BAYKO Exports

I am indebted to Geoff Lilleker for help with some of this information. Literature and anecdotal evidence (from current and former ex-pats) point to a healthy BAYKO export trade - post-war at least.
I'm afraid I've no direct evidence for a pre-war export trade, but there can be no question that BAYKO was intended for export…
Games and Toys advert, May 1939
…Plimpton advertised for overseas agents in 'Games and Toys', the leading U.K. toy trade publication, in May, 1939, and again the following month…
…of course there is the small matter of the second world war which might, just possibly, have had a slight dampening effect on Plimpton's export aspirations!
Post-war, the U.K. government was keen to actively support [coerce?] the export drive, as seen in an article in 'Toy Trader' in April, 1946
The impact of this policy on BAYKO's availability at home can be seen in a brief snippet which appeared in 'Toy Trader' in July, 1949
The long term impact of the campaign were clearly visible in an item on U.K. toy sales projections in 'The Times' on November 8th, 1960
More directly, the registration of BAYKO's French Patent, on August 17th, 1935, shows that Plimpton planned for exports from the start…
Patents weren't the only means for protection for a product, and various legal steps had to be taken to defend the export business…
That's about the extent of my knowledge of BAYKO's pre-war exports, but I'd love to be able to add more information to the website…
Whatever the pre-war position, there can be little doubt of the importance of the export business.  There's no detailed volume data available, as far as I know, other than that it peaked at some 35%, in the mid 1950s.  Expressing that slightly differently, that meant that the U.K. market wasn't quite twice as big as the total export market at that stage.  Most modern companies would kill for those sorts of figures.
We can also be certain that BAYKO was available in at least two dozen different markets, across five continents.  The missing continent - apart from Antarctica, of course - is South America.  Now I do know that one elderly gentleman in Argentina had a BAYKO set as a child, but he had no knowledge of where it came from.  If you have any information on BAYKO in South America, then I'd love to hear from you…
Domestic and export product was identical, despite global variations in building styles, perhaps indicating that ex-pats were probably the initial target, though the 35% volume figure surely suggests that it went well beyond that.
Geoff Handford makes a strong case that several models from the BAYKO manuals [e.g. Colonial Bungalow, Large Bungalow + Verandah, Country Chalet, Mosque, etc.] are all surely targeted at a market which was more familiar with them than U.K. based modellers…
Export Quality Assurance slip
From Chris Reeve, I believe that, at least immediately post-war, export manuals were basically the standard U.K. version but with no price on the front and and parts price lists excluded.
Similarly, later literature supporting the export markets was a direct copy of U.K. literature, translated where appropriate, and including local currency prices.
BAYKO's export drive was aided by the Board of Trade and Trade Delegations attached to British Embassies and Consulates.
Quality assurance slips, in the appropriate language(s), like Bill Foote's bilingual, Belgian one above, were included in export sets.
Some retailers were supplied directly from the U.K., others via local Import Agents, which must surely have been the preferred route.
There is, however, a little evidence for an alternative supply route direct from the U.K.
The main evidence for direct supply of overseas stores, apart from anecdotal evidence, is this document [right], used by the overseas retailers to replenish their stocks of BAYKO spare parts.
1950s BAYKO export market parts order form
I assume that this document's colour difference c.f. domestic ones, was an administrative safety device, to help ensure that Plimpton's clerical staff carried out the procedures appropriate for export markets.
Apart from the colour, this BAYKO Parts Order Form is identical to the domestic ones except that there are no prices!  It was likely that forms similar to this one were in service for most of the 1950s, and probably after the MECCANO takeover in 1959.
I suppose it's possible this form may also have been used by retailers who were supplied via local Import Agents, although I would have expected those agents to have their own documentation, or at least to have had their own business address on it.
There is definitive proof that this document was intended specifically for use in BAYKO's export markets, which is incorporated within the printers code [bottom left corner of the image] which clearly specifies that it was intended for “Export” use.
The 'traditional' ratio of two White to one Red is maintained, for Corner Bricks, Domes, Pinnacle Roofs and Pinnacle Platforms, within the Retail Cabinet contents, conforming with the standard domestic market figures.
If you click anywhere on this image [right] you will be able to see a slightly larger, hopefully more easily read, version of it.
As a final detail, I like the self perpetuating circularity of a form, given that it actually incorporates its own reorder section!

