"The Toy" by Ray and Charles Eames


Very cool! I grew up with my grandpa’s House of Cards. Those are available at the MOMA store.

O! that is all.

Will someone please post an actual personal childhood memory (good or bad!) of playing with this Eames Big Toy?


Paper cuts and poked eyes?

For real? I’m just trying to get some real world feedback from somebody who actually had and played with this toy as a kid. Why? I’m curious… As a trained industrial designer and huge fan of the Eames, I love the design, even without its cool midcentury vibe…but as a professional toy designer/inventor I also know kids often are disinterested in these kind of “non-commercial,” artsy and, some might say, elitist toys. For about the same money ($3.50 in 1952) you could have had more commonplace toy like a Roy Roger’s cap gun and holster or a Tonka Truck or a litho steel filling station/garage play set.

Bottom line: was this Eames BigTtoy fun for kids to play with?

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Sorry, not for realz.
I’m quite sure that I would have loved it as a kid - it is pretty close to a kid’s perfect toy I.e. cardboard box.

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Love! Didn’t have this one. (I wish!) Did have the Dale Evans outfit.

But in the 70’s had some friends with dowel kit for making a huge geodesic dome framework, which we would then throw a parachute over, and play like it was 1952. Does that count?
(And I would totally buy this for my grandson - because he’s that nerdling kid, too.)


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Well, it’s not epic Peeps torture, but it has a certain charm…

I wish there was more detailed close ups of the dowels. would love to recreate this one.

It smacks though of the sort of toy that would require multiple sets to make the things show in the pics.

still… neat.

Mmm. Maybe. But it just looks like regular dowels, and said with holes in them, and you can see the lines holding stuff together. The coverings sound a whole lot like regular dropcloths, actually. So, could be you could head to HD, grab those parts and some paracord and cotter pins to hold the lines taut, and just have at it. Because, even if I turned out to be wrong about that - it’s what, $20-$30 bucks to do the experiment? Might not be the finished product you’d want to give to a little kid, but if it worked? maybe got to v2.0. and play around the some better hardware.

Alternatively, that frame for the big geodesic dome was just plain dowels and the fittings were actually flexible plastic tubing, like PEX. Three short lengths, stapled or grometted together in the middle. You just spread the tubes out with your hands, and as the structure starts rising, the (ta-dah!) tensegrity keeps all the tubes at the proper angles. So easy, you could put up a big dome alone, just slower that way. But cheap to build, if you already have a parachute laying around, and probably even cheaper, if you wanted to make something smaller… That was big enough to hold maybe 15-20 people very comfortably? Big enough that he guy who owed it (a photog) could show his work inside with room to spare, anyway.

Reminds me of tents, really. You know, the dome tents with the fiberglass poles? The fittings that hold the poles together are exactly like collapsible fishing rods. So…I guess you could just buy a dome tent - but I’d still roll with the drop cloths, because, if you just wanted a dome tent, you could’ve bought one in the first place. This one is for playing!

I don’t know about the Eames toy. When I was a kid, Colorforms just came as geometric shapes in white, blue, red, yellow and green. Your choice of a black background to put them on. We loved them.

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