|Things are looking up...|
The sell-off of our building stock continues and I thought that would be it. I was sure I had kicked the habit and Sue felt the same too. We had always intended to keep up with the new releases and continue to follow the Meccano company and its development within the Spin Master family. Right from the beginning of the Spin Master take over we knew there were going to be changes. Like a powerful car accelerating hard, from a standing start, can loose its grip and veer from left to right before the power is tamed, and it heads off in the chosen direction with the confidence of a thoroughbred, so too has it been with the journey of Spin Master's development of the brand over the past few years. That period of testing the market seems to have been concluded and Meccano has morphed into the robust toy that it is today.
I am sure that when Spin Mater were thinking about buying Meccano, they were given the impression that the adult following for Meccano was much greater than it actually is. I have often been pilloried for saying that the true number of adult enthusiasts, who are actively building and buying Meccano is very small. Initial discussions with the new management of Meccano in London, during the early part of December 2013, were encouraging and it was obvious that they were prepared to listen. One of the questions that came up at that meeting was how many ten sets did they think they would sell if they produced a special run for us enthusiasts. Now, bearing in mind that this would have been at today's prices - I have no idea what that would be, but it would have to be several thousand pounds - I said "Ten, world wide?" Their jaws dropped and I said I might have underestimated it slightly "Maybe twelve".
When I explained that there were probably only a few hundred Meccano enthusiasts buying Meccano world wide they were staggered. They had obviously been talking to other enthusiasts who had given them totally the wrong impression. They were also beginning to discover what Sue and I call the missing generations. For decades now, Meccano enthusiasts have been trying to sell the hobby to the subsequent generations, without any success. Kids have become fathers, fathers have become grandfathers and now even great-grandfathers without successfully passing on the interest. I was standing at one of our Meccano Road Shows talking to a dad, whose son was demolishing our display, and he said " I remember Meccano... My grandfather had some!
The guys from Meccano were full of enthusiasm for the product, these guys are not the suited and booted bean-counting men in grey suits, far from it. These guys are down to earth toy industry 'lifers'. They have been with Spin Master for years and in the industry before that. Even at that first meeting it was obvious that they had a plan. It was way back then when we were first told of some of the changes to come and the development of what eventually emerged initially as Meccanoid GKS 15. (Genesis [the beginning] Kid Size and first released in 2015 - GKS 15). We left that meeting full of hope for the future. Little did we know then of what was to come...
|It was not long before the robots were taking over - No, you can't drive!|
Development of the brand continued and we were now firmly on-board with what Spin Master were doing. Having bought the company, lock, stock and barrel, they were committed to continue with the immediate product releases. The first new products would not start to filter through for another year or so, however all the existing licence agreements for models were terminated. This was the end of the Rabbids and Gears of War models, both of which were very second rate compared with the sort of names other manufactures had on board.
It took a while, but today the new Meccano models have moved on. Away from the all metal sets of our childhood to the modern materials of today. This has been a shock to the system and one that has been just one step to far for the few remaining hard-core traditional Meccano enthusiasts. I get that. Most of us have been involved with the Meccano we knew and loved as a child but we could not afford to buy. I know that all I wanted to do was build with what I defined as 'real' Meccano right up until ten years ago. As far as I was concerned, I believed 'real' Meccano production ended when production was moved away from the iconic Liverpool address of Binns Road.
|New parts - of days gone by...|
|So, it's plastic, it still looks like Meccano!|
The way kids play with toys has also changed. Kids don't want to create and entertain themselves, they want to consume and be entertained. One mother told me that her "little 'orror" preferred Lego "cus 'e could do it wiv one 'and" When I asked cautiously what he was doing with his other hand, I was relieved to discover he was "Textin' innit".
For us, the latest Meccano releases have opened up a whole new interest in the product. No we are not going to be building lots of models to tote around from one show to the other, neither will we be going back to being a slave to it. What we will be doing is keeping up with new developments. building and trying to understand the new TECH range and seeing if we can build a few different models from the contents of the sets.
You will be able to follow our journey and get all the latest news here on our new blog. Bookmark it and keep coming back as we will be adding to it regularly.
Ralph and Sue, August 2017