Tuesday, July 24, 2007


The Ankerstein folks have a new set on their web site that got me rather excited as soon as I saw it: a new version of the wonderful Heinzelmännchen set, which I only knew from instruction manual scans on CDrom and the related download site (Downloads: SPECIAL : HEINZEL).

The Heinzelmännchen patterns have delighted me, with their fanciful little elves or ghosts and intricate background designs, since I first found them - be sure to click on the sample the right, to get a larger view, and if you like that, download the rest.

But the second thing that jumped out at me was that the block arrangement shown on the Ankerstein site above is almost the same as the Kleine Gernegroß (that is the German spelling for Gernegross, by the way) I have been enjoying, and previously discussed here. It differs only in the addition of two stones, which turn out not to have been in the original anyway - presumably they were added to make the new version fit in the same box as the Ankerstein sets 4 and 4A.

Filled with delight, I immediately printed myself a new set of Heinzelmännchen plans, not willing to waste any time looking for my old set, and began building with my Lil' Whippersnapper. Whereupon I got my next surprise: the block colors are different! The Kleinegernegroß and new Heinzelmännchen sets have a different color mix than the old Heinzelmännchen, and thus don't match the plans, even though the old plans are shown with the new set on the web site.

It turns out the set isn't actually in production yet, so maybe Ankerstein will correct that error before shipping. I hope so.

In the meantime, it was awfully hard to resist the temptation to borrow the "correct" color stones from my #6 set. But I think I managed for these two pictures, at least. I wanted to show HM plans built with KG stones out-of-the-box, no fudging. It was a real struggle with my Asperger side, which wanted to duplicate what was shown, as closely as was within my means.

For a long time, I have contemplated buying a #4 set, for those times when a #6 construction was more than I wanted to tackle, but the #4 is expensive, everything in the #4 manual (which I had printed for myself from the above sources) can be built from a #6 set. (Set #4 construction at right.)

Lately I have been thinking again about the importance of "one box builds" - how sometimes it makes a big difference that something can be built entirely with the contents of a single set, with no supplements or rummaging around for extra pieces. It can also be helpful if the "one box" doesn't overwhelm with extra pieces, which is why the #4 set kept nagging at me, and why I was so quick to get the Kleine Gernegroß. The latter is nice, and I am glad to have it, but those small stones are a bit much of a challenge for me sometimes, so I am going to get a Heinzelmännchen as well, so I can enjoy the comfortable big blocks when I am ability-challenged.

Good Block Play.


No said...

I have not seen the Heinzelmännchen set, nor could I google it. But I did find a "Brownie Box" set you might be interested in. The only place I've ever seen it is:


I particularly like this set as it contains no small parts. It looks to be about half the size of a set #4. And it's priced well for someone who just wants to get started. I wish I found an American retailer for this one set. It doesn't even appear on the Anchor company page, so is it a real set?

Alan said...

"Brownie" is English for "Heinzelmännchen."

The ToyHouse has it.

No said...

I just visited the ToyHouse web site and noticed the "Brownie" set there. Yes, that clears up everything. I was just on my way back here to post my correction...but I see you beat me too it :)

I completely agree with your statement about this set. It's a perfect introduction to Anchor blocks. No small pieces (ie: #31 or #69 stones). And the price ($55) is feasible for people curious about the blocks.

I don't know about the Kleine Gernegross set. Although the price is tempting ($30), I think giving a child this set would be a big mistake. The pieces are very small. Much too small for little hands (and mouths). This would be a perfect set to buy for Dad as a desk toy but not for a child. And definitely not as a starter set. Just my opinion based on inspection.

No said...

Alan, I've created several designs for the Brownie set as well as set #6. If interested, I could send them to you. The designs have not been published yet. Meaning, the CVA hasn't created pdf design plans. However, if you're comfortable with AnkerCAD, I could send you the CAD files. Most of the Brownie designs can be built from just a photo.

I didn't fully understand your comment about wanting a set #4 (or a Brownie set) when you already have a set #6. I agree that having so many blocks to choose from can be overwhelming at times. I've been creating sub sets from my set #6 for the days I only want to play with a few blocks. If you already have a set #6 and you want more blocks, I'd recommend getting a set #6a. You can already build the Brownie and set #4 plans. No sense in buying the blocks you already have. At least with a set #6a, you could build the set #8 structures. It's nice to have the extra options availible.

Also, the Brownie designs I've created don't use any of the #21 stones, so the designs will work with the Gernegross set too.

Alan said...

My aologies for the long delay in responding.

- To the November comment about the whether the Kleine Gernegross set is suitable for children. I agree that it is not suitable for younger children, but it may be suitable for older children and for adults on the autistic spectrum who play with children's toys for therapy and relaxation - providing small motor skills can cope. Doing Froebel Gift #3 constructions with eight ordinary dice would be a good test -- KG set constructing is easier, due to the better surface texture and better edge shapes than typical dice.

- To the December comment - I have two set 6 and a set 6A, hence the set 8 constructions which have appeared in this blog. I would like a set 4 since when my mental condition is at low ebb, even small tasks become difficult and sorting out the set 4 pieces from the set box can seem more effort than it is worth. At one point I experimented with creating a 'set 4 zone' within the second set 6 box -- I should try again, but relaxing the 'rule' that the result be symetrical - that was a typical Asperger requirement.

releppes said...

In hind site, I can relate more to the preferences you have. I do not suffer from any disabilities other than being the adult version of a Ritalin poster child.

I too enjoy the simplicity of playing with a smaller set. When I initially investigated Anchor Stones, I was going to start with a #4 + #4a combination. I was being money conscious and decided to get the set #6 instead. In hind site, I wish I spent the few extra bucks and got the two box combination. It would have been nice to have the option of only building set #4 structures without having to sort out blocks. Not to mention, having the extra box would have been nice for alternative packing plans.

releppes said...

PS: You'll notice my screen name has been changed from 'no' to 'releppes'.

If simple models are something you're interested in, you may want to check out my blog:


I set this blog up as a means for me to share models. So far, all the constructions I've posted have been Heinzelmannchen and Gernegross designs. I'll eventually post #6 and #8 models as well, but I need to create building plans for them first.

Alan said...

I believe 4 + 4A is also more stones than the 6 - to fill out the space of the boxes.

And of course, I would try to see what I could build with just the 4A stones, if I had that set. :)

Thank you for the blog link - very nice and very interesting.