Monday, October 12, 2015

Montini blocks - NOT Lego

Montini kits

Found in an old box in the club second hand stock. Not Lego, although it looks a bit like it, but plastic blocks from the Italian firm Montini.

Digging around the web, it seems that these might date from the 1950s or 60s. They may even pre-date Lego. Someone suggests that the boys from Denmark ripped off Montini because the Italians didn't register the design. If that's true, there is some irony that Lego have since lost a trademark dispute and the world is full of notLegos with are compatible but not the same.

The plastic these are made from is very soft and flexible. The designs aren't great, but then neither were early Lego models. Children had much better imaginations back then.

Montini produced quite a range of kits, these are the bottom end as there were pretty substantial sets too. Sadly, that's all I can deduce from Tinternet. Can anyone add to the story?


Paul B. said...

On early Lego - we did indeed have to use our imagination more. If you remember the early figures had their arms moulded to the body and the legs were also one piece.
When I was really young (early 70s) and Lego was really basic I made monorails. Curves were out of the question so all track was straight, and I made the track upside down so the bottom of the train slid along the smooth underside of the blocks. Rails were made from 8x2 and longer blocks. Not bad for a 4/5 year old. Happy days!

Phil Parker said...

I remember the men with hands in pockets and one piece legs. My first Lego figures were like this.

Once you get past building just the model on the front of the box, Lego is the most fantastic toy. All the simple blocks are still available and I bet there are kids still using their imagination - although has Minecraft absobed some of this?

stephen said...

No, we just have Minecraft Lego sets now...

David Varley said...

I know Montini sounds Italian, but think they were made in Holland - looks like Revell were involved somewhere as well -$_1.JPG?set_id=880000500F

Anyway, as long as it's mot Lego. Had to buy £4,500s' worth for work the other week and had enough of the stuff!

Anonymous said...

Ah, Montini, now you're talking! I loved this stuff when I was a kid in the early 60s. It was better than Lego, because the material was a tough polythene that was flexible, so the blocks held together really well. Whereas early Lego was much more rigid and slippery smooth; bricks tending to lose grip after repeated use, so your creations would fall apart easily. Also Montini was much earlier to market with things like roof tiles, clear blocks and blocks with holes for axles, so you could make proper buildings and vehicles.


Bambino en Monti said...

Montini was a clever LEGO copy, but it became legal and in some ways superior to the original. Montini got Crown Copyright in Britain in 1964 as Patent GB976761. It was made in Holland from 1961 to 1968. At that time, being unable to compete against Montini legally, LEGO paid a handsome amount of money to the manufacturers in order to make them stop producing these toy bricks. As far as I know, they simply pocketed the money and went on producing other toys until the late 1970s. The factory still exists but has been making plastic household goods and industrial items ever since.