Ittyblox

The 3D-printed buildings are based on architecture in New York, Chicago, and elsewhere, and can glow at night.

Perfect for the urban-planning wonk who wants to build a personal city—or the destructive child who'd like to stomp one to bits—are these tiny, customizable dioramas, which include skyscrapers that can be hacked to glow in the dark.

The adult toys, called Ittyblox, are 3D-printed by the New York/Netherlands company Shapeways, and include a variety of constituent pieces. There's this glassy, jet-black Chicago office tower, for instance, and also a cute clump of New York townhouses. Each one has a different footprint, so arranging them to fit the baseplate might require a bit of "Tetris" skill. But don't worry about troublesome zoning issues—you're the god of this Twilight Zone civilization.

At least some pieces, like the 1:1000-scale Guggenheim Museum and Tudor City building, are based on real-life structures. And all are cut with fantastic detail. Here's the product description for that Chicago tower: "Because some offices have their sun shades down, there is a variation in window color. The rooftop is detailed with a few air conditioning units."

The blocks range from $6 to $93, with multibuilding sets accounting for the more expensive prices; add in $20 for the baseplate plus shipping. Making the buildings glow requires work, though it's probably worth it to the hardcore model fan; some of the windows are cut out and will become illuminated if underlit with an LED. Check out this guide for detailed instructions.

H/t Laughing Squid

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. A photo-illustration of several big-box retail stores.
    Equity

    After the Retail Apocalypse, Prepare for the Property Tax Meltdown

    Big-box retailers nationwide are slashing their property taxes through a legal loophole known as "dark store theory." For the towns that rely on that revenue, this could be a disaster.

  2. A photo of a small small house in San Francisco's Noe Valley that sold for $1.8 million in 2014.
    Equity

    Why Cities Must Tackle Single-Family Zoning

    As cities wake up to their housing crises, the problems with single-family-home residential zoning will become too egregious to ignore.

  3. Children play in a spray park in Rockville Town Square in suburban Rockville, Maryland.
    Life

    America Really Is a Nation of Suburbs

    New data shows that the majority of Americans describe their neighborhoods as suburban. Yet we still lack an official government definition of suburban areas.

  4. A man walks his dog on a hilltop overlooking San Francisco in the early morning hours on Mount Davidson.
    Equity

    When Millennials Battle Boomers Over Housing

    In Generation Priced Out, Randy Shaw examines how Boomers have blocked affordable housing in urban neighborhoods, leaving Millennial homebuyers in the lurch.

  5. A photo of a resident of Community First Village, a tiny-home community for people who were once living in homelessness, outside of Austin, Texas.!
    Design

    Austin's Fix for Homelessness: Tiny Houses, and Lots of Neighbors

    Community First! Village’s model for ending homelessness emphasizes the stabilizing power of social connections.