I suppose I could be considered a pushover when it comes to new gumpasting tool(s) and products as I am always eager to learn more about them. So, when early last year I saw a cake designer promoting Sugar Shapers it caught my attention and I immediately visited the Innovative Sugarworks website to see what these shaping tools had to offer. They looked very interesting, but my initial enthusiasm was dampened a little (okay a lot) by their price tag of $44.99 for a set of six shapers. Making the cost-conscious side of me even more uncomfortable was the fact that they were offering two different sets with the choice “soft” or “firm” density. So, if I was to purchase both sets that would mean I'd be doubling down on this expenditure at a cost of $89.98 (ouch$). So, at that point I decided they might be nice, but something I would have to put on the back burner.
Then later in the year I received the November 2015 issue of the CakesDecor Gazette (Issue 4.11) in which Sharon Spradley (aka Shags) mentions them in her “My new favorite thing!” column. Here is a portion of her article: “So for me these are a must have. Yep they may seem a little costly at $45 for a set which includes 6 tools, but like anything in life if you want good quality you have to pay for it and in all reality this is just a smidge over $7 per tool and I have paid that and more for some horrible tools that I never use, so I really think these are still very good value.” After reading her glowing review and announcement that they would be coming out with a new mini version my interest was rekindled.
Okay, there was a second reason (other than their cost) for my original reluctance… it was also their size. They appeared to me rather large, so I felt that they might be too big to comfortably maneuver if one has small hands (which I do). But since they were now offering a mini version I decided to ask Santa (aka my great husband) for one of their mini sets for Christmas.
I almost forgot to mention that there was still an important decision ahead of me before I could put in this special request with Jolly Old Saint Nick. I needed to decide between the two different density options of soft or firm. I imagine that there are many of you who are like me who when spending this kind of $$$ makes you a little apprehensive about possibly making an incorrect choice. So, with my fingers crossed I finally opted for the “soft” ones because I came to the conclusion it would be probably better to have my shaping tools be on the softer side rather than ones that may be a little too firm.
My Final Verdict
After unwrapping my mini Sugarworks Sugar Shapers I was excited to give them a test run. Here are my thoughts after a few months of use:
Admittedly the mini shapers are still a little larger than I had hoped they would be. It was not until I began writing this article that I discovered a picture on the Innovative Sugarworks website showing the size comparison between the original shaper and the mini shapers. There does appear to be a slight downsizing, but if one doesn’t see this picture the term “mini” might be a tad bit ambiguous. With that in mind, it might make more sense to label them large and regular instead of original and mini, especially if you are to compare these shapers along with most of your other tools in your sugarcrafting arsenal.
Below are two photos showing the size comparison. One with me holding one of the mini Sugarworks Sugar Shapers alongside one of my favorite modeling tools, the Dresden tool with a ruler below plus another photo with just the ruler and both tools.
If you are getting these tools for someone with large hands (maybe yourself?), by all means purchase the original size. For me, I feel lucky I waited for mine as I know now I would not have been very comfortable with the larger girth and length of the original shapers.
Performance & Features
Would I be willing to pay $7.49 for each one of these tools again? Well, yes and no as some are worthwhile (see the ones above) and others I feel are not as suitable for my needs. Sadly these have been retired into a box of tools I rarely use. I really wish I had the option to purchase them à la carte as I’m a big advocate of purchasing my tools individually as I mentioned in A Guide to the Right Gumpasting Tools & Equipment. Yes, I would gladly pay a little more to be able to order each one separately rather than table d'hôte (i.e. limiting the choice to a whole set). An off-the-menu selection would also allow one the option to purchase some shapers from both densities to fit their own sugarcrafting needs. So, since I will be only using three shapers that means when I calculate my final cost it works out to around twice as much per tool which is $14.98 apiece. That could be kind of expensive depending how often I end up using them. Keeping that in mind could shape your decision whether to invest in these tools sets or not.