Saturday, 26 July 2014

New Meccano at Argos!

New catalogue starts today
The new Argos catalogue has just been issued today and it has Meccano in it! Five items, including the new 25 model, Multimodel set that we showed you recently HERE
Only a small section, but it is a start after a break - Click to enlarge
They are also showing a few models on their website. Argus are not always the cheapest around but they are the first with the 25 model set! 

The other models we mentioned will become available soon. My mate Chris Instone reported that 20 and 25 model sets are listed on the Smyths Toys website too.


Monday, 21 July 2014

Mini-model Stockcar...

The gauge
Last Saturday was the summer meeting of North East London Meccano Club (NELMC). At each meeting we we have a themed challenge. The only rule is that the model has to fit within a theoretical 4½ inch cube and loosely have to be capable of falling into the subject category. The more obscure the better! The official gauge is used to check the model's dimensions.

What is Skegness known for? Well, you may say SkegEx or Butlins, but it also has the Skegness Stadium; home to all sorts of short-circuit motor racing. As the subject of our challenge this time was a four wheeled vehicle it seemed fitting to celebrate the fact that stockcar racing is participated in just a few miles from the home of the biggest Meccano gathering in the world!

Mini-model stockcar - Click to enlarge...
...and from behind
My little model is of a freelance stockcar not based on any particular type or class but incorporating some of the more obvious features like the enormously oversized name/number roof spoiler. If you are not familiar with this type of racing just Google: F1 or F2 stockcar and select 'Images'  the model was built using standard and Evolution parts. The narrow strips full of holes don't look too out of place on this type of model and allow the model to look lighter at this scale

The underside shows the stockcar's simple construction
The car measures just a shade under the maximum length, 4½ inches. I was working to a size that left me a bit of room but the bolt heads are significant in this scale and guess who forgot to take them into account! It was all good in the end as there was at least a couple of thousandths of an inch clearance. I thought about taking the gauge apart and rebuilding it making sure the maximum opening had been achieved by exploiting the hole to bolt tolerance to its maximum...

...Thankfully such action was not called for.


Friday, 18 July 2014

Elephant legs...

My elephant needs three new legs!

Last week, Constructor Quarterly (No.106) dropped on to the mat a few days after we got back from Skegness. Although most people rave about the complex and sophisticated models, I tend to go for the unusual. In this issue Bernard PĂ©rier continues his series of simple plastic models with an interpretation of an African elephant.

My elephant has the wrong colour legs
The model uses a part from a Space Chaos Dark Pirates set as the head. Having been put off buying these sets at the very beginning partly by the high cost and lack of parts and also a complete lack of interest in the finished models, I have never looked any closer at the subsequent releases. Now they have been discontinued, they are relatively hard to fined. A trawl of the internet found a suppler selling this set at about a third of its original price - I bought his entire stock - Three! This set contains all sorts of bits and pieces including four hinges and a good selection of long bolts, pivot bolts and other useful parts. Now I have a dozen elephants heads, the rest should be easy. I have a box full of those double obtuse corner brackets but only one grey one.
Lots of fancy colours - only one in grey

The Future Master model
It turns out those brackets were, as far as I can see, only available in one set in my required colour. What's more there is only one in the set. To make it worse, it is one of the less common sets. It is also sought after for other unique parts. What is this set? Well, I have motioned it HERE before, It is the Future Master drilling machine. I have one of these made up so I only have one left to use on Nellie. Hopefully, I will be able to get hold of one or two grey legs tomorrow, at the NELMC meeting, but I might need some more, so if you have any spare ones kicking around, I am happy to buy/swap something for a couple more... 

The model was a bit fiddly to put together and I modified some of Bernard's instructions to make it a bit more solid. The Space Chaos part looks just like an Elphants head and will be forever known as such!

The finished elephant from the other side
 Now for the next little project, a challenge model for tomorrows meeting - Plenty of time!

Now updated HERE!


Thursday, 10 July 2014

Three more Multimodel sets

A trio of new Multimodels
We first saw these sets at the London Toy Fair in January of this year. As they were not for imminent release we were concentrating on the 3 and 10 model sets. Last weekend at SkegEx14 Meccano had a stand and were showing a good selection of the new sets including the new 15, 20 and 25 model sets. Release dates and details have changed slightly since then.

