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Tinkertoys and Erector Sets: Ninety Years Old and Going Strong
By Michaele Birney Arneson
April 1, 2003


Almost 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 play.

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.)


Writer's Bio: Michaele Birney Arneson is a freelance writer and editor, specializing in children’s topics, education and employment, health science, and environmental issues.


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