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Building the Mind, One Block at a Time
By Zak Ostrowski

Lincoln Logg

From ancient man layering stone upon stone to Anton Gaudi’s amazing architecture, construction toys have been a definitive preoccupation from early times to the present. Founded by John Lloyd Wright, son of architectural great Frank Lloyd Wright, Lincoln Logs paved a new path for the construction toy market. Original sets were an instant success among baby boomers, challenging children’s concentration and hand-eye coordination. Parents enjoyed the sophisticated setup compared to traditional building blocks leading Lincoln Logs to become one of the first promoted toys on television (Pioneer’s Playhouse 1953).

Harry Potter LEGO
A new desire for promoting educational toys with creative appeal led to the formation of another legend in the toy construction industry: LEGO. Ironically, this was the same year (1953) that LEGO changed its name, Automatic Binding Bricks, to the popular name now recognized worldwide. This tiny plastic construction block became a hallmark icon in the toy industry the world over. The key ingredient to LEGO’s success has been built off the foundation of Lincoln Logs by stimulating children’s intellect with physical and mental concentration through methods of construction.

Geomag Suspension Bridge
The greatest attribute for construction toys-LEGO in particular-is the self-accomplishment that a child feels upon completion of a fortress, helicopter, or space ship. LEGO has also built a bridge to the entertainment business with its new Harry Potter line. New pieces are being released at exponentially increasing rates, allowing for more diversity and versatility. This has enabled LEGO’s to remain strong after nearly 50 years in the toy industry. LEGO has advanced much farther beyond being just another toy, but recently it has been stripped of top-dog position in construction complexity and aesthetical design.

Construction toys have evolved to an entire new level with the rise of Geomag construction bars. This highly innovative construction toy sparks imagination with complex models and 3-D designs. The obvious skills mentioned earlier are easily learned with this toy, but specific educational benefits are taught as well. Children become aware of spatial depth, aesthetical design issues, and structure stability.

Geomag is made of plastic bars with magnets at either end, and uses nickel-plated steel spheres serving as connectors. Children must figure out each bar’s polarity to insure the strongest structural connections necessary to build complex buildings or shapes. This toy can make complicated spheres that require solid analytical skills and will increase geometrical knowledge applicable to creating bold and innovative designs. Children will be preoccupied with these construction toys for hours, and parents may find themselves spending as much time with Geomag as their kids.

Geomag is a great toy and has been recently awarded a 2002 Parent’s Choice Award. Much like LEGO, it has also dived into new areas of interest and Geomag will be featured as a DNA model in the upcoming film Solaris; starring George Clooney, Natasha McElhone, and directed by Steven Soderbergh. Geomag was used as a DNA model in the film. It’s great to see toys that challenge, educate, and stimulate children get this great publicity. Maybe in 20 years construction toys will become scaled models for actual architectural projects from the mind of a child genius, but they will always stay fun and inventive: promoting creativity, problem-solving, and limitless imagination.


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