Lego Logo predated Capsela and was mostly inspired from Seymour Papert's 1980 book, Mindstorms. It ran on an Apple II through a special daughtercard and was amazing.
I got to play with Capsela as well, but only ever the basic kit without any expansions. Mostly because of the astronomical price of the parts. I wouldn't be surprised if there is someone with a 3D printer trying to design a printable modular motorized construction kit.
Seems like 3D printing would only solve a tiny part of the problem. Some of those Capsela capsules have some pretty complex assemblies inside, which would still be a lot of manual work.
The problem is the price tag. None of those mechanisms are complicated. Simple gear boxes mostly. At the same time I was playing with Capsela I was also building those same gear mechanisms from scratch with Lego Technics.
If anyone is considering printing these, using off the shelf nylon gears would be a very good idea.
Do you have any link, reference or picture about lego logo?
My memories of it are a little fuzzy. I only got to use the system for 1 year, when I was nine years old. There was no assistance, I had to open the Apple and set up the driver card myself, taught myself logo too. I spent every recess inside just to get more time on it. (The kit went to a different school every year.) Unfortunately I didn't grok algebra until the following year, so my programs were essentially simple lists of commands with no math and (at most) limit-switch logic.
I remember making a conveyor to sort blocks using a color? sensor. The older kids got to make and use the turtle, which just ran logo commands.
thank you very much!
Similarly engaging toys:
Meccano (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meccano), a French brand of metal rods, plates, gears, etc. that you can assemble together to form functioning small scale models (usually of vehicles). E.g.: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f4/Meccano_0...
K'nex (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K%27Nex), my personal favorite as a child- rods and plastic connectors that you can use to build vehicles, small scale models, toy guns, etc. I really liked them a a kid because while LEGO are more about building static dioramas/models, K'nex is more about building dynamic/usable contraptions. For example they had really cool kits to make solar powered robots that would crawl around and were very easy to modify; unfortunately these days they seem to be more focused on branded content (e.g. Mario Kart, Angry Birds).
Logiblocs (http://www.logiblocs.com), plastic blocks from the UK with electronic components encased in plastic that are easy to plug together, allowing kids to assemble projects such as alarms or a basic voice recorder. E.g.: http://www.logiblocs.com/images/understanding_spytech.gif . Their website seems to be stuck in the 90s :)
Littlebits (http://littlebits.cc), in a way a modern reinterpretation of Logiblocs - electronic components that snap together using magnets, sold as kits.
And of course Lego, but no need to talk about these :) Although the LEGO Mindstorms series should get a special shoutout.
Those are all the ones I can think of, but I'm sure other HNers will have contributions. I wonder if there's room to do a construction toy these days, given LEGO's titanic market and mindshare. I was very excited about Goldie Blox recently, but I thought it fell kind of flat - their models aren't very extensible/modifiable in the way that LEGO or K'nex or Capsela are.
"Unlike other building toys such as Lego, Construx feature beam-like pieces of varying lengths that snapped on to cubical connector knots in order to build large shapes. These are relatively secure even though no nuts or bolts were used. Panels allowed assembly of flat surfaces. Hinges, motors, wheels, and other movable parts expand the number of different shapes that can be built, and make moving creations possible."
I had two motors and could build simple robots. Due to the long size of the pieces, one could build truly gigantic things. I build really big helicopters, AT-T Walkers and whatnot. I played with this much more than with Lego. Also, the pieces had a bit of a 80ies future style look, which fit well for all the Sci-Fi things I was building.
But maybe I'm not :-)
I have a daughter and I bought her two capselas back when I wrote the blog post two years ago and she wasn't that interested. I think she expected a more espectacular outcome given the effort :)
I didn't have legos, as I mentioned I'm from Argentina and it wasn't very popular here, we had a clone called "rastis".
This year I went for the first time to US and we bought legos, but not a set, the $ 15 glasses of pieces. I did another trip in March and I bought more and last month a friend bring us another one. My daughter play with this every day.
I think legos in general and capsela are very different, but Lego as a brand has many different sets.
I agree with another commenter than "technic" is similar but it is a set and you know all the time what you should assemble and that's the reason I don't like Lego sets/models but I do like the pieces a lot.
