Since my son has been at school for a couple of years now, I find that his tastes in toys have changed considerably, with him being influenced by the friends he plays with, and he has also been watching older episodes of childrens TV shows on the netflix subscription we have. One show that has been a recent fascination is Sonic the Hedgehog. Prior to this, his experience of the character Sonic has come from playing one old game we have for the playstation two, so we have been surprised by this recent fascination.
When he had birthday money to spend, he spent a long time in the toy shop picking out what he wanted to spend his pennies on. There was not much featuring the Sonic character, but he liked the look of this meccano set featuring Sonic and a blue speedstar car.
Inwardly we groaned a bit when he picked this. I believe in letting children make their own reasonable choices with guidance, and we couldn't think of a good reason not to buy this. The price was £14.99, and for this price, the cardboard box was a fairly decent size. We could see from the box that this was a motorised car, with 15 plus pieces. Our reluctance comes from previous experience of cars you build yourself where they are not actually that good, and my youngest son who is only 4 always likes to tinker and take things apart.
Because of our reluctance, it took a while to get round to building this till we were sure we had a block of time to do it. We expected that this would take at least an hour of time to get it built up properly, with my son reading the instructions with help to interpret and act upon them.
What we found was that this really is not quite what we expected at all, and it was really quite a simple toy to build. We were expecting a lot of assembly, but this was something that was put together in less than ten minutes if I am being generous, and there were only two screws to put in.
Out of our 15 pieces, 4 were parts of the car. This came as the wheel base, a section that holds the seat, a white section which makes the lower body of the car, then the blue section that is the outer body of the car. This is held together by two screws, one at the front on the bonnet, and one on the rear section of the car. You get a screwdriver with a triangular shaped head to use with these screws.
Each wheel is then in 2 parts. A red inner section, with a black tyre. The tyre needs putting round the rim, before these are pushed onto the axles of the car. (So so far, 4+2+8= 14 bits.) You get a blue jewel to put on the front of the car over the screw head for decorative purposes, but nothing to cover up the rear screw.
Sonic is then in two pieces, his upper body, and his lower body. When assembled, he sits well in the driving seat, and his hands can fit around the steering wheel.
The toy is basically just a glorified pull back and go friction operated toy car. There is a small amount of fun in building it as it is quite simple to do and you get the result of your work really quickly.
As a parent, I feel a little swizzled. I think £15 is a bit high a price for what you get, £10 might be more reasonable. I also find it really hard to classify this as a meccano toy, as the level of assembly is really quite low in my opinion. It was so simple my 4 year old could have managed it really, and I think for a 6 year old who has experience of building lego and the like, then it is verging on a bit babyish. The recommended age of five might be ok for some kids, but for my two I think about 4 years would be better. Also, 15 plus parts is getting a bit dubious when you start counting the tyre and wheel as two seperate bits. Yes, there are, but only if you are pedantic with your counting.
My children have enjoyed playing with this car as they like trying to do tricks with it, pulling it back on my coffee table then letting it fly off and seeing how far it can go. To be fair to it, it is a sturdy car, and this type of rough play is not likely to damage it too much as the plastic seems tough enough. The sonic figure is nice. I like how he grips the wheel, though this is a little tricky to do for small hands.
This is ok for a fan of Sonic, and as long as you know to expect minimal building, then it shouldn't be a disappointment. I think if I'd known how simplistic it was, I probably would have tried to persuade my son to spend his pennies on another toy which he would get better play value from, but he seems happy with it as a bit of a role play toy rather than a construction toy. As a car, it moves well and fast across my smooth surfaces such as the table or the laminate flooring, and it is quite fun.