Saturday, October 31, 2009


Happy Halloween! ... with more Ghost Wedgits from my Wedgits-10 project.

I know this is repetitive, but how could I resist on Halloween itself?

We'll be back to blocks & stones & such very soon, but with a lingering gratitude to Wedgits for their help in getting me through my cataract surgeries (with a root canal thrown in).

I am looking forward to interesting times ahead, re-exploring some semi-forgotten favorites and some never-forgotten and never-to-be-forgotten.

Good Block Play.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


We have a nice crop of toadstools coming along for Halloween.

There seems to be a Ghost Wedgits construction lurking in there as well - part of my 10-piece project.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Ankerstein Bridge

How better to celebrate my second cataract surgery yesterday (and patch off today) than with a nice Anker Bridge?

I know I've built this before, and thought I had blogged it before, but a quick search doesn't show an earlier incarnation. Either way, this is what I am posting today, so enjoy.

This is from the manual that comes with the current Anker Set 6, and is built with the stones from that set.

I like bridges.

Good block play.

Monday, October 19, 2009

My Wedgits recommendation: Xtras Cards & Stix

Which Wedgits are most Wonderful? That would, of course, depend on how they will be enjoyed. But I think I finally have a recommendation for perhaps the majority of cases, and certainly what I would recommend as a gift if I had no further information about the recipient.

For Part I, I recommend the Starter Tote: it is a great set of parts with a great deck of design cards - and for now at least, the only way to get this specific design deck is in the Starter Tote. The Tote itself is large enough to carry the additional pieces and cards below, as well as an extra Junior Set to build the Deluxe set designs in the 100 Advanced Design Cards deck, if you go that direction.

For Part II, I recommend the Xtras Design Cards and Stix: this includes what I now believe is the best, most fun set of Wedgits design cards yet, along with some nifty extra parts which combine very well with the Starter Tote parts to allow building most of the designs in the included Imagination Deck as well as all Junior Set designs (design deck available separately).

We may be a bit confused here, but please stick with me. I think it will make sense in the end. One thing that might not make sense is that none of today's pictures were taken with that recommendation. Instead, they are all Mini Wedgits, though the designs all were built from the Imagination Deck, which is a key element of my recommendation.

In fact, I started with this deck and worked backwards to create my recommendation. Since the deck is only available in the Xtras Design Cards expansion, the parts included in that provided some direction. The Starter Tote provided most of the rest of the parts needed, including the building board, and including another very nice deck, not otherwise available at this time.

Not all the parts. But this is not critical. It would appear that the three Stix with the Xtras set were a late addition, and most of the designs only use the three Stix that come in the WEDGiTS Imagination Set. Some also use the parts that come in Xtras Building Board expansion. With the Starter Tote plus the Xtras Card set, you have all those pieces, plus all the pieces in the Junior Set. All you are missing are the extra Stix in in the Xtras card set, which are only used in a few designs. Buy an inexpensive STiX set when you decide you need them - that'll even give you extras. For creative play.

Sample designs, in whatever form, provide instruction, inspiration, and challenge. One does not need to have every piece to build a particular design for that design to still provide benefits - in fact it may better encourage creative play if the constructor is required to build something similar rather than identical.

I describe this as a two part recommendation because they make a good two part gift - the Starter Tote, with plenty of pieces and design ideas (all buildable!) to get started, and the Xtras Design Cards and Stix set to take Wedgits block play to another level of challenge and entertainment. From there, go on by adding other sets, other decks, or filling in the missing pieces - the Wedgit player will have enough experience to know which way they want to go.

When I started playing with the Xtras Design Cards and Stix, I found myself laughing as I finished one design and hurried on to the next - not something that usually happens. The other decks give satisfaction, pleasure, enjoyment - but not laughter. Hence this recommendation.

Good Block Play.

Footnote - it is a little harder to do the Imagination Deck designs with Mini Wedgits, as in these illustrations - but not so much in construction as in which sets to buy & how to pay for them. Start with the Dog Set and Frog Set for the Stix. Many places that a Jumbo Octahedron is called for, a standard size Octahedron can be substituted without penalty - one of the images even has one in a structural position. The eXPANnie Set provides Jumbo greens and one Jumbo Octahedron, the Owl Set would provide more Octahedrons. My Mini "building board" for now is just 25 greens pushed together.

