With free adapter kit, Legos can mate with Tinker Toys, Zoob

A free collection of adapters lets you create crazy toy mashups by connecting parts from 10 popular building toys.

Edward Moyer Senior Editor
Edward Moyer is a senior editor at CNET and a many-year veteran of the writing and editing world. He enjoys taking sentences apart and putting them back together. He also likes making them from scratch. ¶ For nearly a quarter of a century, he's edited and written stories about various aspects of the technology world, from the US National Security Agency's controversial spying techniques to historic NASA space missions to 3D-printed works of fine art. Before that, he wrote about movies, musicians, artists and subcultures.
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Edward Moyer
2 min read
F.A.T. Lab, Sy-Lab

Legos are cool. Tinker Toys are cool. Zoob is cool. But you know what's really cool? Building a hybrid gizmo out of all of the above (and other construction toys as well).

That's possible now--without tape, glue, chewing gum, or earwax--using the Free Universal Construction Kit, a set of adapters that let you snap together parts from 10 popular building toys. Brought to you by the F.A.T. (Free Art and Technology) Lab and Sy-Lab, the kit can be downloaded for free as a collection of models in STL format that can be printed with 3D printers such as the Makerbot.

Aside from the simple, flat-out coolness of letting you create mashups with your different toys, the kit manifests certain highfalutin philosophical ideas about proprietary systems, mass culture, and the DIY mind-set. As F.A.T. puts it:

By allowing any piece to join to any other, the Kit encourages totally new forms of intercourse between otherwise closed systems--enabling radically hybrid constructive play, the creation of previously impossible designs, and ultimately, more creative opportunities for kids. As with other grassroots interoperability remedies, the Free Universal Construction Kit implements proprietary protocols in order to provide a public service unmet--or unmeetable--by corporate interests.

So now you can build an awesome, mutiheaded moon creature--and stick it to The Man at the same time.

F.A.T. also points out that the kit can extend the value of different toys over the life of a child, allowing parts from a toddler-oriented toy like Krinkles, say, to remain relevant to a tween (or even a thirtysomething or fortysomething Crave reader) who's moved on to Legos or Zome.

The adapters are designed to work with Lego, Duplo, Fischertechnik, Gears! Gears! Gears!, K'Nex, Krinkles (Bristle Blocks), Lincoln Logs, Tinkertoys, Zome, and Zoob. And the kit can be downloaded from Thingiverse, among other sharing sites.

Here's a fun video that introduces the kit: