points.
The rules don’t suggest any sort of play time so you either go with x many turns each or the first to x many points. Parents will understand why it is quite handy to be able to vary the play time.
How it Plays
This is a family game without question and I think it is fair to say my kids enjoyed it. My five year old was not so good at the modelling task but is, it seems, a champion guesser. My eight year old was as creative as always and my eleven year old was, well my pre-teen eleven year old… never have I seen a letter box look more like a gnome carrying a plate of food in my life!
The guesses start flowing as soon as you have rolled out your first piece of Plasticine. “Sausage”, “hot dog”, “bone”, “straw” - argggh! When in fact you are creating a Flamingo or a Paintbrush or a Dinosaur. This does not help the artist’s creativity. This combined with a time limit does not allow for masterpieces to be made.
If I had a gripe it would be the egg timer, I hate egg timers in board games I must confess. The reason for this is that if you guess correctly when the egg timer is only half way down you have to wait for all the sand to slowly seep through before you can start your next go. My solution to any board game designers that feel it necessary to use this timed mechanism is to include two timers with the game.
Less of a moan is that some of the supposedly easy words are harder to accomplish than the trickier ones, making it a little creatively imbalanced on occasion.
Can I imagine getting Ready, Steady, Sculpt! out the cupboard after a dinner party or on a games night? Not really, but playing a little tipsy could cause amusement. I hasten to add Zatu would encourage you to drink responsibly at all times!
The cards are good enough quality, not the prettiest cards you will see but they don’t need to be. There is also plenty of them, 50 to be precise, each with two words giving 100 possible words to sculpt. This allows for a bit of replayability.
The egg timer is sufficient, albeit wanting a second, and like many sand timers can be a bit tricky to tell when it has run out. The box is nicely compartmentalised inside and is not huge so this isn’t going to demand a lot of storage space.
That just leaves the Plasticine. The box claims it never dries out! This is a bold claim and one that I wanted to test before commenting further. The reason for this is that I remember my Plasticine to turn into a marbled-brown solid mess that looked like something you might find in the bottom of the toilet, which inevitably ended up in the bin. I can report that three months after opening, the Plasticine is still perfectly malleable. It needs a bit of warming up but it is ultimately fine. It feels a lot more oily in the hands than I ever remember it to be from times gone by.
With a bit of careful dismantling of creations and adult supervision the colours of the Plasticine are still mostly a good solid-ish individual colour. You get a spare set of Plasticine in the box too that can remain sealed until required. That is a nice touch. Also, Plasticine is readily available so the game could be topped up quite affordably if ever required.
Final Thoughts on Ready, Steady, Sculpt!
This game brings absolutely nothing new to the gaming table. I cannot forgive it for that.
Some kids will love making words into a three dimensional construction, others may not. Cranium Junior is more of a mix of skills. Pictionary and Telestrations cater for the drawing version of charades quite nicely too. For a less creative game Catch-a-Roo could be considered as a quick family game. Ticket to Ride First Journey offers a slightly more in depth but easy to grasp game. A great two player option is Top Trumps Match.
The yin to the above yang is that Ready, Steady, Sculpt! is fun enough and the kids did genuinely enjoy it. I just cannot imagine it escaping the board game cupboard that frequently. Perhaps I have played too many board games and know there is better. So getting down from my hobbyist board game high horse this would be an okay stocking filler for Christmas, or gift for your child’s school friend when they get invited to a birthday party.
Ultimately when Ready, Steady, Sculpt! does sneak out the cupboard you know you will probably have a bit of fun with it, even if you will then be picking bits of Plasticine off the floor and from under your nails for the next few days!