K’Nex is a brand name of a construction toy system invented by Joel Glickman, designed and produced by K’Nex Industries Inc. of Hatfield, Pennsylvania, USA. Currently Michael Araten is the president of the organization. The name is a phonetic variation of connects, and is pronounced the same way. The toy’s building system consists of interlocking plastic rods and connectors, which can be pieced together to form a wide variety of models, machines, and architectural structures. K’Nex is a construction toy, and therefore in the same genre as LEGO, Fischertechnik and Meccano. It is similar to Tinkertoy.
The concept behind K’Nex was originally conceived by Joel Glickman. While he was at a wedding, he started thinking of what he could do with his straw if he could connect it with other straws. He and his brother Bob Glickman discussed the idea and started the K’Nex company.
The original building system kept very closely to the idea that Joel Glickman had: The K’Nex building system was simply Rods and Connectors which could be easily attached together to make different things. Other parts such as wheels and pulleys were also included to allow more flexibility in construction. The first K’Nex Box was launched in the U.S. market in 1993. Original models with moving parts had a handcrank to make things move, but soon, gears and motors allowed models to move on their own.
When K’Nex went to the big toy companies, such as Hasbro, and others, their idea was turned down, but they were referred to giant construction toy producer Lego. However, Lego was unwilling to consider producing their new toy. Instead, Glickman partnered with the Rodon Group, using their facilities to make his first set through a process called injection molding K’Nex is now distributed in over 30 countries, including the U.S..