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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

8_4 (church)

Does this model look familiar? It's a redesign of the last model found in book #6.

It's really a set #8 design. Richter books often entice readers with a final model that can be built when the next block set is purchased. It's that teasing which prompted me to create my own designs.

I hope you enjoy building these models as much as I like creating them. I only wish I had more time to play.

In other news, I see the factory is producing new Ankerstein sets. The new Märchenkasten set appears to be marketed towards young children. Well, I suppose all Ankerstein building sets are geared towards children. Some of us just happen to be a little older. I've only seen an image of what these new sets look like. Anyone care to comment?

My first impression was that the block assortment is a bit odd. The block sets also include a few wooden pieces, but I have no idea what these wooden bricks(?) look like. The set includes what appears to be a nursery book of fables. Very cute!

This got me to thinking. If I was to design my own block set given a limited box size, what block assortment would I choose? For added challenge, make the box size be that of a set #4. I've not compiled a complete assortment, but I would have a mix of #1, #3, #4, #5 followed by #15, #17, #19, and #31. I would round out the selection with #110 and #112/113 arches and sufficient #208 and #210 roof tiles. Although I do not use pillars much, I would include four #181 pillars.

My assortment sounds similar to what you get in set #4 and the Heinzelmännchen set, but in those sets, you don't get any #3 or #17 blocks. I always felt that was a missing element in those sets. From what I can see, that issue has been addressed with the Märchenkasten. I not only look at Anchor Stones as building blocks. I like them for their Mathematical properties. One of the things my kids like to do with the blocks is pack them in various ways. Many of their structures consist of building a larger cube from blocks availible. I always found this an interesting project for them. Building cubes from #3 and #17 blocks posed no challenge for them, which made me wonder why these blocks (I call them thirds) were left out of the children's sets.

Another idea would be to creae a large mini set (ala Kleine Gernegross). The block assortment would closely follow that of set #8 but using the smaller scale of a KG set. One could probably get close to the assortment of set #16 in mini scale to fit within a single set #4 box size. Due to the number of blocks, the set might cost upward four times that of a set #4. However assortment wise, you would have something close to eight times the size of set #4. Smaller caliber blocks are harder to build with due to their size, but they're nice in that they take up far less space. It'd be interesting as a special limited edition.


Alan said...


Fairy tale sets!

I found another retailer with a little more info ...

Set 1:
- 57 stones
- 12 wood blocks with slots for figures
- 4 sheets of fairy tale figures to cut out
- booklet of example

Set 2- 89 stones
- 4 wood blocks with slots for figures
- 5 sheets of figures to cut out
- booklet of example constructions

Each set does four different fairy tales. It doesn't seem that the second set is an expansion of the first, in spite of the fewer wood base count - these stories may simply require fewer figures, and with more stones, there is less room in the box for wood bases.

Both sets use set 6/etc boxes, not the smaller set 4/4A boxes.

I don't recall seeing anything like this in old Anker stuff, though Lott's prototyped a Nursery Rhyme set of similar ilk that never came to production.

Interesting block counts.

I look forward to seeing more info the sellers mark these as 'available now.'

Alan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
releppes said...

I got the info about the new sets from George Hardy. He sent me a CAD style drawing of what blocks are in each set.

I'll be honest and say I'm not overly excited about the new sets. They seem to fall in the same vein as the Animals set. It seems like a gimicky idea that strays from the roots of being a construction toy.

My feelings are the Ankerstein company should stick with their grass roots. Promote Anchor Stones as the premiere Fröbel block company. But don't dumb it down so much.

Yes, they are a toy for kids. But like train sets, it's a hobby that can be enjoyed for a lifetime. Market one product, but for everyone. Trust me, kids will find a set #6 under the Christmas tree just as fascinating as one of those fairy sets. The difference is, when they get older, they'll still use and love that set #6. The Fairy set might end up in the same place as all those Thomas trains.

releppes said...

I'm going to backpedal and propose a gimmick idea for Anchor Stones. Not as a marketing idea, but rather as a side hobby.

Construction toys are a classic. A related hobby is diorama. And a related hobby to diorama is toy soldiers. Commonly known as wargaming. What about merging the fun and beauty of Anchor Stones with the fun of wargaming? Meaning, create an adhoc game (ie: set of rules) that can be played where Anchor Stones are used during game play.

To become familiar with the concept of wargaming, take a look at the rules for Sham Battle.

This is a very simplified version of wargaming. Notice the buildings which are used as part of the set (ie: battlefield). Imagine using Anchor Stone constructions in their place. Now imagine that those structures can take damage during the game. So cannon fire can knock down part of a wall. It wouldn't be a game striving for realism, but it would look pretty neat to see a scene of Anchor buildings (in various decay) surrounded by miniatures in battle. Might be a nice side project to set up and photograph much like what was done for Sham Battle.