You Might Be An Engineer If...You Played With These Toys

What makes you an engineer? Your profession goes way beyond education. Just look at your childhood toys.
  • erector set, vintage toys, engineering toys, engineering if

    The Erector Set is just the starting point. These toys were the building blocks of the inquisitive engineering psyche.

    Vintage Erector Set A.C. Gilbert Erector Set

    This is a shot from one that is offered on eBay. So, if you mom threw yours out when you went off to college, you can replace it. (Image source: A.C. Gilbert)

  • erector set, vintage toys, engineering toys, engineering if, Meccano Erector Super Construction Set

    Meccano Erector Super Construction Set

    If you’re Gen X, you probably had this updated erector set. Makes me envy my little brother. (Image source: Meccano)

  • erector set, vintage toys, engineering toys, engineering if, Meccano Erector Super Construction Set, Tinkertoys

    Tinkertoys

    Mom always thought I was going to put my eye out with ne of the sticks. A stonemason named Charles Pajeau created the concept for Tinkertoys around 1910 after observing children playing with empty spools of thread, pencils, and sticks. (Image source: National Museum of Play)

  • erector set, vintage toys, engineering toys, engineering if, Meccano Erector Super Construction Set, Tinkertoys, Panel and Girder Set

    Girder and Panel Set

    We loved Kenner’s Girder and Panel l set because you could build modern-looking buildings and bridges. Way cooler than Lincoln Logs. I still admire the 1950s and 1960s buildings around town that look like the building I could construct with my Girder and Panel set. (Image source: Kenner)

  • erector set, vintage toys, engineering toys, engineering if, Meccano Erector Super Construction Set, Tinkertoys, Panel and Girder Set

    Engino Deluxe Architecture Set

    Another one for the Gen X’ers. It’s plenty cool. You get to build the Eiffel Tower and Sydney Bridge. (Image source: Engino)

  • erector set, vintage toys, engineering toys, engineering if, Meccano Erector Super Construction Set, Tinkertoys

    The Beginnings of Lego

    When Lego appeared it was   quite basic compared to what it became. Nonetheless, it was worth hours and hours of pre-engineering fun. (Image source: Lego)

  • erector set, vintage toys, engineering toys, engineering if, Meccano Erector Super Construction Set, Chemistry set

    Gilbert Chemistry Set

    The early chemistry sets were incredibly cool. You got a teaspoon for measuring, a test tube, a test tube holder, a glass pipette tube for transference of liquids, a glass stirrer, a couple litmus papers in their own envelope and a bunch of glass bottles of powdered chemicals. The odors freaked out Mom. (Image source: Gilbert)

  • erector set, vintage toys, engineering toys, engineering if, Meccano Erector Super Construction Set, Chemistry set, Legos

    Mego’s Rocket Tubes

    Micronauts was a North American science fiction toyline manufactured and marketed by Mego from 1976 to 1980. The Micronauts toyline was based on and licensed from the Microman toyline created by Japanese-based toy company Takara in 1974. (Image source: Mego)

  • erector set, vintage toys, engineering toys, engineering if, Meccano Erector Super Construction Set, Chemistry set, Legos

    Euler’s Disk

    Euler's Disk, invented between 1987 and 1990 by Joseph Bendik, is a trademark for a scientific educational toy. It is used to illustrate and study the dynamic system of a spinning and rolling disk on a flat or curved surface, and it has been the subject of a number of scientific papers. (Image source: Toysmith)

  • erector set, vintage toys, engineering toys, engineering if, Meccano Erector Super Construction Set, Tinkertoys, Panel and Girder Set

    Snap Circuits

    The 1980s toys, Snap Circuits let you build nice projects such as AM radios, burglar alarms, doorbells, and more. You can even play electronic games. The parts were mounted on plastic modules that snapped together. (Image source: Elenco)

  • erector set, vintage toys, engineering toys, engineering if, Meccano Erector Super Construction Set, Chemistry set, Legos, Gravity Maze

    ThinkFun Gravity Maze

    The 1970s ThinkFun Gravity Maze was a combination logic game, marble run, and STEM toy. It contained 60 challenges from beginner to expert, a game grid, 9 towers, 1 target piece, and 3 marbles. (Image source: ThinkFun)

  • erector set, vintage toys, engineering toys, engineering if, Meccano Erector Super Construction Set, Lionel plastic lab set

    Lionel’s Plastic Engineering Lab

    This rare 1961 toy let you build and operate your own Lionel Electronic Lab. The idea was to control appliances with moisture, heat, and light detectors. You could “build a fire alarm with temperature detector, build moisture detector, build burglar alarm with light detector, develop missile control circuitry, explore electric circuitry and employ rapid action computer wiring.” I didn’t have one of these let us know if you did. (Image source: Lionel)

 

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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