BAYKO in Hamleys Catalogues

Hamleys is, unarguably, one of the world's great toy retailers and has a truly global reputation, and its flagship store, on Regent Street, claimed to be the world's largest toy store.
They began trading in London in 1760, so they know what they are doing...
Christmas view of Hamleys, Regent Street Store
...and spotted BAYKO's potential early on.
The image [right] shows a fairly recent, unusually traffic-free, Christmas time shot of Hamleys Regent Street store.
The first few, pre-war BAYKO images [below] are taken from Hamleys autumn winter catalogues, and, sadly, they appear to be allergic to dates! Their dates are, therefore, open to debate, but are the best estimates available, taking illustrations, etc. into account.
The attractive artwork is certainly right for that period and is by far the best I've seen so far in any similar publication.
I'd love to be able to add more Hamleys entries to the site so...
I'm pleased to say that, though now, sadly, BAYKO-free, Hamleys are still successfully trading today, on the Regent Street site, and others in Cardiff, Dublin and Glasgow.
 
Hamleys Autumn / Winter 1935 / 1936
Hamleys Autumn Winter Cataloge 1935 / 1936
Hamleys were obviously very impressed with the [then] fairly new product as they were offering the entire standard BAYKO range of the day. The catalogue itself only contains eight pages printed in colour, so BAYKO, with a colour page to itself, was certainly being pushed heavily by Hamleys.
It's worth reminding ourselves that BAYKO had only been launched, nationwide, twelve months earlier, and had self-evidently come a long way in a short time in terms of market recognition and penetration. C.B. Plimpton's famous enthusiasm was obviously winning the day!
Front cover of Hamleys' 1935 / 1936 catalogue
Dating this issue is based on two factors : -
Set #6, here actually referred to as a "De luxe box", is included, and it was launched in 1935.
The two entries [below], can, thanks to Andy Harris, be identified as covering the winters of 1936 / 1937 and 1937 / 1938, and the colour scheme shown is wrong for any later period.
The script reads as follows : -
Building with BAYKO Light constructional sets, and made throughout in bakelite, clean and hygienic, can easily be washed.
Easy to handle, yet firm and rigid in construction, these sets teach children to develop skills with their hands and with their brains, and above all, to form the habit of thinking problems out for themselves.
The eccentric syntax of the first sentence of the script is Hamleys', not mine, and is unlikely to have been an error as it continues [below].
This image is shown courtesy of Mick Burgess, though, I'm pleased to say, I now own a copy myself!
 
Hamleys Autumn / Winter 1936 / 1937
Hamleys Autumn Winter Cataloge 1937 / 1938
The pre-war association with Hamleys continued, suggesting that they were still pleased with the sales results. Although only one outlet, BAYKO's continuing association with Hamleys, must have added to the product's prestige. We are now down to a simple black and white entry, the colour [above] is false and reflects the 'foxed' colour of the paper, which I have whitened, away from the printed areas.
Dating this is problematic, however, one of the other entries on the BAYKO page is BUILDEC, in the middle of the left hand side. Andy Harris tells me this was launched on October 1st, 1936, so we can be reasonably comfortable with the date, particularly as it is described as "new".
Hamleys 1937 / 1938 Catalogue Front Cover
The BAYKO entry is in the bottom right hand corner of page 20 - slide your mouse over the image [above] to highlight it. If you click anywhere on the image, you will see a larger image of the BAYKO section.
The set illustrated is a set #3, in the usual style of box.
The actual BAYKO script is much more modest than the earlier versions [above].
The script reads as follows : -
BAYKO.
Light constructional sets and made throughout in bakelite. Clean, hygienic, can easily be washed, firm and rigid in construction.
The eccentric syntax continues(!) and is Hamleys, not mine!
The second, education-related, paragraph form the earlier version has been dropped here.
One point of interest is that, in common with all the items in the catalogue which cost more than £1, larger BAYKO sets were available post free. This appears to have been used as an incentive to buy larger sets or more than one item as there is no price quoted for cheaper items! This detail may, of course, have been incorporated into a separate order form.
I'm happy to say that this catalogue is mine.
 
