You Know You’re an Engineer if You Played with These Toys, Part 2

Back by popular demand, here’s an additional collection of toys that engineers played with as children.
  • engineering toys, Lionel Trains, Revel Visible V8 Engine, Heathkits, slot car races, homemade toys

    In our comments section, readers chimed in on the toys they played with as kids. So we’ve added to our collection of toys that helped form the budding engineering minds of our readers. Nearly half of these suggestions came from Dan Carney, senior editor of Design News.

    One of our women engineer readers commented that engineering toys from the 1960s and 1970s were so overwhelmingly marketed to boys that she didn’t even notice. We’re beginning to see real change in that area, as present-day robot kits and other engineering toys are usually depicted in market materials that show girls as well as boys.

  • engineering toys, Lionel Trains, Revel Visible V8 Engine, Heathkits, slot car races, homemade toys, 160-in-One projects

    160-in-One Electronic Project Kit

    This 1982 kit from Tandy is an upgrade of the 1976 150-in-One version. The manual of experiments includes entertainment circuits, natural science experiments, LED digital display circuits, and tons more. You can buy a used one on Amazon for $55. (Image source: Tandy)

  • engineering toys, Lionel Trains, Revel Visible V8 Engine, Heathkits, slot car races, homemade toys, 160-in-One projects, Spinwelder

    1974 Mattel Spinwelder Firebomb Race Car Builder

    This model kit lets you assemble race cars using a battery-operated tool that was attached to a plastic rivet or a welding rod. The friction would melt the plastic together. The models included a three-wheel motorcycle, an F15, a Biplane, and a Corvette. (Image source Mattel)

  • engineering toys, Lionel Trains, Revel Visible V8 Engine, Heathkits, slot car races, homemade toys, 160-in-One projects, Spinwelder, Cox gas powered toys

    Cox Gas-Powered Cars and Airplanes

    In the 1950s and 1960s Cox model engines were used to power small model airplanes, model cars, and model boats. They were in production for more than 50 years between 1945 and 2006. The business was created by Leroy M. Cox. (Image source: Cox Manufacturing)

  • engineering toys, Lionel Trains, Revel Visible V8 Engine, Heathkits, slot car races, homemade toys, 160-in-One projects, Spinwelder, Cox gas powered toys, Simon

    Simon

    Simon is an electronic game of memory skill invented by Ralph H. Baer and Howard J. Morrison, working for toy design firm Marvin Glass and Associates. Simon included software programming by Lenny Cope. The device created a series of tones and lights that require a user to repeat the sequence. (Image source: Marvin Glass and Associates)

  • engineering toys, Lionel Trains, Revel Visible V8 Engine, Heathkits, slot car races, homemade toys, 160-in-One projects, Spinwelder, Estes Rockets

    Estes Rockets

    Estes Industries is a model rocket company that was the first to mass-produce model rocket engines with consistent and reliable performance. Estes produced a wide variety of rocket model kits, which usually used paperboard tubing for the fuselage and balsa wood for fins and nose cones. Early models tended to be relatively simple in design terms, differing in terms of size, number of stages and recovery method. (Image source: Estes Industries)

  • engineering toys, Lionel Trains, Revel Visible V8 Engine, Heathkits, slot car races, homemade toys, 160-in-One projects, Spinwelder

    Heathkit DIY Products

    Over the decades, the Heathkit do-it-yourself products have included electronic test equipment, high fidelity home audio equipment, television receivers, amateur radio equipment, electronic ignition conversion modules for early model cars with point-style ignitions, as well as the influential hobbyist computers, which were sold as kits for assembly by the purchaser. (Image source: Heath Company)

  • engineering toys, Lionel Trains, Revel Visible V8 Engine, Heathkits, slot car races, homemade toys, 160-in-One projects, Spinwelder, Cox gas powered toys, Simon

    Revell Visible V8 Engine Model Kit

    Visible V8 Engine featured moving pistons and connecting rods. The model came with a hand-crank that moved the pistons, a rubber fan belt with vinyl ignition wires and a screwdriver for construction. (Image source Revell)

  • engineering toys, Lionel Trains, Revel Visible V8 Engine, Heathkits, slot car races, homemade toys, 160-in-One projects

    Slot Car Sets

    Slot car sets gained popularity in the early 1960s when a million and a half sets were produced. Aurora upped the product segment by introducing  an innovative flat-commutator motor. The company also created what is probably the best-selling slot car in history, the Aurora Thunderjet-500. The Thunderjets and their improved versions, the AFX, sold in the tens of millions, completely dominating the HO market for almost a decade, until challenged by the Tyco cars in the early 1970s. By the late 1970s the slot car boom was over. (Image source: Aurora Plastics Corp.)

  • engineering toys, Lionel Trains, Revel Visible V8 Engine, Heathkits, slot car races, homemade toys, 160-in-One projects, Spinwelder, Cox gas powered toys, Simon

    Lionel Train Sets

    Lionel has produced train sets since 1900. The company’s trains drew admiration from model railroaders around the world for the solidity of their construction and the authenticity of their detail. During its peak years in the 1950s, the company sold $25 million worth of trains per year. (Image source: Lionel Corp.)

  • engineering toys, Lionel Trains, Revel Visible V8 Engine, Heathkits, slot car races, homemade toys, 160-in-One projects, Spinwelder

    Homemade Engineering Toys

    Here’s a homemade toy for future engineers. We all grew up building tons of these, whether it was mini bikes, rockets, or soapbox derby cars.  (Image source: FrugalFun4Boys)

 

Rob Spiegel has covered automation and control for 19 years, 17 of them for Design News . Other topics he has covered include supply chain technology, alternative energy, and cyber security. For 10 years, he was owner and publisher of the food magazine Chile Pepper.

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