Monday, 5 September 2011

Meccano Review - part 1


I was approached by Meccano a few weeks back to see if I fancied trying out a set each with the grandchildren, now OH loved this idea as he has fond fond memories of playing with this as a boy, and I certainly remember my older brother having a lot of it and him having the skill and patients to play for hours with it creating some stunning items, so we said yes please.

So we provided Meccano with the childrens' ages and they sent out two separate kits, the build and play formula 1 car. This kit contains 110 pieces and builds 5 models, 1 at a time, and is designed for ages 5-8 and  The new 7 model set which is the more conventional meccano as I remember it, and this set is designed for ages 8-88,
You can see the full range broken down by ages and types over at

My first thoughts on this product is Im not sure Bob will be able to achieve much at the beginning, but even if to start we can learn to put together the nuts and bolts and even achieve making strange shapes then that is a start. I do not want to be making a full model with him in the early days as it will just frustrate him that he cannot do it alone( due mainly to his autism). We have the next few years to progress onto achieving following instructions and assembling a model, but who knows he may surprise me and achieve quicker. He, in the last 6 months has turned into a little boy with little boy likes, no longer a toddler with toddler needs, and now he has started school will need to be much more independent.

Fifi falls into the middle of these models, being 8 she is at the top end of the younger plastic kit, but the bottom end of the more grown up kit. Her biggest problem is she thinks  she doesn't need to read instructions and is the sort of child that will rush into things and then gets annoyed at herself when it doesn't work out. So I have decided that for the first week at least she will only have access to the plastic kit, let her learn to follow instructions and when she can achieve with this allow her to use the older kit and let her imagination run wild and have lots of fun with the fiddly bits of the metal set. Otherwise I fear it will over face her and put her off using it altogether.

the pieces as they came out the box
The 5-8 yr old set they send me was plastic Meccano with easy click lock fixing together rather than the conventional nut bolt and fiddly screw driver. It has instructions for 5 different models, 2 different types of racing cars, a helicopter, a digger and a crane, that you can make 1 at a time, plus what ever their imaginations may come up with. So in the interests of science I thought before the children need help with it I would try it out and see how I get on. , so I promptly headed off to see how long it would take me with out assitance hindrance from the children.

poured out the bags
Its first outing.

a step by step instruction book
First of all I emptied all the pieces out on the floor to get a feel for them. I loved the fact that some of the pieces are pliable and therefore will bend into different shapes.

The instruction book has step by step instructions, made even easier by the fact that each step also shows you which pieces you need for that step. There are no written instructions, pictures only which makes it ideal for children that cannot read.

Whilst assembling the models I noticed that the pieces the nuts are designed to fit into are shaped so that the nuts will not turn when you are putting in the screws, making it much easier for young children to use as you only need the screwdriver to tighten up the nuts and bolts and do not have to use the spanner there by making it easier for young children to co-ordinate their hands.

I made the helicopter in 35mins and the car in 45 mins, so that gives me some sort of idea what sort of time scale the children will need. Certainly with Fifi I am hoping she just needs supervision and me watching rather than helping, where as granddad or I will need to sit with Bob and be there if he needs help.

my finished car

Bobs' First try

Today for Bob was about teaching him the basics, but he seemed to have a good grasp of nuts and bolts and screwdrivers and spanners, but like any little boy he has had tool kits.

So granddad thought a plane would be a simple thing to make, so Bob and I started making a plane, then grandad kept getting us to add bits and more bits to it. He needed little help apart from granddad relaying what we were to do next....don't know why granddad just didn't do it with him instead of me....

there's never a picture without the cheesy grin...

and here is our finished project

Fifis' first try.

futtery bits
 After Bob went to bed Fifi and I took the Meccano to see what she could do with it. I did not anticipate her needing a lot of help, but wanted to be there in case she did. She decided to she would follow the instructions and make the helicopter. It took her 35 mins as well and she only needed help in one part, where near the end you had to join 2 pieces you had made together and some of the bolts appeared to be in each others way.

concentrating on the instructions

Fifi says the Meccano is fun when you build it. Its hard to join pieces together, and she needed a bit of help. She liked it and cant wait to try the more grown up set next time she is here.
the finished result
  verdict - a hit with both of them and I have a feeling this will be played with regularly.

Next week we will post on Bobs progress and Fifis fun with the other set.

This is a sponsored post with the Meccano being sent to me for free, but the comments and findings are my honest opinion as to what we as a family thought of the product.


  1. charlie (@mirrorballgirl)5 September 2011 at 21:46

    A great post as usually elaine. I never had meccano as a kid. It looks like a lot of fun. Plus it looks as though fifi and bob had a great time playing with it. The kinda toys that keep kids occupied for a while. Which is what you want when they're bored, lol. You have some really nice photos of the kids too, elaine. I always love reading your posts and Ill keep on doing it xx

  2. Thanks for the comment over at mine. I do agree with the learning curve and also that my eldest is on the young side for the harder kit, however, Mini much prefers the playability of the space range we were sent.

  3. great post , i love the look of these sets , we were sent a space set , which were quite difficult to put together but once assembled were great to play with x

  4. only thing I felt was if the kids were playing with what they had made, which is the idea then you do need to keep tightening, they do tend to loosen a wee bit, but didnt detract from the fun at all.


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