Thursday, 17 December 2015

New Race Car!

About time too!
If like me you have been eagerly awaiting this one, your patience is about to be rewarded. It is now in UK distribution and should start appearing for sale any time now. I don't think you will be disappointed, it is a really good portrayal  of a generic Formula 1 car. Not aligning itself with any one team, there are even extra parts that can be used to change the look of the finished model by swapping some of the more obvious silver/zinc parts for black ones.

New cam fits onto the axle nicely
The first thing I always do is hunt for new parts and this set has it's fair share. New cams are supplied to lift the 'pistons'. these are driven from the back axle and are reasonably effective, if not at all prototypical. I guess the kids will like them - it is doing something and it does not need batteries...

The new cams slide onto the tri-axle rods with ease. I am really pleased that Meccano have resolved the problem of 'fat ends' to the axle rods. They have also made sure the rods are the correct length, or even slightly longer. This is one of the main reasons the small gripper washers, used to hold parts on the rods, got so much bad press. I agree that they are not the best solution, but they do work better now that have some length to grip and are not right on the end of an over-thick rod.

New large pin
The other new part that nearly sneaked in under the radar is a new larger securing pin. The original pins were first seen securing the nose cone to the Rocket in the Space Quest set. They have since been used in the Mountain Rally set, where as here they have been used to secure the new fabric body 'panels' in place.

I know there was a lot of talk about these little bits of stretchy fabric when they first made an appearance when the new models were shown at the 2015 toy fairs around the world. I am undecided myself. I hated those red triangles and squares introduced in those horrible 'space' sets that came in the yellow plastic boxes, back in the early 1980s. It only took me about thirty years to accept they could be useful... It was only about twenty years to get to appreciate the yellow boxes.

Love 'em or hate 'em they look as if they are here to stay. I am sure we will find some useful purpose for them in time. It has already been muted that they might be of some use in a Marble bouncer, not so much as the bouncer pad but as part of the catcher mechanism.  As far as the Race Car is concerned, they are used to make an indication of bodywork. Does it work, I suppose it does but I must confess I struggling with this concept myself. This is irrelevant, of course, as it is the target market that have to approve and for the most part are not shackled with my preconceptions of what Meccano should be.

The Build

This is a simple build, a reasonable amount of it but clearly laid out and if there were any mistakes I did not see any. I say that because it is very easy to get ahead of yourself as the instructions are very comprehensive building left and right constructions one after the other bolt-by-bolt. I found I was building the other side before the instructions got around to telling me to.

The building begins - note the new cams
The build starts with the interesting part, building the fake engine and moving 'pistons'. That all goes together well and actually works as it should. This is built into two of the new (this year) plastic flanged plates that make up the chassis. The shape of the car is then 'outlined' using mainly the straight and curved narrow, ¼ inch hole spacing, strips and lots of brackets of all shapes and sizes. There are an awful lot of small parts used in these modern sets. The set also includes two pair of bevel gears and three cams.

Taking shape
Almost there
The construction continues by bolting on a few more strips, straight and curved. The spoilers are fabricated as sub-assemblies and bolted in place. all of a sudden the the models has become instantly recognisable as a slick streamlined racing machine.

Elaborate front spoiler detail
 Now for the wheels. Probably the most fiddly bit of the job is getting the tyres to sit nicely on the rims. There is a bit of a knack to this. I managed to get is worked out after I had fitted the forth one! The new wheels look really good with the red rims.
Now all that is left is to fit the bodywork and its is off to the track. The wait was worth it. One of my personal favourites of all the 2015 models I am sure this will be popular with the buying public and enthusiasts alike.

Finished - Click to enlarge!
The new models really have evolved from the nondescript fantasies of a few years ago. The system has evolved and some will like the new direction, others will not but Meccano have simply gone back to its origins - building the world we see around us today! The parts may look different, to our eyes, but the fact the DNA is still there means that every new part is generic, based on imperial hole spacing and 5/32 BSW threads are used throughout. That means it is all compatible with every Meccano part ever produced.

Finished - Click to enlarge!
 If you look closely at the finished pictures you will see that the new larger clip referred to above, used to secure the rear of the 'body' panel,  has a hex socket moulded into it. Not only does this look better, but it will enable it to be positioned, using a hex driver, into usually inaccessible places.

Is it a bolt - No!
Finished - Click to enlarge
There is a even more to come next year so look out for our Toy Fair coverage in January and, if we can, we will let you know a bit sooner. The future is looking good for the brand and it looks like will end up with a lot of new and interesting parts to experiment with in the coming months.


Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Did you miss us?

Like most of us, Sue and I have other interests and commitments outside the our passion for Meccano. Sometimes this takes us away from the mainstream and we can appear to have dispersed. Well, we have not! This year, yes we have been active in some of our other interests, but we have also been working hard, behind the scenes, on various Meccano projects like this one...

The Meccano Community website was launched back in the Spring of 2014. Although we were involved with it from day one, we were not in the driving seat and were following the initial concept. The site was plagued with problems and it was getting to the stage that nothing was getting done. Eventually, by this time last year, we had given up and resigned from the project. The site lay all but dormant until the late summer of this year when after some negotiation with Meccano we agreed to be involved in a relaunch. The main difference being that we are now running it and it is hosted in-house by Meccano's IT team giving us a direct link with the people responsible for the platform. In a nutshell, we should be able to get things done. We have already given the place a lick of paint to bring in visually in line with existing the Meccano presence and are slowly working on getting it running as it should.

Summer 2016 - Please note, the community site is no longer active.

Enough of that, I have just received the latest Meccano set, the long awaited Race Car. Several pictures of the prototype were seen at the beginning of the year but due to production problems the launch had to be delayed and has now reached the UK distribution centre. It should start appearing in the shops and on the internet for sale any day now - if it is not out there already!
Here at last, the eagerly awaited Race Car
 That's enough waffling, I've got a Race Car to build - I will show you how I get on and let you know what I think tomorrow - hopefully...