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.
Numerous Erector Set variations were produced during
long, turbulent history, but in the late '40s, Erector
the space age with the "Mysterious Walking Giant",
later called the
"Mysterious Walking Robot".
Left: The robot was built with
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
assemblies from the manual (from http://www.girdersandgears.com).
download the manual at the site, select "g files" in
column, then scroll down to "Type III Erector Model
Instructions and Set Manuals", and click on
"Mysterious Walking Robot
robots like the perennially
popular TV Robot, variously known as
Saturn or Jupiter Robot, use the
same walking mechanism as the Erector
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).
Man Who Saved
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 . Bill Bean and
Sets were involved in the film, as he created
Erector models for the
movie from his extensive collection (see link
strange trip it's been
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
Meccano, distributed in the U.S. by Brio.
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.
Walsh recounts the amazing
Erector Sets and more than fifty other classic toys
and games in Timeless
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
through the 20th century.