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Erector Set Turns 100

timothy posted more than 12 years ago | from the dirty-puns-obvious-and-therefore-redundant dept.

Toys 239

GospelHead821 writes: "It's been one hundred years since the first Erector Set was patented in Europe under the name of Meccano (It is sold under this name in Europe to this day). Unfortunately for Erector, the advent of plastic Lego bricks in 1958 spelled misfortune for the more complex, metal frame construction kit. Erector fans should keep an eye out, though! The Brio Corp. may be looking to reintroduce the Erector Set to the United States sometime soon. I remember playing with an old Erector Set when I was a kid, but I haven't seen one in quite a while. Here's hoping it makes a comeback. As versatile as Legos are, there's just something unconvincing about a Martian Destroyer Robot made out of plastic." My ranking is Capsula > Erector > Tinker Toys > Lincoln Logs > Lego.

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239 comments

electronic (1, Interesting)

Vardamir (266484) | more than 12 years ago | (#2408622)

A CAD type app that had erector qualities would be neat.

Re:electronic (1)

kilgore_47 (262118) | more than 12 years ago | (#2408642)

A CAD type app that had erector qualities would be neat.
Lego got a headstart on that with the Mindstorms product. It's computer is decently powerfull, considering that the 'toy' was originally aimed at young children. (It turns out more adults bought them than kids ;-)

Forget something? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2408780)

CLOSE YOUR DAMN TAGS!

I AM yelling, dammit!

Re:Forget something? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2408828)

How can you tell that he forgot to close his tag?

"We are patient enough" (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2408803)

We might turn Troll Tuesday into Troll Year or Troll Decade

Dubya needs education (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2408834)

I heard him say today something like "If Congress can't behave responsibly, they won't get any more classified information from the government."

Some explain to him that Congress is part of the government too.

New Version (0, Redundant)

talonyx (125221) | more than 12 years ago | (#2408625)

They should call the new version "Viagra". Takes about an hour to build anything interesting anyways!

Or Maybe Erection Set? (0, Redundant)

Atomizer (25193) | more than 12 years ago | (#2408702)

My mom always called my erector set an erection set. I didn't know what it meant until I was older.

Troll Editors: Priceless (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2408810)

Do you think Troll Hemos or Troll Taco didn't think about the obvious secondary meanings of "Erector Set"?

Wow (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2408627)

this story is giving me an erection.

Lincoln logs lego? (4, Funny)

SlamMan (221834) | more than 12 years ago | (#2408629)

Oh come one, lincoln logs aren't good for anything. Ohh, I made a log cabin. Big whoop. I made a moving plastic dog that shased my car around with legos.

Re:Lincoln logs lego? (1)

ClubStew (113954) | more than 12 years ago | (#2408681)

No kidding! While I hate that Lego kept adding "special pieces" for practically one purpose, the base set and a few cool thinks like pnuematic pumps could build anything! I used to build entire cities out of base parts until lego started commercializing them with "special parts". Lincoln logs build log houses and huts. Maybe a tower or two.

Sure, you could build a city out of lincoln logs, but when's the last time you've heard of a log city (village) surviving very long?

Re:Lincoln logs lego? (1)

jiheison (468171) | more than 12 years ago | (#2408787)

I used to build entire cities out of base parts until lego started commercializing them with "special parts".

Just don't use that special "entire-city-in-one" part.

Re:Lincoln logs lego? (2)

motherhead (344331) | more than 12 years ago | (#2408806)

Does anyone remember "Girders and Panels [ultranet.com] "? damn I loved those, I think it was 1975 or so, I was like 5 or 6 me and my brother used both of our kits to build (what we thought looked like) the Chicago skyline.

It consisted of interconnecting "girders" that looked like the real deal and allowed you to build a lattice either of squares or Xs. Then they supplied these thin plastic panels that either looked like skyscraper windows or some other architectural glass panes.
When we were don we took out giant "Voltrons" (I think it was Voltron, maybe a Voltron precursor... all I knew was it was a huge plastic Japanese robot that allowed you to shoot misses that could choke babies, funny I never knew of any one choking and any of them... but more importantly, you could launch their fists! Really far and hard, it hurt like hell!) and proceeded to level our mini city Godzilla style...