Multimodels section, London Toy Fair January 2014
At the end of SkegEx14 we had already offered to clear away the Meccano display material, banners and posters etc. and it made sense to clear the product displays as well (If you want to be popular, buy a big van!) This we did and it has given us the chance to get a closer look at these three, pre-production models. It must be pointed out that these are not production samples and there may be a few minor changes to the models when they appear. We don't have full release dates but we have been told the 25 model set will be available from Argos when the new catalogue appears at the end of July. Other sets should be in the shops around the same time, although this seems to be a best estimate and a more realistic guess at the High Street availability would be a few weeks later.

Although I have straightened up a few bent bits and tightened the odd nut and bolt, I have not attempted to alter these in any way, considering they have been around for a few months they are bound to get a bit knocked about.

Click on any of the images below to enlarge them! 

15 Model Set 

A rather strange looking aeroplane
Of the three, I have to say this is my least favourite model. At the toy fair this model was not to be seen and a rather nice looking helicopter was sitting on the shelf. As can be seen by the mock-up box, in the heading picture, this model has been chosen to be the box-art image.

Another view of the model
 Although this model is not motorised, the play value is enhanced by a series of rubber bands driving the three propellers from the front wheels. On this prototype the grey ½ inch pulleys have round holes so they do not grip the tri-axle making it impossible to see it working.  I see no reason why it will not work once tri-axle pulleys are supplied in the production sets.

Close up of the central propeller and mock engine
It will be interesting to see if the gears stay this colour in production. In the past. these are the sort of details that tend to get changed. The jury is out on whether we like the orange colour. From a builders point of view this is just another colour to contend with. I can't make up my mind if this helps sales or not. Trying to see it from the sales point of view I suppose it must as little 'Jonny'  is going to distinguish the set by colour. He will have a red aeroplane, now he wants an orange one...

An underside view, I think that rear wheel is in the wrong place...
None of these sets have any new parts, if you exclude colour variations. I do think that the helicopter, I mentioned earlier, and can be seen in the Toy Fair report, is a nicer model. It will be noted that at the time the model was labelled as a 12 model set - I said things change!

A final view of the model from above.

20 Model Set

The red and white of the racing car looks good from this angle
From where I am standing this looks good. It is true that we may be a little biased as we build mostly in red and zinc so this fits in well with that but I also think this does look like a racing car. The motor enhances the play value and I think this will run on most surfaces.

The battery box simulates the drivers cockpit
The model is fairly chunky and looks as if it will take a few knocks The steering on this model needs to be set fairly stiff so it can be set before it's let rip! This is one of the few models that takes advantage of the geared hub to give a 3:1 reduction by using a 19t pinion to drive the 57t annular gear moulded into the hub.

Reduction geared drive to the hub
I think this is a smart looking model from all sides. It is not meant to be an accurate interpretation of a real formula one racing car, but I think most kids would recognise it as such without any prompting and that is the general idea. Although we have not built any of these models ourselves, none of them look to have any traps - but we have not seen the instructions yet... No doubt they will be available for download soon.

Looks good under here...
I am sure the kids will love this and from the builders point of view there is a good selection of Meccano there including some useful gears.

 25 Model Set

This fantasy 4x4 is robust and full of springs - lots of play value with its motor and reduction gearing. At the San francisco Maker-Faire  a few weeks ago, some kids were told to drop this model on the floor. Reluctantly, after a lot of reassurance, they did. They then picked it up, set it running and off it went, with the kids saying "You can't do that with Lego!"

Tough too!
To the serious modeller this model has lots of faults - but hold up guys - This is a toy! and as such I think it works. As a source of parts it also has some appeal. There are a few gears at the back end and some chunky shockers all around.

The dark (ish) blue paint is better than a lot of the awful colours of the past and, of course, there is a nice set of wheels with geared hubs. The model also used a few long bolts here and there too.

The layout from below
As I said these are pre-productions samples and anything can happen but it is interesting to get a good look at them before they are available in the shops. See what you can do if you own a big van!