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Buildings inquiry: toy buildings I had as a kid

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Buildings inquiry: toy buildings I had as a kid
Posted by Benjamin Maggi on Saturday, October 27, 2012 5:49 AM

My grandfather had a very simple Lionel layout he would set up for me as a kid which was nothing more than an oval on a big sheet of plywood. He also had a box of buildings that came apart, which I would set up in different ways each time I used the layout. Though they are not technically "toy trains," I figure this crowd may remember who made the buildings and have some pictures. I have never seen a picture of them and unfortunately my grandfather's train and buildings have gone "missing" since his death.

Buildings: there were roughly both 3.5”/4” deep and either that long or twice as much. They were formed by taking white plastic sides and ends and interlocking the ends together. They usually had a molded brick pattern with doors and windows, and the height of each wall section was around 1". They were designed to be stackable, meaning you could build multiple levels (of the same size, or the double-wide level on the bottom on the bottom and the smaller square level on the top, and vertical tabs kept them from shifting. Roofs were molded plastic, either flat with grooves or arched like shingles, and were molded in green, blue, red, and black (I think). The buildings varied in design regarding windows, doors, and other details such that you could make limitless combinations.

Trees: the box always had plastic trees, which may or may not have come with the buildings. The trees were green plastic, varying in height from about an 1" to maybe 1.5," and were two parts: a plastic hollow cone made of green plastic which was shiny and a round base with a pole sticking up that would push-fit into the underside of the tree's cone.

Street signs: There were also molded plastic street signs and directional plastic light signs, all done in one solid color without any paint whatsoever. Their heights were probably around 2" tall for the traffic lights and 1" tall for the stop signs and such. If I recall correctly (20+ years) even had the traffic lights bent over to simulate overhanging the road below.

It is not train show season. I have never seen these buildings at a show before, and whenever I tell someone about them they usually assume I am talking about Plasticville. I don't think I am, as articles about Plasticville in CTT have never shown anything like what I mean. These were very basic toys, but they probably were designed by a company to accompany train sets. For American Flyer trains their proportion isn't all that bad I would guess.

Thanks.

 

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Posted by ADCX Rob on Saturday, October 27, 2012 9:41 AM

Rob

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Posted by ADCX Rob on Saturday, October 27, 2012 9:43 AM

Rob

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Posted by Benjamin Maggi on Saturday, October 27, 2012 9:43 AM

They were nothing as details, or as tall, or as large as that. They sort of remind me of the one in the back left, but the dimensions at least for the parts I had were 1x1 or 1x2. Meaning, they were the same width as length, or twice as long as width.

Modeling the D&H in 1984: http://dandhcoloniemain.blogspot.com/

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Posted by ADCX Rob on Saturday, October 27, 2012 9:44 AM

Rob

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Posted by rtraincollector on Saturday, October 27, 2012 11:11 AM

my first thought was plasticville but as I read he said the were designed to stack on top of each other if you want. I also seem to remember something like that from back in the late 50's and early 60's but I believe either stop producing them or the company closed for what ever reason the sides where white and I think the roof were flat but where a green color maybe wrong there

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Posted by Penny Trains on Saturday, October 27, 2012 7:00 PM

The one that popped into my mind is American Plastic Bricks. But like plasticville it doesn't quite fi\t your description. Here's something I found doing a quick searck for A.P.B.: http://www.balmoralsoftware.com/apb/aboutapb.htm  At the very least they may be the ones someoneis thinking of.

The trees you describe remind me of the ones Tomy makes for their plarail line.  They do have a line of buildings roughly around the size of N gauge (1:160) but I'm not sure if they can be built as you describe.

Those are two thoughts I had on the subject.

Becky

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Posted by stebbycentral on Saturday, October 27, 2012 10:05 PM

I also had a collection of the American Plastic Bricks, but it wasn't the only construction toy available at the time.  There were others as well.  One set that I had as a child (Block City) used white plastic blocks that also interlocked to create structures, the door and window components were red as I remember them.  A neighbor's children had a construction set that used panel sections to build skyscrapers.  Not the flimsy vacume-formed panels that were later used in the "Bridge and Girder" sets by Kenner, but substantial panels.  It sounds very similar to the product the author of the thread is describing. 

http://www.architoys.net/toys/toylist1.html  appears to have a lot of information about construction toys. 

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Posted by martinden on Saturday, October 27, 2012 10:17 PM

Some Block City sets had green windows and doors. I don't know if they changed colors at some point in time, or if both were available simultaneously. The red windows and doors seemed to be a lot more common than green.

The skyscraper sets were Skyline. (I still have two sets I got as a kid.)

Martin

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Posted by marxalot on Sunday, October 28, 2012 9:16 AM

Penny Trains

The one that popped into my mind is American Plastic Bricks. But like plasticville it doesn't quite fi\t your description. Here's something I found doing a quick searck for A.P.B.: http://www.balmoralsoftware.com/apb/aboutapb.htm  At the very least they may be the ones someoneis thinking of.

Becky

Becky,

Wow, thanks for that link. If I had a dime for every hour spent with the APB's! Between those, lincoln logs, the somewhat boring (to me) tinker toys, the A.C. Gilbert Erector sets, and my Marx trains I was thoroughly entertained back in the 1950's and 60's. But seeing those APB buildings again was very enjoyable. Thanks.

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Posted by Benjamin Maggi on Sunday, October 28, 2012 8:29 PM

Thanks for everyone who has replied. At the train show today I looked at the Plasticville houses and can confirm they definitely are not what I am thinking of. They are twice as big, and more detailed. As an example, every wall was molded as one piece with no added extra window inserts or door trim.

This is starting to really bug me!

Modeling the D&H in 1984: http://dandhcoloniemain.blogspot.com/

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Posted by Benjamin Maggi on Thursday, February 21, 2013 3:56 PM

I somehow missed the link above the first time I read this, but I went through every toy they had listed alphabetically and what I was looking for was there! YAY! It is called the "Constructive Thinking system." The picture on the website shows all the pieces stacked to make a huge condo, but as a kid I built them into 1x1 or 1x2 arrangements. The roofs in the pictures are all flat, which I remember, though I recall others too. The set shown isn't what my grandfather had but ours were either a different set by the same company or a copycat set. The picture doesn't show trees or traffic lights so they may have been made by another company.

Now, at least I can try and do more research for Constructive Thinking toys.

Thanks again!

 

Modeling the D&H in 1984: http://dandhcoloniemain.blogspot.com/

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Posted by Kooljock1 on Saturday, February 23, 2013 7:19 AM

It sure sounds like Guidance Town to me!  We had the whole shebang: paper mat and all.

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Posted by cmrj on Saturday, February 23, 2013 9:19 AM

That's  it ! Ihave the same thing in stored in my basement could not remember the name.

Mike

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Posted by Benjamin Maggi on Tuesday, March 26, 2013 3:12 PM

"Guidancetown" ... Bingo!

Not only does it have the buildings I remember, but also the traffic signs and the cars. I never saw the place mat, but the set may have been purchased used by my grandparents. Now I know what to look for! Thanks.

Modeling the D&H in 1984: http://dandhcoloniemain.blogspot.com/

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