Hmmm. After that I don't think we ever played with it again, no wonder they're gone...

Hey remember Micronauts [micro-outpost.com] ?!....

OFFICE DEPOT EMERGENCY RULEZ (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2408631)

EMERGENCY RULES
ALL COPY & PRINT CENTER MANAGERS AND EMPLOYEES

In the wake of the emergency situation existing since September 11, 2001, the following rules are in effect:

  • If any customer asks to have a passport, social security card, picture ID, or similar document copied, or to have other action performed involving such a document, point out to them our new policy, which requires making a duplicate copy and keeping it for our records. If this is not acceptable with the customer, we cannot make their copies.
  • If any customer asks to have copies made of any building plans, blueprints, maps of urban areas, any documents involving plans or otherwise for a bridge, tunnel, power plant, water supply reservoir or plant or any similar public installation, make the copy but also take the steps set out below.
  • If any customer asks to have a business card prepared that identifies the customer as an airline pilot, airline employee, etc., take the steps set out below.
  • If the customer makes any request for copies, business card or other copy center services that appear in any way unusual or suspicious, comply but also do the following:

  1. Ask the customer for identification and make a copy of it. If the customer refuses, tell them we cannot make their copies. Tell them this is corporate policy.
  2. In the case of business cards, such as described above, ask for a driver's license or similar identification and make a copy of it. Tell them this is corporate policy.
  3. Attempt to get a license number, make and model of the car driven by such customer.
  4. Call the FBI hotline number 1-866-483-5137.
  5. Notify your District Manager and Corporate Loss Prevention immediately.

Contact:
Office Depot Confidential
9/27/2001

Is this true? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2408762)

Woah, is this true?

Re:OFFICE DEPOT EMERGENCY RULEZ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2408776)

Are you posting this to threads at random?

E in E (2, Insightful)

Anne_Nonymous (313852) | more than 12 years ago | (#2408633)

Has anybody used an Erector Set in an engineering course in the last 10 years?

still available (1)

maddogsparky (202296) | more than 12 years ago | (#2408698)

I just got back from visiting a small-town toy store with my son. Of course I had to walk by the Lego section. To the right, Legos. To the left, Technic. Further left, K'nex. And behind us...Erector Sets! They had about eight different sets that were available. Now I just have to wait a few more years so I can justify buying them (he's not quite two).

Meccano (1)

nebular (76369) | more than 12 years ago | (#2408636)

They sell it as Meccano in Canada too.

Canada don't need anglofied names.

Re:Meccano (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2408657)

Anglofied? ... *Earth to brain, Earth to brain*

Re:Meccano (1)

MyMarty (262639) | more than 12 years ago | (#2408669)

It's also sold under its original name in Australia. Unfortunately it's no longer the metal Meccano - its plastic now for safety and economic reasons. Plastic is generally perceived as 'safer' by parents who are the likely purchasors, and it's definitely cheaper.

Ah, Erector... (4, Interesting)

Old Man Kensey (5209) | more than 12 years ago | (#2408643)

Somewhere tucked away at home is my dad's old Erector Set from when he was a kid (60's, early 70's). That was a very cool toy. The interesting thing about it is where Lego gives you exploded diagrams of where every single piece goes, Erector gave you unit assembly pictures with some detail pics of how hard-to-see stuff fit together. You had to figure out what you needed, and if you didn't have it handy, what you might use in its place.

Some professor over in Britain blames the decline in British engineering on the steady growth in dominance of Lego over Meccano. I can believe it -- Meccano/Erector makes you figure out how to build it and Lego doesn't.

Lego is like a prefab model kit, Erector is more like the further projects in those 180-in-1 breadboard electronics kits.

