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I am still curious....and wanting to know the best methods of acquisition of said kits... Answered

I am curious, not so much for my own self (after all, I am nearing my mid fifties) but because a youngster that I am mentoring likes this kind of thing, is there any way to get a decent "collection" of parts together without spending half a fortune?

She prefers robotics, dinosaurs, and human anatomy to other subjects, but loves to build just about anything.  And since erector sets and lego mindstorms sets (she's a bit advanced for an 8 year old) are so expensive, and she does have a small K'nex set started, I figured we could "build" on that one, if it can be done at a reasonable price.  

Sadly for me, "reasonable" is much less than the average idea of reasonable. When I was younger, I got an erector set that could build literally hundreds of different "contraptions" for about $20-$30 and now I see on line a "discounted" "contraptions" set that can be used to build 6 different things for about the same price.....not really comparable in any way. 

Tinkertoys are not really that "useful" for "creating" things as far as I could see (had those as a child also and the one I am helping doesn't care for them either).

She also has a set of lincoln logs, but bores of them quickly as her imagination has not yet had a chance to "kick in" :-)

I know I asked a similar question recently (in the general forums) that was a bit more broader in perspective, so I thought I would narrow it down and get some input from you all.

Thank you in advance !



6 years ago

ha I'm the 60900's comment haha

Garage sales. Lots and lots and lots of garage sales. Also, to an extent, GoodWill. But mostly garage sales.

*sigh* which means I have to wait until (minimum) April....*sigh*. Garage/yard/porch/patio sales tend to be few and far in between in the winter, especially in Jan-Feb.

Have you thought about trying Freecycle? Find your local freecycle and sign up and you can put in a wanted list of stuff you will pick up. Most times there are people cleaning up garages or basements giving away old electronics that may or may not work. Since your looking for pieces/parts, it shouldn't take too long to have more than enough stuff to tinker with, and it's free so it's win win!

Actually there is something I DID do awhile back.....I got one newsletter (email) and then nothing. I will have to check into it again to make sure I wasn't dropped for "inactivity" or because they simply closed up locally (stuff like that doesn't last long locally sometimes, at least, not in my area); TY for the reminder.

It could be the area isn't very active so they just quit running it as you say. The one in my area sends out emails at least once a day sometimes more. Wish you happy hunting!

Well, I posted a "wanted" on FreeCycle...we'll see if anything comes of it.

Another idea is if you have a local goodwill or salvation army store. They have stuff in there real cheap you can strip for parts, or even see if they will let you dumpster dive for the stuff they can't fix and sell that they throw away.

Yeah, I will have to look again. Last time in, they were VERY big on clothes and not so much on "devices". I have SO much bouncing around in my head right now......it is hard to solidify anything..... :-) TY

Ok, I just signed in again....not much going on there at the moment :-)

Hi Goodhart. :) I hope you are feeling better?
Have you tried the k'nex website? I just took a look myself, and they have some sets on discount. For example; a 400 Piece Value Tub is on sale for $16.99 - If you buy any kits with "genuine k'nex bricks", use coupon code 1234 at checkout for 15% off your order. More Info HERE.

There is also ebay as an option. Some sets have no bids as of yet, and they are not looking for that much. (It's worth looking at).

Amazon.com has both new and used K'nex kits. There's one that says you can build 20 K'nex Dinosaurs. New for $20.13 or used from $17.71

The Walmart website shows a "roll back" on a 521pc Value Tub for $15.00

If you need help finding anything else, let us know. :)

Thanks, I will check that out next if it is still in effect next pay check :-)

They have pretty much ruled out a hearth attack now, maybe a little angina, but more than likely it is from stress.   Still it brought that partial blockage to our attention :-)  

The good thing is they found the blockage before it got bad enough to really cause trouble, and if they find nothing more, then its good news. :)

The other place you might want to try is your government. Not sure where you live, but here at least they have programs and grant money available in certain circumstances. The fact alone that you are mentoring a child, who also has some special learning needs, may qualify for some financial aid in order to purchase things to work with her. There may be similar monies available through private organizations or donors. Some kids groups, drop in centers and daycares may be interested in swapping toys with you, especially kits and puzzles. Once they've been created a few times, the kids get bored and then the boxes collect dust on a shelf, but by swapping with another group, you extend the life of the kit and its win-win for both of you.

Then there is always posting a 'wanted' ad at a high school or community college. You might get lucky and find that some kids have out grown their knex, erector sets, lego, etc and would be willing to part ways for very little money, especially if you post a reason why you need them.

I am not sure. I am not good at asking for things (it was hard enough for me to just post this thread :-) and she really doesn't have difficulties learning (not yet anyways; time will tell when she reaches Algebra age though....algebra was my nemisis). But I will take all you've written into consideration - thanks again.

I understand. Baby steps. :) At least you got the question posted right? ;)

I also didn't mean to suggest that she has "learning difficulties", I just meant to imply that with her diagnosis, there's a good possibility that more resources are available to her (including funding). You may need the parents if there's an application involved, but at any rate, inquiring about funding over the phone couldn't hurt. Just remember you are asking on her behalf, and not for yourself, if it makes it easier to do. ;)

ACK....talk....on the phone....to strangers? *bites nails when I never bit my nails before this* LOL Um, maybe if I find an email address or something. I really HATE calling anyone, even a business where they WANT you to call them. :-)

LOL... sorry I didn't mean to completely remove the training wheels. ;)

But yes, an email should also work. There must be some children's associations, or one for AS in your area that you could "email" and ask if they know of any agencies to "email" for a grant. And like I said, posting a want ad somewhere couldn't hurt either.

Just make sure you specify to reply by email and not by phone. Ack! ;)

Well, after 53 years, I just have never been comfortable "calling" anyone on the phone. If they call me, I don't have much of a problem talking :-D but I have this aversion to "interrupting" someone with a phone call :-)

sorry. I was just giving you a hard time. :)

btw, in case you didn't see it.... my post below this includes a link I found for you. Its a starting point for available grants.

No, that's ok (I don't always pick up on such things right away, an aspie thing you know) but I wasn't offended :-) And thanks for the link, I will check it out then.

Start here for grants. There is quite a bit of information to go through (once you start clicking on the links), but all the contacts include email addresses.

btw, I had to go to your profile page to remember where you lived. ;)

Have you thought about BEAM robotics?

A lot of that can be built with parts salvaged from dead cassette decks (especially Walkmen), VCRs and such.

Schools are often a good supply of such things - get in touch with whoever is responsible for the school's media supplies and offer to take the dead items away for free. You'll end up throwing a lot of useless junk away, but it's worth it to get the selection of motors and suchlike you can harvest.

Thanks, I will look into that

Always check out your local buy and sell - you can find real steals on thems, especially if you are willing to do a bit of driving.

Good luck!

Thanks, I will have to see if there are any in my area :-)

It sounds like you should really be searching for kits or prepackaged bag of parts for assembly into a predefined object. The whole point of tinkertoys, lincoln logs, knex is to use your imagination to explore how pieces fit together and come up with ways to build new stuff or transform what you end up with parts on hand. I am thinking the value that you get out of the kits, beside not needing to source all the parts, is just the satisfaction of using tools and following the instructions. Then what? Maybe you should find something to spark the imagination and see what aspect of the creative process is fascinating to the youngster.

Yes, I know, I am looking towards making both my own version of some kits, and getting some of the lesser expensive ones....but she does need to develop her imagination some too....so, I will also be bringing a "parts bin" for the slow introduction of "what can we do with THIS" kind of exercise.