I had a tinker toy set when I was wee small. Maybe about 6 years old. I remember it fondly, and thought they were just around in the 1980’s because I never saw one afterwards. Then I saw one again last week and looked into them and lo and behold - while they were most popular in the 1980's and 1970's - they have actually been around for decades!
Tinkertoys were the original Construction Sets – before Lego or Meccano, they were huge! In fact the toys were created in 1914! I had no idea they were so long in the tooth. The idea for the tinker toy was dreamed up by Charles H. Pajeau and Robert Pettit in Evanston, Illinois America. Their aim was to make a toy to inspire children to use their imaginations. Amazingly, after a few years over a million had been sold – and probably a million imaginations galvanized!
The set looks like wooden spool (like thread comes on) with holes drilled every 45 degrees around the perimeter and one through the centre. And the “builder” can stick in different sized sticks.
Brilliantly, Tinkertoys have been used to create really large and really complex machines, including a computer (!) and a robot at Cornell University in 1998. In fact - Tinkertoys were inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame at The Strong in Rochester, New York, in 1998.
I would love to see the National Toy Hall of Fame!
Not surprisingly, Hasbro owns the Tinkertoy brand – because it seems Hasbro owns most toy brands these days!