Thursday, April 09, 2009

Lott's Tudor

Recently I bought a small batch of Lott's Tudor Blocks, more or less as a pig in a poke -- I couldn't tell which stones were included, nor did I know which stones I would need to actually build from the plans.

But there was a "Set 1" instruction booklet and a brochure describing the Lott's Bricks line, so it was tempting. And in truth, the benefit I get is from block play is often from the total process of building, photographing, blogging. So maybe if there were only enough of the distinctive Tudor half-timber stones to only do one photographic angle, and I had to cut stand-ins from wood for the backs, I'd still get some good use from them.

On arrival, I was delighted to determine that the batch does indeed include the required specially "lined" and specially shaped pieces to build all the structures in the Set 1 booklet, and among the bricks was only missing a few plain unlined pieces I can borrow from my other Lott's sets (which I have previously blogged here & here) and the chimney piece and roof.

The roof wasn't too much of a challenge -- I swiped a piece of dark red card stock from my wife's craft supplies and cut it to size. It lacks the thickness and shingle lines of the included roofs, but will do for a while. The highest numbered Tudor sets include thatched roofs, which would certainly be appropriate for this cottage and would also be a good project.

The chimney was a bigger surprise, since I had somehow thought that the piece "L" chimneys I had would work. But of course the roof angle is different, so the notch needed to be sharper to not wobble. And the Tudor chimney is 1" thick not 1/2" like the standard chimney (Lott's stones are on an inch -- 25.4 mm -- basis, so do not work well with Anker 25mm pitch stones). Same part designation, but not the same part. So I had to wander down to the wood shop (pretty much my wife's as well, but she wasn't home).

I found a scrap that was an inch thick that could have a 1" cube cut out of it, and proceeded to do so. I cut the approximate notch, sanded the various cut surfaces on my wife's belt sander (she is fierce), and quickly had something that would do before all the window light for photography was gone. I may sand some more to get the size correct, or maybe just let it do as-is.

I have long coveted a Lott's Tudor set, so am delighted to have cobbled together one to build with. Excuse enough to blog twice in one day! (And third post in three days, after several weeks lull.)

Good block play.


Alan said...

So, it seems that the chimney issue was more complicated than I thought.

But I found a directory of Lott's stones & accessories, and may puzzle it out.

releppes said...

Lott's bricks seem quite similar to Anchor Stones. At the time, they may have been considered a rival product. I wonder if any rival companies will try to grab some of the Anchor Stone market today.

Alan said...

Lott's started out by buying Richter's UK Ankerstein factory during World War I, with the intent of filling the gap left by the unavailability of Ankerstein (then "the world's most popular toy") outside Germany due to the war.

They had an architect design a new range of stones and plans, in a (slightly) different size, in a noticeably different material. Presumably, they expected postwar patent and copyright problems otherwise, though the switch to cardboard roofs could be viewed as an improvement by several criteria.

There were a bunch of other manufacturers of stone construction set, both earlier and later, and not all inspired by wartime nonavailability. Many of these offered "improvements," some of which actually were.

Over the decades the Richter company released several alternatives to the basic (and most popular) GK-NF of recent re-production. Some of those were very likely responses to competitor innovations.

The current Ankerstein operation has recently been purchased by new owners, who promise to expand production and introduce new sets. These could include some of those old Anker alternatives, or might even be truly "new" to the Ankerstein line by reprising some of those competitor innovations.

Even without that development, I doubt anyone would have considered the Ankerstein market large enough to want a chunk of, considering the costs. With the newly introduced unknowns, and the world economic situation, competition seems even less likely.

Jennie said...

very nice work! Happy to see them in use at last!

Alan said...

Thank you , Jennie.

Most of the time it seems like old block sets have passed through estate sales or thrift shops, and nothing of their provenance is known.

Once in a while, I get something from the person who played with it as a child. In this case, Jennie could tell me that it was played with by generations of children in this house. What fun.

In return, I could tell her that these were made between 1922 and 1936, and very probably right at the beginning of that period.

And they will be played with - and bring much pleasure to - one mentally garbled old guy. And with any luck some grandchildren someday.

[Jennie also inadevertantly nudged me into another post]

releppes said...

The Lott's bricks look interesting, but I'm not too fond of the "printed" stones.

One of the things I like most about Anchor Stones is the plain appeal. It feels like a non-branded toy. No logos and no special artwork (other than the engraved arches).

My vote for improvements on Anchor Stones would be the addition of wood parts. Such that a structure could have a bottom made of stone and the top made of wood. Maybe add a few wooden window frames. Not just the round finales, but square and rectangular frames.

Blocks for building larger stone arches would be nice too.

Alan said...

Apparently, the information I had about Lott's purchasing a Richter facility was incorrect - Lott's had no connection to Richter at all, and was merely exploiting Richter's loss of the UK market during the war.

This per a booklet I reference in today's post.


Closer study of plans, pictures, etc, confirms that I made the chimney the wrong size. I'll have to try again.