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Archive for the ‘Toys – Building’ Category

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Real Brick Building Sets

Posted by Big Boo on June 20th, 2011

Building BricksHere’s an old toy I have very dim memories of from my youth, so much so that I’m not even sure I remember its real name. I believe it was called Link, though it may have been spelled Linq instead, or indeed I might be completely wrong about the name entirely.

What I do remember though is that I wanted a set and never got one.

Basically Link (if that was its name of course) was a kit that allowed you to build houses out of real miniature bricks held together with cement, or at least something close to cement that was safe for kids to play with anyway.

You built up your model house exactly as if you were building a real house, laying the bricks in courses then slotting in windows and doors (assuming you’d left the right size gap of course) before putting on the roof, which I’m sure involved gluing little roof tiles together, though whether you had a wooden frame to build against like in a real house I’m not sure.

I think this is a toy that must have died out in the Eighties (or possibly late Seventies), but was extremely popular with little lads and lasses across the country during the Fifties and Sixties.

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Posted by Big Boo on September 20th, 2010

ZoidsZoids were a range of mechanical robot toys from the mid eighties created by Japanese toy company Tomy. Given Japan’s liking for all things robotic, it comes as a bit of a surprise that when the toys were originally launched in Japan in 1982, under the name Mechabonica, they failed to take off.

It wasn’t until the toys were renamed Zoids and released in the US and Europe a couple of years later that they became popular, prompting a far more successful relaunch in Japan.

Unlike other robot toys like Transformers, the Zoids needed to be assembled before they could be played with, which meant if you had more than one set you could potentially make your own designs. They also came with motorised parts, so your completed model could even be made to walk.

Most of the original Zoids kits resembled dinosaurs such as the Tyrannosaurus Rex, Stegosaurus or other prehistoric animals such as the Sabre Tooth Tiger, rather than the perhaps more expected tanks and airplanes.

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Plaster of Paris Ornament Kits

Posted by Big Boo on July 19th, 2010

PlastercastsI shied away from using the brand name of this particular toy as the heading for this post, simply because I wasn’t 100% sure I had the name right, but I’m pretty sure there used to be a range of these craft kits known as Plastercasts.

Given the trouble I had trying to track down a decent image to accompany this (I ended up with a rather poor image of a currently available kit of this ilk) it looks as though this is another one of those past times which are gradually fading away as people move towards more immediate (and less messy) hobbies.

My personal memories of this toy are of a Paddington Bear themed set that I must have received as a present at some point. The kit comprised a couple of wibbly wobbly rubber moulds, a big bag of plaster of paris, lots of little plastic pots of acrylic paint and a paintbrush.

You mixed up the plaster of paris, poured it into the moulds, waited for a bit, then carefully (you might want to get an adult to help with this bit) peel away the mould to reveal a pure white statue of, in my case, Paddington. Daub some paint over it and voila, your very own statuette to display proudly on your shelf or window sill.

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Lego Goodies

Posted by Big Boo on December 16th, 2009

lego walletFollowing on from the Rubik Cube themed goodie list I posted a little while back, I’d now like to present a list of interesting and quirky Lego related gifts. Thanks to my wife for spotting the first of these in the Metro newspaper, which is the Lego Wallet. These wallets are built to order by hand, and the bricks are glued together so it won’t keep coming apart in your pocket.

You can choose from a wallet made with either two Lego baseplates for the sides, or for a slightly thicker wallet the sides can be constructed from a variety of different coloured Lego bricks. The wallet opens via a sturdy zip which is glued to the two sides, which makes sense as I don’t think making the entire thing out of Lego would be that good an idea. They are available direct from ColorByNumbers, although last orders for Christmas have passed already unfortunately. Still, it’ll make a good next years birthday gift!

lego-scalesMy next Lego inspired item is great for those who love to play in the kitchen! The Lego minifigure kitchen scales.

They are made in the shape of a giant Lego man head, complete with comedy moustache! The scales can weigh in both metric and imperial, and will make weighing out ingredients when cooking a bit more entertaining.

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Stocking Fillers - Suppliers to Father Christmas
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Domino Rally

Posted by Big Boo on October 12th, 2009

domin rallyI’m not sure why, but the Eighties seemed to be a time when breaking the world domino toppling record became a bit of a mania, particularly among Japanese students as I recall.

