Monday, February 22, 2010

Construction toy with internally illuminated parts

Construction toy with internally illuminated parts
Here is a new take on a construction toy. As you assemble the translucent parts to make an assortment of designs, a low voltage current supplied by a power base progressively lights up LEDs inside causing the toy to glow in various hues.

From the product description:
You can create antennaed insects, fat-tired dune buggies, streamlined starships, and more with the kit's 72 differently shaped pegs -- straight, t- and u-shaped pegs, wheels, and flat squares -- that have built-in, multi-colored LEDs.

Here's a link to the Lighted Construction KitThe Lighted Construction Kit.

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Monday, October 26, 2009

Techno Gears Marble Mania Genius Set

Techno Gears Marble Mania Genius Construction Set

The new Genius edition of Marble Mania construction set includes 500 pieces of marble track components allowing you to build five independent tracks that all lead back to one of two marble lift systems.

Here's a link with some more photos and bit more info on The Learning Journey Techno Gears Marble Mania Genius Construction Set.

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Monday, October 12, 2009

Marble music: Quadrilla Music Melody Composer

Quadrilla is a marble-track building system. The new addition to the line is the Quadrilla Music Melody Composer, which incorporates xylophone-like tone blocks into the marble track. As the marbles roll down the track and hit the xylophone bars, a little tune results. This set includes 50 building pieces, 20 marbles, and an instruction book with 14 construction examples.

Here is where you can get the Quadrilla Music Melody Composer Quadrilla Melody Basic Set.

Here is a variety of Quadrilla mable run setsif you want to incorporate the Music module into a larger marble run.

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Friday, September 18, 2009

LEGO Mindstorms NXT 2.0 - The Ultimate Toy?

LEGO Mindstorms NXT 2.0
LEGO Mindstorms NXT 2.0 is the newest generation of programmable LEGO toys featuring a slew of new hardware and software features. This is arguably the ultimate toy available today -- combining your physical constructions with programmable electronic elements. Start by building one of 4 robots in the included instructions, nearly anything you can dream up.

This new generation of LEGO Mindstorms features:

• A 32-bit microprocessor
• A large display
• 4 input and 3 output ports
• Bluetooth and USB communications
• Three servo motors
• 4 sensors (Ultrasonic, 2 Touch Sensors, and a new Color Sensor)
• Easy-to-use software with icon-based drag-and-drop programming
• 612 pieces total

Here is the link for the LEGO Mindstorms NXT 2.0 set.

Here are some LEGO Mindstorm 2.0 books to help you take your creations to the next level.

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Monday, August 03, 2009

Magic Penny Magnet Kit

Magic Penny Magnet Kit
British pennies have a property US pennies don't - they are magnetic. This Magic Penny Magnet Kit come with everything you need to do some cool tricks with these magnetic coins.

From the product description:
The Magic Penny Magnet Kit has everything you need to do make pennies spin at 1,000 revolutions per minute, build rim-standing sculptures and levitating pyramids, move pennies up ramps and over bridges as if by magic, and much, much more. Over 30 projects await you.

Here is a link for more info on the Magic Penny Magnet Kit

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

OLLO - the robotic action mechanical toy

OLLO - robotic action mechanical toy
The OLLO Action Kit represents a cool new approach to construction toys. Motion and action were primary considerations in the development of this toy. The core ingredients of the OLLO action kit are its motor and pivoting rivet connectors.

From the kit description:
'Other building kits use motors, so what makes OLLO unique? you may be wondering. The difference is how OLLO pieces attach to one another. They attach with an innovative two-part rivet (one goes into the other and presses down to lock the pieces in place). And of course you can always undo the rivets (tool included) to build new and wilder things. The OLLO Action Kit is perfect for getting young minds interested in mechanics and building.

Here is the link for the OLLO - robotic action toy.

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Gears + Monkeys = Incongruous Mechanical Fun!

 Gears! Gears! Gears! Movin' Monkeys set
The various Gears! Gears! Gears construction sets have won awards and seem to get great reviews on the whole. I have found the big robust gears make good templates for wooden gears.

This 136-piece set in the series involves a jungle theme. With Gears! Gears! Gears! Movin' Monkeys you can either build the scene shown here or invent your own mechanical-jungle configuration.

The monkeys hang from various appendages to assorted parts of your contraption. I wouldn't necessarily have put gears and monkeys together, but I have to admit the gears and cranks DO look even more fun with tropic foliage and primates all around them.

