Tente april 11, 2015
When you are a kid, a toy store is the ultimate experience. You examine every toy like an adult would do with an expensive second hand car.
You check every box, every aisle and corner because in the end you have to convince your parents to buy it for you!
So if you were tired of playmobil or He-man, and wanted construction toys, as a spaniard kid in the 80´s you had two choices: Lego and Tente.
And my choice was always Tente.
You all know Lego so this is what wikipedia has to say about...
The (sadly) discontinued Tente
“Tente was a line of construction toys created in 1972 by EXIN-LINES BROS S.A., a plastics and toy company based in Barcelona, which ceased operation in 1993. Subsequently, the trademark and patents were acquired by EDUCA BORRAS.
The toys consisted of multi-colored interlocking plastic bricks in multiple scales and an accompanying array of wheels, minifigures, and various accessories. ..
The primary physical difference with Lego bricks is that Tente brick's studs have a small central hole that allow an alternative connection method to accessory pieces.”—Wikipedia.
The clear difference was the hole.
This block design (which at some point ended up in a won litigation with Lego) had the particularity that it allowed pointy pieces of plastic to be pinned, so as this:
So why did I prefer Tente over Lego?
Tente models were service, military, space vehicles and with those pieces you could architecture new structures, create new things...
Big ships in just 10 pieces!
The fun was not only in building the models but also into playing and modifying to your taste. I used to imagine this next ship the size of an imperial destroyer...
Robots, bring the Mechs!
Moar boats and helicopters!
Meanwhile in Legoland...
**Lego** back then, was hmmm this toy that ... —Just look at that helicopter (°_°) — Eventually, Lego brought the human figure, the personality which is what in essence became the most important Lego icon, that guy over there with that...
Lego had spaceships also but there was this guy and these bolder shapes and when you were building his spaceship he would look at you smiling, playfully and...happy.
At that moment and with a huge international market right there, Tente was forced to bring a human factor. But they were not playful. These were serious workers or pilots whose ships or life was in your hands.
They didn´t smile even before you could arrange their head like the Lego dude....
They were serious people that expected you to build the best ship possible with planes or whatever, their lifes was in your hands and they trusted you...
Because YOU were the architect and engineer.
Tente was a huge success with boys and girls 30 years ago. All the kids had vehicles or spare pieces in a box. Sadly now you can only find Tente in eBay and a bit pricey because it´s a collectors item... with the rise of Lego in Spain, Tente slowly decayed until it was discontinued in 2007.
Today, there are still a lot of Tente lovers and Tente communities that even have petitions for it to be released again :)
Luckily, Lego evolved and now there is a range for every age, including the fantastic Lego Mindstorms™ to sparkle creativity in young and adult minds.
Long live Tente!