mark the 100th anniversary of Erector sets, created in 1913 by A.C.
Gilbert, then known for his Mysto magic sets. The first sets were
marked "Mysto", which was soon changed to "A.C. Gilbert Company".
Numerous Erector Set variations were produced during the company's
long, turbulent history, but in the late '40s, Erector stepped into
the space age with the "Mysterious Walking Giant", later called the
"Mysterious Walking Robot".
Left: The robot was built with the
1/2 Erector Set, at
that time the largest set
available, and which in 1947 cost $50, as shown in this figure from the
Right: Details from the leg and foot
assemblies from the manual (from http://www.girdersandgears.com).
To download the manual at the site, select "g files" in the left
column, then scroll down to "Type III Erector Model Building
Instructions and Set Manuals", and click on "Mysterious Walking Robot
Left: Walking robots like the perennially
popular TV Robot, variously known as Saturn or Jupiter Robot, use the
same walking mechanism as the Erector robot.
1959 Master Builder Set came in a metal box. The inside lid featured a
poster of the Mysterious Walking Robot (set shown from the collection
of Ed Bohl, see link below).
|The Man Who Saved
In 1918, as World War I raged, The
U.S. Council of National Defense debated whether to ban sales of toys
in order to preserve precious materials for the war effort. A.C.
Gilbert, in his role as president of the Toy Manufacturers of America
brought a sackful of toys to the council meeting, which pursuaded them
to declare toys "essential" and thus exempt from the ban. The Boston Post heralded him as the
"Man Who Saved Christmas". The story is told more fully in Bruce
Watson's book, The Man Who Changed
How Boys and Toys Were Made, as well as related in Tim Walsh's Timeless Toys (see below). The
incident also inspired a 2002 TV movie on NBC, The Man Who Saved Christmas (for
more information, see link below and "Books" in the Robot Store). Bill Bean and his Erector
Sets were involved in the film, as he created Erector models for the
movie from his extensive collection (see link below).
What a long,
strange trip it's been
Initially a division of the Mysto
Magic Company, A.C. Gilbert produced the first Erector Set in 1913.
After his death, in 1961, Erector was sold to the Jack Wrather Company,
which sold it to Gabriel Industries in 1967. In 1978, CBS acquired
Gabriel Industries, and in 1982 Erector was produced by CBS/
Ideal. In 1984, GAF View Master purchased the Ideal Group. Later
it was owned by Tyco, and is presently part of the French company,
Meccano, distributed in the U.S. by Brio. Recent Erector
robots are stickered "Erector", marked "Meccano" and made by
Erector sets came in cardboard boxes. This package design was used from
manual came in sets from 1948- 1953.
Tim Walsh recounts the amazing
Erector Sets and more than fifty other classic toys and games in Timeless Toys: Classic
Toys and the Playmakers who Created Them. Teddy Bears to Trivial
Pursuit, Barbie to Beanie Babies, Monopoly to Mousetrap, Silly Putty to
Superball, it's all here. 300 pages and drenched in color, this
fascinating coffee table book follows our favorite pasttimes
through the 20th century.