Meccano Take On Games Merchandise

It’s pretty rare these days for a big game not to come out with some form of merchandise alongside it. The most special editions tend to have a die cast figure, but there are plush cuddly toys, t-shirts and plenty more on the shelves too. Merchandise is a big deal, and it lives in the shadow of almost every game release.

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So, having gone through over a hundred years of acquisitions, sales and internal restructuring, Meccano is off on a new adventure into this world of licensed toys. Their first foray came with the Tintin film last year with a pretty great looking model of the Unicorn amongst others, but through August, September and October, they’ve launched three new lines which tie in with game franchises. Each is aimed at quite different markets and come from strongly contrasting sources.

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First up, and closest to the traditional Meccano which I and many others will remember from their childhood, is Raving Rabbids. This spin off from Rayman is extremely popular in Meccano’s home country of France, with videos and toys alongside the games, and here it’s getting a few nice kits for kids to build and really play with.

You have a rather wonderful catapult, to fling little Rabbid figurines over onto a target mat; a shopping trolley, with a ramp to launch from and cones to navigate through; and a battery powered Time Washing Machine, which will send your Rabbid back in time. The motor runs in both directions, which is handy for return trips from the distant past.

Oh, and a toilet with a little string to pull. Except this doesn’t flush the toilet (with Rabbid inside), but sets it racing off along the table on its four wheels… Yeah, that had me scratching my head too.

The second franchise getting the Meccano treatment is Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed, which features plastic in place of metal from the Build & Play range, so as to be suitable for younger children of 5 years and up. But it’s still that core Meccano experience, and they have to build the tracks, stunt ramps, and even Sonic and Knuckles’ little motorised vehicles.

There’s a Green Hill themed jumping ramp, a much more versatile Casino Street set, and finally a Chemical Plant circuit round which you can set Knuckles and Sonic to chase one another around. That race track’s actually pretty cool though, with the two sometimes friends, sometimes enemies chasing each other round it. It actually did a pretty good job, with the little vehicles glancing off walls to get round corners, and in the end Knuckles managed to catch Sonic.

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It could go without saying that Sonic and Raving Rabbids are totally aimed at kids. They get to construct their own toys and put their imaginations to good use, recreating some of the shenanigans from the Rabbids Youtube videos, or from races on the upcoming Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed.

Finally, there’s there’s something that might appeal to a broader audience in the Gears of War range, which is set to try and get in on the military toys market as well as some fans of the games who wouldn’t mind having a model or two for their shelves.

This franchise is definitely Meccano’s most adventurous undertaking, setting off in a very different direction which moves away from Meccano’s traditional building materials and parts in favour of more customised designs.

There’s still that element of construction involved, but it’s done with bespoke parts for each model, so the end experience is going to be something quite different to that which you may remember. Just check out the exploded view of the rather impressive King Raven helicopter in the gallery below to see what I mean.

These won’t be the most challenging constructions to undertake, but they’ll come out looking pretty good. Of course, they’re still model toys and have been designed so that they’ll stand a chance with an eight year old playing with them.

Alongside the King Raven, there’s also the Armadillo APC and Centaur tank both in a similar style of plastic, and a Locust vs. Delta Squad battle set, which more traditional feeling Meccano to help create battle scenes with the various figurines which are included with each of the packs.

Across all the lines I saw, I thought that things looked pretty good. My only concern is that Meccano’s maybe not as well versed in getting the finer details right, and it shows in some places. The figurines for Gears weren’t as high quality in person as they are in the photos, and the barricades on the Sonic track came loose a bit too easily, leading to many an off-track adventure. These are no doubt things which Meccano will get better at given a little time, but with kids as the real target market, the ability to take a kick or two is still going to be a priority over being an absolutely accurate model.

I do think it’s nice that Meccano’s roots still shine through in the designs behind these franchises. Everything still has to be put together, with Sonic & Rabbids still clearly made from the screws, bolts and metal or plastic strips. Even on the Gears of War models, the screws and bolts are clearly visible and that’s part of the charm, even if it means they aren’t exact replicas of the in-game depictions.

Next year will see Meccano release a fresh wave of products in these lines, such as character packs for the Gears range, and hopefully partner with more franchises that they can do justice. For me, it’s just great to see a brand name which I remember quite fondly from my childhood on the path to adapt to more modern tastes and markets.

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13 Comments

  1. i always preferred Lego when i was younger, didn’t dislike Meccano, just preferred Lego.
    i think maybe the industrial look put me off Meccano a bit

    i like the looks of the Gears helicopter model, that’s something i’d love to build.

    obviously i prefer when they use clever design to make models using only standard parts look like the originals, but these can still be fun to build and they definitely look good.

    i’m surprised Lego don’t do more game game licensed lines, i think Mega Bloks seem to be the only brick company that do, with their Halo line doing pretty well, and they do some cool looking car sets with Need For Speed branding.
    and i think they recently launched a World of Warcraft line.

    • Ew, Mega Blocks.

    • Yeah, I think the most interesting part is where they take things from here. There are lots of games and franchises where Meccano would work well, whether the traditional bits and pieces, or the bespoke plastic models.

      As I said on twitter to Adamguest, it’s a shame they weren’t in this line of business when Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Blots came out a few years ago! The closest equivalent now might be Bad Piggies?

      • Bad Piggies & Angry Birds consruction sets (catapults etc.) would win Christmas.

  2. Meccano over Lego every time.

  3. The Gears of War stuff looks pretty cool.

  4. I prefered Duplo ;)

  5. sticlkle bricks
    nuff said!

  6. curse my sausage fingers…
    STICKLE BRICKS

  7. stickle bricks?

    STICKLE BRICKS? O_O

    can you ban wonkey-willy now please?

    JK ^_^

    seriously though.
    STICKLE BRICKS?

    seriously, for real this time.

    stickle bricks
    http://www.comparestoreprices.co.uk/images/unbranded/s/unbranded-stickle-bricks-junior.jpg

    Lego.
    http://markl.hyperrealm.com/lego/5571-large.jpg

    see the difference? ^_^

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