13 Nov 2017

Meccano M.A.X - the Interactive Toy Robot, Review

I grew up in the 1980s watching The Terminator movies and reading Isaac Asimov’s principles of robotics. It was a time when artificial Intelligence (AI) was the stuff of sci-fi fantasies. I never thought that one day I would own an intelligent, learning robot that can tell a joke!

Meccano M.A.X. by Spinmaster is the new AI-powered smart robot designed to learn through interaction. The more you play with it, the smarter M.A.X gets! As a personalised STEM toy, M.A.X. has the capacity to stimulate young minds and foster a passion for science and critical thinking.

Meccano M.A.X. (Meccano Advanced XFactor) by Spinmaster is the new AI-powered smart robot designed to learn through interaction. The more you play with it, the smarter M.A.X gets.

As with other Meccano products, M.A.X. has to be assembled before play. It is a challenging build with 332 parts and can take up to 3 hours. That is an optimistic estimate! When you have a 6 year old trying to ‘help’ with the build, it takes closer to 12 hours. But that is the whole point of a toy like M.A.X. It is designed to encourage interest in STEM subjects and the one thing you need in abundance when studying science is patience.

The pack has everything you need to put M.A.X. together - the mechanical pieces, the electrical parts, as well as a screwdriver and wench. The step-by-step instructions come with clear diagrams that make assembly easy, though fiddly at times. Just take your time with it and make sure everything is where it should be.

Important tip:
M.A.X.’s parts come in 12 separate plastic packs. Do not tip them out all at once. Open the packs and leave the pieces in place, so you know where to find them.

Once assembled, download the software from the Meccano website and upload it to M.A.X.’s brain using the USB cable provided. This is M.A.X.’s base level of knowledge. Make sure the battery is fully charged before you start the robot up.

Now it’s time to play! Turn it on, and the first question M.A.X. asks is, “Are you my creator?” It  freaked me out a little bit, if I’m being entirely honest! M.A.X. now takes you through a few basic checks to make sure all the hardware and software is functioning okay. You need to move the head, open the claw and answer some questions so M.A.X. gets to know you a little.

Here is how we got on assembling Meccano M.A.X. and setting it up:

M.A.X. can roll around on sturdy wheels, and its built-in infrared sensors allow it to track and avoid obstacles in its path. You can program M.A.X. to suit your specifications. Or you can use the in-built platform to play games, listen to music or learn trivia. M.A.X. can be controlled via voice commands, buttons on the MeccaBrain or the downloadable free app.

The voice commands take some getting used to. You need to use a clear, steady tone of voice for M.A.X. to register and listen to a command. Also, the robot can’t hear you when it is speaking. So wait till it has stopped talking before issuing a command. As M.A.X. is designed for ages 10 and above, it finds it difficult to recognise a young child’s speech. J has struggled to use voice commands and needs one of his parents to help with these. He has no trouble using the quick access buttons on the MeccaBrain though.

“Let’s DJ, M.A.X.” is fast becoming our favourite command. My 6 year old is honing his DJ skills using M.A.X.’s claw to scratch the record. He also enjoys playing robot tennis with M.A.X. We have tried some basic programming using the red Record LIM button on the MeccaBrain.

At just a foot tall, M.A.X. may be pint-sized, but is full of personality. The more you play with it, the more it learns and you can unlock higher levels. M.A.X. is curious, inquisitive and has an awesome memory too. It asks questions, soaks up information and remembers from past interactions. It is a personalised toy like no other, for M.A.X. becomes what you make of it.

Can M.A.X. be a child’s friend? It certainly has the potential to! M.A.X. can easily become the constant companion that a child turns to for attention.

I however, would like to think of M.A.X. as nothing more than a highly evolved, personalised STEM toy. If used properly, this smart, fun, intelligent robot has the capacity to stimulate young minds and foster a passion for science and critical thinking. As long as we are clear that M.A.X. is a toy and by no means a replacement for a human being, we should be fine. 

Disclosure: We were sent a Meccano M.A.X for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links to make shopping easy for you. It doesn't cost you anything extra to shop through my links. It just means I will earn a few pennies towards the upkeep of this website.


  1. Read another article saying we need to be careful these robots dont replave our kids real friends, but jts ridiculous really, MAX knows about 15 set things. He doesnt have conversations or build relationships. I think my 9 yr old will be bored with him in a week or two really, i mean how long till the novelty of putting him on patrol or playing pong on his monitor wears off..

    1. I have had it for 2 months and am still not bored

  2. how do I make him reach learning level six?????????

    1. My son is still happy playing at the basic level/ level 1 and we haven't ventured beyond that. Try contacting Meccano support as they should be able to help.


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