Cardboard Box Rivets by Mr. McGroovy

Why do children play with a cardboard box when they have a room full of expensive toys? That question was seriously asked on

The answer, of course, is imagination. Kids can imagine a box being a car, boat, space ship, train or anything at all. The less detailed a toy, the more fun it can be. Last year the ubiquitous cardboard box was added to the National Toy Hall of Fame at the Strong Museum of Play in New York. Kids as young as 1-year-old can enjoy the simplicity of crawling through a one-box tunnel.

Box play has two limiting factors. First, the size and quantity of your boxes. A large TV box can be a small room for toddlers while a box that held a few reams of printer paper is more like a one-toddler kayak.

Second, boxes can’t be effectively combined into complex structures without a mess of duct tape.

Diagram of a cardboard castle and a marketing photo of a rivet set.
That’s where Mr. McGroovy’s Box Rivets can help. They are simple. Make a hole in two boxes you want to stick together. Insert a plastic rivet on both sides of the hole and snap them together. The rivets are reusable with an included rivet removal tool.

McGroovy’s web site has design plans for constructing a castle and fire truck, and sketches for a pirate ship, princess carriage, skyscraper tunnel city and a sandcastle façade.

Granted, the castle requires eight refrigerator boxes, but he details how to obtain large boxes: inquire with a delivery company that handles refrigerators or washing machines. My favorite source, if you or a friend works for a large company, is to ask the IT department for computer boxes as new PCs are purchased.

McGroovy’s gallery of customer creations shows some elaborately painted structures, but his own painting instructions hit home with this page title: Kids Couldn’t Care Less. Yep, if you actually design a cool cardboard castle, no one of any age is going to care whether you painted it.

For $10 (shipping included) you get a box of 50 rivet sets, more than enough to design something pretty nice.

OK, but if I started out talking about simplicity and imagination, why am I now talking about complex parent-crafted designs? Well, yeah, you got me. I’m really only interested in rivets for making a rock solid box maze big enough for dad and daughter to explore. Check out these photos of a multi-room cardboard tunnel maze (it doesn’t use rivets, and has a fair amount of duct tape).  I just have to convince my wife to let me bring giant boxes home and let them take over the house.

[Link via Parent Hacks. Mr. McGroovy's Box Rivets were mentioned on numerous blogs in the past week, but when
I googled to indentify the first blog citation it turned out to be none other than Parent Hacks from seven months ago. Gah! You miss one day of Parent Hacks and you lose out on coolness.]


One Response to “Cardboard Box Rivets by Mr. McGroovy”

  1. The Publisher says:

    Have you ever seen that episode of Spongebob where him and Patrick order a huge TV just so they can play in the box? It was on this morning.

    November 7th, 2006 at 1:21 pm