It’s funny how much our careers affect how Ms. J and I think, and it makes me wonder how this influences Mr. C. She’s a Scientist, and before I was a Stay At Home Dad, I worked in Advertising. So she’s always much more rational and methodical than I am, while she always says that I’m much more creative than she is.
A few months ago we went to a fundraiser ‘yard sale’ for a local non-profit. Ms J picked up a zip lock bag filled with toy parts for $1. It looked like an old Erector set to me, with its collection of nuts, bolts, metal plates and girders. I thought we would store it away somewhere for Mr. C to play with when he was older. At three years old, he was a bit too young to work with all of those tiny nuts and bolts. At least I thought so.
I had thought I would store the bag somewhere and take it out when he was a few years older, maybe when he was six or seven.
Well the hiding spot I picked stayed secret for about four months.
“Look what I found in the secret closet, Dada!’ He said as I walked into his room as he expertly screwed together metal plates and girders.
So, now that the bag was opened I decided to try to figure out what it was. It turned out to be a set of Meccano pieces, not Erector.
I had only seen Meccano once before, on an episode of a BBC TV show, ‘James May’s Toy Stories’. It is a building toy, an English brand, though I think they are made in France now. (James May tried to make a bridge using Meccano parts large enough and strong enough for a person to walk over. A very funny series.)
As far as I can tell they are not sold in the US, so we were not familiar with the toy at all. The bag had no instructions, and no box was included, it was just a bag filled with the metal parts. We had no idea what the parts were supposed to be used to construct. It was a charity sale, so for $1 we thought, why not, we’ll figure it out.
So me being Mr Ad Man, my questions were things like:
Why don’t they sell Meccano in the US ?
Too much competition from Erector ?
Can I buy a set online ?
What did the box look like ?
Are they still making the toy out of metal ?
Is it cost effective to make it out of metal, or would plastic be better ?
Would they loose loyal customers if they switched to plastic ?
When she walked into the room and saw us making a jumble of connected pieces, with me being completely mystified as to what the parts were supposed to be used to make, Ms J the Scientist, asked;
What can we make with it ?
It has a small battery powered motor, maybe some kind of car or truck ?
No, there’s no wheels so its not a car.
What are the most unusual pieces here, those curved pieces look funny, what are those pieces for?
There’s 16 curved pieces, maybe they make a big circle?
One big circle doesn’t really work, maybe two ?
Two circles. What has two big metal circles of multicolored metal pieces, and needs a motor ?
So after about five minutes she figures it out. It’s a Ferris wheel. A quick search of the internet for ‘Meccano Ferris Wheel’ showed that she was right. I was surprised to find that there is a site devoted to Meccano history, ‘Meccanopedia’. And she figured this out with the set missing a few pieces too.
As Mr. C carefully began to construct a Ferris wheel with no instructions I decided that this time, he’s closer to being a Scientist.