1960 MECCANO General Products Export Catalogue

MECCANO 1960 Export Catalogue Front Cover
MECCANO 1960 Export Catalogue BAYKO Page
This is how, in 1960, MECCANO introduced their customers to their updated take on BAYKO, alongside the rest of their product range, though, in this case, it's clearly the export market that's being targeted - it says so in the top right hand corner of the front cover [above left].
As far as I can establish, there are no separate market issues of the catalogue, just the standard U.K. version and this general export edition.
There are lots of confusing features of the BAYKO section of the U.K. catalogue which are replicated in this one. Personally, I'm afraid that this didn't augur at all well for BAYKO's long term future…
One point of interest - recognition, perhaps, of the retooling issues MECCANO were struggling with - there is a small footnote at the bottom of the BAYKO section [above, right] just below the list of sets, saying “(Available 1961)”.  This was NOT present in the otherwise identical U.K. BAYKO section - n.b. MECCANO BAYKO limped into existence just before Christmas, 1960.
241 x 183 mm = 9.5 x 7.2 inches

The two catalogues, immediately above and below here, hint at a sort of 'general export' approach by Mr. MECCANO, though there are certainly many separate versions of the 1963 catalogue for specific markets…
…I'm afraid I can proffer no further explanation.

1963 MECCANO Catalogue - English, No Price List

Left hand BAYKO  page, MECCANO 1963 Catalogue - English N.P. - i.e. no prices
Right hand BAYKO page, MECCANO 1963 Catalogue - English N.P. - i.e. no prices
This 1963 Catalogue bears the legend [right, bottom right corner] "English N.P.", which stands for 'No Prices', and the price lists are certainly absent, and, to judge by the tight, pristine staple, always were.
The reference code number "72884/06" [right, bottom left corner] includes the 'Country Code', "06", which was used for all similar English language documents without prices.
This particular document was acquired, via eBay, from the U.S.A., though whether this was because it was used in the American market, or whether it was was one of the 'huddled masses' imported there with its owner, we will probably never know.
MECCANO 1963 Catalogue - English N.P. - i.e. no prices

An interesting operational detail about highly colourful documents such as the above, particularly those from the MECCANO era with potentially, multi-language requirements, is to understand just how they were printed…
This [below] is an interesting document, from the MECCANO era, dated May, 1961, shown courtesy of The Liverpool Maritime Museum.
It's a robust, multi-lingual BAYKO export document printed on thick paper.
Apart from the occasional dual language document in French and Flemish for the Belgian market, this is the only BAYKO document I know of with more than one language…
…it's also the first mention of German I came across in BAYKO...
...and the only printed reference to Spain.
This was either used in export BAYKO sets, adopting a 'general export' approach to small markets, still common today, or was a retailers' aid.
The English inclusion in the parts list [but not the product explanation] was, presumably, to help translation by non English speakers.
5 Language plus English BAYKO set contents
5 Language BAYKO description
Set contents lists in English plus -
French, Dutch, Italian, Spanish and German.
Product description in -
French, Dutch, Italian, Spanish and German.
Finally, a small news item from 'The Times' on March 26th, 1962 tells us that the world's finest construction toy had made it behind the iron curtain - to Poland to be precise…
Unlikely as it may seem, in October, 2012 a MECCANO era general products leaflet, clearly targeted at the Russian market, appeared on eBay which, amazingly enough, included BAYKO
If you have any other MECCANO era BAYKO export documents, I'd love to hear from you…

The following 32+ countries are known to have been export markets for BAYKO : -
Click on highlighted country names above for more info.
If you'd like to find out more about BAYKO's Import Agents in the various export markets…

There is further information that BAYKO was also available in the British influenced areas of East Africa, i.e. Kenya, Uganda and Tanganyika [now merged into Tanzania]…
Given that South Africa is on the list, it is highly likely that Malawi [then Nyasaland], Zambia and Zimbabwe [then Northern and Southern Rhodesia, respectively] were also covered…
The eagle-eyed among you will have noticed the inclusion of the Channel Islands in the above table.  I do know that they are not really an export market, but given the necessity to cope with different tax regimes, it seamed reasonable to add them to this section.
One last detail, MECCANO had specific, two digit, export codes to identify the target market of their export documentation…
Well, that's it, there is nothing else I can add on general BAYKO exporting at the moment, but, if you've got any further general BAYKO export information, or knowledge of specific BAYKO markets for that matter, then I'd love to hear from you…
Below here are links to related info : -
Click on any of the links below for related information.

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Latest update - August 10, 2022
The BAYKO name and Logo are the Registered Trade Mark of Transport of Delight.