Yay, we’ve been playing with more fabtastic Meccano and this time we’ve been sent the awesome Meccano 4×4 Off-Road Truck to review. The more we play and use Meccano the more I value it’s importance as a STEM toy. In fact I see it as a bit of a pre-curser to adult life and the dreaded ‘flat pack’ building and diy.
As always you end up with a really robust good looking model. It’s small enough to fit nicely on a display mantel but meaty enough to play and interact with. This kit is particularly great because it contains a motor (4 AA batteries required) and you get to see the basic mechanics behind 4×4 vehicles and how the pieces all fit together to make the wheels turn. I love shizzle like this!
But how easy is it to build the Meccano 4X4 Off-Road Truck?
The kit is aged 9+, and I’d say that’s true to age. Kids on the lower end of the age spectrum will probably need a little help just making sure they count the right number of holes in the instructions before adding nuts and blots. The instructions themselves are clear but sometimes the dark print of the blacker pieces can be difficult to see. And, as will all Meccano kits, there are times when you need and extra pair of hands to help insert an nut and bolt… all part of the build satisfaction!
It comes packaged in a solid cardboard box with clear images of the finished products. Inside, a you get 443 parts, 2 tools and a detailed instruction manual with three different models to make BUT (and this is the exciting part) …
there are an additional 22 models available to download from the Meccano website. I should mention at this point that you can only ever build one model at a time.
The front of the manual has a great page showing all the different ways to use the tools which is perfect for children (and adults) who haven’t made many construction kits or handled tools before. You also get to see all 25 of the models you can make.The back of the manual lists all the individual parts with an image, part number and quantity.
The instructional diagrams are of good print quality and broken out into neat logical steps! A real bonus is 1:1 bolt and rubber washer diagrams that ensure you use the right size. There are a few diagrams that need careful inspection as the dark print colour of some of the parts makes it difficult to see detail.
We chose to make model number 2 in the instruction booklet which reminds me of a road hog/dune buggy… Ro’s face went blank when I tried to explain it to her. Anyway, she managed to make it pretty easily and only needed my help with a few tricky nuts and bolts and the prop shaft.
The prop shaft takes a bit of manipulating to get everything neatly and tightly aligned. I know a few other reviewers had problems with the metal rods dropping out. You just need to go over the model make a few adjustment s to pull everything in tight.
You’ll know if you haven’t done this properly as the metal rods will move. If it’s all nice and tight your truck will drive like a dream. The only niggle is that the switch is in a slighty awkward place.
It’s another kit that ticks all the right boxes; style, quality and detail. Having loads of projects to build is perfect for re-use and model making practice as long as you don’t mind dismantling the beautifully engineered trucks you’ve sweated time over to make.
It is fiddly in parts (a common problem in construction kits). So it’s good for the younger kids to have an extra pair of hands around to help hold pieces in place whilst they position the nuts and bolts. But like previous kits we’ve had it’s great fun to make and an adult will get the same pleasure from constructing this as a child.
Not only will they get a great motorised truck but they’ll be enhancing their fine motor skills (the rewards will out when they get their first flat pack!), learning to following instruction manuals, starting to understand basic mechanics, developing their problem solving expertise and learning how to work as a team (if working with someone else).
My top tips would be…
- Lay out all the pieces in trays/containers.
- Put batteries in the motor before you start the build!
- Collect all the pieces together before you start each stage rather getting them as you go.
- Constantly check alignment and make sure the build is centered. It can twist/warp as you’re building
- Check and re-tighten nuts and bolt as you go along
- Make sure the prop shaft is tight all the way along. There should be no movement with the metal rods – check over the build so far and adjust if necessary.
- Check the cogs haven’t slipped when putting the drive shaft in place.
As mentioned already, both adults and kids will love it. Just grab a cuppa and some nibbles and prepare yourself for a few hours of construction heaven.
A super quality, great fun,kit that will keep kids entertained for hours!
It currently retails for around £39