It’s hard to go wrong with Melissa & Doug, and their Deluxe Standing Easel – Art Easel for Kids is no exception, at least according to some. This product has an array of exciting features that set it apart from other art easels on the market, and yet it is still priced quite competitively. From a variety of paint cups, an integrated roll of butcher paper that slides easily over the drawing board, clips to hold large pieces of your child’s artwork, and a fold-up design that makes for easy storage, the manufacturers seem to have truly thought of everything—well, maybe. There are a few downsides to the easel including an unfinished chalkboard and a dry erase board that is not magnetic.
- Packed with Versatility
The pack-n-play feature of this easel is not the only thing that makes it versatile, Its two-sided design allows your child to create art alone or with a sibling or friend without the pressure of taking turns or the fights that may ensue if one or both refuses to share. Kids can alternate between drawing on the dry erase board, making chalk art on the chalk board, or using the large art clips to hang paper for painting. It’s hard to imagine a youngster getting bored while interacting with the deluxe easel considering the many play options available.
- Designed to Promote Growth, Development, and Creativity
Melissa & Doug have a long history of being committed to designing and manufacturing durable and engaging toys and puzzles that not only entertain children, but facilitate their growth and development as well. The Deluxe Standing Easel, in particular, encourages the development of fine motor skills by providing opportunities for children to experiment with grasping and controlling a variety of different writing and coloring utensils such as pencils, pens, markers, crayons, and paint brushes. The easel also enables children to have sensory-rich experiences with artistic media as they create a variety of different images and textures while engaging in creative expression.
- Easy to Use, Clean, and Store
Melissa & Doug clearly went the extra mile to consider not only the kid’s entertainment, but also parents concerns as well. The easel is very easy to clean thoroughly by removing the boards and washing them by hand. It can also be easily folded up for storage when not in use. The easel is also convenient for the kids as the butcher paper rolls over the board and can be torn off and stretched over again to start a new project without additional set-up.
For a Melissa & Doug product, this easel is quite affordable, ranging in price from around $50 to $80, depending on where you buy it and whether or not you’re able to catch it on sale. Please check the Amazon for the current price. This is comparable to other brands of easels that have smaller chalk and dry erase boards and do not fold up for storage or contain the paper roll, art clips, and other such features.
Downsides and Concerns
- It doesn’t come with everything needed to use the easel.
Although there is a place to put a roll of butcher paper to pull down over the easel, the paper does not come with the easel and has to be purchased separately as do the paint cups. Between that and the cost of crayons, markers, paint, chalk, and other necessities, you could end up paying a lot more than you had anticipated.
- It appears to be unfinished.
There’s quite a bit of assembly required to get the easel ready for use, but even after you have done the handy work, the easel, according to some, still appears to be unfinished. For instance, the chalkboard has to be primed or sanded before it can be used and the wood looks so rustic that some parents became concerned about their child getting a splinter while using the easel. This is a surprising and disappointing feature considering that Melissa & Doug can usually be counted to deliver high-quality products.
- It comes apart easily.
Not only does the easel fold up easily for storage which is a great feature if you have limited space, but apparently the whole thing can be taken apart quite easily as well. One parent reported that her little one, enticed by the brightly colored knobs and screws repeatedly took her easel apart several times out of curiosity. Thus, it appears that an adult is required for assembly, but not for disassembly!
- The dry erase board is not magnetic.
Unlike most dry erase boards, including those that come on many kids art easels, magnets will not stick to the dry erase board on the Melissa & Doug Deluxe Standing Easel. This is an unfortunate oversight on the part of the manufacturer since this feature would have made their product even more versatile and interactive.
What Others Are Saying
Although the vast majority of reviews are overwhelmingly positive for this product, and most parents report that their kids are delighted with the product, it is also apparent that the product disappointed some veteran customers of Melissa & Doug who clearly expected more from this company. You can read more reviews from the Amazon. The following is a representative sample of some of the mixed reviews:
- “Great Product, Great Price!”
- “Good, cute, but room for improvement”
- “Best Birthday Gift”
- “Excellent choice”
- “Quality is Lacking”
- “Good Concept, Poor Execution”
The Bottom Line
Although there are definitely some delightfully surprising perks as well as some unexpected disappointments associated with the Melissa & Doug Deluxe Standing Easel, by and large it appears to be a decent buy. If you’re not looking to spend a ton of money and don’t mind doing a little extra work to prime the chalkboard or even spray it with chalkboard paint as a lot of parents have done to correct the problem, then you should be happy enough, and there’s little doubt that your kid will be thrilled with it. There seems to be enough upswings related to the easel to compensate for its downfalls, especially if you have a budding artist on your hands or simply want to encourage some creativity without emptying your bank account.