No, not new game levels with map generators, but actual 3-dimensional real playthings. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve wasted plenty of hours on PC’s, Xboxes, and Playstations with not much to show for it other than sore thumbs. But I do feel a little sadness as toy stores and hobby shops around the world close their doors, victims of unavoidable trends in children’s tastes and preferences.
Radio Shack was one of those rare emporiums for budding mad scientists like me. Like the Erector sets and chemistry labs of old, Radio Shack carried a line of Science Fair products that were usually several toys in one. Like the 100-in-1 Electronic Project Kit, this Aeronautical Lab Kit did it’s best to keep the attention of A.D.D. kids like me with not just one project, but several. For a kid like me growing up in the 1970’s, nothing was more exciting than airplanes, rockets, and…
…you guessed it…Helium. That’s right, name me one other toy that you know of that included a can of helium! The Aeronautical Lab kit included balloon experiments, so of course some lighter than air element was needed. Okay, now raise your hands if actually used the helium for balloons. Now, raise your hand if you used it to make your voice sound funny.
Aside from probably the coolest item in the kit, there were parts to make several flying model airplanes, a couple of tubes for model rockets, one of which was launched by rubber band, the other with black powder motors from Estes and Centuri. Also included was a bottle of white glue, which in this particular kit, has hardened long ago and is no longer usable.
My aunt bought me one of these kits in 1975. I snagged this one off of ebay. The good news is that things like this are still being made. Estes still makes rocket kits. Guillows is still manufacturing a variety of stick-and-tissue flying models in pretty much the same form for years. I have a Guillows rubber powered Focke Wulf FW-190 under construction that I will be doing an article on shortly.
Fun stuff, folks…
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