Dollar Builds: “Bolts”

Note: There is a giant random space in this article. I do not know why it is there and every time I attempted to fix it the entire entry would get scrambled. Please excuse it.

I had planned this as a Lame Toys video and then a Cool Builds but my new camera is just full of surprises, the latest being that it continues to use the battery even after I’ve turned it off. Am I turning it off “wrong”? How can I turn it off “wrong”? There’s only one way to shut it off!

Well let’s see, maybe I’ll just use the MuseMage recording app on my phone for lighting and cleanup. Wait, what is this? Now it suddenly wants permission to access stuff on my phone that it doesn’t even need? When did that become a thing. Screw off, MuseMage, got you for free anyway as an App-of-the-Day.

In addition to the recording shenanigans it must be said that these dollar knock-off 3rd-party Erector sets do not lend themselves to Let’s Build videos at all. Don’t get me wrong, I picked them up and planned this out knowing full well what I was getting and yet I still wasn’t prepared for the level of frustration involved in keeping the camera focus, the small parts in frame, and keeping each video under three or four minutes; what was initially a quick, easy build turned into a laborious slog once I hit record. Maybe I need more experience.

But enough of that, let’s get into this old-school photo shoot-styled look at Bolts. Dollar Tree had two kits in stock at the time of original purchase, which was whenever ago, and both looked like pretty solid little builds: Bulldozer and Biplane. Bolts is a product of Greenbrier International, a China-based toy company that’s responsible for more than a few of the items I’ve covered in the past and probably a good chunk of the cheap stuff that your kids play with.

Maybe I’ll blend them into a Bidozer if I ever overcome Biplane’s shortcomings.

I tried to build Biplane first because you just have to build the airplane first in any kit grab, and I do mean tried. We’ll get to that but right now let’s look at Bulldozer.








As is evident by the quarter, the parts and tools in each Bolts kit are very small. As is not evident by the quarter, all of the orange, gray, and tire pieces are plastic and for a buck I get it: materials at a minimum to keep the cost down. That’s why all the blown-up copies of robot toys in dollar stores are hollow shells. With the Bulldozer kit this wasn’t a problem since the instructions basically make a wheel sandwich that’s easy to hold as you screw on additional pieces and both tools perform their jobs without any hassle. The shovel on Bulldozer can move up and down. In a video you’d see that, in this article I’m going to scratch the bulldozer under its chin.


Now we come to Biplane. Biplane looked really cool on the front of that box. I would happily attach it to my ceiling fan and make it fly around, these models only weight like maybe a gram or two. I set out the pieces and started putting it together.

I tried putting it together for a solid week. And in the end, well… we crashed. Hard.


Biplane in two words: poorly designed. Whereas Bulldozer was a yummy sandwich build, Biplane is your first casserole that gave the in-laws indigestion. The propeller, gear box, and wings to the upper-right are as far as I’ve managed to get because of the small parts and tools, but why? The directions aren’t any harder to follow than the Bulldozer and the tools are exactly the same. So what happened? It’s the work space. There just isn’t any.

What you see now is the inside of the gear box. There are already three bolted nuts occupying this box, two for the wings and one for the propeller. The kit now wants me to install two more to hold the two remaining orange pieces to form the fuselage of the Biplane. Here are my comparatively gigantic fingers trying to get the wrench to do anything inside of the gear box:

“Well there’s yer problem!”

That is correct: the wrench included with this kit is too wide to be of any help inside of the gear box. I couldn’t even use it to slowly tease the edge of the bolt around because it would immediately fall off. The wrench does have a second head for sliding nuts into place like you would put a pizza into an oven but heck if I know how you’re supposed to actually do anything useful with it since the nut slides off like butter. It’s only staying on in the photo because I’m holding it at an angle. If only the thing where even mildly magnetic.

I can’t even fall back on the tried and true method of just using my fingers because they’re too big to get into the gear box and even when I do manage to coax a nut onto the screw the wrench just knocks it off if the nut didn’t already manage that itself the moment I stopped touching it. I thought about building the Biplane from the tail-end first or leaving the wings for the last step but I haven’t gotten a mental image that doesn’t leave the gear box totally inaccessible in either case. I’ll keep thinking on it but I may have to conclude that the instructions were printed up and the parts were boxed without any test building.

Well, that or these kits were intended for fingers and hands much smaller than mine. :v




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