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Electronic News & Comment
Engineer's Toy Becomes a Profession
11/30/2011

The Clarksville Elementary School Building Set is one of the engineering-inspired offerings from Paul Flack's Bridge Street Toys.
The Clarksville Elementary School Building Set is one of the engineering-inspired offerings from Paul Flack’s Bridge Street Toys.

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Charles Murray
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Re: Wow!
Charles Murray   1/11/2012 11:00:20 PM
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I agree with you, Curt. I believe that many of us who went into engineering did so because we felt it would be fun at some level. You can push someone to study math and science, but I don't think that's as effective as letting them get drawn in by that sense of fun

Charles Murray
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Re: Wow!
Charles Murray   1/9/2012 11:22:06 PM
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MarkRW: regarding the toy with the plastic tubing, connectors and tees. I vaguely remember this. Could that have been the kenner Hydrodynamics set?

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Wow!
Rob Spiegel   12/27/2011 2:41:30 PM
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Hey, Mark, I had completely forgotten about the toy soldier molds. They were great. I thought I had liberated myself from buying toy soldiers. Not quite. I found it hard to obtain additional materials when the goo ran out. Sure had fun making the soldiers.

Jack Rupert, PE
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Re: building, engineering toys
Jack Rupert, PE   12/16/2011 1:45:43 PM
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jerrywilly47 - was that the set that was made up with white panels that had hole in them and little gray "hinge" like contraptions that joined them together?  I had a set of those, except they were a bit of a pain to put together.  My dad - also an engineer - made me a little tool to help

jerrywilly47
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building, engineering toys
jerrywilly47   12/12/2011 4:15:25 PM
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Does anyone remember Ramagons?  Polygon shaped junctions with up to eight sided unions along with different sized plug in posts and panels.  You could make geodesic domes and just about anything if you had enough pieces. My two kids both became engineers after countless hours with those things. I think they are out of business because they were mostly available through science centers and not chain stores. Wonder if the patents have expired? Might be something to resurrect?

MarkRW
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Re: Wow!
MarkRW   12/12/2011 4:08:34 PM
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I remember playing with most of these toys.

Erector Set, with real steel beams and a bizillion nuts and screws. Even after losing/bending the beams and throwing them out I remember having saved the nuts and bolts: also the real AC motor the set came with.

LinclonLogs: my mom said that for the next year after my aunt got them for me she was always finding logs around the house. When my aunt had her own children my mom returned the favor and bought them for her kids so that she could share the joy of stepping on the logs on the floor and almost killing herself.

Mr. Machine: I remember that one so well. Got them one christmas from my grandmother. The key to wind it up was of stamped metal with sharp edges: the spring was pretty strong and I remember it cut into my fingers: I was probably 7 or 8 years old at the time.

There was another toy, I don't recall the name, that had plastic tubing, connectors, tees etc. You would hook it up to an upper tank that we filled with colored water and let it flow thru the tubing down to a bottom tank where a pump (battery operated) would transfer it to the top tank. What fun (and what a mess with all that water leaking out).

One of my favorite was a miniature injection molding set you could use to make toy soldiers. You placed the plastice flakes (polyethelene) into the chamber and a heater melted them. You placed metal two-piece dies in the bottom and pressed a ram to force the molten plastic into the die. Worked real well too: you could even take the solders, cut them up and re-use them. I can smell in my memory the molten plastic. Of course we also discovered the joys of getting some molten plastic on our bare skin.

Between these toys and the chemestry set it is a wonder we didn't kill ourselves

Mark Walter, PE

Great memories: thanks for bringing them back.

Curt Carpenter
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Wow!
Curt Carpenter   12/8/2011 4:26:26 PM
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My Dad (a civil engineer) gave me a girder and panel set, and I remember spending many happy hours with it -- right up until I met Gilbert Chemistry (also from my father) and discovered the joys of making my own rockets.  I went on to become an electrical engineer myself. 

I would have given my sister's life for a Mr. Machine!

Rather than spend billions on education, if the goverment would give interested kids some of these toys, I think we'd be drowning in innovation in a generation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

bellhop
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Re: Toys
bellhop   12/7/2011 8:26:08 AM
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Thank you Charles! I remember that commercial! It's too bad that few homes had color TV back then.

I didn't ask for Mr. Machine either, but my parents knew that I would like it. The best Christmases were those where I didn't ask for anything! 

Mr. Machine has been resurrected several times. I saw one some years ago in a toy store that was almost identical to the original. If you do an image search on "Mr Machine" (in quotes), you will turn up images of the various incarnations. Some were very good, others were terrible.

Charles Murray
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Re: Toys
Charles Murray   12/6/2011 10:49:22 PM
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Bellhop, it's good to know that someone else remembers Mr. Machine. I have explained Mr. Machine to my kids numerous times, only to have them make fun of the concept (there's no excuse for making fun of Mr. Machine). For others who remember Mr. Machine, here's a commercial for it from YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8WHQI5iKYfM

 

Alexander Wolfe
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Re: Loved Hydrodynamics!
Alexander Wolfe   12/6/2011 3:21:04 PM
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If he liked hydrodynamics best -- and I'd have to say "like" is a strong word to be applied to that subject, he would indeed have to become a chem.E., wouldn't he? Did I ever tell you about the hierarchy of engineers? A subject for another post, perhaps....

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