architectural construction toys

building set details
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Types of Architectural Construction Toys

One of the interesting things about architectural building toys is the way the style of building which the kit produces, and which is illustrated on the box or in the instruction book, is often so culturally and chronologically specific. So for instance, the german Richter Anchor blocks of the the late nineteenth century build magnificent urban municipal edifices such as town halls and churches, Arkitex from the 1960s produces rectangular apartment and office blocks. On the domestic front Bayko from the 1930s and 1940s portrays interwar British suburban life, with its detached houses, sports pavilions and cinemas whilst the 1950s to '60s Super City range builds american houses with colonial doors and clapboard finish walls within a modern framework.

I am also fascinated by the ways in which the kits themselves are built. A well designed architectural construction toy, in my opinion, is one that builds a reasonable number of different satisfying models without requiring a huge set or relying on a wide range of very specialised parts. Not all sets achieve this! I categorise my sets as follows, although the last is essentially 'none of the above' and includes a vast range of designs solutions.

Bricks that stack with no interconnection

The wooden building brick, from the very basic to finely made sets with turned columns and carved pieces. Archiblocks are a good modern example of interesting wooden blocks. Some wooden sets have painted or printed detail or pasted on printed paper. Quite a few of these came with windows glazed in thin plastic.

The other main material of stacking blocks is ceramic or composite such as Richter's Anchor blocks and Lott's Bricks. These may be either plain shaped bricks or have surface texture and detail.

Bricks that interlock between rows

The best known is Lego and its various imitators, including the British Betta Bilda. Block City and American Bricks are American sets of this type.

A similar design, but in rubber rather than plastic is Minibrix.

Wooden interlocking kits include Dometo with a tongue and groove connection between the rows.

Sets mimicking real building methods


 

 

The most obvious construction method is bricks and mortar of which the best known toy imitator in Britain is a href="toypages/brickpla.html">Brickplayer. There are a number of current examples including a spanish made range called Teifoc.

Some kits from the 1960's and later mimic the modern method of building with steel frames and prefabricated cladding components. Arkitex is one example of these panel and girder toys.

A third building type imitated in miniature is the log cabin, most famously in the American Lincoln Logs sets.

There are also sets that use one construction method but to imitate a different one - for instance a wooden log cabin with a brick pattern impressed into the outer surface of the parts.

Kits for moulding building components

Generally parts are produced from a supplied power mixed with water and poured into a variety of moulds, a british example of which is Linka.

There are other types though, including moulds with a soft clay-like material.

Other methods

There are wide variety of these kits using a wide range of different construction solutions. Examples include:

Bayko, which consists of plastic pieces assembled by sliding them between thin metal rods set upright in a base plate. The main pieces are either brick effect wall pieces, windows or doors.

Wenebrik the components of which are all painted metal. They are connected together by means of a double fold in the metal on the top edge into which the lower edge of the subsequent piece can be slid.