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Plastic mold injection, a new technique, enabled toy makers to create a variety of colorful, durable, interlocking brick construction toys that anyone could use to build complex structures.By alternating plastic pieces, just like real brick construction, children could build stable walls and other structures.The directions for this Pink Tower, originally designed in 1907, ask children to stack ten wooden cubes from large to small, take down the tower, and rebuild it again. This town planning set came with a 30” x 40” street plan to help children arrange all the important buildings of a town. The toy introduced children to basic design features in the structures that made up a specific, suburban vision for an imaginary town.With this set, children were free to make their own decisions about the placement of buildings and each one’s relationship to the entire imagined community. These popular, durable cast-stone blocks were made from a mixture of quartz sand, chalk, and linseed oil, and have long been valued for their craftsmanship, their natural feel, and their weight, compared to blocks made out of wood or cardboard.The 2,200 toys, mostly from Europe and the United States, represent the impressive scope of Western toy making from the 1860s into the 20th century.Children face challenges and come to understand the value of learning from their mistakes while building environments.This cardboard scale-model house featured a flat roof, glass block windows, and attached garage features, touchstones of mid-century modern residential design.Quickly assembled, the house taught children not about construction techniques, but about the stand-out features of contemporary architecture.
Imaginary structures built with this colorful toy could rise high or stick out to the side, though that would compromise the stability of the resulting tower.
Erector Sets were almost exclusively marketed to boys, presumed to have an interest in complex engineering and construction.
The box for this early Mysto set featured two boys building a giant bridge as one exclaims: “Come Daddy!
Each piece can fit together with each other piece in one of eight places, encouraging free play rather than advanced planning.
Educator Caroline Pratt’s Unit Blocks, still used in preschools and kindergartens after a century, used the same system as the Fourth Froebel Gift in the proportions 1:2:4 and came in a variety of simple shapes, including the semi-circle and the arch.