The Great Tinker Toy Symbiosis

It Just Holds a Tag

My tinker toy windmill (or sign) was not a puzzle, riddle, calculator, or illusion.  Those items would arrive on future Decembers.  My windmill was simply a gift tag holder.  A strange, complex, simple-to-build tag holder but nothing more than that.

These were certainly the early days of The Mad Wrapper.  Although the evolution had been steadily progressing in it’s infancy for years, one could say that this gadget marked  the first of the new era.

Tinker Toys

One of the great fads for kids of the 1960’s and 1970’s was the Tinker Toy.  Our house, of course, had a large box of these well-played with toys. Our box of Tinker Toys was among my favorites while growing up – even better than the erector set. My parents loved them too. What is better than a great universal toy such as this to help solidify a bonding between two radically different generations. 

The Christmas Tinker

A revolving Tinker Toy sign mysteriously appeared on top of a package one Christmas. Prominently displayed atop this gizmo was a tiny card with the words “To Eric. From the Mad Wrapper.”  (Note the incorrect capitalization of TMW’s first name “The”.  After all these were the early days.)  When someone turned the crank, the card would spin round and round.  There is nothing more than that.

Building it

Surrounded by presents both wrapped and not yet wrapped, I was bored with my “clever” labels so I started to look for something new. I began my search in my room and culminated at the toy shelf in the basement. I spied the big box of Tinker Toys and wondered about the possibilities. I grabbed the box and marched back up the stairs to my bedroom on the second floor, careful to avoid notice from visitors who were lounging in the family room telling stories.  Upon arriving upstairs I closed my door and began sticking stuff together. Mainly just playing.

Some time later a small windmill (or helicopter-ish thingie)  evolved from the mess of sticks. There were four green horizontal blades on top.  These blades revolved in sync with the small orange crank near the base. Pretty cool.

I wrote my message on a scrap of paper and replaced one of the blades with this tag.  “To Eric From the mad wrapper.”

Good, but not great. I pondered changes.


I decided that the note should be displayed more prominently.  I removed the green blades and the note. I built the tower taller.  Now with a single rotating spire. In the slot at the pinnacle I inserted a different note.

The new note carried the words “To Eric,” on one side, and “From the Mad Wrapper!” on the opposite.

(The nice thing about tinker toys is that all structures are quick to rebuild and reconfigure.)

I needed a few adaptations to attach the windmill sign on top of the gift I was giving to Eric.  Not difficult with the power of Tinker.  Four legs straddled the gift.  Some good tape secured everything finally in place.

A Christmas Favorite

People could not help themselves from playing on Christmas: it rotated round and round and round all day long.