BAYKO Quality

I really find it difficult to believe it's taken me quite so long to get round to what is clearly an important component of any business, including BAYKO, the subject of Quality.
You may have expected me to start with a study of all the Quality Inspection Slips with which we are, somewhat inevitably, all too familiar. However, I thought it more appropriate to start by discussing BAYKO Quality in general.
Parts, Policy and Production
Pioneered by the Japanese through the 1950s and '60s, businesses today design and build their chosen quality standard into the manufacturing stage, rather than employ an army of inspectors whose primary role seems to be to throw product away. Thus, by making it “right first time”, they save substantially on both the cost of the product which is no longer discarded, and the wages of the throwers-away.
Both Plimpton and MECCANO hail from the earlier quality regimes - and, just occasionally, it shows!
However, there can be no doubt - just look at the quality of the earliest BAYKO manuals if you me don't believe - that Plimpton set out to project a high quality image to get the world's first, and finest, plastic construction toy off to a great start in the minds of the toy buying public.
Arguably the “De-Luxe” tag associated with the BAYKO set #6, and, in deed, the whole Ornamental Additions Sets range, deliberately continued the high quality image projection.
In this context, I think it's worth remembering that the various stigmas associated with the image of plastic over the years, really didn't apply in the beginning - this was an exciting, modern material.
The most obvious operational Quality systems that were used by BAYKO over the years are centred on the simple inspection of the complete, packed BAYKO standard sets and conversion sets.
The 'fact' of each inspection was 'immortalised' by the addition of a Quality Inspection Slip to the set, which was, theoretically at least, traceable to individual Quality Inspectors, certainly projected a sense of quality accountability.
The Inspection Slip [left] is an early example from around 1934 / '35. As you'll doubtless already be aware, the slips themselves changed significantly over the life of the product, and I'll cover these slips in more detail below.
In terms of the effective quality inspection operation, there was an earlier production stage which had a de facto inspection process built into it. Let me explain : -
Cellophaned Card of Bricks and Windows from Set 0X
We're all familiar enough with the cellophane wrapped cards of Bricks, Windows, Doors Arches and Canopies found in mint BAYKO sets - well, as each part was individually placed, face down, on the cellophane, it's highly likely that, even with experienced brains running on autopilot, any major quality deficiency would have been winkled out at that stage.
It's also easy enough to visualise the same quality based selectivity applying in the very earliest BAYKO sets where most parts were laid out, by hand, in the integral trays in each set.
Four BAYKO End Bricks with clear production Quality problems
This, of course, begs the question as to exactly how some of the known defective BAYKO parts slipped through this quality control net.
I'm not talking about damage which is most likely to have been done throughout the play-life of the part, but rather of damage which can only have occurred during the manufacturing process, like the four End Bricks in the image [left].
Apart from the 'autopilot' possibility mentioned above, I think that these faulty parts are most likely to have slipped through the net, because they never went through it in the first place. The most likely escape route, as it were, is that these parts came through the spare parts packing process, which would have been particularly vulnerable during the relatively late period [late 1950s onwards] when some of this packing was automated. Of course eagle eyed shopkeepers and young purchasers would have added a further level of inspection - unless boxes/packs were bought unopened.
I think we should also consider just how other, mainly larger, parts were inspected, assuming they were, given that several faulty examples of these parts have also slipped through the quality inspection net over the life of the product.
Image showing both a drilling fault and the later mould-pin failure
The first two images [right and left] include, by way of example, parts which have extra holes drilled in them, clearly by mistake, during part two of the manufacturing process.
Wall Caping - 6 Hole - with extra drill hole damage
Here we have a simple choice of possibilities : -
Either the fault wasn't noticed.
Or the inspector decided that this was acceptable - the part was still usable!
I prefer to think that the former [cock up theory] is in play, rather than the latter [conspiracy theory] - but, of course, I simply don't know - perhaps both applied!
Red Brick with extra Rod Grooves
The faults in these two images [right and left] have notably different implications.
Two red Side Stups with excess Rod Grooves
The Rod Groove grinding process operator has let his [more likely than her] brain drop into autopilot mode, and, in every case has ground grooves into all four sides.
Now there are, admittedly fairly rare, occasions when the extra grooves could be a positive boon for a particular model design detail…
…which steers me to the idea that these [perfectly usable] parts were deemed fine…
…were the operators and inspectors allowed discretion?
Speaking personally, I'm glad that these faulty parts have survived, they give us an invaluable insight as to what was supposed to happen and thus give us details of exactly how they were manufactured. Let's have a quick look at some other BAYKO parts in the 'Rogues Gallery' : -
White Curved Window with drill damage
Badly drilled Floor
Two Domes showing the excess plastic in the red one

