Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Ferris Wheels

Last week I did a fischertechnik ferris wheel from a 1990s set, a few days later I wanted to build with Engino, and ended up building another ferris wheel, partly for comparison, partly because I needed to work from instructions, and there aren't that many options yet.

The representation of the two models shouldn't be too directly compared, since the fischertechnik is a single-model kit, while the Engino is one of many models which can be built from its set. Usually, I would score that heavily in advantage of the multiple-model set, but there are only standard-mix parts in the fischertechnik set, no special or oddball pieces ala Lego. The main stretch is the inclusion of twelve of the 60 degree curved sections, which are created by using a curved side section to form a straight beam to a curve. FT's multi-model sets, like the Universal II, usually only include a couple of these. I do wish that FT had included twelve straight side sections as well, so the beams could also be used more conventionally.

I already knew that fischertechnik was head and shoulders above Engino in quality, but this exercise really emphasized that. Piece by piece, connection by connection, instruction by instruction, the quality difference stood out. It's not that Engino isn't satisfactory - part quality ranges from adequate to very good and there are only a few slips in the instructions that drop below adequate. But fischertechnik may well be the best quality toy available, and surprisingly enough there isn't that much of a price premium, if any.

For some purposes, I recommend the Engino 60 set over fischertechnik - there is less learning curve and the "fiddly bits" (small pieces) are neither as small nor as numerous. But for anyone wanting to make a long term commitment and get the maximum benefit in return, fischertechnik is the way to go.

Most importantly, both are good block play.

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