Following on from my write up of last year’s offerings, I was recently lucky enough to get my hands on Meccano’s latest videogame related product – the Gears Of War Judgement range.
A well placed tie-in with the launch of the latest game in Epic’s Xbox 360 Gears Of War franchise, and following on from 2012’s mostly vehicular based construction sets, the new Judgement branded boxes very much bring the battlegrounds and character figures to the forefront.
I’ve tried and tested all three of the new additions to the Meccano Gears’ universe, which are, as follows:
- Halvo Bay Pursuit – A 100+ piece box retailing at around £20, featuring a rooftop scene and 2 fully poseable figures.
- Island Bunker Assault – A 60 piece build, in which Damon Baird is protecting his communications bunker from a Locust Grenadier.
- Silverback G.O.W. – Build the iconic silverback exoskeleton in this 60 piece set and prepare for battle.Both the smaller Bunker Assault and Silverback toys will set you back around £15 each.
The first thing I noticed, as a consumer, before even getting my hands on the models themselves, was the significant improvement in the Series 2 box art – the Gears’ branding and all other assets are crisp and well placed, and the text clear and informative; Each box certainly looks the part.
Inside, as you would expect, you’ll find full colour and simple (for the most part) instructions, along with a tool set for constructing your models. Naturally, there’s also the little plastic bags of bits-and-bobs to actually build with; The good stuff.
There’s all the classic fixings: screws, nuts, washers etc., accompanied by various moulded plastic parts, which, although different to Meccano of old, and disappointing from a nostalgic point of view, definitely allow for a lot more creative approach to modeling – The Silverback set in particular is a great example of how this new approach really enhances the Gears’ Meccano products, as both toys and collectables for fans of the videogame.
The gun turrets for example, carefully crafted in plastic, can feature far more intricate detail than traditional metal pieces would allow, whilst the traditional fixings maintain the sense of accomplishment afforded by bringing it all together.
All three new sets also include environmental pieces, in the way of crates or barrels, which again, whilst plastic, still require at least one fixing. The sets could easily have sold without these additions, but their inclusion brings another layer of creativity and creation, which is very much appreciated.
There’s an odd balance in the attention to detail here – some things, as I say, are brilliant, and others are, frankly, odd, leaving me asking questions such as: “Why in the Island Bunker box are the ‘Evacuation Route’ stickers printed the wrong way up?” or the far more prevalent “Why won’t Damon Baird stand up?!”
You see, In the Judgement range, the character models are more important than ever, with close combat and the associated firefights being the centrepoint of each scene – Disappointingly, their quality hasn’t improved over the pieces I sampled last year, and my concerns regarding their rigidity remain. The figurines, whilst posable to a degree, are made of a soft plastic, which means they are, unfortunately, prone to falling apart, rather than standing strong. The weapons, again, whilst looking good, are just a little too flimsy, in my opinion.
Each set includes at least one such figurine, but If you’re looking for more Locust Soldiers or Delta Squad heroes to expand your universe further, fear not, as you’ll be able to buy these in a “blind-bag” format for the pocket money price of a penny under £2 each.
Niggles aside, If you’re a fan of Gears Of War, and videogame collectables or construction sets as a whole, you’d be hard pressed to find anything better than this Meccano to occupy your itchy trigger fingers between sessions on the console shooter.
Individually, the sets aren’t particularly amazing, but they’re fairly priced, well detailed, and are extremely satisfying to build – when brought together as a full range though, these pieces complement each other, and form a fun playset that children of all ages can enjoy.
I do, however, suggest this Meccano is best suited to the little ones wanting to join Dad in the Gears’ universe, but without all the 18 rated content this would normally include.
So put down the gamepad, pick up the Allen key and let your imagination build, and play along, a new chapter in the story.
You can grab the boxes right now from your local Toys R Us, or online at Amazon. The full range will set you back around £50, which is a little more costly than Gears Of War Judgement itself, but will undoubtedly keep fans of the series entertained when the TV is otherwise occupied.
For more information on this, and all their recent product ranges, please visit Meccano UK’s website.