and Erector Sets: Ninety Years Old and Going Strong
By Michaele Birney Arneson
April 1, 2003
a century ago, two men created construction sets mimicing the world
around them and have captivated generations of American children
ever since. Despite the allure of high-tech toys in a media-saturated
marketplace, kids of all ages continue to be enchanted by the imaginative
possibilities of Tinkertoys and Erector Sets.
Jumbo Builder Set
In 1913, a stonemason named Charles Pajeau took
note of some children playing with sticks, pencils and spools of
thread. He watched as they connected these simple household items
into their own unique constructions, having lots of fun disassembling
and rebuilding their creations again and again.
With this observation in mind, Pajeau collaborated
with Robert Pettit to create a wood construction set consisting
of interlocking circular spools and cylinder-shaped sticks. Tinkertoys
was released to the public in 1914, and with their quick success,
The Toy Tinkers of Evanston, Illinois, was soon established.
Junior Builder Set
With a prophetic look to the future, the 1935 Toy
Tinkers catalog claimed “1914--Good then, 1935--Good now,
2000--Good always.” Now manufactured and marketed by Hasbro,
Inc., the simplicity of the original Tinkertoy design enables
even preschool-age children to engage in imaginative construction
In 2001, Hasbro received Best Infant/Preschool
Toy Award by the Toy Manufacturers of America for encouraging creativity
in children ages three and up.
Tinkertoy comes in three classic sets, still packaged
in its familiar metal cylinder: the Junior Builder Set
includes 66 pieces (approx. retail $19.99), the Jumbo Builder
Set has 102 pieces (approx. retail $29.99), and the Colossal
Construction Set totals 142 pieces (approx. retail $39.99).(Cont.)
Bio: Michaele Birney Arneson is a freelance writer and
editor, specializing in children’s topics, education and employment,
health science, and environmental issues.