Here's a product page for Gears! Gears! Gears! Movin' Monkeys from Learning Resources.

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Friday, April 03, 2009

K'NEX Intro to Simple Machines: Gears set

K'NEX Intro to Simple Machines: Gears set
Mechanical toy maker K'NEX has an educational line of toys. One such line is their 'Intro to Simple Machines' which are designed to demonstrate science and technology concepts.

Shown here is a 198-piece set focuses on investigating and experimenting with gears.

From the product description:
These K'Nex kits inspire young minds and satisfy kids' curiosity on how to construct simple machines. Each innovative kit keeps young builders busy and intrigued for hours at a time.

This Gears Kit builds seven different models and allows kids to work solo or as a team. The models demonstrate spur, crown, chain and sprocket gear assemblies. Includes a compartmentalized storage case with snap-on lid. Curriculum sold separately.

Here is the link for the K'NEX Intro to Simple Machines: Gears set.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Little Lab Physics - learning mechanical physics

Little Lab Physics - learning mechanical physics
Here's a nice 50-piece building set that teaches the principles of simple mechanical physics by building gears, levers and pulleys.

The Little Lab Physics kit contains an pictorial instructional booklet (in both English and Spanish). The kit is intended for ages 5 and up. Way up!

Here's the product page for the Little Lab Physics available from

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Monday, March 02, 2009

Amazon Toy Outlet update - toys at 25% - 70% off

Amazon Toy Outlet update, 2009
Amazon informs me that they have recently updated he Toys Outlet section of their site. They say that you can save 25% to 70% on a bunch of action figures, games, construction toys and more. They also have weekly specials and daily 'Gold Box' offers for toy bargains.

I'm guessing you, Dear Readers, will be most interested in the following sub-sections of the Toys Outlet:

* Construction Toys
* Hobbies and Models
* Learning & Exploration

Play! Have fun!

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

K'NEX Screamin' Serpent Roller Coaster

KNEX Screamin Serpent Roller Coaster
If you are like me, you would rather have a giant roller coaster construction toy in your living room than a coffee table. I can put your coffee down anywhere when it comes right down to it.

This massive set from K'NEX isn't exactly cheap, but this is the stuff of which dreams are made. Well, mine at least.

Here's a link to the K'NEX Screamin' Serpent Roller Coaster

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Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Steel Builder set with included wind up motor

Steel Builder set with included wind up motor
OK, the retro packaging is enough for me really, but there are other things to like about this construction toy. Not only does it have instructions to build a few different vehicles and structures, but it also includes a wind-up motor to make them move. That I like a lot.

Here's Amazon's product page for the Steel Builder Set.

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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Eitech metal construction toys - gears and more

I really like the Eitech construction toy building sets. I haven't built one of their models, but I have purchased bundles of parts such as gears, axles, and sprockets for use in prototyping various mechanisms.

They aren't exactly cheap, but they will stand up to a lot of use and reuse. Many of the parts are metal. Some of the plastic parts have metal reinforcements. The system offers a wide assortment of mechanical components, metal structural pieces, and motors to animate your projects.

Here is Amazon's selection of Eitech Building Sets.

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Magnext iCoaster with cool magnet-based tricks

Mega Brands Magnext iCoaster for 2008
The new model of the MagNext iCoaster from Mega brands is a 64-piece ball rolling track set that can be configured 10 different ways, as described in the included instruction booklet.

The kit is something of a multimedia experiences since it incorporates lights, motion sound, and the ability to plug your own iPod into the system. (Small pieces make this set inappropriate for small children.)

Magnext iCoaster magnetic slide
The track features some really novel tricks -- like the magnetic slide (above) in which the track ends and the ball is held by magnetic attraction to a metal slide that bridges the gap. Magnetism is also used for the ball elevator.

From the review
It's easy to see why the previous iCoaster was recognized by The National Parenting Center and Parents Magazine as an incredible building toy. This version retains all the great qualities of its predecessor and is bigger, stronger and faster.

The construction oriented iCoaster encourages kids to build with determination, helping enhance their ability to focus and their fine-motor skills. It also promotes understanding of magnetism, inspires creativity and helps kids develop problem-solving skills, adding an innovative dimension to play.

Here is where you can learn even more about the Magnext iCoaster (new Model).

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

LEGO Mindstorms Robotics Invention System 2.0

LEGO Mindstorms Robotics Invention System 2.0
LEGOs aren't just plastic blocks anymore! Now you can design, construct, and program real robots. The Robotic Invention System lets you build three robots out of the box: a Candy Sorter, a Robotic Arm, or a drawing Artbot.

