One of the coolest kits (which was also quite educational) that I received for Christmas many, many, years ago was Capsela. This toy was so cool that I have never been able to part with it, and the photos from this blog contain the actual kit I received on that cold (and possibly snowy) Christmas morning of my youth.
After checking Wikipedia, I found out that Capsela was created by the Mitsubishi Pencil Company. So, surprise, surprise, another cool toy came from Japan, though this one came from an era when Japanese toys were more pedestrian. It beat out Tamagochi by at least 2 decades. Apparently, these days, Bandai from Japan has re-released these toys and they go for staggering amounts on EBay, or ship from far away places in Asia. I had seen them at a science store–but that store is now closed.
Capsela was a rather unusual toy. It was a motorized toy that didn’t come in traditional shapes and forms. I think its science fiction look also was part of it’s appeal. In addition to that, there were things you could build for the bathtub–and nothing could be cooler than that (add some superfoam, a few boats, and you had the making of a fantastic sea battle–probably better than that Battleship movie.)
|the back of the box–detailing the parts included
The toughest part of the toy was understanding gear ratios. Trying to build beyond the instruction booklet was rather difficult. You couldn’t put things in any order you wanted, because it just wouldn’t power everything correctly. Having only one set, and no internet bulletin boards for help, I really couldn’t stray from the instructions (though I tried many times). These days, things would most likely be different. Looking back on it, I had probably been too young when I got the present to really understand that, and could have saved myself some frustration.
There must be cool things like this today, but they are probably more geared toward use with an iPad, rather than a stand alone construction toy. At least, I hope there are toys these days which are about building and operating. I know there are still RC helicopters and cars, so besides Lego, there must be stuff like this–let me know what is out there. I’d love to know.
It was definitely a cool toy. Someday I will check out the new version, and that will probably be pretty cool too.