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I bought the airplane to play with a while back. I love it. My model came out looking like the picture with one exception. I cannot screw on my airplane wheels properly. I am not sure if it is the tools given or the airplane just function on that basis.
However, it helped that they gave a step by step pictorial diagram on how to put together the airplane. I have never played with meccano before but the quality of the toy and the instructions just won me over and kept me busy for an entire afternoon. There is a quite a bit of thinking involved in the mechanics of putting parts together so that they will come out looking like the picture. Good for inculculating flexibilty in fingers.
I would not advise young children to play with this though. There were plenty of small parts that looked like a child can choke on. The edges of my airplane can also cut if welded at the right angle. It's not a problem for older children. Get it for them and even adults too!
We have a derivative of meccano in the United States that is called "Erector Sets". They used to be much more popular but Lego's marketing finesse was the ultimate undoing of this great educational toy which has now been overwhelmed by the ease, durability and trendiness of k'nex blocks and contemporary appeal of the advanced motorized Lego sets. Our erector sets (erector sets being a generic word applicable to both Meccano in the UK and Gilbert in the USA and even the Russians had their own version [Konstrukter] but the way theirs worked is you were required to leave all the plow and consumer components in the box and only make weapons)were the most creative toys any boy in the world could want and were very expensive. Every boy dreamed of getting the Gilbert Amusement park kit and then adding the various Rollercoasters and Ferris Wheels to it. Some of the more complicated sets came with these small pathetic electric motors than ran on dry cells if they ran at all that were supposed to turn these plastic yellow wheels. I used to be so proud of my erections. I would show my erections to everyone that came over and I especially liked how my grandpa would admire my erections and then he would make even a bigger erection and he let me play with his then. He was very mechanically inclined and could come up with the most fantastic ideas and dreamsutilizing every last piece of my set. One time he even machined me a whole cigar box full of pieces taht were top quality and polished but they were like no other pieces other kids had. I guess you could say we really had a special relationship because of our erector set. I still buy Erector sets off of E-Bay sometimes. I buy the vintage ones and put them in a great big pile and admire them, wishing I had had them when I really wanted them, not now when I do not even like them. I feel sad knowing as my kids grow up they won't even like these toys. I can't blam
e them. When you look at all the cool motorized Legos and how they have Star Wars and all that BS, producing all the charcters you could ever want so that you never need to be creative and pretend. I remember having to make pictures of Luke SkyWalker on paper and put him inside of the spaceships I made with my Erector set. Now kids can get all the cast of any movie in Lego form. I just saw my first steven Seagal Lego teh other day. But then you look at the erector sets, really take a good look at them, wash away your pleasent childhood fond memeories and look at what is left, rusty metal girders that always caught on the carpet and cut people leaving them in fear of tetanus, a bunch of little screws and nuts that got lost and could never be applied well with that junky little stamped wrench, and the nuts always would rip into my finger tips, and then you have that blue plastic panel nonsense, unless like mine, yours has already biodegraded.
Having completed opinions on LEGO and K’NEX, I took a look at other categories on dooyoo for similar construction sets and found to my surprise that the granddaddy of them all, the one that all other sets are based on, only had a single opinion written about it. I am referring of course to Meccano. Fifty years ago, the greatest thing that a boy could aspire to at Xmas, was a Meccano set. It was the ultimate possession and hours would be spent poring over magazines with pictures of these wonderful red and green playthings. I call it a plaything in the loosest of terms, as grown men were just as keen to get their hands on it. What then was Meccano? It was a set of tinplate sections with holes drilled around them; thin steel rods and brass cogs, with nuts and bolts to connect the whole thing together. This may sound unbelievably simple to you, but there is something else even more unbelievable. A decent set cost the equivalent of a fortnights pay for the average working man. Consequently my friends and myself ended up with sets described as 00 and consisting of a dozen small pieces of tin, with a couple of cogs and rods and exactly enough bolts to put the pieces together. The picture on the box may have had a huge model of a transporter bridge or the SS Queen Mary, but with the parts supplied you were lucky if you managed a rather lopsided model of a wheelbarrow. Meccano, was invented and patented in 1901 by Frank Hornby, who went on to capitalise on this and model electric train sets. He devised competitions, with a large amount of prize money at stake. This was an inspired move as, at a stroke, he had built an instruction book, designed around prize-winning entries, at a fraction of the cost it would normally have cost him. Some of the winners were huge Ferris wheels, warships and a working model of a loom. Meccano was exported to countries around the world from its headquarters in Liverpool, and apart from halts i
n production during both world wars, built up a following that continues to this day. There are now hundreds of clubs all over the world that exchange model instructions and hold shows. A market in original Meccano parts has built up making the sets even more expensive in real terms. Try typing Meccano into the likes of Google and see what I mean. In November 1979, Meccano Ltd. Sadly went into receivership. The factory that had manufactured Meccano was demolished. A French company now owns all rights to the Meccano name and produces the metal sets under the trade name of “Erector Meccano” for sale in the USA. They also tried to bring Meccano up to date in the 1980’s by re-designing the whole concept in plastic. The pieces were much larger and designed for a much younger customer. It never really captured the imagination the way that it’s main rival LEGO did. Now we are bang up to date and a brand new Meccano has been launched. It is so new that the website at www.meccano.com is only running in French, with the UK site still under construction. In all probability it will be up and running by the time you read this, so go and give it the once over. The new Meccano is a mixture of old and new. The old metal parts are now multi-coloured, and now can be combined with new plastic fittings, giving the whole thing a fresh modern look. The boxed sets are numbered from 4 to 50. This denotes how many actual models can be constructed from each set. With imagination of course the number will be far greater. As far as price goes, it is of course advisable to shop around but a good rule of thumb appears to be that set number 4 retails for £4, set 10 for £10 and so on. This means that for a pound or two, you can see if Meccano is really suitable for your budding engineer.
My son started to take an interest in toys drills, screwdrivers etc (must be Bob the Builder) and so we decided to look around for something he could build - to develop these skills. And guess what we ran into in a toy shop - yep - Meccano - its still here. In my day it comprised of metal holed strips and a small metal spanner. Does anyone remember the catalogues with a picture of a kid having allegedly built a crane the size of a small dog on their kitchen table ? I had a set when I was young and like a lot of things I thought it had gone out of production years ago. Well it hasn't. It's been updated and dragged screaming into the 21st century. Like most things, Meccano is sold in different sized boxes to appeal to different ages. We bought a box for 5-7 year olds. He's only 4.5 - but he will grown into it. The pieces are big and chunky and come with a big screwdriver. Everything is plastic. It all comes with an easy(ish) to follow guide to build 10 or so models in 20 steps. This is important as my son will show an interest at the start, get frustrated and then expect Dad to put it together !! Having putting together enough flat pack furniture in my time - it is fairly straightforward to put together - providing you have all the bits ! You can buy additional boxes and take on some elaborate projects. Meccano teaches little ones to follow instructions, use a screwdriver and to play with their creation once built. As a change from Lego and for older children - its worth a look !!