These Flat Pack Building Blocks Are LEGO Meets Origami

These Flat Pack Building Blocks Are LEGO Meets Origami

Melissa Massello
May 30, 2017

Move over LEGO, there's a new kid in town—and she wants to expand your mind to new limits of imaginative play and thinking. A groovy design inspired by Buckminster Fuller's geodesic domes of the 1970s, Troxes are triangular, interlocking, flat-pack building bricks made from Plike, a soft-touch paper that almost feels like plastic.

Originally assigned to creator Jonathan Bobrow as a student project to create a "press-fit kit," or interlocking series of objects, while studying for his masters degree at the MIT Media Lab, Troxes are now a rising-star business — and winning critical acclaim, such as the Editor's Choice Award at the most recent Maker Faire. Within a week of launching a Kickstarter campaign, Bobrow has already crowdfunded more than double his initial goal of $10,000, or a total pledged amount of $23,633 at press time.

(Image credit: Troxes / Kickstarter)

These flat-pack building blocks resemble a go-anywhere hybrid of LEGO blocks and origami paper, and I can easily envision them being a minimalist parent's best friend on road trips and flights — maybe even replacing the adult coloring book as the next child-like relaxation trend. Montessori thinking for over-worked moms and dads, if you will.

"Our toys shape how we think," Bobrow says in his Kickstarter pitch. "If rectangular building blocks dominate our play, we reinforce arbitrary limits on spatial thinking. That's unfortunate because, unlike our toys, the world isn't governed by right angles, and the ability to think deeply about space is profoundly valuable. Spatial thinking is critical to building any physical object, playing any sport, moving safely through the world, all visual art, and has been known, now and then, to alter human history."

Each Trox is built from the same pieces, and the resulting shape depends only on how many pieces are used. Instructions include diagrams for building 3-dimensional puzzles in each of three Trox family shapes: Tetra, a pyramidal shape composed of four Trox pieces; Octa, a diamond-shaped "crystalline structure" composed of eight Trox pieces; and Icosa, a spherical shape composed of 20 Trox pieces.

Prototype starter packs come in a variety of size and color combinations, from a 50-piece Starter Pack in a single color (out of four prototype colors available at launch) to a 2,000-piece Classroom Pack with all four launch color pieces included. (Bobrow hopes to offer more colorway options as the Kickstarter funding increases.)

Learn more, or back the current project, on Kickstarter.

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