When you start building your own creations, you can attach sensors, motors, and gears to the RCX microcomputer. You then use your PC and the LEGO MINDSTORMS CD-ROM to program your robot. The possibilities are almost endless here.

Here's where you can learn more about LEGO Mindstorms Robotics Invention System 2.0 - Robotics.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The 6 Foot Working Ferris Wheel K'NEX Kit

The 6-Foot tall Ferris Wheel is largest K'NEX building set they have ever produced. It has more individual pieces (8,550 to be exact) and is physically bigger, topping out at a full 6 feet tall.

Clearly, this is a big project -- probably best for expert builders in their late teens and older. The set comes with color-coded instructions and a wall-powered motor to set the wheel in motion.

Here is one place to get the The 6 Foot Working Ferris Wheel Kit.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Simple machines: 4-in-1 hydraulic machines set

4-in-1 Hydraulic Machines Construction Kit
This kit lets aspiring engineers and tinkerers of all ages build four simple machines that explore the mechanics of hydraulics. This set allows you to build a Platform Lifter, Scissor Lift, Cherry Picker, and Excavator.

Each working model uses water as the hydraulic fluid, comes with pre-cut wood pieces, and instructions. You supply the white glue and the time to put them together.

Here's the full product listing for the 4-in-1 hydraulic machines set.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Hydrodynamic Deluxe Building Set

Hydrodynamic Deluxe Building Set
It's not every day I get to tell you about a fluid based mechanical toy. Thus, it is with no small pleasure that I direct your attention to the Hydrodynamic Building Set. It seems like you can explore a few principles that would difficult or impossible to do with most other building toys.

From the product description:
Get hands-on experience of the science of hydrodynamics by building your own working plant. Build a 1/87-scale realistic hydrodynamic plant. Uses working tanks, pipes, valves and electric pump. Design the plant, build it and add water. Use valves to adjust the flow. Build several different structures -- an ice cream factory, a water treatment plant, an oil refinery, a distillation plant, and more.

Here is one place you can get the Hydrodynamic Deluxe Building Set.

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Monday, October 13, 2008

Other Views of The Chaos Tower Marble Run Toy

New Views of The Chaos Tower Marble Run
I posted some time ago about the large marble run toy called The Chaos Tower. At the time I could only find one picture of the device and poked fun at the incongruity between the name of the toy and the mild-mannered fellow next to it.

The set can be assembled in a variety of ways. The photograph above represents one horizontal configuration. The thumbnail at left shows one vertical configuration in which the marble run can be built into a structure over 6 feet tall.

With hundreds of pieces, an included AC-powered motor, and no tools required this seems to me to be one of those toys (like Legos) that can be used, enjoyed, and rediscovered many, many times.

Here is a link to Chaos Tower available via and other toy stores.

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Thursday, September 04, 2008

The Chaos Tower: Marble-Run Toy of Doom

The Chaos Tower
Perhaps this construction toy is somewhat misnamed. I mean, just look at that Lord of Anarchy in the sweater-vest and all the havoc and mayhem he is engaged in.

Despite the ambitious name, The Chaos Tower does look like good clean fun. I would wager that the laws of motion are strictly obeyed when you launch the balls into whatever marble-maze you may construct with this kit. It comes with a small outlet-powered motor to set any number of diabolical doomsday devices into motion.

Winner of numerous toy, parenting and teacher awards -- including "Toy of the Year", "Parents' Choice" and "Teachers' Choice" -- their product tag line is...and I'm not making this up...Bring on the chaos and bring on the fun.

So be it, then. Check out the Chaos Tower and bring on the chaos!

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Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Imaginarium Techno Gears Mega Marble Mania

Imaginarium Techno Gears Mega Marble Mania
Take a look at Imaginarium's 450-piece Mega Marble Mania marble run. I want it just to have it on my desk. The description says that this marble run comes with power lifter, racer model, and sound. That's about all I know about this interesting looking toy.

Here is the product page for the Imaginarium Techno Gears Mega Marble Mania.

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Monday, August 11, 2008

UberStix Construction Set and The UberPult

UberStix are a new type construction toy. Not only can you build exclusively with the system itself, it also integrates with and even bridges most other plastic building sets. UberStix are sort of an interop meta-construction toy. Now that's cool. has two different UberStix sets: a large general construction set and a smaller UberPult set (shown above).

Here's the UberStix Construction set (on sale too!).

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