Some of the world’s largest ships are those which lift other ships, rigs and cargo, the largest of these is the Thailf, a Norwegian monster used to build and dismantle oil rigs. Working on the rather smaller scale of 20 or so centimeters I have made a model kit Crane Ship which will soon be sale at Miller Toys and Models. My kits should be challenging for a six or seven year old – they might need a little help – have great play value and provide a sense of achievement when complete. Using 3mm laser grade birch ply means that the models can be robust enough to stand up to repeated play.
The simple mechanisms help demonstrate how mechanical systems work and provide pleasurable toys. The kit is supplied with a grab bucket (not shown) as well as a hook. All my kits may be painted with acrylic paints, not supplied but widely available.
I’m still looking for varities of ships and boats to make into model kits. The dredger seemed interesting so I started with a basic hull, a shape I’ve now used many times and then added the dredger structure. The rotation was simply and the winch I’ve used before seemed to work but getting the bucket and the bucket arm to stay in place proved more difficult.
Above all I want the kit to be easy to assemble for a six year old and so any mechanism has to be as simple as possible. The kit also needs to fit onto four A5 sheets of 3mm plywood. Play value is also essential, my young testers check out this and other aspects of the design, especially it’s durability!
After some false starts I have used a living hinge and a cog arrangement on the bucket arm to rotate the bucket. The arm itself is also rotated with a similar cog winch but is held by a gravity pawl, giving just enough resistance.
This model will soon be available from Miller Toys and Models for just £18, 42 parts of press-out 3mm plywood, pva glue and string included.
I finally got round to painting one or two models, using a tiny amount of acrylic, two coats. I don’t supply paint in the kits but they are very cheap, at pound shops and such. Models are on sale at Basically Wooden.
Still toiling over another model/toy boat. Laser cutting is a great way to make things and the precision available constantly tempts me to make more complex designs. But complex is not necessarily the way to go, when what I am looking for is play value, simple clean lines and ease of assembly.
This (detail) drawing in Affinity Designer is getting quite complicated, hopefully the final design will reflect the ideas above, rather than any underlying complexity. I had a trip down memory lane trying to measure the length of an arc. Finding π on the keyboard was not as straightforward as it should be – Alt 227 won’t work for me, I don’t know why.
Many years ago my father taught me to use a fretsaw and then a treadle fretsaw; I was so proud to make cut-out models and shapes, happy to spend cool evenings in our tiny kitchen sawing, sanding and gluing with a hot, smelly glue pot and a sticky brush. Dad made lots of wooden toys – forts, garages, vehicles &c., often working from plans in Hobbies magazine. He invariably gave them away. I think he would have loved the laser cutter.
I went to Ross-on-Wye yesterday where my son Luke has a lovely organic food shop, Field Fayre.
The town has started having a craft market on Saturdays; Field Fayre has some homemade items and I thought we might sell some of the MixPly models. That did happen but the day was slow regarding sales. But it was most enjoyable sitting in the Spring sunshine. I made some posters and a banner for the stall.
Four boats (more soon) and one helicopter, lots of fun assembling these toys, lots of fun playing with them. Available here, etsy and ebay for just £12 each kit including postage, they are ideal presents for girls and boys.
A trip through the rain to Basically Wooden in Devon to collect many laser-cut toy boats, ready for packaging and hopefully for some sales. Sue and Andrew at Basically Wooden design, laser-cut and assemble fine objects for the gaming world, and some other items. They have just made a new dice tower, really lovely. They use quite a lot of fine, detailed engraving, something I have avoided with these toys.
My toy/models have moving doors and a working winch. They are suitable for children over 3 (small parts), come with visual instructions, glue (not strictly necessary but makes a more permanent toy), and string for the winch. I am selling on Etse and ebay , £11.95 each including UK postage, add £3 for postage worldwide. Buy all five for £50, (plus £5 for shipping outside the UK).
Yours for just £9.95, introductory offer while stocks last. This press-out version is supplied with pva glue.
3mm plywood, laser-cut and sanded on both sides, approx 20cm x 10cm. Instructions included. Contains small parts so not suitable for children under 3. Assembly may need adult assistance. Free postage in the UK, £3 for the European Union.