Following my last blog post in which I mentioned that Miss D and I enjoy building things, I was delighted to be contacted by Meccano UK and asked if I would like to review a product for them. Needless to say I was happy to accept! The product in question was the ‘Build & Play’ Formula 1 car – a kit comprising of 110 parts, a spanner, screwdriver and instructions for making 5 different models including a helicopter and a crane (it wouldn’t be Meccano if you couldn’t make a crane would it?!).
Miss D turns 4 in February so she’s a little younger than the recommended age group of 5-8 years, however, Meccano were still keen for my feedback and I knew that she would enjoy making (or at least helping to make) the toy.
On opening the box, my first impressions were good. The pieces are much larger and more colourful than the older, traditional Meccano sets that I remember from my childhood, plus the fact that all the parts are now plastic rather than metal. I liked the addition of a few ‘flexible’ pieces of plastic to give the models a more tactile feel and there were also a few ‘easy building’ nuts & bolts which simply snap together and pull apart.
So, on to the build. I asked Miss D which model she would like to make and she chose the racing car. We read the instructions together and she took charge of finding the parts for each step of the build, a task that she managed well. The pieces are clearly identifiable and easy to match up with the instructions so this meant the build could progress fairly quickly and there was little chance of getting bored! I shared the construction steps with her; I’d attach something on one side of the car and would then watch/help while she made the other side.
Miss D used the screwdriver and spanner to good effect (of course, with the occasional reminder of which direction to turn them) but there were a few steps in the construction that proved too tricky for her – bending some of the flexible pieces into position whilst at the same time trying to thread a bolt through as many as 4 different parts AND putting a nut on the end of the bolt was quite a complex task for small hands, even I found it a bit fiddly but that’s probably more to do with my fat fingers than anything else! I’d say the target age of 5-8 is aimed correctly, but may benefit from a bit of adult supervision (or another pair of hands) on the more complicated bits.
The finished model is great and Miss D is very proud of it. From my point of view I like the chunky wheels and the sturdy feel of the car. The eye stickers are a nice touch and add that extra bit of character. My only reservation would be the ‘easy building’ nuts & bolts, there have been several occasions (both while making the model, and since playing with it) where a couple of them have unfastened of their own accord so I’d worry a little about their longevity given that we’d like to get plenty of use out of the kit, both with my daughter, and my son when he’s old enough.
However, I shall leave the last words of the review to my daughter:
Me: What did you like best about making the car?
Miss D: I liked finding all the pieces.
Me: What’s your favourite thing about the car?
Miss D: It has funny eyes and it goes really fast!
Me: Shall we make something else?
Miss D: No, I really like my car!
It’s a thumbs-up from us, thank you Meccano!
Meccano's UK website for further info: http://www.meccanouk.co.uk/