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Early Learning Centre Build 'N' Play Construction Kit

Words & Images - James Ross

I grew up during the 1980's and as a child one of my favourite toys was this construction kit, which came from the Early Learning Centre. This vintage kit is French built and stamped with the name Jura Castor and originally came with just shy of 100 pieces. Originally sold through ELC, a firm favourite on the British high street and one that my parents probably spent way too much money in (I think they also stocked BRIO trainsets). I think clones of this construction kit are still available today although having seen one, the quality is much poorer.

Early Learning Centre 1980's Construction Kit

The kit itself is centered around two large red cubes with one hollow face. These are then perforated with holes to allow wheels, yellow panels and what loosely resemble headlights to be attached. The kit also contains a set of tools with open ended and closed spanners and a hammer. You can configure the kit however you want (I believe some suggestions were included on the box but sadly this has long been lost to me). As a child I spent hours playing with this, and later, when my younger sibling made an appearance, pushing her around on it. I give this toy some credit with initiating me in simple mechanics and possibly explaining why, as a an adult I'm very comfortable repairing, building and upgrading everything in my life from houses to cars.

Hura Castor Build N Play ELC construction kit

Now I have a child of my own, i have retrieved this brilliant toy from my parents attic, and my little 'assistant' is showing great promise in picking up the same skills I did thirty years ago.

Jura Castor Build and Play toolkit