Re:Ah, Erector... (2)

Mwongozi (176765) | more than 12 years ago | (#2408660)

180-in-1 breadboard electronics kits.
I loved those as a child! Ah, memories. I built an AM radio transmitter, and even an electronic "roulette" game with a pile of LEDs out of one of those kits. :)

Re:Ah, Erector... (2, Insightful)

DoubleD (29726) | more than 12 years ago | (#2408763)

Erector sets are cool, i recall my mom letting me play with them when i was 3 (i think) and i was too interested in playing with them to bother putting them in my mouth. Great fun. Overall though I remember lego being the toy that attracted me the most. The range of representation afforded by legos greatly surpassed that of the erector set IMHO. I think part of the lack of popularity of Meccano / Erector could be that it was too realistic. By that point in my life I would go take something important apart :) or work with my dad fixing something. Lego on the other hand depends a great deal on imagination and using a bunch of funny looking blocks to build the world's greatest space ship or a fort of Indestructability.

Along this line of reasoning the decline of British engineering would be more accuratley attributed the trend away from do-it-yourselfism. This itself a symptom of our increasing consumerism. The decline of Erector with respect to lego is more likely a symptom of the decline of British engineering rather than its cause.

Now excuse me i am going to go take apart my roomate's cd player :).

DD

Re:Ah, Erector... (1)

swright (202401) | more than 12 years ago | (#2408784)

yeah but the fun of lego wasnt buildint what you were supposed (?) to build. it was thinking of something cool and then basically building it as good as you could with the bits available.

creativity and engineering all in one...

(and kindof a moot point between lego/ i guess)

Re:Ah, Erector... (1)

swright (202401) | more than 12 years ago | (#2408791)

damn those html tags - that was meant to be...

(and kindof a moot point between lego/<meccano/erector&gt i guess)

oh yeah, and damn that 2 minute posting limit...

and damn my ignorance of the preview button..

and damn the -1,Offtopic I'm going to get for this...

hmm (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2408645)

erections are only 100 years old? how have we been pro-creating all this time?

Re:hmm (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2408689)

I have invented a new form of pickled bread. I call it 'DILDO.'

Capsela (1)

moosesocks (264553) | more than 12 years ago | (#2408646)

Indeed, capsela is one of those great inventions that never really became popular like lego and erector. Sure, it had some limitations, and the fact that nobody bothered to make a "programmable capsule :-)" but, it was really neat and versaitile ... I built boats, land rovers, cpu coolers (Yes... i know...) , wall climbers, string walkers.... you name it, capsela could do it.

Re:Capsela (2)

firewort (180062) | more than 12 years ago | (#2408696)

Yes, but the dang gears inside the robot capsela kit weren't made of hardened plastic, and the lousy thing broke. My parents and grandparents spent so much money on the things... cool concept, bad production.

Now erector, that was awesome!

Re:Capsela (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2408811)

Do you know why it did not catch up? Cost. I was growing up when capsela came to the market. I begged my parents more than you can imagine to have one.

But it was too expensive for a blue collar family. Capsela was neat, it captured my imagination. Its electronics were mind blowing. But it was too much money.

In contrast, I had two meccano sets. I also had legos. But meccano was by far my favorite.
Meccano promoted my love for physics and engineering.

Cool stuff (1)

LagDemon (521810) | more than 12 years ago | (#2408648)

I loved the erector sets. When legos came out, they were almost exclusively static objects, as in none of the stuff could move. Erector sets, hwever, were great for that, and only after a few years did lego come out with the movable blocks and stuff. Now however, they are pretty much even. The erector sets do look cooler though.

Meccano still around (5, Informative)

Mwongozi (176765) | more than 12 years ago | (#2408653)

Meccano is still pretty popular here in the UK. I never even realised that it had a different name anywhere else.

There's a good web page here [zetnet.co.uk] which has some plans for some cool models (dinosaurs, airplanes, diggers, etc.), and some photos of some pretty weird things made out of Meccano, too. :)

Re:Meccano still around (2)

gwernol (167574) | more than 12 years ago | (#2408691)

Meccano isn't really the same as Erector. Take a look at this [usmeccano.com] site which details the history of Meccano in the United States and its relationship to Erector. Meccano was the toy that budding civil engineers played with, I think most software engineers played with Lego. At least when I was growing up in the UK.

Re:Meccano still around (1)

astroboy (1125) | more than 12 years ago | (#2408724)

It was sold, at least when I was a kid, under the `Meccano' name in Canada, too.

