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Let’s start with the obvious. Meccano M.A.X. gives off the biggest 80’s vibe ever. Seriously, this thing is more 80’s than Pat Sharpe, and that’s an impressive feat. We’re talking Short Circuit’s Johnny 5 here, rather than the cast of Dreamworks’ Robots, which had more of a bright, vibrant, fun, and cartoony feel to them. M.A.X. is retro, and while the retro look is definitely going to appeal to those of a certain age (me included, if I’m entirely honest), we have to remember that M.A.X. is designed for kids aged from 10; a way to get children interested in STEM beyond the basics they learn at school. Personally, I would have gone for a more modern design, something that would be ‘down with the kids’, but what do I know?

Making You Work for it

If your kids aren’t exactly big on putting in the hard work to reap the rewards, this is not the droid you are looking for (yes, I know I’m mixing my references…). Meccano M.A.X. isn’t just going to hand you the fun on a silver platter. Instead, the robot needs to be built up from scratch; a task that Meccano describes as an ‘intermediate’ challenge. The build definitely takes time, but honestly it looks worse than it is. When you realise that everything branches out from M.A.X’s central nervous system, it’s not bad.

Sit and Have a Natter

So the big thing about M.A.X. (once you’ve successfully built him, of course), is that this is an interactive, two way, and most importantly, talkative street. Basically, M.A.X. responds to voice commands. Now, we can’t pretend that the concept of M.A.X. is unique. In fact, robotics toys are everywhere today. Voice commands, however, are not. Yes, Sphero does have a voice-based toy – Sphero Spiderman – but most are exclusively app-controlled. That’s one problem that Star Wars fans have encountered with the Sphero droid range. M.A.X. is different. Not only does he respond to voice commands, he responds fast. There really isn’t much lag, which is impressive during these early days of consumer grade robotics.

A New Best Friend

M.A.X. is, of course, 100% scripted. There’s no highly advanced, next level form of AI here. But WOW, the attention to detail and level of this scripting is almost unreal. M.A.X. is probably a better conversationalist than most of my friends (not sure whether that says more about them or about me!). But all jokes aside, the depth of conversation here is amazing. I’d put money on M.A.X. being able to eradicate loneliness.

Mediocre Robot, or Fantastic Electronic Pet?

This is, perhaps, a bit of a controversial question. There is absolutely no denying that M.A.X. is incredible, right through from the build to playing games and having a chat. But it can reasonably be argued that there isn’t much more to M.A.X. than there is to an electronic pet. Sure, M.A.X. has the impressive ‘Make a Delivery’ feature which allows kids to pre-programme a route using the arrow buttons, but as for Meccano claiming this is a toy for ‘visionaries’… is it? M.A.X. is certainly a STEM product, but it’s not a particularly hands-on STEM product. In terms of ‘hands on’, there are better robotics out there, like the Sphero Mini. It doesn’t look anywhere near as cool, but there’s more of a customisable, programmable aspect. As an introduction to STEM, however, a sort of entry level product, M.A.X. ticks all the boxes.

What’s in the Box

  • 332 Pieces
  • 1 x AC/DC Wall Mount Charger (10.4W)
  • 2 x Hand Tools
  • 1 x Sticker Sheet
  • 1 x Instruction Sheet for 1 Model
  • 1 x M.A.X. Brain Module
  • 1 x IR Sensor Module
  • 2 x Smart Motor Modules
  • 1 x LED Module
  • 1 x 3KG Servo
  • 1 x 1.9KG Micro Servo
  • 1 x USB Cable

Meccano M.A.X.
77%Overall Score
Reader Rating: (2 Votes)