Hamleys Autumn / Winter 1937 / 1938
Hamleys Autumn Winter Cataloge 1935 / 1936
It's good to see that the pre-war association with Hamleys continued, suggesting that they were pleased with the sales results. However, the entry is noticeably more modest than the above example, and there is no longer any reference to the conversion sets, bringing Hamleys into line with all the other mail order operations I've seen so far. We are now down to a two colour offering.
Andy Harris tells me that a the LOT'S BRICKS prices shown elsewhere [on page 6] in the catalogue, only applied in 1937 / 1938, so again we can be reasonably confident of the dating.
Hamleys 1938 Catalogue Front Cover
The BAYKO entry is in the bottom right hand corner of page 12 - slide your mouse over the image [above] to highlight it. If you click anywhere on the image, you will see a larger image of the BAYKO section.
The set illustrated is a set #4, in the style of box which mimics that used for set #6. This is the only image of a set #4 that I can bring to mind. It obviously started out as a photograph - otherwise why else would the illustration show the elastic band holding the manual in position‽
The actual BAYKO script is much more modest than the earlier versions [above].
The script reads as follows : -
BAYKO.
Light constructional sets and made throughout in bakelite. Clean, hygienic, can easily be washed, firm and rigid in construction.
The eccentric syntax remains, and is Hamleys, not mine!
One point of interest is that, in common with all the items in the catalogue which cost more than £1, larger BAYKO sets were available post free. This appears to have been used as an incentive to buy larger sets or more than one item as there is no price quoted for cheaper items! This detail may, of course, have been incorporated into a separate order form.
I'm happy to say that this catalogue is mine.
 
Hamleys 1930s Christmas Bazaar
Hamleys Autumn Winter Cataloge 1937 / 1938
The pre-war association with Hamleys was maintained again here, though sadly, on this occasion, with no available clues as to the actual date. We know that Hamleys routinely published a 'Christmas Bazaar' catalogue as part of the Christmas retail-presure-tightening process, but sadly I've no idea as to the exact date, other than the obvious 1930s provenance.
This scanned image was sent to me some time ago alongside an ebay acquisition. Sadly I've mislaid my notes, so can neither give my usual accreditation, nor offer you any dating information which may have come with it. If you can add any information, particularly on the date, then I'd love to hear from you...
The BAYKO item is in the top left hand corner of the image [above] - slide your mouse over the image to highlight it - or click anywhere on the image to see a larger copy of the BAYKO section itself.
The script reads as follows : -
"BAYKO" No. 2 SET
The Popular Bakelite Constructional Toy
Realistic models can be built from even the smallest set. The bakelite bricks, arches, corners, etc., are
fastened together by steel pins of various lengths. A detailed book of instructions is included in each set.

Makes 60 models.

10/6.
Smaller Set, 7/6.
Larger Sets, 15/-, and 21/-.
I'm not sure what, if anything, we can read into the fact that just four sets - sets #1 to #4 - are being offered for sale.
 
I'm afraid that, between the dates above and below, I know precious little, except that, for whatever reason, there was no mention of BAYKO in the 1939 catalogue...
...perhaps they were 'keeping their powder dry' as the 'New Series' launch approached.
 
