A Capsela By Any Other Name

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I sometimes get the feeling like I want to do a project. This could be home renovation, fitness, or something else. Sometimes, I just want to do something with science. I start by looking at scientific type toys. The problem is, at the typical toy store, they toys aren’t really that scientific. The real problem is that the science store closed, and nothing has opened to fill up the gap. If there is something online, and they have free shipping within Canada, please let me know.

When I was a child, there were so many cool science toys. I have already written about them, so I won’t bore you (feel free to read that story here). I still have my old Capsela set–though I cannot find the battery holder and motor probably doesn’t work. I know I am not the only one who thinks this way because it was featured in Make magazine recently. What they didn’t tell people is that they toy has been rereleased in Japan.

The name is iqkey. Here are some images.

iqkey1 iqk2 iqkey3

According to Wikipedia, the new and old don’t interconnect–but I am sure we could MacGuyver something, or 3Dprint something. It will only be a matter of time.  This is being done by the Bandai corporation.

The immediate differences that I see are that they plastic float attachments aren’t round, but some form of polygon. The kits also come with remote controls–but what doesn’t these days.  It looks pretty interesting and fun.

I am going to order one of these kits soon and then I will do a review of the old versus the new. At the very least, I am quite excited about this.

Ghosts of Christmas Past (part three)

 
Another great educational gift I received came from Radio Shack.  If their service were better, and their prices comparable to my local hobby shop, I would probably have given them quite a few of my hobby dollars.  As it stands, they only got a couple from my Mom and my Grandparents–and I did my best to recoup some of these expenditures where “battery club” was concerned.

The gift was a 75 in one Electronics Kit.  It was pretty cool, well organized and fun to put together.  I completed pretty much all the projects in the kit (there are bound to be a few that just didn’t excite me) and got my full value out of the toy.  I have seen modern versions of the toy, but it just doesn’t fill me with any great warmth–maybe it seems too easy.

Sadly, it did not imbue me with a great love for electronics and that is one thing that holding back my progress on my railroad.  I solder only when I have to, and there isn’t anything overly fancy or complex on my railroad.

As I have written, I received lots of educational toys and enjoyed most of them.  These days I have to go to stores that specialize in this kind of thing.  I find them fun and I encourage all of you parents out there to do the same.  There are lots of great educational toys–but they work best when you get involved in doing/building/experimenting with your children.

Ghosts of Christmas Past (part two)

 
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.

Ghosts of Christmas Past

 
While out shopping on the weekend, I spotted many wise people doing their Christmas shopping early.  This was most evident where people were shopping for their children.  It was plain to see which toys were most popular this season.

When I was young I often got “educational” toys and games as Christmas gifts.  Looking back on it, I really loved them, and that is probably why I gravitate towards stores which sell things like that.  Though there are relatively few of them, I enter them whenever I come across them.  When I was a child there were several of these educational toys that craved.

One Christmas I got a chemistry set.  I had wanted that for quite a long time and was really happy to get it.  Sadly, I didn’t do as many of the experiments as I wish I had.  The ones I did turned out well, but weren’t as cool as fiction books and TV shows made chemistry sets seem.

Regardless, I entered high school with an appreciation for chemistry that only a few students had.  I carried that appreciation to university and managed to eke out one year of science before switching to my other great passion.  I think a lot of that can be traced to that chemistry set.

As a footnote, I kept that chemistry set for many years–well into adulthood in fact.  I moved it to new locations several times.  Most recently, I was mildly curious enough to see if stores still sold them.  I was disappointed.