Wednesday, 4 February 2015

My name is...

In case you are wondering, the new Meccano Personal Robot is more than a number. The designation: G15 KS actually stands for Genesis 2015 Kid Size. At 4ft tall that is just about right.

Meccano in the 21st century
Since the launch of Meccanoid at CES in Las Vegas last month, the amount of media attention has been enormous. Far greater than anything I can remember. Meccanoid fills the massive gap in the street appeal of Meccano. For many years now the brand has been lost on the 15 to 50 year olds. Sales going to the toy market in fewer and fewer numbers and the dwindling number of adult enthusiasts, who are not in large enough numbers to make any impression on the sales figures. Looking at most of the sets released over the past two or three decades, the models have been too hard to build for a novice, and if we are being honest, with few exceptions have no appeal to today's kids but more importantly have little draw for the buying parent.

The Evolution Chopper - nice looking, hard to build
To be fair, some of the more recent models may well have had more appeal, the Evolution Chopper Bike or the Multimodel 30-model (Dumper Truck) set are a couple of good examples but as anyone who has attempted to build the Chopper Bike will know, it is not, by any stretch of the imagination, and easy build. The end result is the model hardly ever gets built and Meccano have lost another customer with the parent and child agreeing that "Meccano is too hard".

Meccanoid however is different; enthusiasm for the product is enormous. Everybody we have talked to are looking forward to it being available in autumn (fall, on the other side of the pond!) It spans the generations and ticks all the boxes for both parent and child. Even my own mother, who is in her late 80s, is keen to meet one. G15 KS is only the beginning, as his name suggests, there is a long way to go with this yet. The open source thinking behind the product will allow all sorts of inactivation from other manufactures as well as enthusiasts. The fact that it and all its components are totally back-compatible with 'Classic' Meccano means that for the adult community, we can look at integrating the new with our vast stocks of classic parts. The hole spacing is ½ inch (albeit on a ¼ matrix) making it even compatible with the pre-war X-Series Meccano! Even the thread specification of the bolts is maintained at the imperial size of 5/32 BSW. The same thread that has always been used by Meccano for over 100 years.    

Looking through some of the hundreds of videos that have been published over the past few weeks I found this one featuring Spin Master's Co-founder and Chief Creative Officer Ben Varadi being interviewed at CES.

His enthusiasm for the product really shows through. Yes, these guys are out to make money, who isn't? But the excitement and energy really come through. Having met several of the guys from Spin Master, the same enthusiasm and commitment to the brand filters down through the the entire company. All the effort and investment paid off when Meccanoid won Last Gadget Standing.

Next week at the New York Toy Fair - I expect there will be a few more announcements to come. North America is a huge market that has not been excited by the classic Meccano system but I think that is about to change. Meccanoid is coming. It may be a few Decades since the Fab-Four took America by storm, but now a new guy, who also has his ancestral root in Liverpool, is about to do the same in this digital world...


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