Thursday, 13 August 2015

G15 - The little build!

After a slow July recovering from Skegness and collecting together new models we are back with a whole host of new sets to talk about. The first of which is the G15 Meccanoid. Little brother of the larger 'Kids-Size' version this is the first of the new generation Meccano Maker System 'Tech' sets to become available here in the UK. Released in very limited numbers through Argos stores, initially to coincide with their autumn/winter catalogue, and should become more readily available over the next few weeks, and of course leading up to Christmas. Already tipped to be among the top ten must have toys this Christmas, it is already outstripping demand.

There are shades of the clever marketing that made Meccano a household name for decades in the middle of the last century. Frank Hornby (the inventor of Meccano) teased his prospective users (the kids) with pictures of huge models on small boxes. That 'impossible dream' was instilled into the boys of the time. In those days the toys were unashamedly  marketed to gender. Toy domestic appliances and dolls to the girls and construction sets, trains and cars to the boys.

Today's marketing has to comply with all sorts of rules and regulations that Hornby was not restricted by. To get the toy world excited by launching all the publicity around a larger version that won all sorts of awards as I have mentioned here in the past, to get the attention of kids and parents alike really worked. The master stroke, and brilliant bit of marketing, was to announce a smaller set, a few weeks later, to blow the parents defence of "Its a fantastic toy but it is a lot of money"  Straight out of the water with an almost half price version. Brilliant!

At an initial price if £169.99 it is now 'affordable' and is a real contender as a Christmas gift. Initial supply was very short but I have just checked the Argos website this morning and it is in stock and available for collection at all my local Argos stores after 4:00PM today. That probably means it is 'in stock' at central distribution and can be delivered to the local store for collection this afternoon. However it works, it does mean that it is available. Okay, I know It is all right for me, I live in London and I have heard of some fellow enthusiasts having to travel miles to obtain one, but if you will live in far flung places with stunning scenery and a more relaxed way of life, like Scotland, you can't have it all!

Packed with parts... So keen was Sue to get on that we forgot to photograph the
open box This is a picture of our good friend's G15 box (Photo: Chris Instone)

Meccanoid G15 is supplied in a suitcase-style box that has a cardboard,segmented liner and is pretty much stuffed full. All the parts are packed in plastic bags and are well protected. A plastic bag contains the instruction manual and various other pieces of paper warning you not to eat him or strangle any children under three years of age with the cables. I know this is all there to comply with the toy trade legislation, but some of it is a bit over the top to say the least and is more about the manufactures (I am referring to all toy manufactures here) having to cover themselves against litigation claims. Don't get me wrong, I agree there should be some warnings but pages of it are surely non-productive. Again I am not having a go at the manufactures here, they are just complying with the latest mad-cap theory imposed upon them by the legislators.

The build

I am not going to go through the build stage by stage as I am sure that will be all over the internet soon and there is no point in repeating it here just to fill space. What I will do is point out any problems, or to quote a good friend of ours and prolific Vlogger on the YouTube, 'issues' we had with the build. Sue decided to build G15 on the kitchen table using only the tools provided and a pair of scissors to make opening the plastic bags easier.

Kitchen table build... What's for supper dear?
The first thing we encountered was that the four short pivot bolts that are used to hold each servo shroud around the servo do not have the threads fully formed making them stiff to tighten. This is a shame as it becomes apparent in the early stages of construction and could put some builders off. It is easy to rectify by just running the bolt through a nut held in the centre hole of the spanner. It is not much but just enough to be a problem. Meccano are aware of this problem and it will be rectified in future production.

One of the servos all wrapped up in a nice Meccano-friendly parts
The build is fairly quick and it does not take long to have a good 'lump' of him built. The larger parts and single bolt and locator construction makes it much simpler to assemble. This is the first time that Meccano have designed a speedy construction method that, not only works but, is completely back-compatible with all that has gone before. As high-tech as this set is it still retains the DNA of all that has gone before; 5/32 BSW threads and half inch hole spacing albeit  on a ¼ matrix making it compatible with the newer parts as well as the X-Series parts of the 1930s. The servos are wrapped up in Meccano-friendly mountings making them easily interfaced with the other parts of the G15 as well as as being totally compatible with classic Meccano if and when required in the future.

Stop it... That tickles!
The instructions can be a little confusing in places but that may be more to do with acclimatising to the new parts and methods. The hand orientation caught us out. I am not sure how the hands were intended to be but we have fitted them so they look right to us. Other than that he goes together very easily.

Now he is built we will spend a day or so working out how he works and we will be taking him and his big brother to Blists Hill at the weekend. We will report back next week and show you the finished model, complete with feet!


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