Simple toy lets you build anything you can imagine out of drinking straws

A new toy seeking funding on Kickstarter is about as simple an idea as it gets, with massive imaginative potential.

Michelle Starr Science editor
Michelle Starr is CNET's science editor, and she hopes to get you as enthralled with the wonders of the universe as she is. When she's not daydreaming about flying through space, she's daydreaming about bats.
Michelle Starr
3 min read

(Credit: Creatables)

A new toy seeking funding on Kickstarter is about as simple an idea as it gets — with massive imaginative potential.

The best toys are the ones that set the mind free. Lego and modelling clay and paints — something anyone can pick up and start using, with creative potential limited only by your imagination (and the laws of the universe). We have a feeling that a new toy seeking funding on Kickstarter will join these hallowed ranks.

Called Strawbees, it's the brainchild of Swedish three-man team Creatables, Erik Thorstensson, Petter Danielson and Oscar Ternbom. And it's really simple: a series of connectors that can be used to join together regular ol' drinking straws in any number of configurations to create all sorts of engineering marvels.

"With the Strawbees you can build everything from mathematical shapes like the platonic solids to mechanical birds, claws, or even huge animated snakes," the team said. "Just come up with an idea and start building, or simply start building and see where you end up. With the Strawbees you can always modify things as you go, add straws, cut straws, or add new connections to get a stronger, more flexible or bigger construction."

(Credit: Creatables)

The pieces are based on a simple unit that looks a little like a key, with more complex pieces. The basic piece can also be combined for a more complex construction, with "washers" that help hold everything in place. And, if you can figure out a use for it, you can add anything to your creation: cardboard, rubber bands, even servos.

Initially, there will be no instructions sent out with the Strawbees kits, with Creatables hoping to post YouTube tutorials with ideas for constructions. The best way to play with them, though, according to the company, is to look at something you want to make and reverse-engineer it. This makes the toy suitable for all ages, from children who just want to have fun and exercise their imaginations, to engineers looking to mock up a simple model.

"This combination of flexibility and iterative construction makes Strawbees perfect for fun and engaging STEM education activities at any level, from preschool to university engineering studies of both statics and dynamics," Creatables wrote. "One feature for the higher studies is that the straws are weak enough that they bend under pressure, which makes it possible to visually inspect structures you have built to see how the applied load is distributed up until the breaking point. We think science education should be fun and believe this system really allows you to play your way to knowledge."

(Credit: Creatables)

And the prices are really reasonable. Global shipping is included, and kits start at US$15 for 40 pieces, through to US$100 for 800 pieces (early bird pledge US$80, which is a pretty amazing deal), estimated to arrive in April this year. For US$600 and up, US customers (only, unfortunately) can grab what Creatables is calling the Infinite Kit: a punch machine that allows you to create as many Strawbees pieces as you like out of your own materials.

Head over to the Strawbees Kickstarter funding page for more info, pledge your support and get in on what looks like some pretty sweet toy action.