Hamleys 1958?
Page 17 of the 1959 Hamleys catalogue
I have to admit that I gave a little smile when I read the first line of the header script for this page [above] - though I'm less certain about the second line : -
"SETS FOR LITTLE HANDIWORKERS AND BUILDERS."
"Develops interest with a true-to-life atmosphere."
There's a reason for the question mark in the heading - it's because I'm uncertain which year this Hamleys catalogue was produced. Unfortunately the catalogue itself gives no clues, but it was sold on eBay with a 1958 date quoted in the blurb.
The price of the #2 set shown [top left] - 31/6 [£1.57½] - applied from February, 1955 to the MECCANO takeover in 1959.
The full BAYKO script is as follows : -
BAYKO
Many miniature buildings can be erected with this fine building set which includes bay windows etc.
Instructions included.
Carr. & Pack. 3/-
Price 31/6
 
Hamleys 1959?
Page 17 of the 1959 Hamleys catalogue
There's a good reason for the question mark in the heading, because I'm not certain which year this Hamleys catalogue was produced. Unfortunately the catalogue itself gives no clues, but 1959 was the date quoted in the ebay blurb.
The potential problem lies with the price of the #2 set shown [top right] - 31/6 [£1.57½] - which only applied for the first half of 1959, having applied since February, 1955...
...not impossible, of course, but by no means certain.
The actual BAYKO script is as follows : -
BAYKO
Real houses in miniature and other buildings can easily be erected with this fine building set. The plastic pieces will stand a lot of wear and include such details as bay windows and all of them are brightly coloured.
Complete in box with instructions.
Price 31/6
Carr. & Packing 2/-
Strange that the cost of carriage and packing is cheaper than the previous year.
 
Hamleys Christmas 1960
Page 28 of the Christmas 1960 Hamleys catalogue
Particularly when you take the technological gains in the intervening years into account, this catalogue seems, to me, to be a step down in print quality from the pre-war equivalent, though it is printed on glossy paper.
The BAYKO entry is split, with the image being second from the top on the left hand side, and the script being at position #4 in the right hand column.
The actual BAYKO script is as follows : -
No. 14 BAYKO
Houses with the modern look can be constructed with this well known building set. Plastic bricks fit over vertical tie rods.
Carr. & Packing 2/9
Price 39/6
I find it interesting, and indicative of the effect of the complete packaging change initiated by MECCANO, that the cost of carriage and packaging for this set is cheaper than the previous year, yet it's a bigger set.
 
Hamleys Catalogue 1961
Page 29 of the 1961 Hamleys catalogue
This catalogue repeats the new, lower quality paper, though again it is still printed on glossy paper.
There is no date anywhere in the catalogue, however, the price quoted for the MECCANO era BAYKO set #14, shown here on page 29 [above] at 40/1, is only known from a brief period in autumn 1961.
The BAYKO set #14 is represented by the "Detached House and Garage" model from page 15 of the MECCANO era manual, which appears as item "4" in the bottom left hand corner of the page.
The actual BAYKO script is as follows : -
No. 14 BAYKO
Build a modern house with plastic bricks, slotted over vertical rods. Simple but absorbing.
Carr. & pack 2/9
Price 40/1
It is worth noting the small increase in price for the set [1.5%], as compared to the substantial increase in the price of packing and carriage [57.1%], both with respect to the previous year.
 
1960 - MECCANO 4-Page General Products Price List - Hamleys Version
Front cover of the 1960 MECCANO products price list, Hamleys version, including the BAYKO set prices
This is the 1960, MECCANO General Products Price List. As far as I can tell, this is the first to include BAYKO - here proudly displayed on the front cover, in the silver medal position, i.e. second from the top.
There is an element of ambition in this document, because set #13 certainly wasn't available at the time this document went to press in July 1960 and set #14 only emerged a year or so later!
This 4 page, folded leaflet format became MECCANO's standard for both domestic and export markets, being used regularly, though not exclusively, for several years.
An obvious point of interest with this particular version [left] is the inclusion of the Hamleys logo and address, preprinted in the bottom section. Whereas a less favoured retailer, i.e. smaller local toy shops, would normally have to add their own rubber stamp.
 
