Friday, 6 March 2015

Evolution off-roader.

Neat, rugged little model
The latest offerings from the Evolution stable will more than likely be one of the last of the range. As time moves on, the Meccano system is becoming unified with what have, up to now, been exclusively Evolution parts being integrated into the system as a whole. The recently introduced 3-model Multimodel set includes some Evolution parts, as do several of the models planned for release later this year.

Standard packaging for the Spring release
The Evolution off-roader has been seen in several guises and at different trade shows has been called different things. In its initial form as an Evolution set it is being marketed as simply the 'Off Road' set. The unified packaging, scheduled to appear latter in the year and seen at the toy fairs around the world, shows the model reincarnated as the 'Canyon Crawler'. Whatever you call it, the model is the same.

New driver...
New into the shops in the UK this model follows the Evolution theme of rugged smaller scale models featuring the ¼ inch geometry parts. Current price (Asda direct) seems to be a shade under £25.00

The first thing I noticed on opening the box was that this is the first set we have seen that includes the new hex-driver. Most of us have been using proprietary hex-drivers for years but to have them supplied with the sets is great for the newcomer. I must say that even seasoned builders (like us) will be impressed with this neat little tool.  It is very comfortable to use and the hexagonal cross sectional shape of the plastic moulded handle means it is not constantly rolling off the table!  

Building the model is straightforward and  the new style of instructions are a vast improvement on the earlier instructions. The only thing I noticed is a conversion from metric to imperial that is wrong regarding the length of the rods used as axles. It is incorrect in the instructions as well as in the parts list. Now, before you all say "Only you..." I was not the only one to notice this, My good friend George Roy also mentioned it while building his version of the model from existing parts. I am hoping to be able to show you his model along with a few modifications he made in a later post...

Ready to play!
The new instructions now follow a standard orientation of the models on the page. In the past the drawings have floated about all over the place and this can (does!) lead to confusion. the new drawings show the model stages in a single orientation wherever possible. If a drawing is rotated an arrow indicates the fact that you are now looking at the other side; the drawing has been rotated. Even this simple plan seems to have confused at least one of my fellow Meccano builders. He is getting confused between the arrows being informative and instructive. The arrows are not instructing the builder to turn the model, just that that the drawing has been rotated on the page.

The dark areas of the illustrations was always a concern as they tend to blend into one amorphous mass, devoid of detail. This has been totally negated by using a white outline on all dark parts where they need to be added to the model. Once they have been added, the parts become dark again. They are also dark on the parts list and identifiers. I can see the thinking behind this as it makes the construction step obvious but I do wonder if it would not have been better to make all the outline white. I am probably being over picky here as the new instructions are a vast improvement over the previous offerings.

Novel suspension system
 Assembling the model starts with the suspension. This is very wobbly until the superstructure is assembled. At which point the four, 1 inch angle girders can be adjusted to tighten up the swing arms. Now, I am no fan of those little white soft grip collars but on this model they are used in two places; to hold the wheels on and to secure the axles that hold the swing arms in place. To hold the wheels on, there is enough axle protruding to give them a chance to get a grip. On the underside, the swing arms are held in place using tri-axles and more of the soft grip collars. To my surprise, they seem to hold but they are well onto the rods by about 5mm.

Slight bending of the strips gives the model some form
Some slight bending of the parts is required to finish the model but this is not excessive and should not cause and long term distortion of the parts. The rest of the assembly is much as you would expect. The instructions are correct, as far as I could see, other than the rod length error in conversion of units from metric to imperial.

Opening bonnet
An added feature that gives a little more play value is that the bonnet will swing open revealing a space where the engine should be but hay, that's just fine if you want somewhere to sit your miniature teddy. After all we must not lose sight of the fact that this is a toy. Meccano always has been, and still is, a toy. It has been us, life long enthusiasts, that have taken it further into a hobby of creation where we try and replicate the world around us present and past. As Frank Hornby said (or at least his marketing team) "The toy that grows with the boy"



  1. Like the tyres. Like the hex driver. The "Meccano builder" who doesn't understand the swirly arrows must be stupid or sumfink! (wink).

  2. Now, come on Chris, I didn't say that... :-)