A toy that is sold with a wrench is just cool.

Re:Meccano still around (2)

chadmulligan (87873) | more than 12 years ago | (#2408726)

A variation was sold in Germany for many years (starting in the early 20s I believe) by Märklin, known more for model trains.

I got the largest one when I was like 4 or 5, and bought all expansions when I turned 21 :-). I still have it and on occasion use it now, over 40 years later.

Unfortunately they apparently stopped making them. There are some photos at http://home.t-online.de/home/HGFinke/metall/engl.h tml [t-online.de] .

ah, legos/star wars (1)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 12 years ago | (#2408654)

i remember those fondly, they still sit in an unused foot locker of mine. the main advantage of legos is that they don't rust/edges aren't dangerous. I remember building an X-wing out of a combination of an old airliner set and some pieces from a monorail spacestation set. quite an accomplishment. and that was before all of the newfangled specialty pieces (although i had to use some nifty transparent pieces to make the x wing canopy)....R2 droids were always fun, quick and easy to make. 30$ for an x wing kit from lego seems a bit much. any one else remember making star wars models out of legos?

Re:ah, legos/star wars (1)

shaldannon (752) | more than 12 years ago | (#2408819)

ah...yes... :)

I remember taking my Expert Builder sets (and my brothers', too, come to think of it)...the Crane, Tractor, Engine, Bulldozer, and motor sets, plus pieces from various space sets, and making a 2' long X-Wing fighter, complete with opening and closing wings.

Pity the current crop of Lego Star Wars sets really aren't very accurate (even the Tie Fighter scale model, the sails on which are too long).

I really kind of envy the guy who made the full-scale Milennium Falcon....wish I had that kind of money and those kind of parts.

Do Legos rank that low? (2)

Valdrax (32670) | more than 12 years ago | (#2408655)

Personally, having had all of those toys as a kid (with the unfortunate exception of the Erector set), I'd rank Legos above Tinker Toys and Lincoln Logs.

I made a lot more interesting and creative things with Legos than I ever did with the other two toys. I mean, there's only so many buildings and fortesses you can make with Lincoln Logs, and I ran into limitations with Tinker Toys really quick thanks to the limited supply of sticks in the sizes I needed.

However, I made an endless array of neat things with Legos. When I was five, I made a robot with moving arms and legs using just basic Legos and the wheel-and-axle Lego bricks which had pegs at the center of each wheel. They made perfect articulation points. I was also fond of space ships and castles long before I ever saw the specialized sets come on the market. (Plus, a space ship with ramparts and stone edifice gave me a lot of amusement after I got those sets.)

Personally, I'd rate it as:

Erector Set > Capsula > Legos > Tinker Toys > Lincoln Logs

Poll! Poll! (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 12 years ago | (#2408685)


> Personally, I'd rate it as:

> Erector Set > Capsula > Legos > Tinker Toys > Lincoln Logs

How 'bout a poll?

Re:Do Legos rank that low? (2, Interesting)

tjgrant (108530) | more than 12 years ago | (#2408824)

I moved to the States from England in April of 1969. We came on a Danish freighter (which we pretty much had the run of).

As one of only two families, and the only small children on board, the crew loved my brother and I. I can still vividly remember building Lego cars and trains with the crew members and using the really cool battery-packs and motors to run them all over the ship.

I still love lego. My oldest son (8) is starting to get into some of the Technic stuff. My middle son (4) is just starting to express his creativity with Legos.

When a four-year-old is silent for long periods of time you tend to worry. Last night I went and checked on him. I quietly peeked into his room and he was busy playing with his Legos. It didn't take long before he came out to show me the plane that he had built. Extremely rudimentary, but yes it was a plane and I was proud of him.

There are a lot of cool toys on the lists being made. I could probably still find my old Erector set at my parents house. But Lego allows younger children to participate than any of the others (except for maybe Lincoln Logs).

toys true love (1)

Tregod (441880) | more than 12 years ago | (#2408658)

the erector set was very awesome, and so was lego, but, i have to give it up for G.I.Joe (if there was only more "electronics" involved, we could really have had something). Happy b-day erector.