Disclaimer - My Xtras Design Cards and Stix set was provided as a sample by the Wedgits folk - I had intended to buy but hadn't found one yet.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Wedgits reduced

Sometimes when I am looking around a toy store for some new plaything for myself, I frown over a "12 and older" suitability - it may be difficult enough to not get much play. "9 and older" is safer, though there is good scope for toys for younger kids. But when I run across the notation "adult supervision required," I do not consider that a problem - I am an adult, after all. Such can be the challenges of living a developmentally disabled life.

I think a lot about the Stages in Block Building, both while shopping and while playing. While various of these may not apply in the same degree to different types of block play materials, most of them have at least some applicability, and I am inclined to believe that the better a toy suits the various stages, the better the toy.

I also make a point of observing the stages to some degree in my own play. I particularly find Carrying to be important, and I will actually encourage myself to carry something around for a new set - a piece, a plan booklet, something.

So since I got my first Mini Wedgits, I have been carrying a 15 piece "mini-junior" around in my coat pocket. But over time it has seemed more and more like it was just a bit too big. But I wasn't through with the wanting to carry my current favorite toy. Maybe after the cataract surgery is all done. Maybe after some old-guy tooth work that follows the cataract surgery.

So today I finally got around to trimming it down to a 10 piece sub-junior set, by pealing off an onion-layer from the 15, and building a few things. Probably my recent creative excursion helped embolden me.

I won't claim it is an original idea: Naef has a six piece set, Diamant Metallic, mostly as a "design object," since six pieces provides rather limited building opportunities. But the intermediate stage of ten pieces has seemed promising.

And so it worked out - first with Minis in my car (black background) then with standards back home (purple background). There's even scope for some locking, for some "technical building." I hope to come up with several more designs (contributions welcome) and make up my own card set. Both the reduced complexity and the reduced color set will be of benefit at times.

Good Block Play

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Wedgits cunningly nested

This morning I was thinking that maybe I should do a post on the whys and hows of Wedgits' appeal and versatility. How the elegance of the geometric dissection of an octahedron - into ever smaller octahedrons and rhomboidal sections thereof - delivers pieces that nest cunningly into one another in several entrancing ways - even interlocking sturdily - and can also be extended with compatible shapes.

In thinking about how I might illustrate that, I ended up building the structure at right. Intending to duplicate it in black, with white octahedrons, I ended up extending it with Stix, above.

As far as I know, these are original structures. Creative block play. Not my typical activity.

My choice of black came from tentative plans to color a basic Mini Wedgits set with black permanent marker, for days when the normal colors are too overwhelming for me. I wanted to try leaving the octahedrons white to simplify the coloring, and maybe spice things up a litte, but not too much.

Maybe the black & white was also inspired a bit by yesterday's penguins.

I am thinking black marker will avoid building up a thickness that might interfere with the clearances when slipping pieces into locking positions, while allowing for easy touch-up of unavoidable wear. Will the blackening transfer iself to the octahedrons & Stix? Will it be a problem cleaning it off?

However it turns out, I think I can count on Good Block Play.

Saturday, October 10, 2009


Anchor Stone blocks again, at last, after another long drought. I am sure at least some of you are breathing a sigh of relief - Ankerstein builders seem to represent my largest bloc of readers.

This design is from the second LaVelle booklet, available for download, along with the rest of the huge CVA archive, from (look under Vorlagen for plans). With minor tweaks for my eccentric Set 4, which is a recent GF set with a recent production NS notched arch substituted in.

Browsing through the Vorlagen is time well spent for those seeking additional inspiration, and browsing through the other sections will surely entertain & inform. Ability to read German is not required. (My samples are reduced resolution from those on the download site.)

Today's special guest stars are Playmobil Penguins. Fortunately Pinocchio's Toys had half sets, which met my budgetary limitations.

With or without special guest stars, Ankerstein is Good Block Play.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Starter Tote

I think I've mentioned that I like cards. Several times. More than that, probably.

I have a nice collection of European playing cards. German-suited decks with suits of acorns, leaves, hearts, and bells. Spanish-suited decks, Italian-suited decks, even French-suited decks. I like the various different suit systems. I like the ancient designs. I like cards.

I like doing Block Play from design cards. One design at a time - no fancy-work with sticky notes to cover up adjacent alternatives. Wedgits come through for me with fine decks of construction designs.

