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Atomic blox

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Atomic Blox™ is a line of modular building toys lit internally by LEDs. Each set contains a battery pack, a variety of illuminated blocks in several shapes, and unlit blocks in those and other shapes. Blocks are joined with a rectangular connector that ensures the proper alignment of the PCB terminals that conduct current from the battery pack. The line was introduced in 2005 in the United States.

Technology and Geometry Edit

Illumination Edit

Atomic Blox are based on so-called MECs Technology™ (or MECs), which stands for "Multi Electrical Conductive Snap." Each Blox contains a small printed circuit board on which is mounted one or more LEDs. and supporting circuitry. Because the board is opaque and covers the full diameter of the Blox, the illumination is visible from only one side.

The so-called Blox connect by means of tab-and-slot terminals. Powered terminals are located only in MECs Blox. Unpowered Blox are totally inert; their standard terminals do not transfer power. MECs Blox of a particular shape (cubical, cylindrical, etc.) come in three types, defined by how many powered terminals they have: 2-point, "4-point," or "6-point."

Electricity is provided by batteries within so-called Power Blox™ (originally called an Atomic Brain™), which come in large and small types. The large Power Blox contains three AAA cells. There is a single control button, and two modes of operation. Press-and-release causes power to flow for two seconds. Press-and-holding for five seconds activates continuous power; pressing again terminates it.

Geometry Edit

The so-called Blox have a cubical symmetry, with terminals at 90 degree intervals. According to official terminology, terminals may be either "male" (a tongue with slot) or "female" (a socket with a small thin tab). (The instructions misspeak: "terminals may be either male (socket) or female (small thin tab).") MECs Blox of a particular shape (cubical, cylindrical, etc.) come in three types, defined by how many powered terminals they have: 2-point, "4-point," or "6-point."

Because terminals are rectangular, they are "bi-directional," fitting in only two orientations. This, plus the configuration of male and female terminals, sharply limits possible constructions.

Blox, both MECs and standard, are identified in the printed instructions by a shorthand that counts the number of powered terminals: 0P, 2P, 4P, 6P, or 16P.

All parts are molded of translucent plastic: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, clear and smoky grey. LEDs may be blue, green, amber or red. Although the color of plastic and LED are usually coordinated, some parts have appeared in multiple combinations. (Need example.)

Manufacturing quality Edit

Atomic Blox are held together by friction, so a precise match between tabs and slots is essential. Tolerances are adequate, in that Blox do not fall apart once joined; but significant effort (wiggling back and forth) is required to both conect and detach.

Parts Edit

Illuminated Edit

  • Power Blox™ - 16 terminals
  • Power Blox Mini™ - 8

Produced in both illuminated and inert versions Edit

  • Sphere - 6 terminals
  • Cube - 6
  • Cylinder - 6
  • Wedge - 3 (2 male, 1 female)
  • Ellipse - 3
  • Pipe - 2

Inert only Edit

  • Disc plate - 1 hole plus 4 edge slots
  • 2x2 plate - 4 holes
  • 2x3 plate - 6
  • 2x4 plate - 8
  • Wheel - 1

Inert specialized accessories Edit

Several of the sets (Sigma 1™, Gamma Rex™, and Zetatron™) are equipped with additional, specialized parts that give the completed models specific shapes. These parts are not illuminated. (?) They are:

  • Sigma 1™ - a streamlined aircraft with cockpit, fins, and engines
  • Gamma Rex™ - a tyrannosaur-like creature with head, spinal spikes, tails, arms, and legs
  • Zetatron™ - a bipedal robot with head, chest plate, fists, legs, and hand-held weapon

Instructions Edit

Each set (2005) is accompanied by a single two-sided instruction sheet, 8.5 x 11 inches, printed in greyscale. It includes the following:

  • An explanation of Atomic Blox technology
  • Power Blox operation
  • An inventory of all Atomic Blox parts
  • Battery safety and replacement
  • Compact instructions for one model
  • Inspirational images of additional models
  • A list of other sets (with parts counts but no names)
  • Copyright and contact information for the company

Each set (2006) is accompanied by a hardcopy instruction booklet, approximately 5.5 x 3.25 inches in size, and printed in both English and French. It includes the following:

  • An explanation of Atomic Blox technology
  • Power Blox operation
  • A parts inventory for the set
  • Step-by-step instructions for one model
  • Inspirational images of additional models
  • A list of other sets (with names but no parts counts)
  • An inventory of all Atomic Blox parts
  • Battery safety and replacement
  • Copyright and contact information for the company

Sets Edit

First Wave Edit

  • Contain ordinary Blox only:
    • Helicopter(tm), DT23525 - 20 pieces
    • Star Cruiser(tm), DT23501 - 30 pieces
    • Defender(tm) - 50 pieces
    • Scorpion(tm) - 75 pieces
    • (Motorcycle) - 100 pieces
  • Include additional specialized pieces:
    • Sigma 1™
    • Gamma Rex™
    • Zetatron™

Second Wave Edit

(To be written)

Manufacturer Edit

The initial manufacturer (2005) of Atomic Blox was identified in the instructions as Dynatech Action, located in Red Deer, Alberta, Canada.

In 2006, sets were identified as "manufactured for and distributed by" Globe Dragon Technology Development Ltd., located in Hong Kong.

Sales History Edit

Atomic Blox sets were available in Kmart, Target, and Toys "R" Us stores in the U.S. In at least one market (southeast Pennsylvania) they were overpriced, because all three retailers eventually reduced First Wave sets to approximately 50% off.

External links Edit

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