K'NEX designs, manufactures, and distributes plastic toy construction sets that encourage creativity, interaction, self-confidence, fine motor skill development, and an understanding of math, science, and technology concepts. With a slogan of “IMAGINE – Build – Play”,1 K'NEX believes that “play is the work of childhood and a prerequisite to the development of many important skills and abilities.”2
Joel Glickman came up with the Rod and Connector building system concept by playing with straws while attending a wedding.3 After further development, K'NEX Brands, L.P. was organized in 1992 in Hatfield, Pennsylvania. As a private company, K'NEX has worked in partnership with the Rodon Group, which is owned and operated by the Glickman family. The Rodon Group manufactures all the plastic bricks, rods, and connectors for K'NEX as well as components for medical, food and beverage, pharmaceutical, construction, and building industries.4
K'NEX expanded their Rod and Connector system when they added wheels, pulleys, and gear components. Color-coded instructions were included to assist children ages 3 and up to build the kit models. To these basic sets were added mechanical drives and integrated motors that allowed the movement of model designs and children's creations.
Over the years, K'NEX has added features, such as programmable control options, CyberK'NEX for downloading actions and personalities from the internet, realistic color palettes, and specialty items, such as chrome wheels.5 Most recently, K'NEX introduced K'NEX Bricks for even greater flexibility in their “open-ended, spatial building system” sets.6
K'NEX products are offered as either retail sets or educational sets. Retail sets are organized by age groups and abilities: simple, realistic models in primary colors for ages 3-5; complex projects with more motors, gears, and moving parts for ages 6-8; and larger, more detailed, and more complex challenges for ages 9 years and up.7 They offer basic building sets and thematic sets, such as Thrill Rides, NASCAR, and Sesame Street building sets.8
Educational K'NEX sets are designed as a classroom tool and include math, science, and technology curriculum support materials and supplies. Lesson plans cover concepts such as space exploration, simple machines, fractions, measurements, amusement park technology, and potential and kinetic energy.9 They also have an online Home School Resource Center.
K'NEX products have received over 200 awards from groups such as Dr. Toy, Parents Magazine, National Parenting Center, Canadian Toy Testing Council, Oppenheim Toy Portfolio, Sesame Street Parents, Creative Child Magazine, Family Fun, the Learning Magazine, and the Early Childhood News.10
Besides the building sets and the education systems, K'NEX also represents BRIO's colorful wooden toys and Lincoln Logs sets.
- 1. “About K'NEX.” K'NEX. < http://www.knex.com/About_KNEX/ > 27 Oct. 2011.
- 2. “Benefits of K'NEX Constructive Play.” K'NEX. < http://www.knex.com/Parents/Benefits_of_KNEX.php > 27 Oct. 2011.
- 3. “K'NEX History.” K”NEX. < http://www.knex.com/About_KNEX/KNEX_History.php > 27 Oct. 2011.
- 4. “The Rodon Group.” K'NEX. < http://www.knex.com/About_KNEX/Rodon-Plastic-Manufacturers.php > 27 Oct. 2011.
- 5. Op.cit., “K'NEX History.”
- 6. “About K'NEX Education.” K'NEX. < http://www.knex.com/Educators/about.php > 27 Oct. 2011.
- 7. “Growing with K'NEX.” K'NEX. < http://www.knex.com/Parents/Growing_With_3.php >, < http://www.knex.com/Parents/Growing_With_6.php >, < http://www.knex.com/Parents/Growing_With_9.php > 27 Oct. 2011.
- 8. “Product Guide.” K'NEX. < http://www.knex.com/products/ > 27 Oct. 2011.
- 9. “Frequently Asked Questions.” K'NEX. < http://www.knex.com/Educators/frequently_asked_questions.php > 27 Oct. 2011.
- 10. “Awards.” K'NEX. < http://www.knex.com/About_KNEX/Awards.php > and “Awards & Recognition.” K'NEX. < http://www.knex.com/Educators/awards.php > 27 Oct. 2011.