BAYKO Exports

I am indebted to Geoff Lilleker for help with some of this information.
Literature and anecdotal evidence (from current and former ex-pats) point to a healthy BAYKO export trade - post-war at least.
I'm afraid I've no direct evidence for a pre-war export trade, but there can be no question that BAYKO was intended for export...
Games and Toys advert, May 1939
...Plimpton advertised for overseas agents in 'Games and Toys', the leading U.K. toy trade publication, in May, 1939, and again the following month...
...of course there is the small matter of the second world war which might, just possibly, have had a slight dampening effect on Plimpton's export aspirations!
Post-war, the U.K. government was keen to actively support [coerce?] the export drive, as seen in an article in 'Toy Trader' in April, 1946...
The impact of this policy on BAYKO's availability at home can be seen in a brief snippet which appeared in 'Toy Trader' in July, 1949...
The long term impact of the campaign were clearly visible in an item on U.K. toy sales projections in 'The Times' on November 8th, 1960...
More directly, the registration of BAYKO's French Patent, on August 17th, 1935, shows that Plimpton planned for exports from the start...
Patents weren't the only means for protection for a product, and various legal steps had to be taken to defend the export business...
That's about the extent of my knowledge of BAYKO's pre-war exports, but I'd love to be able to add more information to the website...
Whatever the pre-war position, there can be little doubt as to the importance of the export side of the business.  There is no detailed volume information available, as far as I am aware, other than that it reached a peak of some 35%, in the mid 1950s.  Expressing that slightly differently, that meant that the U.K. market wasn't quite twice as big as the total export market at that stage.  Most modern companies would kill for that sort of export achievement.
We can also be certain that BAYKO was available in at least two dozen different markets, across five continents.  The missing continent - apart from Antarctica, of course - is South America.  Now I do know that one elderly gentleman in Argentina had a BAYKO set as a child, but he had no knowledge of where it came from.  If you have any information on BAYKO in South America, then I'd love to hear from you...
Domestic and export product was identical, despite global variations in building styles, perhaps indicating that ex-pats were probably the initial target, though the 35% volume figure surely suggests that it went well beyond that.
Geoff Handford made a strong case to me that a selection of the models in the various BAYKO manuals, such as the Colonial Bungalow, Large Bungalow with Verandah, Country Chalet and the Mosque are all likely to have been targeted at a market which was more familiar with them than U.K. based, 1930s, '40s or '50s modellers...
Export Quality Assurance slip
From Chris Reeve, I believe that, at least immediately post-war, export manuals were basically the standard UK version but with no price on the front and and parts price lists excluded.
Similarly, later literature supporting the export markets was a direct copy of UK literature, translated where appropriate, and including local currency prices.
BAYKO's export drive was aided by the Board of Trade and Trade Delegations attached to British Embassies and Consulates.
Quality assurance slips, in the appropriate language(s), like Bill Foote's bilingual, Belgian one above, were included in export sets.
Some retailers were supplied directly from the U.K., others via local Import Agents, which must surely have been the preferred route.
There is, however, a little evidence for the direct supply route.
The main piece of evidence I have for direct supply of overseas stores, apart from some anecdotal evidence, is this document [right], which was to be used by the overseas retailers to replenish their stocks of BAYKO spare parts.
1950s BAYKO export market parts order form
I assume that the difference in the colour of this document from domestic ones was intended as an administrative safety device, to help ensure that Plimpton's clerical staff carried out the appropriate procedures for the export markets.
Apart from the colour, this BAYKO Parts Order Form is identical to those in use for the domestic market with the exception that there are no prices!  It was likely that forms similar to this one were in service for most of the 1950s, and probably after the MECCANO takeover in 1959.
I suppose it is possible that the form could also have been used by those retailers who were supplied via a local Import Agent, although I would have expected those agents to have printed their own documentation, with their own business address on it.
The definitive proof that it was intended specifically for export use is incorporated in the printers code [bottom left of the image] which actually specifies that it was intended for "Export" use.
The ratio of two white to one red for Corner Bricks, Domes, Pinnacle Roofs and Pinnacle Platforms, within the Retail Cabinet contents, conforms with the standard domestic market figures.
Click anywhere on the image [right] to see a slightly larger version of it.
I like the self perpetuating circularity of a form with its own reorder section!
1960 MECCANO General Products Export Catalogue
MECCANO 1960 Export Catalogue Front Cover
MECCANO 1960 Export Catalogue BAYKO Page
This is how, in 1960, MECCANO introduced their customers to their updated take on BAYKO, alongside the rest of their product range, though, in this case, it's clearly the export market that's being targeted - it says so in the top right hand corner of the front cover [above left].
As far as I can determine, there were no individual country versions of this particular catalogue, just the standard U.K. version and this general export version.
There are lots of confusing features of the BAYKO section of the U.K. catalogue which are replicated in this one. Personally, I'm afraid that this didn't augur at all well for BAYKO's long term future...
One point of interest - recognition, perhaps, of the retooling issues MECCANO were struggling with - there is a small footnote at the bottom of the BAYKO section [above, right] saying "(Available 1961)".  This was NOT present in the otherwise identical U.K. BAYKO section.
241 x 183 mm = 9.5 x 7.2 inches
This [below] is an interesting document, from the MECCANO era, dated May, 1961, shown courtesy of the Liverpool Maritime Museum.
It's a multi-lingual BAYKO export document printed on thick paper.
Apart from the occasional dual language document in French and Flemish for the Belgian market, this is the only BAYKO document I know of with more than one language...'s also the only mention of German I've ever come across in BAYKO...
...and the only printed reference to Spain.
This document was either meant to be included in export BAYKO sets, adopting the 'general export' approach to overseas markets, still common today, or it was an aid to the retailers.
The English inclusion in the parts list but not the product explanation is slightly confusing, perhaps it was to help non English speakers relate to English script in the BAYKO manuals.
5 Language plus English BAYKO set contents
5 Language BAYKO description
Set contents lists in English plus -
French, Dutch, Italian, Spanish and German.
Product description in -
French, Dutch, Italian, Spanish and German.
Finally, a small news item from 'The Times' on March 26th, 1962 tells us that the world's finest construction toy had made it behind the iron curtain - to Poland to be precise...
Unlikely as it may seem, in October, 2012 a MECCANO era general products leaflet, clearly targeted at the Russian market, appeared on eBay which, amazingly enough, included BAYKO...
If you have any other MECCANO era BAYKO export documents, I'd love to hear from you...
The following 26+ countries are known to have been export markets for BAYKO : -
Click on highlighted country names above for more info.
There is further information that BAYKO was also available in the British influenced areas of East Africa, i.e. Kenya, Uganda and Tanganyika [now merged into Tanzania]...
Given that South Africa is on the list, it is highly likely that Malawi [then Nyasaland], Zambia and Zimbabwe [then Northern and Southern Rhodesia, respectively] were also covered...
The eagle-eyed among you will have noticed the inclusion of the Channel Islands in the above table.  I do know that they are not really an export market, but given the necessity to cope with different tax regimes, it seamed reasonable to add them to this section.
One last detail, MECCANO had specific, two digit, export codes to identify the target market of their export documentation...
Well, that's it, I have nothing more to add on general BAYKO exporting at the moment, but, if you've got any further general BAYKO export information, or knowledge of specific BAYKO markets for that matter, then I'd love to hear from you...
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