Construction Toys

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For all that I love construction toys, and harbor the belief that if civilization is to survive at all it will be due to things like them, I don't actually have many of them. Now that I'm gearing up for a second childhood, I should perhaps remedy this.

Construction toys lead naturally to the machine shop and to "model engineering". There is also a strong crosslink to models of geometric mechanisms.

There are several quite good construction systems available today, including Lego®, of which I have fond memories. In their contemporary presentations, though, they all seem a bit too "themed" for my taste - designed as much to introduce their user to licensed media "properties" (in the marketing sense of the term) as to the properties of mechanics.

It is a bit sad that in trying to research most older systems one is swamped by auction sites. The 21st century perspective is that this is dead technology; the detritus of the past re-sold for antiquarian chic. (The exception seems to be Meccano®, which has a splendid international user community (but which is rather hard to find in the U.S.)) So here, instead, are a few resources...

Online, see especially:

And as print or offline-electronic items:

To some extent, and in an active but exceedingly disorganized way, the homebrew "3-D printing" (stereolithography) movement is filling the void created by the lack of good construction toys. Unless you use a 3-D printer as "merely" a parts-creator, however, the process of building in this mode remains resolutely on-the-screen, not in-the-hands. This is a basic limitation which is difficult to overcome. See, e.g.:

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