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Encouraging a new generation of imaginative engineering enthusiasts
Although originally created as educational toys for children, construction sets tend to be general purpose and some go on to become the work of enthusiasts.
A construction set is more than just a kit of parts. One of the things that's a defining feature of a construction set is that it's possible to make things which the manufacturer did not conceive any idea about.
The obvious well-known construction sets are Meccano and Lego, but there are, or have been, many others. One of the purposes of this page is to list these. The list so far is as follows...
Metal pieces, and nuts&bolts. Also see Merkur which is similar. I've also asked Dexion if they'd like to be involved!
Plastic bricks which fit together
Similar to Lego, but of a different (incompatible) gauge. Bricks, but also an innovative set of interlocking roof tiles
A system of rods, round junctions, and wheels.
Has been around longer than Lego, and the bricks are made of rubber
Architectural construction set. This has a considerable following. See Baykoman
There should be a K'nex affiliate program again.
The blocks are like Lego bricks but much larger. On that basis it should be possible to build huge innovative things of your own design. However, this seems to be neglected in the company's marketing.
An architectural construction set.
Metal tubes and wheels
"An Instructional Architectural Toy"
and Cliki Plus
Described as "similar to Lego"
Others include: Mobaco, Modulex, Samlo, Airfix Builder, American Skyline, Brickplayer, Lott's Bricks, Richter Blocks, Kenner Girder and Panel Building Sets, Ello, Geomag, Chad Valley ?
Some of this could be described as "The History of Construction Sets", and you can see some of this in The Collections at the Museum of Childhood. Another helpful reference is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Construction_set
It would be nice if you could give your child a welding kit for Xmas, but there are a few practical issues with that, especially if they are very young. So, construction sets! Many of the advantages of early engineering experience but without some of the downsides.