I grew up with Lincoln Logs, not Legos. As shocking as that admission is, we never had Legos until I was about 12. Which led to my asking for Legos for my birthday until I was about (well I got some for Christmas from my wife, so I guess 27).
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We had two giant canisters of Lincoln Logs, and they were basically in only a few shapes:
Logs (of varying lengths, with notches so you could stack them on each other)
Roof Slats (green wooden planks which you used to make roofs)
Steps (wooden steps that created porches for your houses)
Eaves (plastic triangular eaves--you line up the roof slats on them to make an angled roof)
Chimneys (yellow plastic chimneys)
And that's it. They were wonderful toys, sparking creativity--we used them for more than building log cabins, we'd build boats, battleships, spaceships, forts, castles, factories, houseboats, and well, just tons of stuff.
My favorite part of building with Lincoln Logs is that they're so loosely assembled that you can lever in a long piece under one end of your structure, build up a few piece under it, and then POUND down on that lever and blow the whole thing up. I showed that to my nephew a while ago and probably shouldn't have. Don't know HOW they're going to get those logs out of the ceiling...
As I've seen Lincoln Logs in the toy stores recently, and considered them for my own children, there are a few things about them I've observed:
1. The changes. Some are for the better, others not. The one that irks me most is that the roofs are now pre-molded plastic. The problem with that? It limits the builder to building their structures in a certain shape, and only having a certain kind of roof. The dimensions obviously have to be the same as the premolded roof for the roof to fit. There are no "roof slats" anymore, which we used not just as roof slats but as planking for our ships, ramps for Hot Wheels, and other things that I can't remember. But they had a heck of a lot more use than those plastic roofs.
Other changes include pre-molded doors, which limit the size and shape of doorways; we were fine without them. Believe me, I'm all for progress, but this isn't it.
There are also cowboy and indian little figures that come with Lincoln Log sets now, which is fine--we were okay without them, using Star Wars figures, Hot Wheels, whatever was handy--but it would have been nice to have a cowboy and indian shootout now and then.
2. The PRICE! Good Gravy, wood is expensive! At least for Lincoln Logs. The smaller sets are over 20.00, and the larger ones are well over 50.00. Mind you, they're very durable (the ones we had as pups we STILL have), but it seems to be needlessly expensive.
A great alternative is the generic brand, I've seen them only at Toys R Us, but they're probably at other large toy stores--the best example is the 500-piece set. It has the same shapes and quality construction as Lincoln Logs, but it's about half the price. The ones I've seen were 29.99 for 500 pieces, and that's larger and less expensive than any of the brand name sets. It still has the same drawbacks that Modern Lincoln Logs do, but it's a better price for what you get.
I love Lincoln Logs--they're wonderful and fire the imagination, and vary the playing experience. You do have to get creative to make a spaceship out of wood, but that's what it's all about, isn't it?
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Amount Paid (US$): 29.99
Type of Toy: Blocks
Age Range of Child: 6 to 8 Years