Kid KNex is a toy construction system invented by Joel Glickman at a noisy and crowded wedding. He was playing around with plastic straws at the table and wondered how he could build things with these straws if he could find a way to connect them. After discussing the concept with his brother Bob, they talked about starting the KNex company, but not before being turned down by major toy manufacturers including Hasbro and Lego.
The first box of Kid KNex rolled out of the production line in 1993 in Hatfield, Pennsylvania. Early systems were composed of colorful plastic rods, bricks and connectors and some versions had handcranks to achieve mechanical movement. Color coded instructions brings the boxed pieces to life, and later versions even added parts such as motors and wheels for advanced mechanical designs.
Manufacturing of all the bricks, rods and connectors are done at the Rodon Group just 2 miles from the KNex factory in Hatfield, Pennsylvania, which is a Glickman run company established in 1956. According to their website, the Rodon Group claims that with the right volume, they’re plastic injection molding can be Cheaper than China!.
In addition, the Rodon Group keeps costs low while reducing their impact on the environment by using color pellets and resin created in plants just 2 miles away. They further reduce material waste with efficient robotic assemblers and recycle up to 20% of their packaging cardboard. The reduction in cost has meant that Kid KNex was able to add 30% more pieces to their packages for more connecting fun!
Though very difficult to find on their site or otherwise, KNex is very careful to claim on their labels that “KNEX Bricks, Rods & Connectors are Made in the USA.” This of course leaves open to the fact that other items such as wheels, figures and electronic motors are made elsewhere, though they make no mention of it. They do mention that Lincoln Logs brand of toys is manufactured in China, and add all the necessary explanation to their attention to quality to avoid criticism.
Nevertheless, these toys are lots of fun and inspire creativity and imagination in young children. Though our boy is not yet of age to enjoy KNex properly, I look forward to the day when we can make some amazing construction pieces with these American Made Toys!