Meccano is one of those classic children's toys, appealling to all the construction loving engineers out there, both big and small. I know that The Boy absolutely loves creating all manner of vehicles with the various sets that he has, supplemented by Grandad's finds at car boot sales.
However, not every child finds the repeated making and taking apart appealling, some prefer to make a kit and keep it as such. The issue then can be that there isn't a great ways of interacting with the toy. Meccano have come up with a wonderful way of igniting the curiosity of those more tech-savvy children out there, by producing Micronoids, a new range of robotic and programmable Meccano toys.
We were sent the Micronoid, Basher, to test out and I have to say that we're all really impressed with the kit. Not only does the construction of the robot involve the traditional use of Meccano, but afterwards the children have an interactive and responsive programmable robot to play with, that not only dances to music, amuses himself with silly noises, and follows a series of programs to move around an area, but also can answer simple questions and repeats what you say!
Construction of the Micronoid
Sometimes when making construction kits, there can be an excessive number of pieces involved, but this isn't the case with Basher. The main parts are plastic, including the roboto head, with metal nuts and bolts. Tools are supplied and are easy to manage.
It is at this point that I will highlight that Basher is for 8 years+, and my son is recently 7 years old. However, he managed the construction with assistance from me in the form of holding bits together while he tightened nuts and bolts. Some of them are quite little and fiddly and far better suited to little fingers than grown-up ones, so it wasn't too much of a challenge to build the robot.
Basher the Micronoid – Interactive Mode
There are 4 modes on Basher:
- programming movement (the keypad for this is very similar to that of a BeeBot, used in primary schools to teach programming to younger children, and features forward, left and right buttons, along with record and play buttons);
- voice recording;
- dancing to music (or if you ignore him, then he makes his own music to dance to!);
- question mode (ask him simple yes or no questions and he'll either respond enthusiastically – 'Yep!' or show dissatisfaction 'No, no, no!'. In this mode, if you ignore him, then he also makes random noises like passing wind, whistling and singing).
Throughout these interactions, Basher moves around the surface that he's on via the wheels on his feet, and flashes his green lights at the same time. He's actually very cute and funny, not just for The Boy. Basher is best used on a large table (although watch he doesn't fall off!) or a smooth floor; carpets can affect the movement of the wheels.
Basher is a really great toy and it's certainly worth the investment, we will be looking to buy another one as a Christmas present as they can also interact with each other. Priced at around £40.00 I think it's a really worthwhile and purposeful main present for birthdays or Christmas, and certainly something that provides hours of entertainment.
We were sent this product for the purpose of this review, our opinions are honest and unbiased.