Knex? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2408662)

Remember those, they were slick, don't leave them out. By the way, you can't play with my toys.

erector set for rackmount kit/mame box (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2408663)

any takers?

growing up...without an erector set. (1)

laymil (14940) | more than 12 years ago | (#2408667)

sniff...i always wondered what my life would have been like had i been given an erector set. but, alas, i was left with only lincoln logs and legos, and eventually computers, circuit boards, and soldering irons. sniff. oh well. personally, i think that many kids outgrow lincoln logs mighty quickly, as there's only so much you can build. as for lego...they need to sell specific color blocks. i always wanted just black ones and blue ones. down with red and yellow! such is life, it goes on, and now i build cool shit.

Re:growing up...without an erector set. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2408788)

I grew up with the soldering iron too. My dad toke me to surplus places. It was great growing up that way. My early informal engineering paid off.
No lego, erector set etc. though.

Wooooo! (1)

NetJunkie (56134) | more than 12 years ago | (#2408671)

I used to LOVE these things. I went looking for them a while back and found they don't make them any more. I'd be thrilled to have them come out again.

i'll put my erector (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2408673)

up your sphincter, cmdrFagort!!!!

Erection set (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2408675)

They make great masturbation toys too!

Wow... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2408679)

Haha (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2408769)

No telling how many people that would have got if not for the link revealer bullshit.

Re:Wow... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2408796)

haha that gave me a nice chuckle on this late night...

(not clicking on it, bless those link revealer jobbies...)

Erector Set (1)

Renraku (518261) | more than 12 years ago | (#2408683)

I remember my first erector set. It was a rusty, moldy, parts-missing-aplenty kit that I found in my closet from my brothers' years. I didn't like them, actually. Legos were much, much better. You couldn't die from cutting yourself while playing with legos, unless you were just stupid.

sexual references (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2408686)

When your penis (if you have one) becomes hard, that is an erector set.

When you defecate, the resulting feces are lincoln logs.

If you played with Capsela, you are a homosexual.

Legos are The One True Toy.

any questions?

capsella, I believe. and ZOIDS! (3, Interesting)

CamelTrader (311519) | more than 12 years ago | (#2408700)

It's capsella, not capsula, though I guess they could both be right..

I sure loved my capsella sets. The only place I could find them in town was the local independant-slightly-more-expensive-yet-educationa lly-oriented toy store, where they sold all sorts of educational gidgets and gadgets. Erector sets were among the construction toys they had, but no legos. Without putting legos down, I always felt that my capsella and construx sets allowed me more creative flexibility. Especially if I wanted to make things that "did things". A search for construx on google produced some neat pages, as did capsella. I may go to ebay right now and buy all those wonderful toys from my past! (Until I see them selling for 300 bucks, that is.)

I have to say though, I loved ZOIDS best. They weren't multifunction like construction sets, but they were unbelievably cool. I had some of the very small originals, but I remember being amazed at the huge (and expensive!) zoids at the toy store.

Re:capsella, I believe. and ZOIDS! (1)

yesthatguy (69509) | more than 12 years ago | (#2408771)

I think capsela, with one 'l' and an 'e,' but I'm no more sure than most other people. I still have all my stuff from capsel(l)a, and it all works except for the battery holder that comes with it. I've had to take another standard type battery kit and just manually connect the red and blue wires. Other than that, it still works and does neat stuff.

What are zoids? I may have seen them, but what I'm thinking of is more of a geometrical set, with different shapes and lengths of plastic rods.

I have an erector set... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2408705)

...it's quite large. I had an image of it on my homepage, but it's now gone. I did find it in the Google image bank [hamncheez.com] , however. Enjoy!!!

Odd ranking there, Timothy... (4, Insightful)

sparcv9 (253182) | more than 12 years ago | (#2408706)

My ranking is Capsula > Erector > Tinker Toys > Lincoln Logs > Lego.
Are you sure your angles are facing the right direction there, Timothy? I had four of the five of those as a kid (no Erector set, but I had something that was essentially plastic Erector that used rubber pop-rivets to hold the pieces together -- It was called Rivetron.) Also, the Tinker Toys I had weren't the little wooden ones. They were the HUGE ones you could build jungle gyms and cars and swingsets out of. I was always awestruck by some of the creations [zetnet.co.uk] people were able to make with their Erecto/Meccano sets, and would definietly drop a ton of cash on them if they were re-released in the US.