145 mm x 228 = 5.7 x 9.0 inches
 
 
1961 - MECCANO 4-Page General Products Price List - Hamleys Version
This is the 1961, MECCANO General Products Price List, which, again, includes BAYKO, proudly displayed bang in the middle of the front cover, maintaining its silver medal positioning.
The element of ambition in this document, compared with the previous year [above] is less pronounced, because set #13 was certainly now available at the time this document went to press, and set #14 emerged during the year covered by this Price List.
This 4 page, folded leaflet format was MECCANO's standard, for both domestic and export markets, being used regularly, though not exclusively, for several years.
The key point of interest with this leaflet [right] is the inclusion of the Hamleys logo and address, preprinted in the bottom section. Whereas a less favoured retailer, i.e. smaller, local toy shops, would invariably have to add their own rubber stamp.
 
145 mm x 274 = 5.8 x 10.8 inches
 
Front cover of the 1960 MECCANO products price list, Hamleys version, including the BAYKO set prices
 
1963 - MECCANO General Products Price List - Hamleys Version
Front cover of the September 1965 MECCANO products price list, Hamleys version
This is the May, 1963, MECCANO General Products Price List as issued by Hamleys.
This, apart from the specific Hamleys branding, is one of a long line of such documents produced by MECCANO.
The BAYKO entry stays bang in the middle of the front page of this 4 page, folded leaflet, which is dated 1963.
There is a printers code on the back page which narrows this down to May.
Given that mainstream BAYKO production stopped in less than a year, it's interesting to see that BAYKO was still given such a prominent position.
126 mm x 270 = 5.0 x 10.6 inches
 
1964 - MECCANO General Products Price List - Hamleys Version
This is the 1964, MECCANO General Products Price List as issued by Hamleys.
This, apart from the specific Hamleys branding, is one of a long line of such documents produced by MECCANO.
The BAYKO entry stays bang in the middle of the front page of this 4 page, folded leaflet, which is dated 1964. There is a printers code on the back page which narrows this down to September.
Given that mainstream BAYKO production stopped in 1964, it's interesting to see that BAYKO still took such a prominent position, albeit, as far as I can determine, for the last time.
Front cover of the September 1965 MECCANO products price list, Hamleys version
139 mm x 290 = 5.5 x 11.4 inches
 
1965 - MECCANO General Products Price List - Hamleys Version
Front cover of the September 1965 MECCANO products price list, Hamleys version
Page 2 of the September 1965 MECCANO products price list, Hamleys version showing the BAYKO prices
Front Cover
Page 2
This is the 1965, MECCANO General Products Price List as issued by Hamleys.
This, apart from the specific Hamleys branding, is one of a long line of such documents produced by MECCANO.
The BAYKO entry is at the top of page 2 of this 4 page, folded leaflet, which is dated September, 1965, given that BAYKO has clearly slipped out of its medal position, we are seeing the early signs of the product's demise.
Given that normal BAYKO production stopped in 1964, this document seems to support the theory that MECCANO continued to 'milk' BAYKO by selling sets, unsupported in terms of marketing spend, through 'selected' (?) retailers - including Hamleys.
139 mm x 216 = 5.5 x 8.5 inches
 
September 1966 - MECCANO General Products Price List - Hamleys Version
Front cover of the September 1965 MECCANO products price list, Hamleys version
Page 2 of the September 1965 MECCANO products price list, Hamleys version showing the BAYKO prices
Front Cover
Page 2
This is the 1966, MECCANO General Products Price List as issued by Hamleys.
This, apart from the specific Hamleys branding, is one of a long line of such documents produced by MECCANO.
The BAYKO entry is now relegated to the middle of page 2 [right, above] of this 4 page, folded leaflet, which is dated September, 1966.
Given that normal BAYKO production stopped in 1964, this document seems to support the theory that MECCANO continued to 'milk' BAYKO by selling sets, unsupported in terms of marketing spend, through 'selected' (?) retailers - including Hamleys.
However, there was a degree of inconsistency here in that the prices of set #11 actually went down compared to the equivalent 1965 document [above]. All the others, of course, went up, though relatively modestly.
139 mm x 217 = 5.5 x 8.5 inches
 
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