Back in the day, I loved building toys. LEGO was certainly a favorite of mine, but there was another building toy that I probably got a lot more play out of…Construx.
In 1983, Fisher-Price rolled out its newest toy creation. It was called Construx and was possibly the most versatile building/construction toy since the Erector Set. It featured plastic beams in various lengths, multi-directional connectors, plates, axles, wheels, pulleys, and much more. What you could make with Construx was really only limited to your imagination.
Besides Lego, Construx was the greatest building toy that I ever laid hands-on, and in some ways, it surpassed Lego. The size of the pieces and the way they were designed allowed for larger projects than Lego could handle, which allowed for such projects as bridges, buildings, and any other thing you could dream up. These were awesome if you had a fertile imagination…which my brother and I did, and we used our Construx to build gooseneck trailers for our Tonka trucks to pull along, forklifts to load those trailers, and a host of other equipment to be used with them.
The first set that I had was the Bridges and Tower set that came out in 1983. I remember it not being exactly easy to follow the directions and complete the build, but not so hard that I had to have help with them either. I just had to take a little longer than my older brother did to complete it. But when it was done, oh my was it ever a fun thing to play with. He and I ended up using those Construx bridges to enhance the fun in our G.I. Joe adventures. As a matter of fact, just about everything we built with the Construx was to play with some other toy line we had. Rarely did we build anything just for the sake of playing with the Construx. I would put together swords and ninja stars when I would watch a martial arts movie and then let my imagination run wild. I would use them to construct obstacle courses and run my G.I. Joe men through their paces trying to re-enact the latest episode of American Gladiators. We used them to build tunnels and other things to go along with our Hotwheels fun.
My cousin and I would have frequent sleepovers, and Construx was usually at the center of our play. We’d make armor and weapons and battle it out, usually as He-Man vs. Skeletor. We’d use them to make swords, daggers, and ninja stars and stalk each other through the dark house late at night. We’d each spend time making a rolling vehicle of some kind loaded with “weapons”, and then battle it out.
But my fondest memory of them would be the time I used them to build a scaffold. It was 1986, and The Road Warriors and The Midnight Express had just wrestled in a scaffold match at Starrcade 86, and I just had to re-create that. Years earlier, my father made me a wrestling ring, and I spent hours pitting my G.I. Joe men against one another in combat, pro-wrestling style. I even gave them cool wrestling names and all. So I used the Construx to build a scaffold over my toy ring and used it from then on to settle the most intense feuds to ever take place in my room. In the photo below is a scale model of the scaffold I used to build. I put this one together just for this article. It’s not as long, nor as tall as the one I used to build. But I don’t have enough pieces these days to make an exact replica.
In later years, the Construx line produced some Space themed sets with glow-in-the-dark pieces. We had those as well but mainly used them for what they were intended in the Space theme. But it was cool to take some of the glow-in-the-dark pieces and use them to make flashlights to use on sleepovers. Construx were so versatile a toy, I think they could hit the market today and be a hit all over again. Of course, Mattel took over the line in 1997 and tried to re-establish the line without much success. I think they were fairly popular in their own right during their original run, but Lego had the market cornered, and Construx just didn’t make it. Sad. It was one fine construction-based toy line, and I’m grateful I had the opportunity to enjoy it. It was a role-player. A solid backup. It enhanced the play of so many other toys in my collection, I would put Construx in the Toy Hall of Fame just for that.