Tinker Toys Building Ideas

By Alexander Grouch

Invented in 1914 by Charles Pajeau and Robert Petit, Tinkertoys are an iconic American toy that will keep you entertained for hours. The simplicity of Tinkertoy parts (mainly sticks that connect to holed spools) opens up a wide range of possibilities for construction ideas. To create the best Tinkertoy structures, consider the parts at your disposal and the time you will have to build, and plan accordingly. Although you may adapt your Tinkertoy structure as you build, a simple diagram will give you a template and a head start as you construct the toy of your dreams.

Read a Tinkertoy Building Manual

Because Tinkertoys have been around for so long, past Tinkertoy architects have devised several tried and true designs. To create a classic Tinkertoy structure, pick up a copy of manual or book such as Dylan Dawson's "Tinkertoy Building Manual." Simple graphic instructions will show you how many pieces you need and will give you a step-by-step guide to an array of impressive structures. Even if you want to create your own ideas, a pre-established design will give you an outline from which to start. Look for designs that have similar structures to your own ideas. Follow some of the steps until you have a base. Then add your own flourishes to the base to create a new structure.

Create Models of Famous Buildings

Browse through a book of the world's most famous and iconic monuments and buildings. Photocopy a page from the book and draw over the picture to brainstorm ideas for how to use Tinkertoys to depict the building you want. Note the angles and dimensions of the building, and translate those into Tinkertoy format. To assist your design, lay the Tinkertoys over the picture. This will give you a sense of how different parts of the building or monument will translate into Tinkertoy format.

Vehicles, Toys and Animals

Not every Tinkertoy structure has to represent a building. Tinkertoys are flexible items that work well for a variety of different designs. Think of your favorite animals, and use your Tinkertoys to create them. Or perhaps you like cars, planes and trains. Take a look at your existing vehicular toys for inspiration on how to make Tinkertoy versions of them. Or perhaps there's a toy you really want, but you can't convince your mom or dad to buy it for you. As you wait to acquire the actual toy, use your Tinkertoys to make a model of the toy you want. Who knows, perhaps your Tinkertoy version of the toy will provide more hours of fun anyway.

About the Author

Alexander Grouch is a freelance screenwriter, journalist and children's book author. He currently writes music reviews for "The Red Alert." Grouch has visited all 48 contiguous states and plans to document his journeys in a travelogue. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Africana studies from Brown University.