............................................© 4Kidz, Inc

In 2002 - 2003 4Kidz, Inc. prepared pre-production models and sets and tested the market for a re-launch of Steel Tec. At present the project is 'On Hold'.

4Kidz, Inc. 'Steel Tec' pre-production model (2003) - a review

Review by David Lawrence

I had the unexpected pleasure of being given one of the new 4Kidz, Inc. Steel Tec development sets to look over. It was set #02215, a basic kit for 8+ year olds and featured a Racing Car. The box had a good quality look about it with heavy gauge card and good artwork. The 227 parts were between two interlocking formed plastic trays. All the parts were steel - except for the 46T plastic gear wheel, worm , road and steering wheels - and had quite a nice finish to them. The strips were zinc and the plates in my set were orange and yellow. Road wheels were a push-fit on the axles.

The strips did look slightly narrower than Meccano and when I checked these I found them to be .030" narrower. The bolts and nuts are M4 instead of 5/32" Whit. The gear wheel has a larger tooth form than previously at around 32DP. (4Kidz, Inc. have since told me that production sets will be exactly as the old Steel Tec, the pre-production sets made use of existing tools). The axles remain at .160" diameter. The bolts have Phillips heads and the nuts are hexagonal. The tiny screwdriver with the set was too small for my chubby fingers to negotiate and I used a bigger one out of my toolbox to help me put the model together.

When it comes to assembly I usually find that manuals and assembly diagrams in most sets could be a good bit clearer than they actually are. The 4Kidz, Inc. Steel Tec manual in my set was a provisional B&W version. This, I am told, will be in color in the final sets. My view is that if the builder can't get it assembled successfully, the set (and maybe the hobby) doesn't get played with again. When assembling I admit I did make an hole count error and had to go back and correct it. Perhaps this was due to the B&W provisional manual not being so clear!

The design was fairly conventional, although a few parts were secured by only one bolt and nut, something that can end up as a problem. The model was, in my view, just the right size for a youngster but assembly could have been a fraction easier. I would also have liked to have seen steering for the front wheels, from the lovely racing car steering wheel provided. Amazingly I can still remember as an 8 year old, that steering gives a model 100% more kid-appeal.

When I had it fully assembled I had a nice medium sized model sitting in front of me. The motor had convenient wiring loops making it a snip to connect it to the battery box. I pushed the battery switch to the 'on' position and surprise, surprise, it jumped into motion. The worm and gear gave it traction at just the right speed, something that is not always the case. As a kid I'd be real pleased and proud of my creation. I was.

The box contained all the necessary parts, plus a few extras.

The new 4Kidz, Inc. Steel Tec sets will be a welcome addition in the toy stores and I hope they introduce many more youngsters into our hobby. I congratulate the 4Kidz, Inc. people for all the development work they have undertaken and wish the project well.

Review by Tony Knowels, Editor of 'Other Systems Newsletter;'

David very kindly sent me another of the pre-production sets, #02216, Motorized Dozer, with 248 pieces in it. Much of what David has written about his set applies equally to mine but some comments on the Dozer model may be of interest.

# The colour scheme is the same but the bright parts are (excellently) nickel plated. The pitch of the holes in the parts is 12.2mm, a size not used by any other current system that I know of.

# The instructions were easy enough to follow despite minor errors in the parts needed for one or two of the constructional steps. I suppose the step by step approach is the best way but I always feel like a monkey in the early stages before one can see the model taking shape (especially when the early assemblies are shown up side down). Ideally I would like to begin with the chassis and build up on it. This would also teach youngsters how to go about building models of their own design. But enough of that, I'm starting to ride a hobby horse!

# The only problem found in making the model was that initially the Gear Wheel fouled the lower front edge of the Motor. This was easy to obviate by sliding the lower 9-hole Strips (one each side) forward a little - the Fishplates holding them were then slanting forward. The Spanner supplied was good in that I could reach all the Nuts in the model with it. The rather puny Screwdriver was adequate in most cases but a few Nuts & Bolts needed to be really tight and demanded a larger tool (its blade must still pass through the holes though.)

# When finished it's an attractive looking little model and it ran along well, almost at 'racing car' speed on a hard surface. I wasn't sure though how to play with it. It's called a Dozer but looks to me more like a Loading Shovel and as such it might have more play value. To this end I made the side arms and the bucket pivot, using extra parts found in the box. Could something on these lines be presented as an alternative design? 2 Spanners would be needed for the lock nuts though unless 4 stiff nuts were used (Meccano use quite neat ones). I also found that still within the parts in the box, I could fill in the sides of the bucket, and, to perhaps improve the appearance, lower the Battery Box.

Thank you David, & 4Kidz, for a very pleasant evening with what promises to be a better than average little model.

Tony Knowels has designed and built this smart looking Dozer from the same kit.