White Curved Brick with noRod Hholes
Red Half Brick from an over-filled mould
Range of faulty Square Tie Bars

My only excuse for the delayed inclusion of this topic on the site is that the ubiquitous presence of these Quality Inspection Slips throughout the hobby, doesn't really engender an atmosphere of excitement - still, here goes : -
Set 2X Quality Inspection  Slip showing the Tabley Streeet address
The first thing to note, which not everybody notices, is that, during the post-war Plimpton years, there were actually two distinct types of Quality Inspection Slip : -
Set 2X Rod Box Quality Inspection Slip, showing the Gibraltar Row address
The Quality Inspection Slip for the Complete Set. [left]
The Quality Inspection Slip for the Rod Box alone. [right]
Given that the Rod Boxes also held Tie Bars and Base Links [with Screws and, before the war, Nuts], I've always referred to them as Accessory Boxes, but what do I know?

This less glamorous inspection is indicative of the quality drive needs, given the potential for upsetting little Johnnie or Jenny's first forays into modelling with their shiny new set.

The use of different colours was perhaps simply to minimise 'wrong slip' selection, but wouldn't have affected the printing price.
The reference number “555” [left, bottom left corner] is presumably a document code number…
You may already have noticed that the two Slips above invite you to write to different addresses in Liverpool, in the event of a BAYKO quality problem.
As you can see from the hand printed “20” almost overprinting the “2X” on the slip [above left], operators / inspectors were issued with small stamps to add their allocated identification number to the Quality Inspection Slips.
Generiv version of the full set quality inspection slip
At other times, pencilled initials were the order of the day, [e.g., left] and, as you can see from this, and the slip [above, right] adding identification to the Quality Slips was regularly ignored.
So far I've identified five colour variants of these slips, all pale shades - Beige, Blue, Cream, Pink and White - but there may well have been others.
The slip [left] is an interesting variant on the Plimpton era, complete set Quality Inspection Slips, in which, as you can see, there is no pre-printed set number, presumably in an attempt to yield a small cost saving on the printing, though it doesn't really seem to have caught on.
I don't want to be too harsh, but, of the three small sections, towards the top of the slip, which should have been filled in, by the operators and inspectors, only one has actually been completed. This is not untypical, I'm afraid, in my more cynical moments I can't help but wonder how any sets ever got produced correctly!!!
The size of these Quality Inspection Slips was something of a moveable feast, presumably at the whim of the printer of each batch, though they are all in loosely the same sort of size range, with 2⅛ x 3 inches [= 54 x 76 mm] being reasonably typical.
I should clarify that the comments above reflect what happened during the Plimpton era, Mr MECCANO, operated in a different way, presumably based on his own, long established systems.
MECCANO era Quality Inspection Slip
The MECCANO Quality Inspection Slips, [left] certainly suggest a much simpler approach, with just a single  type of slip, which was glued to the inside of the set box lid.
Animation showing both sides of the MECCANO era Guarantee Slip
This suggests that there was a single inspection done at the time the set packing was completed, unless of course, there was a separate inspection system associated with the pre-packing of the Rod [Accessory] Boxes, without legacy paperwork.
The other document [right] is really just a Guarantee Slip, in no less than eight languages, spread across its two sides, which you can see alternating in the animation.
For the record, the languages are Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish and Swedish - I think!
86 x 67 mm
3⅜ x 2⅝ inches
Well, for the moment at least, that's it - I will root out more Quality Inspection Slips over time, and will add to this page, if I find something interesting.
124 x 102 mm
4⅞ x 4 inches
Arguably, these Quality Inspection Slips could have been included as part of the section on BAYKO Literature, however, I think the comprehensive Quality systems view to be more appropriate…


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Latest update - January 30, 2019
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