The Wedgits Starter Set Design Cards have gradually become one of my turn-to items - when I am doing therapeutic Block Play, I often need to start simple and just keep building, one design after another. This deck does that well.

So when the Wedgits folk came out with their new Starter Tote with a building board and a new design deck, I was intrigued. But not enough to buy an entire Starter Tote, full of parts duplicating those I already have, just to get a look at the deck. Cash flow. Budgets. Stuff like that.

I may have been wrong.

The Wedgits folks sent me a sample deck, and it is great. Perhaps not quite as coherent as the original Starter Set Design Deck, but with more variety of construction techniques, and allowing one to build exactly as shown on a Building Board held in ones lap.

The new deck arrived shortly after I arrived home from cataract surgery yesterday, and was just the thing for "convalescing" - even if we're not talking about bed rest.

Reading is difficult - probably more so today with the patch off than yesterday - so loafing on the couch building my way through a relatively simple card deck was just great. I built all the designs with only minor complaints, and consider this a deck to come back to.

Not a lot of designs demanded the building board, but a few did, and two even show the Building Board in mid-structure. One might wish for more, but at least the ground has been broken and creative builders encouraged.

Yes, most regular flat-surface designs can be built on a Building Board, but many require some sort of modification - only those based on a "medium yellow" or " giant red" Wedgit can be built as-shown. With a green Wedgit, one must omit it, and consider that segment of the board to be that Wedgit. With "large blue" or "jumbo green," one must usually add another underneath to fit the board spacing. Those with multiple bases depend not only on that factor, but on the spacing - the advantage is that if the spacing fits the board, they may be much easier to build. In practice, this isn't as daunting as it might sound, especially if you have a few extra Wedgits. But sometimes it just isn't the therapeutic activity I need.

Time to get to the point!

The bottom line is that this set may finally qualify for the "Starter" designation I formerly felt more rightly belonged to the Junior Set. I like it.

If you need enough of the parts, or simply could be happy getting them, it could be a very nice addition to a collection. If you like cards as much as I do, it might be worth making the effort to come up with the justification for buying more parts you don't really need.

A great gift for any Wedgit "starter" and many advanced Wedgitites. Do make sure to get the current Starter Tote though, with the new "Starter Tote Design Cards," not the older one with the older " Starter Set Design Cards" - you can buy the latter separately if you want them, which you very well might.

Good set, good Block Play.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Wedgits Challenge.

A great deal of the charm in Wedgits is the challenge factor of working out how to build something, both in terms of the puzzle of what goes there and in working out the manipulations to get it all in place. Hence my fondness for the card decks and booklets.

This particular design, d-15 from the 100 Advanced Design Cards, I thought for several years was not possible.

I finally figured the trick out a couple of days ago, but couldn't complete the construction in Mini Wedgits without having it collapse. Today I tried with standard size Wedgits. Didn't do much better until I finally built it as shown, omitting the cosmetic octagons in the middle.

Without those, I still used 8 small octagons, one more than the card shows, so with them my version needs two more octagons than the set includes and either someone a whole lot steadier than me or something tacky keeping some Wedgits from sliding around, Maybe both.

My point? That even if Wedgits at the basic level are very easy (yet still very much fun and therapeutic), at the advanced level they can provide both mental and physical difficulty to challenge most anybody.

Even if this one is perhaps a little too challenging in both regards, it thereby delivers a very satisfactory message.

Wedgits are good puzzle play as well as good block play.


An article in today's paper about pending FTC policies requiring bloggers to disclose if they have received anything of value from vendors has gotten me thinking about I how to handle it. I have occasionally received samples from vendors, and Wedgits are an example.

Most of what I have posted here has been purchased by myself, or borrowed from friends. What I have received has been of comparatively small value compared to the amount I have spent, and at least some of it has been identified as expression of gratitude for other non-blog activities.

If this has influenced my posting, it has been toward posting about something I would not have at all or as soon, due to cash-flow limitations - I cannot afford to buy everything even if my wife let me.

Getting samples of the parts that distinguish a special set, so that I can try them out with my own standard parts, rather than buying the whole set which mostly duplicates what I have, seems to make sense from a reporting viewpoint, and benefits the reader trying to choose between alternatives.

I have avoided making too much of a deal out of such freebies partly out of a desire to not see vendors flooded with requests. Maybe I am wrong and those vendors would rather see lots of folks blogging their products, and would be happy to be receive more requests. I am often wrong.

