Playplax was a clever construction toy from the 60s. It was the brainchild of part-time designer and teacher at the Hornsey College of Art, Patrick Rylands. The transparent coloured shapes were fascinating to children. In the 60s it was cutting edge play.
Patrick Rylands designed Playpax for Trendon Toys in 1967. The original version just had plastic squares. An improved version from 1968, illustrated right, had cylinders as well. Rylands was originally working on prefabricated parts for the construction industry, but had the idea of miniaturizing them to make a toy.
Patrick Rylands' view was that the best toys were simple. A cardboard box can offer a world of possibilities. The fun is in the imagination of the child. Rylands thought less was more as much with toys as with buildings.
Playplax could be used to make abstract designs or models of real things. It was all down to the child. Children also discovered that you could hold the squares up to your eyes to see the world in shades of red, blue, green or yellow.
Playplax was so advanced that Rylands won a Design Centre award for it in 1967.
In 1967 you could buy Playplax for 9s 11d (£12 in today's money). Playplax sold over one million copies by 1970 and was on sale in over 30 countries. In that year Patrick Rylands won the Duke of Edinburgh's prize for Elegant Design for his work with Trenden Toys.
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You can't buy Playplax now, but a few vintage sets do come up on eBay. See . You should be able to get a set in good condition for around £10.
See also Toys and games from the past
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