Just for the record, here's my ranking of the construction toys I had:
  1. Rivetron
  2. Construx
  3. Lego
  4. Robotix (a little limited in what you could make because of the lack of variation in structural parts. The motors, claws and jaws kicked ass, though.)
  5. Giant Tinker Toys
  6. Capsela (way too limited in what you could make, and they were always bulbous contraptions. The floats for making watercraft were nice, though.)
  7. Lincoln Logs (Oh, look! I made another log cabin!)

Re:Odd ranking there, Timothy... (1)

crazy_swimmer (136348) | more than 12 years ago | (#2408759)

Lincoln Logs > Lego

This bothers me deeply. Just as sparcv9 said:
Lincoln Logs (Oh, look! I made another log cabin!)
Have you never played with/seen LEGO Technic or Mindstorms??? They beat Lincoln Logs in my book any day.

Rivetron rules (2, Informative)

kallisti (20737) | more than 12 years ago | (#2408764)

Too bad some stupid kid choked to death on the Rivetron rivets and they had a recall. When my Mom got the recall letter, she refused to send it back since she knew it was on of our favorites.

I'm concerned about the general demise of building toys, they're mostly what I had as a kid: Lego, Brix Blox (a cheap Lego knockoff), Girder and Panel (bridges and buildings), Tinkertoy, Erector (newer plastic version), Erector (MUCH cooler 1940's version with metal pieces and a 120V AC motor!, found at an auction for a steal), Micronauts (a bit of a stretch, but the city expansion definitely qualifies), Lincoln Logs (what's so bad about cabins?), probably others. Now, almost all of these are gone...

Re:Odd ranking there, Timothy... (2, Funny)

Gnight (163400) | more than 12 years ago | (#2408833)

7. Lincoln Logs (Oh, look! I made another log cabin!)

Well what else do you expect the army men to use as their base!

Armymen + Lincoln Logs + Fire crackers = FUN!

Erection set? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2408710)

What was that?
An erection set turns hundred, gosh that is so gross!!!

Construx? (0)

Owensellwood (456615) | more than 12 years ago | (#2408713)

What ever happened to Construx (sp)? Those little boxes of beams and corner pieces were pretty much the ultimate combination of easy plastic tangibility and sophisticated looking coolness. Much better than anything else on the market for the serious child prototype designing prodigy

Re:Construx? (1)

resonator (151559) | more than 12 years ago | (#2408757)

I liked designing with them, but alas the principle 'beams' they used were always a little flimsy, IMHO. Btw, I still have the large orange Construx briefcase that was designed to carry the various parts around. The parts have long since been lost as casualties of childhood.

Mini BattleBots (1)

codepunk (167897) | more than 12 years ago | (#2408717)

Looks really great for building Mini BattleBots. The problem with most of you is that you cannot imagine the hackability of this new set. Legos totally suck, they fall apart. Build it with erector and it will stay together. Linux and erector, what a beautiful team.

here's a link (3, Informative)

geekoid (135745) | more than 12 years ago | (#2408719)

meccano [meccano.fr]

you have to view the french pages, al other under contrustion, but you can see some pretty nifty stuff.
disclaimer:I hated erector sets as a kid. I prefered building radios.

Erectors in USSR (4, Informative)

dvk (118711) | more than 12 years ago | (#2408721)

In USSR there were no Legos when I grew up (late 70s-80s), but Erector equivalents were VERY popular, and my favorites.

Hmm... after seing comments (and reading an article a while ago about Engineering vs. Lego/Erector use by kids in England) I feel that this theory has some confirming data in fUSSR - the popularity of such toys might be among the factor explaining the fact that many more people chose engineering/technical specialties, and that many fUSSR immigrants in USA easily find themselves a career in programming even if they had no previous education/experience in any related field.

