Wednesday, October 21, 2009

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Review: Tinkertoy Classic Jumbo Builder Set

When I was little, my Uncle bought me a Tinkertoy set very similar to this one. It was the only erector set I had as a child and I have very fond memories of building (or attempting to build) things like houses and furniture for my fashion dolls, cars, airplanes, windmills, and even a camera.

I was extremely curious about how my children, who live in an age of battery-operated toys and building sets that have specialized parts, would take to a basic toy like this. These Tinkertoys are unlike anything my children have ever owned. They would need to rely heavily on their imaginations.

What my family and I thought about the Tinkertoy Classic Jumbo Builder Set:

1) Although they were excited because these Tinkertoys were new, different, and colorful, I think my children were stumped about how to get started.

2) Our nearly 3yr old twins just started exploring how the pieces fit together. This is actually a very intuitive toy and it is not too difficult to figure out which pieces fit together and which do not. The only piece whose use was not obvious to our toddlers was the pieces of string.

3) Our nearly 6yr old son loves cars, so when he saw the circular pieces, he immediately started building something on wheels.

4) The examples offered in insert floored our kindergartner. It really showed him what could be done with a little imagination.

5) This is what my daughter came up with. She and her brothers have been playing with swords and lightsabers quite a bit recently, so she decided to make herself a princess sword. I think she did pretty well for her first Tinkertoy experience.

6) Even though this set includes 102 pieces, it is not enough for more than one or two builders. There was much fighting over the pieces that one needed that another one was using, even from the biggest kid of them all (my dear husband). Once the children become more ambitious, they will need more and more pieces for their creations.

7) Even though the cylindrical container is a Tinkertoy signature, I would love it if Hasbro would make a Tinkertoy carrying case with compartments for each type of component . . . something that can be opened to make the pieces accessible without their rolling off the table so often.

8) Just as when I was little, the holes in these wooden toys are not always identical, so there are some that are more difficult to connect to a rod and some that hold the rod less securely. Just as I did when I was a child, my children figured out how to work around it. It's a part of the Tinkertoy experience.

(Click on each image to enlarge)

9) This is what resulted from teamwork between my oldest son and my husband. They did not exactly know what it was or what to call it, but they were very proud of it. My son used his imagination and decided ultimately that it was some type of robotic battleship from the future and even proceeded to make missiles out of the leftover yellow rods. I think it is great that the play continued after the construction had concluded.

Here is my modest contribution. It's a teeter totter/catapult. Can't you tell?

If you loved Tinkertoys as a child, I am happy to report that the product has not changed, aside from a few additional plastic pieces. I was very pleased to see that my children's imaginations have not been limited by all the realistic toys they have.

If you'd like to purchase a Tinkertoy set for a gift this holiday, you can find various sets at the Hasbro Toy Shop and at other retailers of classic toys both online and locally.

Thank you to Hasbro's Playskool for providing us with a review product free of charge.