Sculpey clay vs. Play-Doh

Arts & Crafts

Playing with modeling clays and compounds helps kids develop their artistic talents while improving dexterity and fine motor skills.

BestReviews is reader-supported and may earn an affiliate commission. Details.

What’s better: Sculpey clay or Play-Doh?

Are you looking for fun modeling clay for your kids to explore their creativity? If so, you likely are debating between Sculpey clay and Play-Doh. Both allow kids to model just about anything their imagination visualizes, but they have some key differences.

At its core, Sculpey clay is a polymer modeling clay you can bake in the oven to permanently dry out creations you want to keep, while Play-Doh is a soft modeling compound that can’t be effectively dried out to keep designs.

Sculpey clay

Sculpey clay comes in a range of colors. While you can reuse the material repeatedly, this clay offers users the option to harden their models in the oven to keep them for years to come. It’s nontoxic and safe for kids of all ages to use, although it’s generally recommended for ages 8 and older. You can choose from a range of varieties of Sculpey clay, but all work in the same fundamental way. It can cost anywhere from $5 for a small pack to $50 for large quantities.

Sculpey clay pros

  • Sculpey clay is available in a wide range of colors so users can make colorful creations.
  • You can buy while and beige Sculpey clays that you can paint after baking, which is more similar to the process of making creations from natural clay.
  • This clay doesn’t air-dry. Instead, it remains soft and malleable so you can reshape it as many times as you need to before settling on a piece that you’re pleased enough with to bake and keep.
  • Sculpey clay is shatter-proof and can be sanded, carved and drilled after baking without any issues.

Sculpey clay cons

  • Sculpey clay isn’t as good an option for young kids as Play-Doh because it doesn’t come with fun accessories. It’s geared toward making pieces to keep.
  • It costs more than Play-Doh, so if you only intend to mess around with it and don’t want to keep any models, it makes more sense to go with the cheaper option.

Best Sculpey clay

Sculpey III 10 Classic Colors of Polymer Oven-Bake Clay

Sculpey III 10 Classic Colors of Polymer Oven-Bake Clay

This pack contains 1.25 pounds of Sculpey clay in 10 colors, including white, black, red, orange, yellow, blue, emerald, purple, chocolate and beige. It’s great for users who want to make colored creations rather than painting them after baking.

Sold by Amazon

Sculpey Original Polymer Clay

Sculpey Original Polymer Clay

The original Sculpey clay in white is ideal for painting after baking, especially when making pieces with some white showing through. It’s nicely soft and easy to sculpt.

Sold by Amazon

Super Sculpey Original Beige Oven-Bake Clay

Super Sculpey Original Beige Oven-Bake Clay

With its neutral tone, you can mix in color to create any shade. It’s easy to work with and holds up well to fine detail.

Sold by Amazon

Play-Doh

Play-Doh is the classic modeling substance for kids that practically every child in the U.S. has played with at some point. It’s incredibly soft and ready to mold right out of the tub without needing to warm it up or knead it to make it more malleable.

The idea behind Play-Doh is to use it to make shapes and basic models before destroying them and starting all over again, so it isn’t designed to make pieces you want to keep. For more details, see the guide to Play-Doh sets at BestReviews. A single tub of Play-Doh costs less than $5 while a large collection with accessories can cost as much as $50.

Play-Doh pros

  • Play-Doh is easy to roll between the palms, roll out with a rolling pin, press, squeeze and shape, so it’s perfect for young kids who might struggle with anything firmer or more difficult to mold.
  • You can find Play-Doh sets that come with all kinds of accessories, including rolling pins, cutters, stamps, molds and extruders, giving kids even more ways to play with this modeling compound.
  • Because it’s available in a wide range of shades, kids can make anything they desire in practically any color.
  • Part of the fun of Play-Doh is its impermanence and the fact that anything you make with it, you ultimately scrap. This allows kids more creativity and experimentation rather than playing it safe.

Play-Doh cons

  • Although Play-Doh does technically air-dry if you leave it out, it isn’t suitable for use as an air-dry clay because the material cracks as it dries.
  • Older children may become frustrated with the limitations of Play-Doh or annoyed that they can’t dry and keep their best creations.
  • Kids often mix different colors of Play-Doh when packing it away, leaving you with one big lump of messy brown dough rather than all the colors of the rainbow.

Best Play-Doh

Play-Doh Modeling Compound 24 Pack

Play-Doh Modeling Compound 24 Pack

This large pack of Play-Doh features 24 3-ounce tubs, each of a different color, giving kids plenty with which to work. It’s a good choice if you already have plenty of Play-Doh accessories or don’t want any.

Sold by Amazon

Play-Doh Fun Factory Deluxe Set

Play-Doh Fun Factory Deluxe Set

The Play-Doh Fun Factory Deluxe Set includes six tubs of Play-Doh and more than 30 tools to mix things up. Tools include shape cutters, a rolling pin and molds and are enough to keep kids busy for hours.

Sold by Amazon

Play-Doh Kitchen Creations Noodle Party Playset

Play-Doh Kitchen Creations Noodle Party Playset

An excellent choice for kids who love cooking or play kitchens, this Play-Doh set includes a pasta maker, grater and more accessories for making food-like Play-Doh creations.

Sold by Amazon

Should you get Sculpey clay or Play-Doh?

Sculpey clay and Play-Doh are both great products but aimed at different audiences. Play-Doh is best for young kids who just want to have fun making things then squishing them back into amorphous blobs and starting again. Sculpey clay is best for more serious young artists or adults who want to create polymer clay models that they can bake to harden and keep, more akin to natural clay.

 

Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.

Lauren Corona writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

 

Copyright 2021 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.