On July 13, Randy Sauder, a former Cobb County state representative of Smyrna, won the Most Exotic Model award for the third straight year at the A. C. Gilbert Heritage Society National Convention in Chicago.
The event marked the 100 year anniversary of the founding of the A. C. Gilbert Company, which manufactured toys through the first half of the 1900s.
Sauder’s latest creation has 30 circus rides, including a rotating Ferris wheel and a merry-go-round with horses that move up and down, as well as music and laughter playing in the background.
The frame of the model is 30 inches wide, 27 inches tall and 19 inches deep. It has about 2,000 continuous moving parts that date back to the original Gilbert Erector sets from 1913 to 1932.
For Sauder, his love for Erector sets came early in life when his father passed down his own set in the late 1950s.
“It was my father’s boyhood set and as a child I played with it for hours,” Sauder said.
Seven years ago, when his father died, Sauder decided to build a model in honor of his parents.
“Truth be known, I am still a little boy playing with them,” Sauder said.
But, Sauder said playing with Erector sets actually teaches valuable skills that show kids the practical applications of pulleys and wheels.
“Most engineers in this country first cut their teeth with Erector sets,” Sauder said.
He added, with an Erector set, children can truly build anything they imagine. It just takes trial and error to learn the physics behind the intricate construction.
“The building principles used at the miniature level are the same in real life,” Sauder said.
Sauder said he often has a vision for a model before a clear plan of how to craft it.
“There is a way, you just have to figure it out,” Sauder said.
A home crowd
For the first time, the A. C. Gilbert Heritage Society National Convention will be coming to Cobb at the Atlanta Marriott Northwest hotel July 12, 2014.
Sauder said he is still thinking about an idea for next year’s competition. The inspiration for the fun house came from researching Coney Island rides seven years ago.
The convention is orchestrated by a group of enthusiasts that collect products from the A. C. Gilbert Company, including chemistry sets, microscopes and American Flyer trains.
Sauder said most Erector sets were metal and very durable, so out of the 30 million that were produced, there are many sets available today.
The most expensive and rare sets can be worth thousands of dollars, but most are $50 to $100, Sauder said.
To learn more about The A. C. Gilbert Heritage Society or how to make an Erector sets model visit www.acghs.org.