Insight Editions, known for some really great books, has a new line of DIY books called IncrediBuilds. This line of books features not only a beautiful book on the target subject but a glueless wooden 3D model as well. They cover a ton of different topics and fandoms from Harry Potter to Star Wars to Superheroes and more!
I chose the R2-D2 book since we are all big Star Wars geeks in our house. The book itself is essentially divided into two parts: the model building instructions and the actual content. My draft copy had a bunch of cool R2-D2 concept art, details about astromechs, stills from the movies, cartoons, and more.
The 3D wooden model was everything I expected and hoped for. The pieces are all laser cut from a sheet of thin yet sturdy wood. I was worried at first sight that the pieces would be flimsy and prone to breakage, but I am very happy to report that they are nothing of the sort. There are even some laser etched details like panel lines and R2’s “eye.”
It’s recommended to color the pieces before punching them out to make it easier, so that’s the route we took. We decided to use colored pencils, but crayons, markers, and/or paint would also all work well on the light-colored wood. My son had me do some of the coloring where he cared about the finer details, but I let him go to town giving R2 a red leg (like C-3PO) and an orange leg (covered in lava like Anakin).
The pieces are all very cleanly cut and easy to punch out. After a few test pieces to ensure they came out easily enough, I let my son (who is three years old) punch out the rest of the pieces. They also go together just snugly enough that it won’t fall apart when handling it, but easily enough that my son was able to do a lot of the assembly himself. There were a few parts that were a little trickier, like the feet, that I had to do myself, but would probably be fine for a slightly older child. The feet in particular require holding a couple of pieces in place while attaching other pieces and he just doesn’t have that much dexterity yet.
Overall, the coloring and build only took us about an hour, and the resulting model, while not quite as polished looking as I would have made it if I were doing it all myself, is perfect in all its scribbly glory. Although not at all required, I knew my son would want to actually play with the model so I put a spot of super glue at all of the joints. Since then, it’s fallen from the top of a bunk bed and been heavily played with and hasn’t lost a single part. We have plenty of actual toys I cannot say the same about.
NOTE: I received an advanced copy of the book so model parts may change and the book images shown are not final art. All thoughts and opinions are my own.