If you’re around my age, you probably remember the old balsa wood dinosaur skeleton kits. After inhaling all the sawdust from sanding and pulling the splinters out of your fingers, you had a fairly serviceable model that didn’t even require glue to assemble (assuming the cheap wood didn’t break apart, which it often did). Supposedly, this was a great way to keep a kid occupied for a while, but that might depend on the kid in question; my own father remarked that he could barely finish examining the instruction sheet, only to find I had finished assembling the model myself. I was probably around six years old at the time, and I’m afraid the old man isn’t so easy to impress these days.
Today, these cheap wood kits are still pretty easy to find, but you may want to offer something less anxiety-provoking to your offspring. That’s where 32Square comes in. Their Boneyard Pets series features all the nostalgia of those classic kit designs, but in a more modern medium. So far, their line has included kits in plastic, acrylic, and laminated birch. At present, they’re using Kickstarter to get a new line going that’s manufactured in Komatex, which is considerably sturdier than the balsa models of old.
You still get to press the pieces out of their flat boards, and you do get to sand them down (sandpaper is included). This means the buildup can get a bit messy, although I suppose a parent could sand all the pieces down before letting their tots take over. However, I feel the patience and concentration required for the task is worth cultivating in children, so I hope parents will consider letting their kids have a go at the entire kit themselves. Kids can surprise you, and not always in a horrifying way.
Once prepped, the pieces are assembled via slot attachments, which are numerically labeled on their instruction sheets for your convenience. All the straining and pressing of sharp, splintery wood seems like a distant memory when you’re working with this Komatex. I would definitely feel better about handing over one of these to a child. It’s bendable and resilient (yes, I did make some effort to break a piece). I think the vivid colors will really be a source of appeal, as well. Each Komatex kit is available in one of seven different colors, so they’re especially eye-catching if you want to display them. Not all of them are flamboyant, so you always have the option of more muted hues.
The series also offers a few pieces that have not been seen in this kit format before, such as this Tupuxuara. While many of the series’ classic designs are woefully inaccurate by today’s standards, the addition of new and exotic species gives me hope they’ll push for more contemporary reconstructions in the future. I am sure an updated, horizontally posed Tyrannosaurus would be a welcome sight to collectors looking for something sizable, but still affordable. If the pieces prove to be popular – and so far, they’re definitely grabbing attention – perhaps something like this could very well be in the works.
Once finished, my new pterosaur has a wingspan of a whopping 23 inches. The lightweight, pliable frame means I won’t have to worry about it injuring anyone, so I hope to hang it from a ceiling, where it will laugh heartily at the flightless mammals lumbering below. I encourage everyone to check out the Boneyard Pets official website and Kickstarter project (which includes some nifty bonus incentives) to help support this revival of a classic childhood series.