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The Metal Robots Collection

Reviewed by Brian Elvidge

The black and silver robot

Since the spring of 2009, Meccano France has been marketing a series of three different robot kits; one is orange and silver, one is black and silver, the other green and silver. They are reviewed in this article. They make excellent subjects for meetings and exhibitions, and I feel they are good value.

The three kits are attractively packaged in nicely decorated tins that double up as storage for each completed model. They are available widely through High Street toy and model chains, specialist dealers like David Taylor, Frizinghall Model Railways, Tesco Direct and eBay auctions. Each kit was priced around £12.99 in October 2009 when this review was written, and represents good value for money.

Factory fresh samples should arrive sealed. If they don't, check for missing small parts - spacers and nuts and bolts are commonly found missing. The inner bags too should be sealed. A sheet of instructions to assemble each is enclosed, but no individual parts list is available for each model - therefore checking the contents of each kit is not easy.

The assembly instruction sheets included with the models lack clarity - the print size is too small, and they use a non-standard paper size too. Some of the sub-assemblies are fiddly, are time consuming to assemble in all models, and needed care to assemble correctly. Other modellers have commented about possible errors in the instructions. The copies in my possession may have been revised and posed no immediate problems with errors. For the younger constructor, the clarity of the instructions leaves much to be desired - a larger leaflet on A4 size paper would improve matters. A larger print size of the parts used in each step and some of the assembly steps would also be beneficial. Each model takes around 1½ hours to assemble, or longer for the less experienced!

A number of issues arise in building each model:

  • The Orange and Silver robot's head trunnion is only secured by one nut and bolt, which is weak. However a spare nut and bolt is usually supplied and can be added as desired. This makes this model satisfactory.
  • The Black and Silver robot's arms cannot be set in an elevated position. This is due to lack of friction between the silicone collars and the thick plastic strips used in the model. This might be partially solved by using Aero collars or the rubber collars on each arm. One word here is that the plastic mini-shock absorber pins may not take kindly to grub screws; fracturing may occur.
  • The Green and Silver robot is the most satisfactory out of the box so far, but is the most fiddly to assemble correctly; particularly its leg and arm parts.
The orange and silver robot and the green and silver robot   One of the tins that the kits are packaged in

All of the models reviewed use the modern spring steel parts in some way or another. Bending them correctly and securing them with bolts simultaneously is not an easy task. This needs care to ensure clean bends and may need an extra hand to ensure each task is completed.

The Nylock self locking nuts provided for the moving parts are fine in principle and are capable of fine adjustment - in practice they are not easy to assemble with the tools provided. For assembly of these models, purchase of a screwdriver-type Allen key is recommended.

The paintwork looks good, though very thick in places.

In general these models are very good for Meccano and should sell very swiftly. They can also be heartily recommended to any Meccano builder young or old. I have reservations about the quality of the instructions provided and the lack of individual parts lists for each model.

» This article appeared in the March 2010 issue of SELMEC News.

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