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Friday, December 14, 2012

1960s USA Toys Build China's Future

In the late 1950's and 1960's toys for children were far different than they are today.

When I go shopping with Mrs. Wolf to purchase toys for grandchildren I no longer see the staples of toys my generation used: Erector sets, blocks, space ships, building sets, army men, plastic airplane and car models.  (To be sure some small bits of this remain, Lego, some car models, but by and large this has all been replaced.)

You've probably driven over a bridge like this.

As a child I spent a lot of time playing with what are called "panel building sets."

These sets, primarily sold by a company called Kenner in the 1960's offered a variety of interesting kits for building chemical plants, turnpikes and buildings.

Typical at Christmas you would see something like this (images from this site):

A child poring over instructions on how to build a turnpike or a chemical plant.

One of these kits looked like this (from the same site):

You can see the turnpike on the box cover.

Of course there were other kits like such as the "monorail" kit:

As well as the hydro kit:

Each of these kits allowed a child to use their imagination to construct whatever they might imagine.

Today these kinds of toys no longer exist.

However, at least in other cultures the notion of how these toys worked does.

Though I am unable to locate an image the basic idea of these building sets was that things you built were made of upright supports and girders that constructed a basic framework into which roadways, chemical processing tanks or monorails could be installed.

What's interesting is how these ideas are today used in other cultures.

Here the exact same concept is used to build a giant 30 story building in a few hundred hours.

Today's children, however, seem more focused on dolls action figures.

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