All I can say is - my future kid(s) will definitely get to play with Erector set equivalents, be they boys or girls (ok, gotta post quick while wife is not watching - she'd rather see a daughter playing with dolls :)))

Cheers, Daniel

What the??!? (2)

Tsujigiri (77400) | more than 12 years ago | (#2408727)

<rant>
Right, I just have to make a quick complaint here, from the article: The Lego people seem unruffled by Sir Harry's criticism. "Lego bricks are about more than engineering," says Lego spokesman Michael McNally. "They're about creativity." This guy obviously knows nothing about engineering or he'd know that creativity is half of engineering. You gotta be creative to overcome many of the problems faced by engineers every day.
</rant>

Anyway, now that's out of the way, I have to agree with the majority of the comments here and post up a healthy "ME TOO" comment. We had a whole plethora of those sorts of toys in our familiy (along with a museum full of ancient computers, and my dad was a lawyer) and in some ways I feel sorry that those sorts of things are found less in the shops around here. Those multi electronic kits were great too.

Re:What the??!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2408821)

No, Engineering is about never getting laid.

I had an erector set when I was a kid in the 80s (1)

LWolenczak (10527) | more than 12 years ago | (#2408728)

I had one back in the late 80s, I had lots of fun, but my parents did not like how much the sets cost, so they got me lots and lots of legos instead.

FischerTechnik (4, Interesting)

zauber (321909) | more than 12 years ago | (#2408733)

What??? Sorry, but Erector Sets really didn't do it for me. Great for static stuff, but not really there for things that actually move. How can anyone who likes programming not enjoy the modularity of a Lego set? And the pneumatic kits kicked some serious butt.

However, my first love was FischerTechnik [fischertechnik.com] . They hurt your fingers, they went together in only the most illogical configurations, but they came with enough gears and actuators to keep a young soul busy for years. The frustration of trying to assemble/disassemble the stuff was just part of the fun. So, sell your car immediately and use the proceeds to buy a kit or two!

Thusly: FT > Lego > Capsela (with an E!) > Clay> Dirt> Erector Set.

Awwww come on.... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2408735)

How come no one's mentioning Fischer Technik? A German company which made (makes?) kits of nylon parts with interlocking knobs... Neat stuff with motors, etc... Think my uncle got it for me at Marshall Fields - expensive stuff but super cool

I used to have all their kits when I was about 8 or 9... think I built a working elevator model...

Also had the erector, capsela, lego, and lincoln logs at one time or another...

After you're past 5, the lincoln logs are kinda lame until you turn 15 and discover that they can be fired out of a mini propane cannon with a 3/4" PVC launch tube :->

Capsela floated nicely - didn't do too well in the burning pit of gasoline ;- Although the erector survived quite nicely...

Capsella - Awesome but underpowered (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2408739)

Capsella was great, and the programmability it offered was not available in legos (in my childhood). Too bad the motors were so underpowered. Just about anything really cool that I would build had problems moving about.

I *wish* they had legos back then like they do now. I felt my inner child drooling during a recent slashdot-inspired trip to the Lego web site.

LOC BLOCS (1)

mr_don't (311416) | more than 12 years ago | (#2408748)

Remember Loc-blocs (sp?)...?

They were dumb, but I liked their size... I wish there were really big lego type things...Anyone know of any?

Loc Blocks utterly suck. (1)

shaldannon (752) | more than 12 years ago | (#2408831)

I remember when I was 11, Mom and I and my brothers went to the store shopping for toys. ** I ** (get the message?) wanted Legos. Mom made me buy a Loc-Block Magic Kingdom Castle ("You've got too many legos already--try something else."). I tried everything I could do with those things and they NEVER stayed together. Never. They fall apart like an Afghani compound before a cruise missile.

Viva Legos! If you really feel compelled to get big blocks, take the advice of the other responder, and get Duplo. :)

A riddle... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2408752)

How did the erector set stay up for over 100 years? Lots of viagra.

If you think that's funny, I've got a million more. I'll be at the Laff-In all week.