As for what I have to say about something, with things I like, I think I tend to be a little more enthusiastic about stuff I have bought and a little more restrained about freebies. If my reaction tilts negative, I am more likely to post if I have bought it, and more likely to just say nothing about a freebie.

So ... I will keep attempting to refine my disclosure policy to meet readers; needs and satisfy FTC requirements as they develop.

No polliwogs were teased in the making of this entertainment product.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Beach Wedgits

I was back at the beach today with my Mini Wedgits and my assistant, Melvin.

If you are curious why Melvin looks so bedraggled, see the story & more pictures.

Until things got wild, it was good block play. :)

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Wedgits color changes

I got the opportunity to play a bit with the pink & purple Activity Tote.

This is the first time I've built from designs intended for a building board. Until now, I've built regular designs on a building board (often a benefit) or free-styled (not my forte).

I liked it.

For all the the P&P Tote designs, the board is the base. For some of the Starter Tote designs, the building board is actually in the middle of the design. Some of the recent booklet designs use two building boards, one as a base, and one in the middle. I look forward to building those as well at some point.

The big thing with this set, though, is for the first time when building from designs, you need to choose the color for the size, and the size isn't always clear from the color.

Since building with Wedgits from designs is part puzzle and part construction exercise, this enhances the experience nontrivially. I really liked it.

Not saying that these particular colors are easy on the sensibilities, but Wedgits aficionados ("Wedgitizers"?) shouldn't pass this set by just because of the colors - it has a lot to offer.

As usual, the cards have errors: the design is on the front and which parts are used is supposed to be indicated on the back, but many cards have the wrong backs - presumably a layout error in preparing the job for printing. I've also already found one design that I'm pretty sure can't be built with the parts included - a hidden piece of course.

But again as usual, the benefits outweigh those problems. The P&P Tote is a great set.

I enjoyed building with two colors (color groups in the P&P case), that I went back to my Class Pak and built some Deluxe Set designs from pairs of colors in the 100 Advanced Design Cards. (It doesn't take very much Wedgits play for me to come back to thinking that the Class Pak is the best buy in standard size Wedgits.)

This time, I was choosing the colors at each step by whim, with the desire to get nice contrast and symmetry within the design - while trying to anticipate what colors I needed to hold back to sustain the balance and symmetry to the final stages of the design - I had to back some out and make different choices more than once. Fun.

Good Block Play.

I apologize for the distracting cropping in the top image - I thought with the building board I wouldn't have to worry so much about what was underneath, and the lovely maple leaves only blew so enticingly into that single frame which had probably the worst lower-edge problem.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Ghost Wedgits

The strong primary colors of standard Wedgits can be a bit of a challenge for adult block builders to accept, even without the sensory issues some of us have.

One must see past the toddler colors to get the most from Wedgits - they more are about shape, abstraction, tactile feedback. See naef and nova68 for the same shapes in designer colors and natural woods, The naef Diamant creates a much more mature design esthetic.

My budget doesn't spring to $350 for a single set of a more vulnerable Wedgits counterpart, just for the aesthetic benefits - especially since all the naef constructions I have seen seem to be pure gravity designs: no wedging in sight. Whether that is due to production tolerance, surface finish, or basic durability, I don't know.

There is a partial solution in the Wedgits Class-Pak, which allows one to work in single colors at least.

I wish I could get another white set separately - I love how the white photographs, and would like to build pure white Deluxe Set designs. The jumbo rhombus in white would be a nice bonus too, allowing Starter Set designs.

Yesterday at Math'n'Stuff, they showed me a packing list that indicated Mini Wedgits Class Paks, but that could have been an error, with the standard Class Pak actually intended. I don't recall whether they were on backorder or in their partially unpacked shipment, but I should have clarification soon.

Now wouldn't an all white set of Mini Wedgits be great for outdoor photography? Much easier to haul up a mountain trail, both in weight and day-pack space. Though the larger set might be fun for a more distant structure, not immediately obvious in a mountain meadow or beach-side sand dune, but still visible without having to already know it was there.

Ghost Wedgits?

A real kick would be a full glow-in-the-dark set (with a merged Starter Set/Junior Set Wedgit mix for building from both design sets?). A fair approximation of the white set by day, and a special kick by night - illuminate with ultraviolet flashlights for nifty photography.

Ghost Wedgits!

Present or possible, still good Block Play.