BAYKO - Manual Labour - Part 1
The Early Pre-War Years

I'm sorry about the corny title, but I never miss a chance to be silly – just ask Diana [my ex wife]! Anyway, I hope you won't let that put you off, ultimately I will cover the entire life of the product.
Our illustrious editor suggested that I put finger to keyboard to produce something for the excellent club magazine, with the rider, “Why not do something about pre-war manuals?” Here goes the first of two parts on the pre-war BAYKO manuals.
Page 27 of the very first BAYKO manual with the Bunalow typing error
We know from discussions with C.B. Plimpton's daughters, Anne and Jean, that there was domestic scale BAYKO production, literally being packed around the kitchen table, in the run up to Christmas, 1933 and there is clear circumstantial evidence to suggest that we can identify the first run of manuals which accompanied these sets. The evidence is in the form of a typing error on page 27 which proclaims “Large Bunalow with Garage” which was quickly corrected when the manual was subsequently reprinted.
But perhaps I'm getting ahead of myself. Plimpton's first venture into print was no shrinking violet, weighing in at a meaty forty eight glossy, black and white pages inside a beige cover with red and green decoration on the front. The cover proudly announced the “Patent App. No. 32235/35”. The manual was produced to support sets 1 to 5, remember the set 6 didn't emerge until 1935. It set the pattern for pretty well all subsequent BAYKO manuals, a compliment to the quality of the original design. There were no less than 36 photos of suggested models which could be built from the various BAYKO sets, each accompanied by the [now] familiar plan view diagrams. Presumably linked to the early production problems with bases, several of the photographs show models which are built on wooden blocks, not BAYKO bases! The rest of the manual comprises one general introduction page, two pages of instructions and two pages detailing set contents and spare parts prices respectively.
Front Cover of the first BAYKO Manual
Page 8 of the First BAYKO Manual with the White Window Error
A final point of interest can be found on page 8 where there is a model of a “Bungalow with Front Porch and Side Verandah”. Even the earliest version shows the use of white windows to create the sides of the front porch, even though these were never included in sets 1 to 5, for which the manual was created.
The second version of this manual emerged, probably in the run-up to Christmas, 1934, complete with correctly spelt Bungalow, and is, by far, the commonest version of this style of manual. The following year saw the launch of the Ornamental Additions Sets, which were completely ignored by the first style of manual, and the “De-Luxe” set 6, which had a fundamental impact. Perhaps Plimpton had a lot of set 1 to 5 manuals in stock when set 6 was launched, because their chosen solution was to staple the additional ten manual pages required into the standard manual, between pages forty six and seven. These ten pages comprised four pages showing photographs of four new models, four matching pages of plan view diagrams, one page with a brief set of instructions for the models and a final set 6 contents page.
Page ii of the Set 6 added pages
Front Cover of the Second Style of BAYKO Manual
This formula survived until late 1935 or early 1936 when Plimpton completely redesigned the manual, creating the second style, which, in its turn, survived until the 'New Series' sets were introduced in 1939. The second style now bore the legend “Patent No. 422645”, and weighed in at seventy two pages, enclosed in a full colour printed, glossy white cover. The forty models shown previously were still included, though they now included required parts lists. A key enhancement in the second style of manual was the substantial increase in the general “how it’s done” instructions from two to no less than seven pages, a clear case of over-kill as Plimpton effectively acknowledged when they slimmed this section down significantly in future manuals.
There are actually two versions of this style of manual, the difference between them related primarily to issues with the Conversion Set Contents listings, which were a new inclusion in this style of manual.
Page 69 of the second style of BAYKO Manual - Red Arches Error
Another innovation in this style of manual was a two page section dedicated to the Ornamental Additions Sets. This innovation too had its error, though this one was missed, and not corrected in the later version. Page 69 mentions “Red and Oak Arches” as being amongst the contents, this should, of course, have referred to “Green and Oak Arches”.
Skyscraper Model built for the B.I.F from Page 71
Finally for this section, there is no printing information for the original style of manual, but on page 72 of the second style appears the legend “Published by the Alwyn Studio Advertising Services and Printed by the Northern Publishing Company Ltd., Liverpool and London.” To the best of my knowledge, neither of these companies still exists.
In some ways, this style of manual is the pinnacle - of subsequent manuals, only the post-war set 4 manual exceeded half of its seventy two pages. That's in stark contrast to the BAYKO itself, as these two styles of manual cover the comparatively modest range of parts which applied in the first few years.
I will cover the other five pre-war publications in Part 2.
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Latest update - August 10, 2022
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