One of my biggest hobbies is to make fuse bead sprites. It was something that I loved doing when I was little and I love it still! The pixel-y feel of it makes it perfect for some awesome geeky crafts, and the end results are just the cutest. Now, I live in the Netherlands, where we unfortunately can’t buy the ever popular Perler beads. But we do have the awesome Danish company Hama, whose fuse beads come in three sizes; mini, midi and maxi. The maxi is for the really tiny children, so I’ll leave that one out of this comparison, but I did want to show the difference between the mini and the midi beads, and why the mini beads kick ass!
Let’s get the obvious one out of the way first; size. The midi beads are 5 mm (about 0,197 inches) while the mini beads are 2,6 mm (about 0,085 inches). So yeah, tiny! Which of course has an effect on your sprites. The hulk one shown above are both made with the same pattern. The one made with mini beads is about 4 cm (1,57 inches) while the midi hulk is about 7,7 cm (3,03 inches). But wait! There’s more! The melting temperature of both is different too; while the midi needs a fairly high setting of your iron, the mini will melt really quickly. Which means the minis are more difficult to get even.
As seen on the colourchart on the right (click for full size), the mini beads also have more limited colours than the midi beads. It’s not that big of a deal however since the only colours you’re missing are the metallics and the glow-in-the-darks. Of course I’m greedy and I want a glow in the dark blue so I can make Iron Man’s Arc Reactor in mini beads. I haven’t asked Hama this, but I think it has to do with the stability of the beads when metallics or glows are added. A few new colours were added which made me very happy indeed! Two new greys make it so much easier to make cybermen and cylons.
Another difference is the amount of baseplates you have for both types. In mini beads you have square, heart, hexagon and the awesome new addition; round. The midi beads have significantly more choice. In addition to the ones the mini has, midi boards also come in star shape and all of them in three sizes. Besides those there are about 42 figure shaped boards ranging from seahorses to pigs to unicorns. Of course you don’t need those to make awesome sprites, so the basics of the minis are perfect.
Fuse beads are made by making plastic into thin tubes, which are then cut to size. We can all imagine that bigger beads are easier to cut, and therefor easier to get all of them even in size. The midi beads are all just about even, where the mini beads sometimes have weirdly short- or freakishly tall ones, which can be a hazard when you iron them. Of course 0,1 mm on 5 mm is next to nothing while on 2,6 mm it makes a hell of a difference. So with the minis there are some beads you just have to toss, which is a shame. Then again the minis come in a bag of 2000 pcs against the 500 of the midis.
All in all midi will give you more possibilities and are a tiny bit easier to work with. For kids, I would totally recommend the midis. However, if your looking to make jewellery, home decor or just anything that needs more detail; the minis are the choice for you. But beware! It’s one hell of an addiction and once you go mini, you never go back!