I loved robotix myself (2)

evilned (146392) | more than 12 years ago | (#2408754)

Robotix was my personal favorite of the construction toys, although it was fun to build a boat with those strange looking yellow floaters on capsela. I really liked the big walker legs on robotix, and the fact that all of the motors were independantly controlled. Although I used to build a robotic arm with it, with that counter weight on the arm, those tiny motors sure didnt sound like they could handle it.

They're still around (1)

yesthatguy (69509) | more than 12 years ago | (#2408758)

As far as I can tell, they've never gone away. I got a couple sets when I was younger (late 80s, early 90s). Thye came with the normal stuff of the older kits, according to my Dad. In addition, they had some fancy add-ons, like a battery powered wrench/misc. tool that is basically a lot like a child-size version of the cordless drills that are available today. I still have my kit in the closet, and I get it out and tinker once in a while. It's in a bright red and yellow plastic suitcase type box, that has holes for all the different types. I wonder what the real meaning of Brio's reintroduction is. Is it merely a more intensive advertising campaign, to make them more popular?

Re:They're still around (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2408818)

You were younger in the late 80s/early 90s? I thought I was the only one without a time-defying anti-aging bubble.

But what about Construx?! (1)

thesolo (131008) | more than 12 years ago | (#2408767)

My ranking is Capsula > Erector > Tinker Toys > Lincoln Logs > Lego

Where the hell are Construx in that list!? Those things beat the hell out of Lincoln Logs, thats for goddamned sure!

Let's hear it for Construx (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2408770)

IMHO, Construx was the best building toy. It was much less complicated to assemble than Erector and almost as sturdy. The large plastic pieces held together very well and allowed you to create very large structures. (I built myself a desk and chair once!)

Once you built something, you could then *play* with it, without fear of shredding it to pieces.

I always wanted the set from "The Sandlot". (1)

thesolo (131008) | more than 12 years ago | (#2408772)

I have a few Erector sets, but I never got too many as gifts when I was younger because of how expensive they always were. And although I made some pretty cool stuff with my Erector sets (mostly stuff to launch my Hot Wheels through the air at my siblings!), my dream was to own the gigantic set from the movie "The Sandlot."

If you've never seen it, the boy in it has a gigantic set that launches a marble out of a catapult. Probably would have cost about $2000 to get enough Erector parts to build it!

Robotix (3, Informative)

mrdisco99 (113602) | more than 12 years ago | (#2408799)


My ranking is Capsula > Erector > Tinker Toys > Lincoln Logs > Lego.

You forgot Robotix!

Unique features: slotted connectors for cable management, dinosaur jaws, astronaut action figure, weighted piece for adjusting center of gravity, rough terrain wheels

What is a "Lego", anyway? (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 12 years ago | (#2408801)

You'll find this hard to believe, but though I had an Erector set as a child, I've never actually seen a "Lego".

Lincoln Logs (2)

JohnG (93975) | more than 12 years ago | (#2408822)

Lincoln logs were probably my favorite. If you aimed just right you could destroy your creations (or for much more fun, your friends creations) with the great projectile toys of the 80's, such as He-Man's Battle Tank. :)
I remember having great fun racing with friends to destroy the other guys building first. We would have needed MUCH more powerful projectiles to destroy a lego or erector set building! hehe.

Legos and creativity (2, Insightful)

w1kL3f (316139) | more than 12 years ago | (#2408823)

If you think Legos aren't up to your level of creativity, just check out Eric Harshbarger's Lego Grandfather Clock, which includes working mechanics: http://www.ericharshbarger.org/lego/clock.html I got to play with leftover Erector sets given up by older kids. I liked them, but they were going out by the time I was old enough to get that creative. The original Legos, though...you could really get creative with those. I hate the new kits, what's the point of having 25 pieces in a box with a figure? No fun there...someone at Lego said they were for little kids, but why not just make 'em pre-formed? Plus, they have pieces small enough for tykes to swallow, and that's a big P.C. no-no.

Giant Erector set for Grownups (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2408836)

McMaster-Carr and others sell drilled and slotted steel angles and flats. These are 12-15 gauges steel, a few inches wide and up to 12 feet long. It's like a giant erector set.

See "Erecto-Slotted Steel Flats and Angles" on this page:
http://www.mcmaster.com/catalog/107/html/1387.ht ml
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