BAYKO Supermodels

Oh dear, my sincere apologies, but not a single, scantily clad, young lady in sight! I'm very sorry if I've disappointed you - but why don't you read on anyway!!! You never know…
Most people in the toy world, when they think of large, impressive models, built to amaze and seduce the trade and the public alike, would think of MECCANO, and, more recently, LEGO
…but BAYKO also had it's mo[nu]ments!

Plimpton Era Supermodels

To BAYKO aficionados there are six famous models, four produced by Plimpton and two others by MECCANO.
The B.I.F. model Village from page 70 in the second style of BAYKO manual
The first [right] is the model village, which was illustrated on page 70 of the second style of BAYKO manual.
The model, or, more accurately, diorama of models, was built for display at the British Industries Fair [B.I.F.], probably February, 1935, and the caption script from the manual says it all : -
“This Village was built for the B.I.F., and all the models included were built entirely throughout from Bayko Standard Parts. Its measurements overall were 12 feet long by 6 feet wide.
The B.I.F. Skyscraper model from page 71 in the second style of BAYKO manual
The second [left] is the spectacular Skyscraper, which was illustrated on page 71 of the second style of BAYKO manual.
Slide your mouse over the image, to re-erect the skyscraper!
This model was also built for display at the British Industries Fair [B.I.F.], again probably February, 1935, and appears in the manual with the following the script : -
“This Skyscraper was built for the British Industries Fair and, except for the extra length of rods, was built entirely from Bayko Standard Parts. It was over six feet high, and covered nine bases. Nearly 2,000 Windows, 500 Corners and 2,500 Bricks were used in its construction.”
The trouble with this caption is - IT'S A LIE - well a gross exaggeration anyway…
The third Plimpton era model, I'm a bit less certain about, was again built for the B.I.F., I think for 1951, but certainly in the early 1950s
Leo's model of the original Liverpool Speke Airport building
The B.I.F. Liverpool Airport Building model, shown courtesy of The Friends of Liverpool Airport
It is a model of the terminal building of Liverpool Speke Airport, now more touristically known as Liverpool John Lenon Airport.
The catalogue for a DINKY TOYS exhibition - Birkenhead's Williamson Art Gallery and Museum, between July 13th and September 8th, 1985 - says it was also displayed at the 1951 Liverpool Show. Click anywhere on the image to see a larger version.
The building has been superceded by a modern steel and glass version, but still survives, somewhat modified, as the Airport Hotel.
The absolutely stunning black and white photo of the original model [above right] is shown here courtesy of The Friends of Liverpool Airport.
The colour photo [above left] is shown courtesy of Leo Janssen, who built it.
Leo Janssen's Empire State Building
A quick aside, all the Windows and Doors in the model are white - which were never officially manufactured post-war. However, clearly they were, and I own a few. The only ones you can fully distinguish from their pre-war cousins are the Curved Windows, where the curvature of the Rod-plates is different. Fortunately for us collectors, some examples, either model survivors or contemporary 'extras', escaped from captivity!
The image [right] shows Leo Janssen's spectacular 16' tall model of the Empire State Building, as it was displayed at Sandy in Bedfordshire.
The fourth official BAYKO Supermodel is also of the Empire State Building…
…but there is no photo of this one I'm afraid, however, an article in 'British Toys', the September, 1956 issue, refers to the model, “shown at the last B.I.F.”, so Plimpton must have attended around this date. The article also describes the model as “8ft. 6in. in height”, around half the height of Leo's valiant effort.
I'm now very sceptical about this article as I discuss elsewhere…
For completeness, there are two other famous, large BAYKO models from the Plimpton era, not normally associated with exhibitions. However, they are interesting models in their own right, and both played a significant marketing role so you may find them to be of interest…

MECCANO Era Supermodels

Buckingham Palace model shown in 'Toy Trader', December, 1961
The next model [left] is, self evidently, from the MECCANO era of BAYKO production, in the 1960s.
Buckingham Palace, junior, was built by MECCANO Model Room Manager, Bob Moy, [right] and his team, for the January, 1962 MECCANO Trade Show which was held almost within site of the original.
Buckingham Palace model shown under construction
This is a truly stunning model and includes some very effective use of one particular non-standard BAYKO part…
…it's good to know I'm not the only one who cheats!
Clearly, at this stage, BAYKO was fully integrated into the MECCANO organisation, and this must mark the peak of their commitment to BAYKO, it being the only large model they built.
The image [left] is taken direct from the December, 1961 issue of 'Toy Trader', a leading publication for the UK toy trade and bears the legend : -
“Above is the famous BAYKO model of Buckingham Palace. And within sight of the palace is the Meccano Trade Show at the Grosvenor Hotel, London!”
Leo's model of the Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada head office building in Montreal
The last model I have to show you was shown at the same MECCANO Trade Show in 1962, though it clearly must have taken second billing, in MECCANO's mind, to the Buckingham Palace model above, at least for the U.K. market.
BAYKO model of the Sun Life Assurance Comany of Canada head office building in Montreal
The model [right] is of the head office building of the Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada, which is located in Montreal and was built in the early 1930s.
If you would like to read the article in 'Toy Trader' in which this photo appeared…
The slightly larger, and therefore more accurate, model of the Sun Life H.Q. [left] was built by Leo Janssen.
I actually visited the building in May, 2017, and was promised further information by the building agents, but alas…
Both the above models, Buckingham Palace and the Sun Life Assurance Building, are mentioned in an article in 'MECCANO Magazine' entitled “Famous Buildings in BAYKO
The MECCANO era super models were, almost certainly, all built by Robert Moy…
London's Park Lane Hilton Hotel was opened in 1963. At the excellent Frank Hornby exhibition in Maghull town hall, Liverpool, I met Rita Clay [nee Ryan] who worked in the MECCANO modelling shop and who remembers personally building a model of the hotel in BAYKO, she believes in 1962 - which fits perfectly. The model was shown at the Nuremberg toy industry fair early the following year and possibly also at the Chicago toy industry fair later in the year. Logically, it would also presumably have been shown at MECCANO's own fair at the Grosvenor Hotel in London.
Unfortunately I've no more info., but if you know of any photos of the model, or if you actually saw it, then I'd love to hear from you…
Certainly throughout the MECCANO BAYKO era, in addition to their own MECCANO Trade Fairs at the Grosvenor Hotel, MECCANO also maintained a showroom on Russell Square, in London, it is surely inconceivable that these Supermodels didn't put in a Bloomsbury appearance between their more glamorous bookings across the world…
Well, as far as I've been able to unearth, that's it, but I'm sure you'll agree with me, that these six models are all excellent in their different ways. If you know of any other large BAYKO Supermodels…
If you've any more information on BAYKO Supermodels, I'd love to hear from you…
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Latest update - August 10, 2022
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