I used to love watching these intricate displays on TV (I seem to recall Record Breakers showing the attempts quite regularly), marvelling at the sheer number of dominoes involved and the amazing effects that could be achieved. I remember one particular attempt at the record which recreated famous works of art such as the Mona Lisa using lots of coloured dominoes. Before toppling it looked like a big black rectangle, but afterwards the colours of the dominoes revealed the picture.

The sound of the dominoes falling over was also strangely soothing for some reason, with thousands of little clicky sounds merging to sound like a room full of tiny insects all applauding at once!

All this interest in domino toppling meant that before long the toy manufacturers realised that setting up a regular box of dominoes soon became boring because there weren’t enough in a set to do anything really interesting, so out came the Domino Rally sets. These packs usually consisted of several hundred dominoes and a couple of “set pieces”, larger plastic contraptions that did more interesting things like set off a rocket or flip a domino into the air.

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Duplo (or Big Lego!)

Posted by Big Boo on September 14th, 2009

duplo legoWhen I was very small I first got into building with Lego with a selection of Duplo bricks, or as my family called them, Big Lego!  Back then they were pretty simple looking bricks.  I only remember having the 4×2 studded and 2×2 studded rectangular bricks, and a largish base to build on which was fitted with wheels.  Despite the simplicity though, many houses, cars and towers were built with those bricks.

When I got old enough to play with regular Lego, my sister inherited my Duplo bricks, but she was lucky enough to get some more interesting bricks to play with.  Where I had to be content with just rectangular bricks she had a set to make a school class room with, with little square bodied people, a “blackboard” with pull out plastic lesson displays, a large piece with a clock on the side and best of all, a piece with a picture of a bell on it that had a little button in the top.  When you pressed the button, a bell chime rang!

I must admit I was probably a little jealous so I was quite happy to play with her with these new bricks, despite the fact they were really for toddlers!

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Airfix Kits

Posted by Big Boo on July 27th, 2009

airfix kitsBy the time the early 1980’s came around I was around about the right age to start making model aeroplanes such as those made most famously by Airfix.  I can’t claim to have been very good at it, but it was good fun and the finished models looked great on my shelf or hanging from the ceiling.

These kits came with all the various little pieces attached to plastic frames.  The pieces were supposed to be removed using a craft knife and the little extra blobs of plastic sanded off.  More often than not I just used the “wiggle it about until it falls off” technique and then lived with the plastic nobbles.

Following the numbered  instructions carefully you got the required pieces for the step you were on, then glued them all together with polystyrene cement.  I used to hate that stuff.  You’d gently squeeze the tube and nothing would come out, so you squeeze harder and harder until it suddenly shot out a great dollop of the stuff all over the piece, your fingers, the table and anything else within squirting distance.  This invariable meant that the fuselage of the plane ended up with gluey fingerprint marks all over it.

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Posted by Big Boo on May 8th, 2009

sticklebricksI remember loving my Sticklebricks when I was but a toddler, and still enjoyed playing with them with my sister when she was the right sort of age for them. For little hands Sticklebricks were probably the best building toy out there, dare I say it even better than Duplo (or Big Lego as we always called it) as they were easier to push together. You didn’t really need to be too accurate with them thanks to their unique design.

Sticklebricks were made from a hard wearing but flexible plastic, unsurprisingly in a variety of bright primary colours. The faces of the bricks were covered in hundreds of little plastic prongs, which were sized such that when you pushed the prongs of two bricks together they stuck, yet were still very easy to pry apart if you wanted to change your latest masterpiece.

They came in a range of different sizes, from long rectangles through squares and triangles to thin fingers, which in our set were yellow and always reminded me of the toffee fingers in Quality Street chocolates. There were also rotating wheels which could stick on the sides of blocks in order to build cars and other vehicles, and little round plastic discs which made excellent eyes!

Sticklebricks disappeared from our shelves sometime around the early 1990’s if I remember correctly, but I’m pleased to say they’re available again now and look just as good as I remember them, plus they have some nice new bricks such as little human heads (which are cube shaped!). For a monster tub of these cool building bricks pay a visit to the Amazon or eBay links below.

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