The great thing about meccano was because it was made out of steel that it could take some amazing abuse - the downside was the nuts and bolts were very easy to lose. I ended up with a whole series of beaten up plates that I could not bolt together :)
The UK scene is quite active : http://www.skegex.nmmg.org.uk/
Lego Technic: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lego_Technic
Technic is a line of Lego interconnecting plastic rods and parts. The purpose of this series is to create more advanced models with more complex movable arms, such as machines with wheels, in addition to the simpler brick-building properties of normal LEGO.
For some reason they changed Lego Technic to studless beams (removed studded bricks) years ago. Lego has begun to re-incorporate studded bricks back into the Technic line - that's good.
However, I did get a set of Robotix: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robotix_(toys)
Looking at it now, I knew nothing of the comic book/TV show connection. I saw them at some children's science museum (maybe in Chicago?) and spent the better part of a day building cars and simple robots.
Robotix is definitely inferior to Capsela, because the only gearings it provided were the things necessary to run the sample project toys you could build, such as the grabber arm (use the slower, stronger motor for the hand!).
I would imagine that you could also make a floating contraption with enough bricks stuck together in such a way as to make the internal spaces airtight, but I've never tried it.
I just want to mention "Fishertechnik" as another alternative to Lego. Not sure how common it is in the US, but it seems to be available on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_0_10/191-8762533-9514...
As a kid I enjoyed it much more than Lego. It is more about gears and motors, and back then there were also specialized kits about electronics, pneumatics and robotics.
Also as an additional point: one reason I liked it much more than Lego is that the system for connecting the pieces is much better. It doesn't fall apart (as Lego is prone to), so it's possible to make machinery that actually does stuff.
Working with my classmates, it was the first time I didn't feel like an idiot. I just simply 'go it' and knew how it worked.
I was quite let down when they took it away, and fobbed me off with an excuse that I can't remember now.
It would take me over a decade to find that part of me, but we got there in the end.
Thanks for the reminder (and the name) of this great toy.
I don't think I ever got into them in the same way I got into tinker toys or lego though.
Capsela was really cool, but I mostly remember that the tolerances or the connectors were loose enough that some didn't connect properly, and some other just stuck together forever.
And now I program.
Correlation not causation, but...
I know LEGO still exists of course (despite LEGO's focus on movie tie-ins, Technic and Mindstorms still seem like good products) but are there other similar newer products worth considering?
Really neat to see the full extent of the product.
Fast-forward 10 years, I've just graduated high-school, and I find a massive box full of them at a garage sale, for cheap. Floaters and chains and everything. Coolest damned toy in the world. :)
Anyway, I too had one of these and what I loved most was that you could build boats with propellers.
I loved propellers and floating vehicles although I didn't have a pool to test it out back then.
Denshi blocks were one of the most significant educational toys that I had as a kid growing up in the 70's and 80's, and many an afternoon was spent with my Space 1999 Eagle model, a Capsela "moon base", and me "inside with the computer" (Denshi blocks) commanding 'the system'. Ah, to return to those halcyon days when modular toy systems gave my systems-management skills a sharper edge. ;)
Seriously, if you do anything with Denshi blocks, let me know. I keep trying to get my local hackerspace denizens to reproduce the casing and update it with the 3d-printing and the laser-cutting and all the other potential energy to be applied, but there are always so many other interesting things to do ..
Game (juego) is often used here as a synonym of toy like in "board game". I call it "juego de construcción".
So what's the equivalent toy these days?
I just fixed in the article without breaking the url.
http://iq-key.com is the manufacturer.
Thank you for this flashback.
We teach little kids basic freecad, openscad design and give them communal access to the printers too.
Some of them are really great designers. It is amazing when they start thinking on their own.
Lego, Meccano, Capsela. Great childhood memories :)
The one that stands out in my mind still was a little solar steam "engine". Once heated by the sun would draw water through it with a loud "putt putt putt" sound.
And yes they were ace. What's the modern equivalent for a 5 year old? Maybe something with a robotics spin?
Another lesson applicable to coding that this toy taught me was about the basics of standards, compatibility, and lock in. I believe I only had single set of Capsela, and no matter how hard I tried I couldn't get them to satisfyingly inter-operate with lego, mechano, or any other building-toys. Getting more was a non-starter (pre-internet). My dad had brought it back from a business trip to SF where he visited FAO Schwarz, and I'm not even sure they sold other sets.
These didn't have as much of an impact on me as some of the other toys. There isn't really as much flexibility as there is with sets like Legos or K'Nex.
A trip down memory lane when I was looking for my old Legos and found this (well part of it) in the box as well.