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Erector Set Turns 100 239

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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Erector Set Turns 100

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  • E in E (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anne_Nonymous ( 313852 ) on Tuesday October 09, 2001 @07:03PM (#2408633) Homepage Journal
    Has anybody used an Erector Set in an engineering course in the last 10 years?
  • by sparcv9 ( 253182 ) on Tuesday October 09, 2001 @07:45PM (#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 [] 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:Ah, Erector... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by DoubleD ( 29726 ) on Tuesday October 09, 2001 @08:05PM (#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 :).

  • by w1kL3f ( 316139 ) on Tuesday October 09, 2001 @08:29PM (#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: 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, 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.
  • by rebelcool ( 247749 ) on Tuesday October 09, 2001 @09:19PM (#2408935)
    they sold them at the local toys r us. I had several sets.

    I didnt like them as much as my legos though... the nuts frequently came loose and the contraptions just didnt seem as sturdy as legos.

    I was one of the kids who liked building things with legos, then knocking them apart and then rebuilding.

    Capsela was bored with them quickly. I still have a capsela hexagonal piece tied to the end of the light string in my old closet.

  • by Tim Doran ( 910 ) <{timmydoran} {at} {}> on Tuesday October 09, 2001 @09:22PM (#2408941)
    It was sold as Meccano in Canada too. My set included an electric motor and - best Xmas ever - I got a *working* steam engine!

    It was amazing. Had a little boiler that held about 150cc's of water with heat supplied by burning rubbing alcohol in a tray under the boiler. Steam pumped out to a little piston that would *really* fly under pressure.

    Damn that thing was dangerous! They'd never make a toy like that today! It was really quite powerful, there was always the danger of steam burns and the rubbing alcohol was almost invisible when it burned.

    I'm gonna have to find that thing now that I have sons of my own ;)
  • by plastik55 ( 218435 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2001 @03:10AM (#2409758) Homepage
    1. Erector : C ::
    2. Lego Technic : C++ ::
    3. Capsela : Visual Basic ::
    4. Tinkertoys : Javascript

    Lincoln Logs are not Turing complete and are therefore not listed.

    Ultimately I prefer a mill, lathe, drill press, and some aluminum stock.

    Fully stocked machine shop > Lego Technic > Erector > Capsela > Tinkertoys > Lincoln Logs. (if I wanted to deal with erector, i'd be just at well off machining things from scratch. However, I find Lego Technics are quite good for prototyping mechanisms.)

In seeking the unattainable, simplicity only gets in the way. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982