Capsela

Capsela

Somewhere in the realm between Legos and the Radio Shack 50-in-1 electronics kits lay the most underrated construction toy of perhaps any generation. Capsela was more than just building or constructing. Capsela was engineering. Capsela rewarded both the mind that could think ahead and the one that discovered as it went.

The Mitsubishi Pencil Company of Japan was the first to manufacture Capsela bukding sets in 1975. The toy’s beauty was found in the clear plastic capsules that joined together by way of geared knobs on the sides to create mechanical sequences. With these foundation pieces, one could build cars, tanks, boats, cranes, gravel loaders … what couldn’t one build with Capsela?

Different capsules had different attributes. Some had motors, others had gears for moving the motor power to wheels, propellers, or pulleys. Some capsules had switches or pontoons. Even the batteries were safely encapsulated, protecting those engaged in any aquatic activity.

Capsela products were sold in several different categories for more or less advanced engineers, containing anywhere from thirty to over a hundred parts. The Capsela Computer came with a sort of “mother brain,” a multi-function computer capsule around which one could build multi-tasking designs complete with flashing lights. One version of the toy even allowed you to plug into the user port of a Commodore 64 for more advanced control.

To escape the “educational” tag, Capsela also released a sister series called SpaceLink with a science fiction theme that ironically had cockpits and action figures, but no motors. Capsela Powertram tried to combine the science fiction of SpaceLine with the cool of Capsela.

Although never as catchy or gimmicky as Legos, Capsela had a fierce fan base in engineers, electricians, mechanics, and kids in general. Even some shop teachers used Capsela to teach kids about physics. Capsela tried to please them all, eventually releasing remote controls and voice operation. But the beauty of Capsela was and always will be its simplicity. Capsela wasn’t just your toy. It was your idea.

Were you ever the proud owner of a Capsela building set? We would love all of your memories of playing and designing these toy machines in our comments section below.

One Response to “Capsela”

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  1. Ryan says:

    Holy cow I loved my Capsela! I played with this toy more than any other at this age. You could put these yellow pontoons on it and use it in the bathtub if you were careful. Eventually the AA batteries in the motor ball leaked, ruining my awesome toy.

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