M&S robot - doesn't look a bit like me...

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14th November 2009 TIMS meeting

Boy, are we busy at the moment. Racing about all over the place what with Meccano commitments and visiting Model railway events for work - that’s another story – we seem to have been out somewhere most weekends of late.

Me with the Robots
Now, where does this bit go...?

The TIMS (Telford and Ironbridge Meccano society) meetings are usually something of an event for us. Three-hour journey, on a good day, plus a stop for the obligatory ‘full English’ means a crack of dawn start. In the car for 4.30am and pointed it North. No problem getting out of town that time of the morning except for the rain. It was so heavy at one point I was debating pulling over but that can be just as dangerous. As I was contemplating this the rain eased and we were back on track. The drive past the Olympic park was particularly painful. It is a three/four lane dual carriageway there and the speed limit is 30 mph enforced with cameras that are working! I am not sure why this is but Sue said she had seen a sign stating the existence of some ongoing underground works. It is surreal at that time of the morning, like everything is running in slow motion.

As dawn broke the drive got easier and the really bad weather gave way to just plan old ordinary bad weather. A few hours later and there we were pulling into Telford services and eyeing up the menu. Sue had her usual grumble about the food but still got herself outside the best part of a full English while under the pretext that I could not stand to see anything wasted, finished off the rest.

We arrived at Coalbrookdale to see Dave and Marilyn (Taylor) setting up at the front of the venue instead of their usual spot at the rear. This was due to the fact that we can no longer use the side doors as they are alarmed and designated as fire exits. This would have meant carrying all that stock the length of the space and we can’t have that. Poor old fellow would be exhausted and a happy Dave means happy prices!

Ferris wheel
Meccano dealer model, built by Jim Gamble. The models is getting on for 20 years old it will benefit from some cosmetic refurbishment

As I was passing, Dave pointed out a dealer display model he had with him and he made his first sale. I considered dispatching Sue to facilitate the appropriate remuneration but decided that it would be advisable to handle the transaction personally… “Sue, Dave has got a modern dealer model Ferris wheel I have not seen before” “Oh that’s nice, do we want it?” at this stage I take a few steps back and mention that I have already agreed to buy it. A few sharp words, a short pause and a big smile confirms that it is safe to continue normal relations.

Made by Jim Gamble
A look under the base revealed a label!

The wheel turns out to be one of the models designed and built for Meccano by Jim Gamble in the early ‘90s. The label underneath confirms this and dates it to June 1991. I think Dave said that he got it from Geoff Wright, so I assume it was once on display in the shop at Henley. I will ask him next time I see him. The funny thing is, I was talking to Jim last weekend at the National Space Centre (NSC) and he was talking about how making lots of display models all the same can get very monotonous.


We have not been doing much building over the past few months due to a number of other things getting in the way, namely work! So when it came to what to take we were a bit stuck. Having taken the now well-seen French display cranes to the NSC last weekend and the fact that at least one of them had been to TIMS before we decided that it was time for a change… Robots!

Earlier this year, reports were filtering through that Meccano robots had appeared down under. These half a dozen fellows, 3 large and three small, are presented in a very nicely made tin. Having managed to acquire the full set of six, they make in interesting static display and talking point.

The apearance of the robots was first reported reported on the Spanner network. As usual it was another few months before they became available here in the UK and as they did, we managed to get hold of all six. Shortly afterwards the supply seemed to dry up but Dave Taylor has them in stock again now according to his website.


Vintage set

As we did not have any spectacular models to take with us and the display of robots was not going to fill the space we decided to take some of the vintage sets, we have acquired over the past few months, and have a go at building some better models than the ones illustrated in the instructions which are fairly abysmal. After a bit of head scratching I had already come up with a forge crane and then somebody pointed out that in CQ75 Bernard Périer had suggested some other models. We started a couple but you know how it is at meetings, there is never enough time to get things finished so they were taken home and finished there.

One of ours and a cpouple of Bernard Périer's from CQ 75

After the meeting we went for a very nice meal at The Swan in Ironbridge with some of the TIMS members and then retired to our B&B just up the road for a good nights sleep.


Next morning after yet another full English it was off to Telford Town centre for a mooch around the shops. While there we wondered into M&S and headed for the toy section. There on the shelves were a couple of interesting bits. Not new but different. The first thing to catch my eye was a robot, the small blue one that some unkind people say looks like me. In M&S ‘he’ is sold in a cardboard box with no tin. The illustration on the box shows the model with the blue pipes missing for some reason making it look as if it might be a different model – it isn’t.

M&S Christmas

The other model that we bought was this year’s version of the bi-plane. M&S sold last year's model for £5.00 (or three for £10) This year the wings are blue instead of red and the price has gone up to £7.50!

After the novelty of wondering round Telford wore off it was back to the car and off home. That’s it no more Meccano for us until the North East London Exhibition on the 5th of December where we will be just visiting so we will get a chance to see some other peoples models for a change.

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1000 - I don't think so
How many pieces? I don't think so...