Did you ever play with Meccano as a kid? We were more of a Lego house, but the boy next door had Meccano, and it looked a lot more complicated! So, when Spin Master offered us the chance to road test their amazing 25-in-1 Off-Road Racer Kit, I thought it was time to put on my big girl pants and give it a go! I love a bit of flatpack, so this would be pretty similar, wouldn’t it?..
The Meccano 25-in-1 Off-Road Racer Kit
Meccano was invented in 1898 by Frank Hornby and is one of the oldest construction systems in the world. Hornby’s idea was to inspire children to build and create using their imaginations, and this is still the case today, although there is now a strong focus on the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) learning benefits that Meccano offers. STEM is very trendy right now, and there is a huge push for girls to get into STEM subjects. Meccano provides a fun way to do just that! There is more information about how Meccano fits into the STEM curriculum here on their website.
The 25-in-1 Vehicle set is just that: you can build (at least) 25 different vehicles with just the bits in one box. You aren’t given instructions for all 25, but there are pictures on the box to give you an idea. You can, of course, just let your imagination run free and make up your own creations!
The kit comes with 406 parts, including tools and an electrical motor. It’s is rated ‘Level 3’, which is intermediate for difficulty. This particular kit is aimed at children aged 9 and up.
The first thing we did on opening the box was to check the parts (that’s my flatpack experience talking!). We sorted out the screws into the different sizes, as there are several and they are all quite similar! There is a large instruction book which shows all the different parts and how many there should be.
We thought we’d go straight in and try the Off-Road Racer featured on the front of the box. This was possibly our first mistake. Having never attempted modern Meccano before, with hindsight, we probably should have attempted something simpler!
The instructions are graphic and step-by-step. Each picture shows which parts are needed and there is a handy guide to help you find the right screws as there is a full-scale picture against which you can lay a screw to check you have the right size. We found the pictures reasonably clear to follow.
However, we soon came unstuck! Big (who is 10) found it really tricky!
The pieces are really, really small! Not like the Meccano I remember of old. Big just doesn’t have the dexterity to manage the tiny screws and ‘silver dudes’ (we renamed all the pieces!) without getting quickly frustrated, and I struggled too!
The instructions suggest this can be built in around 4 hours, but I knew it was likely to take us a lot longer, and Big quickly lost interest, although he did stick around to find the parts for the next step ready for me. In the end, I built it over three evenings and eventually completed it! It wasn’t going to beat me!
Good points of the Meccano 25-in-1 Off-Road Racer Kit
- Hours of non-screen time!
- A great STEM learning activity
- 25 (or more!) vehicles for the price? A bargain!
- The satisfaction of knowing you built yourself a pretty complicated bit of kit – when you do finish it.
Not so good points of the Meccano 25-in-1 Off-Road Racer Kit
- Incredibly fiddly!
- Parts seemed to loosen and fall off as a new part was being added. This added a bonus game of ‘spot where that bit came from’ into the mix.
- You must get the mechanical parts exactly right for the vehicle to move – we haven’t quite managed it yet!
In all fairness, we are Meccano virgins and this is aimed at Level 3 skills, so we might have got on a lot better with level 1! Or maybe start with one of the less-complicated vehicles… If your kids are a little more experienced, or have more patience and better dexterity than Big, they’ll probably love the challenge.
It was a little more complicated than your average Ikea Kallax…
You can buy the Meccano 25-in-1 Off-Road Racer Kit at various stockists, including Amazon (affiliate link) priced at £34.94.
Disclosure: We were sent a Meccano 25-in-1 Off-Road Racer Kit for the purposes of this review. All opinions are most definitely mine, and occasionally Big’s!