Who’s that dino-like creature with rotating teeth, popping open half his head to reveal his gargling yellow tongue? Who’s that giggling pink glob who tugs on his antennas to pull off his eyeballs?

No need to fear these monsters under the bed. Get to know them, along with the other colorful creatures in Hey Clay, a series of clay modeling kits that combine with interactive apps to let kids create a crew of comical critters.

Hey Clay is designed for kids 3 and up, and is available in four different themes: monsters, aliens, animals, and birds. Each kit comes with more than a dozen individual containers of clay in every color that kids will need to build their creatures. To begin, download the Hey Clay app on a smartphone or tablet, where the whimsical creatures will be waiting to introduce their playful personalities.

Meet Cyclops from the Monsters squad, a green polka-dotted blob with big lips à la Kylie Jenner, who bops his one eyeball up and down like a bouncy ball. Say hi to Trio from the Aliens sect, a long blue tube with three blinking eyeballs and three singing mouths, ready to carry a tune. Give a wave to Penguin from the Birds group, a clumsy snow birdie who twirls through the air and lands headfirst with a splat. Take a peep at Rabbit from the Animals crew, a bouncing blue bunny with big flappy ears that propel him off the ground.

Each theme has six clay characters on the app to build. Kids can begin with one unlocked character on each app, but the other critters can be purchased or unlocked for free access by entering the code that comes inside the box. Once kids select the animal, alien, monster, or bird they want to create, interactive instructions will appear on the screen to guide them step by step on how to make their clay figure.

Even with the more advanced creatures, the instructions are easy to follow, thanks to a talking guide and video animations. The animations show kids how to build the creatures piece by piece, displaying what color clay to use, what type of shape to roll it into, and where to place it on the figure, down to the very last detail. Kids who are itching to use their imagination to the max can always go rogue and come up with their own creations as well.

The clay is addictingly stretchy and foamy, and holds its shape well. It feels a bit moist when it comes out of the container, but is not sticky at all. It tears crisply with a satisfying snap, and it’s squishy enough to mold easily into different shapes and firm enough that the sculpted parts hold together.

My first creation was Piggy from Hey Clay Animals, an adorably hyper galloping and squealing piglet. I began by gathering five colors of clay – pink, orange, white, yellow and black. The app instructed me to take a piece of pink clay, and roll it into a ball. Piggy’s body was complete. The muzzle is made with a smaller pink ball, dented twice with a pencil for nostrils, and pressed onto the body. Now Piggy had an oinker. I rolled two little balls of white for the eyes and two smaller balls of black for the pupils. I rolled a little ball of red clay for the tongue, flattened, and squished it onto Piggy. I rolled two little pink balls for the ears, squished them into triangles, flattened them with my fingers and perched them on top of Piggy’s head. Now Piggy was really coming together. I rolled four pink sausages for legs, and a pink twirly tail. Once I completed the last step, confetti exploded onto the app and celebratory horns blew – welcome to the world, Piggy!

Once the clay figures are sculpted, kids can snap a photo for the app’s gallery to share their creations online. The completed figures take 24 hours to dry and harden, and then kids can play with them as a toy.

Hey Clay is perfect for young kids, inspiring curiosity, creativity, and imagination, but just as fun for their older siblings and even adults, who will get a kick out of the kooky characters.

Next time the little ones are getting the heebie jeebies from monsters that go bump in the night, invite those wild things in to join the crazy critter crew.