Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Red roof, green roof

I didn't take the picture above, and didn't build the buildings, but both still have something to do with Block Play.

The town seems to be Saaleck, Germany, and the picture was taken for me by a friend on a bicycle trip. My interest in trains was the motivation for taking the picture, but the result is something much greater than just a nice train picture: The valley and the village and the patterns of woods and fieldsall entice and delight.

I have always especially enjoyed pictures like this in books and magazines, and I especially enjoyed vies like this when I lived in Germany.

But for the Block Play connection, we need to look closer - look at the colors of the buildings in the village: white with red roofs, yellow-tan with red roof. Some do have dark, perhaps gray but maybe weathered red, roofs. At least one is a new dark gray roof.

The church has a green roof - the onion dome is almost certainly copper sheeted, weathered to verdigris, the pitched roof probably is. If they aren't, then the roof treatment was deliberately chosen to resemble verdigris.

In other parts of Germany, brick houses are not uncommon, but in many areas, they also have red roofs - but typically a more orange red of tile, contrasting with a darker, browner red in the brick.

In other areas, may buildings, especially of the types often represented in Ankerstein designs, are light or dark gray, often also with verdigris roofs.

Wouldn't it be fun if we had the opportunity to build Anchor stone constructions in these alternate color schemes?

It is possible in GK to build a red roof using either red roof stones borrowed from other makers sets, or using the Anker 210R half thickness stones. Or we can build in "HK," with Kleine Gernegro├č stones supplemented with loose stones.

That is what I have done in the church above, based on ASC G24 converted in color scheme and extended a bit with extra stones from The ToyHouse.

Building with a green roof, or gray structural stones would be an even bigger challenge as things stand.

Anker offers to make stones in alternate colors as special orders, with a setup fee that jacks the cost per stone up for small orders. I suspect the way to start is with some interested parties pooling to order a few basic stones in the alternate colors. Anyone interested?

Ultimately, one might hope for a special edition set or two.

To me, Set 4½ would be the ideal size - big enough to show off the roof color, small enough to be affordable. But Set 6 would probably be more realistic, with plans available for it in digital (CAD not scanned) format, which could comparatively easily be redone in different color schemes.

A pipe dream probably, but it sure would be fun.

In the meantime, my supplemented KG set lets me do some alternate-reality Anker building.

Good Block Play.


releppes said...

A very nice construction indeed.

I have mixed feelings about variety in Anchor Stone blocks. In some ways, having a choice in roof/wall color would be nice. However, one of the things I really like about Anchor Stones is the simplicity. Three simple colors and from that such a variety of constructions can be made.

At first, I liked constructions that were even more simplistic. My very first constructions were made using only #15 stones. At one time I was looking to guy plain mini-bricks for the purpose of creating such simple designs.

Alan said...

Thank you for your comments.

Building with only stone 15 suggests Froebel Gift 4, which consists of just 8 of this shape - and size, in the classic Froebel set. With more blocks of this shape, and perhaps just a few extras even more can be done.

Similar concepts of only one size & shape include Kapla, which can be quite wonderful, and Dr Drew's Discovery Blocks, which disappointed me, but have delighted others.


As for color, I agree that excessive choices could spoil Anchor Stone play.

My thought was not to add color choices during construction, but to allow the occasional choice of a different set of three, or two, or maybe even one, color to play with.

A stone inventory for a set would change the G, R, & B to X, Y, & Z - with X, Y, & Z specific old or new colors.

Constraints are an important part of Block Play.

Products as Lego or Meccano are somewhat spoiled for some of us by a lack of constraint in part shapes and colors.

Even the higher numbered Anker sets fail for part shape - I really don't want to see that aggravated by jumbling a rainbow of colors int that mix.

I'd like an alternate, less compromising, path to variety, by allowing a builder the choice of taking a different boxed set off the shelf and have a different visual experience.