Reviewed by Suzanne Collins
I have been delighted to receive Clementoni’s Mechanics Laboratory Monster Truck to review. As a family we have enjoyed making different kits, similar to this, in the past so we were excited to see what this one had in store for us!
The Monster Truck kit comes with more than 200 components to be assembled, including: differential, rack-and-pinion steering and Cardan joint. There are 10 fantastic and dynamic models to discover and build. For this review we made two of the different options – the ‘connecting rod and piston’ and ‘monster truck’.
On opening the box we found several bags, which contained the different plastic components and a paper instruction book for 3 of the build options. Before being able to build any of the models all the plastic parts need to be taken of the sprues. As per the instruction book guidance, myself and my husband did this with the help of our children. Fortunately we had the appropriate tools. As there are so many parts, this can take some time so I’d possibly prepare these parts in advance if building is the main focus. Also inside the instruction booklet is a page which lists all the different components. It is worth looking over this page as some of the parts are very similar, main size differences, so it’s good to get an idea of what is what before you start to try and eliminate trying to use the wrong piece when building.
One thing that I particularly liked about this kit is the free instructional app that can be downloaded, which is available on Apple, Android and the Amazon app stores. What the app gives you is a much broader, user-friendly tool to be able to build the model of your choice. On opening the app you navigate through to the Monster Truck kits and from there you have the full range of 10 models to build; compared with the three that come in the paper booklet. The other models include ‘off road racer’, ‘hot rod’ and ‘spider truck’. When your chosen model is open in the app, you are able to work through step by step instructions, as in the paper book. However, the advantage of the app is that you are able to rotate, zoom in and out on the image. There is also a small animation to show the new piece being placed, which helped us out massively. The app is a great addition to this kit.
Thinking about the kit and it’s individual pieces, these are well made, of good quality and mostly fit together really well. While making the ‘connecting rod and piston’ and ‘monster truck’ we found that the complexity of the build to be of a good level. This kit is aimed at ages 8+ and feel that this is appropriate in age. However, there were some parts that left the truck, in particular, tricky to construct and play with once built as they are too loose. The ‘collars’, ‘universal joint’, and wheels don’t grip the black ‘rods’ enough resulting in parts sliding about and falling off.
Taking this into consideration however there are some excellent engineering learning experiences to be had. There are several parts of the model which stand out from your normal brick build systems, currently available. For example the elastic bands, which provide the suspension, the differential gears which help the rear wheel drive and the fact that there is a full steering system. Great fun to play with!
For the retail price of £20, I do feel that this is a good kit which offers any young budding engineers a great first look into construction using levers and gears.
This product can be purchased from various outlets including Amazon and The Entertainer. To purchase from Smyths please visit the website here.