Creative Playthings was a company which pioneered developing and manufacturing educational toys for children. It was founded in 1945 by Frank (born 1911-JUN-10 — Kingston upon Hull, England. Died 1988-SEP-28 — New Jersey) and Theresa (nee Kupferberg 1913-JUN-06, died 2010-APR-13) Caplan and pictured on the left. The company was acquired by CBS (Columbia Broadcasting System) on July 20th, 1966. Sadly, CBS lost interest in the company over time and by the 1980’s had sold the brand name to a toy furniture company in Framingham, MA.
One of the unique aspects to this company was that they had a monthly subscription program whereby you would subscribe for one year and a specially chosen Creative Playthings product would be sent to your home. My Mother took out a subscription on my behalf when I was about 10 or 11 years old and I was always looking forward to seeing the Creative Playthings box every month for that year. The Lectron System was too expensive to be a part of this monthly subscription program however and was sold separately.
Creative Playthings sold two Lectron System related products: The S822 Lectron LC III and the AM Hobby Set Radio Receiver.
The S822 Lectron LCIII model was released in 1968. The graphic below is from the 1968-1969 catalog. This model was unusual in that it was a repurposed Raytheon Series 3A in terms of packaging but the block content was based only on the Series 3 (resulting in 27 experiments).
The S822 model also did not contain the supplementary instruction manual no. 1. It did include the larger deluxe base plate that was found in Raytheon’s high end Lectron System models (Series 3A, 4, and 5). The included instruction manual was the same as the basic manual with just the Creative Playthings logo and name added to the cover.
My Mother gave me this model as a present in 1969. At aged 13, I had recently become an Amateur Radio Ham (WN2HIL) and my brother (also a Ham – WB2LRS) had built may Heathkit models which also had to be assembled by soldering individual components onto PC boards.
My Mother thought that the Braun AM radio hobby set would be a perfect start for me to build my first kit. Unfortunately, I did not follow the directions carefully enough and soldered the electrolytic caps in reverse. When I plugged in the 9v battery and set the completed model on its side to power it on, within a few seconds there were two popcorn popping noises as the tops to the caps blew off. Oh well. Fortunately there was another unit at Roberts Toy Town in Bronxville and my Mother had mercy on me and purchased a replacement. I paid closer attention to the assembly directions and upon completion, the little radio worked like a charm.
There were no parts differences between the German and American version. However, the English version of the instructional manual had additional assembly pages including how the mercury power switch should be installed.