Thursday, June 29, 2006

Matchitecture Wood Models

By Christina VanGinkel

The first time I ever saw a model built from matchsticks it was just a picture. I was about ten years old, and one of my older brothers was working in Oklahoma. He sent me a picture postcard, and the postcard had a picture of the Taj Mahal built out of matchsticks on it. I thought it was one of the grandest structures ever, and that it was built out of matchsticks just made it all that much better. I actually kept that postcard for many years, not because my brother sent it, but because I was so fascinated by the building. I could not get over the fact that someone took the time to create something so detailed out of something as ordinary as a matchstick.

Matchitecture has created models made of what are called Microbeams. Essentially, the basis of the common matchstick was turned into a mini beam used to create all sorts of structures. From the Eiffel Tower, to the Empire State Building, the Taj Mahal, to a Mississippi Steamboat, to a train from the Gold Rush days. There are now pre-assembled kits for all sorts of amazing structures. The kits include everything you will need to turn that pile of Microbeams into whatever design it has intended. Included in each kit are all the required Microbeams for the project at hand, one acetate sheet, one Microbeam cutter, one bottle of wood glue, 1 Microbeam tweezers, all necessary plans for the project, and complete instructions. Some kits may include additional contents.

The construction process for assembling one of these kits can be a challenge. With the included plans and cutter, the builder will need to measure each beam and cut accordingly. If you have a child that is interested, in model building of any kind, or one who is interested in the prospect of architecture, these Matchitecture kits can be a great way for them to explore the world of building and creating magnificent structures from common materials.

When compared to how kids at one time would have had to collect used matchsticks and save them until they had enough to create whatever it was they were dreaming of creating, these kits might seem like a breeze. Save for the fact that all of the supplies are included, along with plans and instructions, these kits are still a great challenge. They might come pre-assembled, as in all of the materials are included, but from the cutting of the first Microbeam, until the last one is glued in place, there is a lot of work and potential fun in between, and a lot of room for the great feeling of accomplishment one will feel upon completing any of these structures.

From bridges to cathedrals, prop planes to trains, if you are interested in any sort of model building, but are looking for something a bit different to try, then do check out the Matchitecture models. has a good selection of Matchitecture kits available. Prices range from less than fifteen dollars (bulldozer kit) upwards to around thirty-five dollars (windmill). Refill kits of Microbeams are also available. has one with 2000 Microbeams for $13.99. It is ideal for finishing off any pre-assembled Matchitecture kits where you might have made a few miscalculations and are in need of a few more Microbeams to finish your structure in the making, or these refill kits could also be used to create your own one of a kind designs. With your imagination as your limit, the possibilities are endless. I like the idea of these refill kits as much if not more so than the kits themselves. They are much more reminiscent of the first matchstick structure I saw, with each builder having to come up with their own creations.

I was unable to find a recommended age for the Matchitecture kits but would say that kids as young as elementary age to adults would find these kits to be both fun and challenging. They would be a great way to challenge the mind and end up with something that one could be proud to show others and display. If you or someone you know enjoys building models, or has shown an interest in the hobby of crafting models, then try one of these for something a bit different that your typical kit model.

1 comment:

K_Larson said...

My son, age 8, received the Matchitecture set for the Chinese Junk. He is excited and enjoys cutting the pieces and lining them up. For him, this is a great kit and works exceedingly well - as advertised or better.

However, I must disclose that I enjoy building balsa and tissue airplanes, so he has seen me do exactly the same thing he is doing right now.

The cutter that the kids use is a GREAT idea, in my opinion. I'm a teacher, and I've even taught third graders to make planes in a science class. They had to use razors to cut the balsa for those planes. I really wish I had the cutter in this set in my classroom - and I may buy one for that reason - as it's very safe and easy to use.