Naveen Kumar (नवीन कुमार) (moebiuscurve) wrote,
Naveen Kumar (नवीन कुमार)
moebiuscurve

An odyssey with toys

A day before yesterday I made a visit to a toy manufacturing company in Pune to gain some new perspective on the book I am currently writing. The company is known as Third Wave Scientific Products Pvt. Ltd. The place was quiet far away near warje flyover and took me about an hour or so to reach. So I arrived late, when they were about to close in just half an hour.

Nevertheless, I arrived at the reception and made some inquiry about the toys they manufactured. The lady at the reception handed me a catalog of the products and I started to have a look into it. To my surprise the products were extremely cheap. The same toys with some big toy manufacturer or of foreign origin would have cost-ed at least 3 or 4 times more. Although these were not the kind of toys I was looking for, I still marked a few of them I would look or buy, and handed the list to the lady.

Meanwhile, I overheard some employees, having a conversation, about creativity in toys, near the reception. So I intervened and started a random conversation about toys with them. And After a while, a few uncomfortable question, about how they decided what needs to be manufactured, and I was directed straight to the owner Mr. Suyash Dake.

The talk with Mr. Suyash Dake was quiet fruitful and I gained quiet an insight from this talk. We talked for about half an hour and it turned out that he quit his job at CDAC pune, in the year 1995, to pursue his passion for toys. Initially as a young man Mr. Suyash would collect garbage (testube etc.) from a chemist shop and the shop owner would consider him a crazy man. But later on he would call him before he threw anything. The young man would then experiment and create toys with this junk, which later grew into a passion, obsession and then a full-time profession. Well, this is what a real passion/obsession is all about, you just can't give it up no matter how crazy it would look to others.

Mr. Suyash told me that he currently cannot even fulfill 40-50% of the demand that he gets for his toys and opportunities for creative and educational toys are quiet immense. We discussed how bigger toy manufacturing companies are charging ridiculous prices for the toys which are not worth even 1/5 or 1/6 their price. Although his is a small setup and has an immense opportunity to grow at a faster rate than current, Mr. Suyash has made it a primary point that the toys manufactured at Third Wave are available at a low and affordable cost to anyone who has slight interest in experimenting with scientific concepts. Most of these toys are directed at schools and school level kids.

Then, he even showed me some of the publications he reads on toys; a research thesis on toys submitted at IIT Bombay long time back, some books on scientific toys by Vikram Sarabhai himself and some other foreign publications. Since he did not have an electronic copy of any of these, he offered me to get them photo copied, which I would do on my next visit. We also talked for a while about a few interesting toys, about my book and some other topics. And then after an exchange of email and phone number I said good bye to him, bought a few toys at the reception and left.

Then I headed straight for M G Road. I reached the place and started walking uphill and made stops at two different toy shops to look for new & interesting toys. During this trip, I came across two interesting toys which I was not previously aware of.

The first one is a metal puzzle, in which a number of two similar (sometimes dissimilar), thick metal straight & curved wire pieces are inter-linked together and you are supposed to unlink them. You can't bend these pieces with strength and the only way to unlink them is to rotate and move them in various spatial configurations. Although many a times it is frustrating trying to unlink them, it has a good lesson to teach in terms of spatial understanding. We are all accustomed & hard-wired to straight edges and orthogonal angles of euclidean geometry. But then, when we are presented with curved spaces and angles this common sense knowledge fails & forces us to think and conceive a new idea about the space itself. This toy can act as the beginning of that notion, although there is more to geometry and space than just this. I am also thinking, whether this toy has more to do with Algebraic/Geometric topology or knot theory than first meets the eye. I will do some more exploration/research on this and then write my findings later.

The other toy is called "fun linkz", which is looks like a less programmable version of geo-magnets in linking and non-magnetic. Only, geo-magnets have fully free 6 degrees of freedom around the linking points and this one has special linking ball which is a bit restrictive in free movements, although still with 6 degrees of freedom, owing to the two separately rotating hemispheres. And each hemisphere's linking can only be done in a (2 dimensional) plane with a slight 3rd dimensional orthogonal distractions. Other connectors have only 3 degrees of freedom in a (2 dimensional) plane. Although even this toy is fun, but I am a bit disappointed with the way these linking points are made & can not preserve a perfect mirror symmetry while linking two objects. It's like linking two books head on, with same number of pages, page by page, with alternate pages from different book. But I guess any kind of perfect symmetry is harder to find even in nature.
Tags: toys
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