BAYKO - The MECCANO Take-over Enigma

MECCANO took over BAYKO's manufacturer, Plimpton Engineering, around September 1959.
This seems like a serious error of judgement : -
A BAYKO set 3 from the late 1950s
BAYKO's innovation stream was dry, and had been so throughout most of the 1950s.
MECCANO era set 14
Other products, including the [then] recently introduced LEGO, were crucifying BAYKO, not least because of the scale and pace of their innovation.
BAYKO's profitability was at a low ebb.
However, MECCANO itself was, similarly, substantially under performing across its entire product range.
MECCANO had only comparatively limited experience of plastic manufacture of the type and scale needed for BAYKO.
Canadian BAYKO flier which shows that MECCANO Canada were the importers
So why did MECCANO do it?
Both the companies had a long history of toy production in Liverpool and must have known each other well.
There was a long, successful track record of cooperation between the two companies...
...e.g. MECCANO Canada was the local BAYKO importer.
Probably much more significantly, I understand that Plimpton moulded various plastic components for MECCANO's DINKY range, among others...
...and they were, perhaps, anxious to secure this part of what would now be called their 'supply chain'.
MECCANO may also have had an eye to the future and have wanted to buy in plastic moulding expertise...
...they did subsequently launch CLIKI and CLIKI PLUS...
The MECCANO Directors' Report and Accounts, year ending January 31st, 1960 is no help : -
The only reference to BAYKO in the MECCANO Limited Directors' report and Accounts for yesr ending January 31st, 1960
"During the year the whole of the share capital of the Plimpton Engineering Company was acquired. This business, which manufactured Bayko Building Sets, has now been integrated with our own production plants."
Front cover of the MECCANO Limited Directors' report and Accounts for yesr ending January 31st, 1960
So, not a lot of clues there I'm afraid...
...unless you interpret the dead pan style of the statement and the lack of any forward looking reference to BAYKO as being significant.
The two images [left and right] are shown courtesy of the Liverpool Maritime Museum whose archives contain the originals.
Page 38 of the December, 1959 issue of Games and Toys, showing the MECCANO takeover announcement
For the record, MECCANO announced their acquisition of BAYKO in 'Games and Toys'.
The announcement appeared in the 'Notes and News' section [on page 38] of the December, 1959 issue.
'Games and Toys' was the leading publication for the U. K. toy trade.
The message is relatively short and reasonably up-beat, if a little vague : -
"Meccano Acquire Bayko"
"Meccano Ltd. have acquired the entire share capital of the Plimpton Engineering Co. Ltd., manufacturers of the famous Bayko Constructional Sets. It is their intention to redesign and represent this popular product. We are informed, however, that the basic principles will be fully maintained and further details will be announced at their trade exhibition at the Grosvenor Hotel (adjoining Victoria station) in February."
Set 15, introduced in August 1962
Marketing confusion : -
MECCANO completely retooled BAYKO, effectively taking it off the market for many months.
Contradicting that slightly is the BAYKO Parts Price List, date coded May, 1960, which still offered much of the 1959 Plimpton era range...
The relaunch advert didn't appear in the 'MECCANO Magazine' until September, 1960.
Product didn't actually hit the shops until November, 1960.
There is further evidence of dysfunctional thought in the first advertising flier from the MECCANO era...
MECCANO produced a range of new parts in August 1962, which would seem to show they had a long-term intent at that point.
They again retooled many BAYKO parts, probably late 1963, producing the "Flanged Bricks", also known as "Minimalist Bricks" [below].
Again this looks like part of a long term strategy - yet...
...look what happened next.
My freelance BAYKO model using only 'Flanged' Bricks and matching parts
The death throes : -
BAYKO passed away, peacefully, [in MECCANO's sleep!] on some as yet unspecified date in 1964 - probably - though there is evidence that BAYKO production limped on until 1967...
The overall verdict? : -
We'll probably never know what MECCANO's thought processes were. It certainly smacks of confused planning for them to undertake two major investment programmes within eighteen months of BAYKO's death, yet not support the product with regular advertising in 'MECCANO Magazine' - their own publication for so many years!
Perhaps the root of the problem lay within MECCANO's core businesses - my preferred explanation - they just couldn't update their thinking fast enough...
...though I have heard MECCANO collectors blame the focus on BAYKO for the company having taken its eye off the MECCANO ball!
Below here are links to related info : -
Click on any of the links below for related information.
The 'Flaming BAYKOMAN' site logo