Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Ankerstein Starter Set

I keep an automatic change-watch on the update log of the CVA plans & info archive website, which gives me intermittent small pleasures and occasional real treats.

A recent example was the introduction (to me at least) of a new Ankerstein "Starter-Set" - which on closer examination turns out to be our old friend the Heinzelmännchen, with a new box label and plan sheet.

I'm am being cautious not to say these are new plans, because some are from William Seppeler's many Heinzelmännchen designs in his Anchor Stone Constructions blog, and others seem to be from the rudimentary sheet that came, but I have not carefully checked.

Under either name, this a very good set size for beginners, dabblers, younger children, and the budget-limited.

But please note that this is NOT the same as the "Starter Set" in my Amazon-based Block Play Store - which is actually a Set 4. My store Ankerstein listings are automatically generated by the Amazon software - while I am happy if you purchase Ankerstein & other Amazon items there & give me a small commission at no extra cost to yourself, I am just as happy if you order from The ToyHouse and mention my blog.

Whichever set, whichever source, Ankerstein is always Good Block Play.

[modified 12 Nov 2010]


releppes said...

Thanks Alan.

You are correct in making the connection with the plan book accompanying the new Starter Set. I was contacted by the factory and asked about using my designs. I was honored. They slightly modified some of the designs and added a few of their own. It's a nice plan book, but it deviates from the classic look used in the standard sets.

I'm not fond of renaming the set though. It seems like it's gone through a few name changes. I was introduced to the set when it was called the Brownie set. Then they reverted back to the Henzelmannchen name. Now it's called the Starter set. In all cases, the set is exactly the same. However, I'm not sure if the original HM set included the 21R stones. That's why a lot of my initial designs didn't use those blocks. I didn't know if they belonged.

I agree with the Start set comment. It's a great little block set. I like the set #4 too, thought I've not made many #4 designs.

Alan said...

You are correct that the original Heinzelmännchen did not contain the 21R stones.

I think your designs are entirely appropriate to the "new" set even though not being the "classic look" - the new label and materials aren't in "classic look" either (the three images seem to be (1) outer & inner box lid stickers, (2) cardboard protective wrapper (outside & inside?), and (3) example sheet for inside the box.

I am delighted to see them do a set with "more modern" graphics, to emphasize that Ankerstein aren't just for nostalgia fans & older hobbyists. I hope it gets them more attention in toy stores.

It might be nice if the wrapper had a note about the duplication of stone mixture from the HM, but at least the stones are shown - and that may allow me to accept the distressfully asymmetric stone layout introduced in the HM since it duplicates what is on the inside of my HM box lid, even if it is different in layout & stone mix from the HM page). A small chance of helping someone avoid inadvertantly avoid buying a near-duplicate set.

Did you ever see a set actually labeled "Brownie"? I thought that had only ever been used as an approximate English language reference to what was always actually labeled as Heinzelmännchen.

releppes said...

Not sure what put me on the Brownie name. I'll have to look at my original box to see what it says.

The "Starter Set" name is a little misleading though. I think most Ankerstein builders think of set 4 or 6 as the "Starter Set". Since the HM set doesn't really have an expansion path, calling it a starter set seems misleading.

As for the nostalgia look, I prefer it. I don't think Anker should take a page from the Lego book. They're not the same experience. When I build a Lego house, it looks like a plastic toy house. When I build an Anchor Stone house, it looks classy. Even if it's a simple house. The stone look sets it apart.

I have the same feeling about Lincoln Logs. I moan at the site of the plastic parts thrown in some sets. It just diminishes a classic toy. If I was to package Lincoln Logs, I'd put sample buildings on paper with a weathered look and a Western type font.

My initial thought of publishing designs was to recreate that classic look used in the original printed material. Unfortunately, I don't have the skill or time to do such a thing.

As the Anker company tries to reinvent itself by appealing to a younger crowd, I think staying with the classic look is the way to go.

Model Builder said...

Alan' First off, have a Merry Holiday season and a better New year. Have you searched the Ankerstein Web page recently? I found a few interesting items when you go to "Online Shop"
There are some very small kits listed under the Fröbelgaben title on the left column. they start at 14,95 Euro's. I have sent them and e-mail asking if they will ship to the U.S. I suspect I won't hear anything from them until after the New year. Should be interesting. Sometimes I wish I had served in Germany in the Army instead of in the Navy in the Pacific on a carrier. (Post WW II of course)

Alan said...

thank you - and Happy Holidays to you & anyone else still reading here.

I think the Fröbel sets may have been around for awhile, but not consistently appearing, being more directed at the pedagogical market.

Over the years, I have periodically revisited Froebel & the "gifts," albeit not the Ankerstein versions per se. Use the blog search function in the upper left corner to find those entries.

I do rather like Ankerstein's recent dinosaur sets with notched green blocks, but suspect I will not be purchasing. ;)

For several days I have been firming my intention to post later today, and you have given me a nudge toward getting that done, now that there is pace between the gift wrapping efforts.

But it is a while yet before daylight here, so be patient, please.