Archive for September, 2009

September’s been a good month for buying used sets from eBay. This month, I’ve bought:

  • Intermediate Set, new in box ($19.90 + $20.67 shipping)
  • Master Set, new in box ($34.99 + $20.00 shipping)
  • Millenium Explorer ($29.99 + $16.00 shipping)

I’ve also seen some Chaos sets on Craigslist, but Edmonds Washington is a long drive from Virginia…

So why keep buying sets?  A couple of reasons:

  1. The biggest limiting factor with the sets seems to be the medium and large tubes; I have plenty of stunts and track, but not enough tubes to build a large framework.
  2. Parts break.  The rubber in the trampolines dries out with age; plastic becomes brittle and snaps unexpectedly.
  3. I hate to see these sets go unused — better to buy them myself than have them go to the rubbish heap.
  4. The used prices are so good, it’s hard to resist them…

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Chaos Toy doesn’t seem to believe in keeping any historical information on their site; once they’ve sold all of their stock on an item, it vanishes, never to be seen again.  If it weren’t for the Internet Archive Wayback Machine, I wouldn’t have nearly as much information about the older sets and parts.  The Internet Archive works by scanning websites and archiving as many publicly accessible pages as possible.  If you don’t want your site scanned, you can use the robots.txt file, but by default, it will scan and archive everything.  After 6-14 months it will appear in the archives.

You can see all of the archived copies of the Chaos Toy website here. Some of the better ‘leaping off’ points for Chaos Toy information are:

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I took my Chaos Machine to Tad and Craig’s Excellent Party, and had a blast. There was lots of interest from adults as well as children, and I’m definitely going to take the machine back next year.

We arrived at the hotel around 5:00pm, and after some negotiation with the staff, got the machine into the function space. I started off with a framework that was about 7 feet long, one foot wide, and roughly five feet high. I put a screw elevator at one end, and a chain elevator at the other, with collector track feeding each elevator. Then I started with some simple runs and stunts (a double loop-de-loop for one side, a simple trampoline for the other). Working alone, that took much of Friday night (with breaks for dinner and socializing).

When I came back after breakfast Saturday morning, people were already playing with the machine, making the runs more interesting (complicated) and tweaking things. This continued off and on throughout the day on Saturday, and again on Sunday. Saturday afternoon I replaced the screw elevator with another chain elevator (the 9-segment screw was prone to jamming), and the double loop got downsized to a single loop, and eventually removed, again due to reliability concerns.

It took about an hour on Sunday night to pack everything up again (not including delays due to socializing). Having individual bins for each of the different types of parts really made it easy to clean up, and stacking the bins in the tubs made them easy to move (the tubs fit nicely onto the hotel carts). I know I’ve got some cleanup to do (there was the expected amount of breakage over the course of the weekend), but for now the machine is stored in my garage.

There were a lot of small children, but for the most part they were well behaved. The hard part was convincing their parents that neither I nor the Chaos Machine were babysitters. I found it odd that after a while most of the kids were referring to the balls as ‘chaos’ and that adding more balls to the machine was ‘adding more chaos’. A couple of times I had to remind the young kids that the machine was fragile, and twice I had to explain that the support tubes weren’t intended to be used to make rifles or swords. All in all, the kids were well behaved … for kids.

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