BAYKO - Manual Labour - Part 2
Pre-War Innovation Period

This article is the second part of what began as a two part article, covering the pre-war BAYKO manuals, in this case starting in 1937, when the spurt of innovation began…
…the pun goes on!
Our illustrious editor suggested that I pull my finger out and direct it towards the keyboard to produce something for our excellent club magazine, with the rider, “Why not do something about pre-war manuals?” Here comes the second of two parts on the pre-war BAYKO manuals.
Altogether there were ten versions of BAYKO manual before the war, and, having covered the five different standard manuals issued prior to 1937, we can now look at the other five.
Front Cover of the 20s Series Manual
Page 7 of the 20s Series Manual, mentioning Red Half Bricks
The next in line was produced for those popular rarities, sets 20 to 23, which emerged in 1938. These sets heralded a significant period of change for BAYKO which was, unfortunately, somewhat thwarted by Herr Hitler and his chums. These sets are noteworthy as the launching pads for Curved Bricks and Windows, Bay Window Covers, Domes, Pinnacles, Turrets and 1-Brick Pillars. They are, however, probably best known as the source of 'the orange bits'. You might, perhaps, expect this launch to be supported by a stunning manual, but no. To be fair, the 20s series manual stands out from the rest as the only manual in portrait format and for being printed in three colours [orange, red and green] throughout, but the eight page booklet is often poorly printed. I suspect that C.B. Plimpton recognised that they had gone over the top with the previous seventy two page manual and that, as a result, this one was conceived in a more cost-conscious environment.
There is another rather strange feature of this manual. There is a parts list on page seven which mentions the availability of Red Half Bricks. This is the earliest reference that I've seen, and is particularly odd because Red Half Bricks were not included in these sets, indeed they did not appear until the following year in the 'New Series' sets – as far as we know.
These manuals were printed by J.R.H. & S. Liverpool – I'm afraid I can add no more.
The launch of the 'New Series' sets, in 1939, was another major step forward for the world's finest construction toy. Plimpton launched the small Bases, Large Windows, Long Bricks and End Bricks, bringing BAYKO to the more familiar format which lasted to the death.
New Series Manual Cover
So how did Plimpton support this new venture in terms of manuals? Well, firstly, the cost consciousness continued and the 'New Series' sets were launched with a 36 page manual, including the front and rear cover, just half the size of its main stream predecessor. There were still forty five black and white photos of models inside a two colour front cover [red and green], all on glossy white paper, but there were no plan view diagrams for the illustrated models for sets 3 to 6. So how was the poor modeller supposed to build the models?
New Series Model Card 18
The answer was simple, and yet another indication, to my mind at least, of the new cost consciousness. Plimpton created four sets of model cards on which were printed the plans, one for each of the sets 3 to 6. The appropriate model cards, fastened together with a length of white string [which had a blue thread entwined in it], were then included in the sets and conversion sets. The last full set of these model cards to be offered on ebay went for around £120, so this basic format certainly hasn't deterred today's serious collectors!
That covers the key innovations in manuals, as they emerged between 1938 and the war, but there's a bit more to the story.
Page 24 of the New Series Manuals
To complete the picture we need to return to the 'New Series' manual, and follow its development as the war started to get in the way. Essentially there were two further versions of this manual, so what triggered their production?
Price List from the New Series Manual Second Version
[Since I wrote this, we now know that there were also two post-war 'New Series' manuals]
The major difference between the first and second versions is in the price list on page two – no prizes for guessing which way the prices were going. Seriously, this was obviously a significant problem as the war effort created greater demands on industry, and the U-boat packs restricted supply. Interestingly, I own a first version manual which has had a second version set price list over-sticker applied, so perhaps the true trigger for version two was the need to change the spare parts prices.
The trigger for the final version, though more comprehensive, is also related to the page two price list. Firstly printed prices have been removed entirely from the list of available sets and conversion sets – a classic response to inflation. Secondly, and in many ways more significant, were the changes to the spare parts list. This time it wasn't just a price hike, popular though that no doubt was! The key change was the removal of all the parts which had been dropped from BAYKO sets when the 'New Series' sets were launched [Left and Right Steps, Platforms, Wall Capping and Full Corner Bricks]. Also missing were all the orange parts and all the 'Oak' parts.
Price List from the New Series Manual Final Version
Price List from the New Series Manual First Version
By 1942, by law, BAYKO production had stopped, manuals and all, as industry was redirected to the war effort – so that's your lot!
I'll leave you with two interesting features of the 'New Series' BAYKO manual price list – all three versions. There, clear for all to see, green Small Roofs are offered for sale. I wonder, did anybody buy them – I, for one, have never seen one. By way of complete contrast, as far as I can tell, 1-Brick Pillars were never offered for sale at all – unless my eyesight is failing!
It is the way of things that a part of the information in this article was superceded within weeks of its publication. Thus a short additional article was needed…
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Latest update - August 10, 2022
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