BAYKO - Surprising Set Contents

As with so many other things in life, like a Tory 'Political Advisor', BAYKO doesn't always conform to it's own rules. Or, to paraphrase their steer on the Irish Question [R.J. Yeatman and W.C. Sellar's '1066 And All That'] "changed the rules without telling anyone"! Detailed below are just examples, but, if your set contents discrepancy isn't listed on the site, don't panic, it may well still be a genuine BAYKO anomaly. Why not contact me and let me know what you've uncovered…
Inaccurate Counting
It was quite common, particularly in earlier sets, for the contents to stray from the published list. For example there are often small changes in the balance between the 'Oak' Bricks and 'Oak' Half Bricks provided in the “De-Luxe” #6 set. Generally little Johnny or Jenny would have ensured that these cancelled each other out, in terms of the total area of bricks, so, as long as it's Half Bricks replacing Full bricks, on a two for one basis, building capability was substantially unaffected.
It's not unreasonable to assume that such pragmatic changes were unofficially, if not actually overtly, sanctioned, though, in reality, the only other options for such changes were Wall Capping, or, at a pinch, Floors.
The later practice of pre-packing cards into a working stock, must, inevitably have drastically reduced, if not completely eliminated the casual counting cock up…
Wall Capping
Wall capping
Most of the time, 3-hole Wall Capping wasn't mentioned in the contents list of sets in which they were supplied…
…however, as 3-hole and 6-hole Wall Cappings were made by the simple expedient of cutting a 9-hole Wall Capping into two pieces [with a very thin cutter - wire?]…
…simple logic, and observation, suggests numbers of the 3 and 6-hole Wall Cappings are usually the same…
All three sizes of Wall Cappings were, I am now confident, included in the 'New Series' BAYKO set #6, despite the fact that they never appeared in the official contents list!
Mixed Production Periods
Early red & white sets in 1937 still had the earlier maroon Roofs - indeed a lucky few young collectors may have become the proud possessors of a set with the 'intermediate' Cherry coloured Roofs…
Pre-war set 3, showing the brighter red bricks and green door which the toy retailer added to make the set complete
This particular example could have been as a result of an operational decision to use up old materials or because of early teething problems with the new mix.
However, pre-war, and immediately post-war, there was a thriving second-hand toy trade in the U.K. and BAYKO sets were very much part of this…
retailers would replace missing parts to sell full sets
…and, given the shortages, this often meant including parts from different production periods [possibly different colours and mouldings] to [superficially] make good.
I've spoken to people who had such 'make-do-and-mend' sets as presents when they were children…
…the set [right] is a classic example, with the later 'top up', bright red bricks and light green Door clearly visible…
..this information came direct from the 'octogenarian child', for whom it was bought in 1942!
We also have to be careful not to rule out the fact that little Johnnie, or Jeanie, may have bought extras, even with the relatively restricted pocket money of the time, and simply kept them in the set box!
Temporary or Experimental Variants
The vagueness of the [above] heading reflects the uncertainty of their rationale, rather than questioning the fact of their existence.
  Ornamental Additions Sets  
As plastic technology raced ahead in the mid 1930s, with BAYKO very much in the vanguard, the colour of 3-Brick Pillars in particular, but also of Roofs and Arches, varied as 'true' colours became available more cost-effectively.
There was also an apparently unstructured [unfathomable?] fluctuation in the proportions of White / Cream 3-Brick Pillars and Red / Brown / 'Oak' ones which were included in these desirable, highly collectable sets. This area, in particular, offered marketing opportunities to optimise visual impact, but there doesn't seem to have been anything more to the variations that occur.
  'New Series' Larger Sets
There is no evidence, of which I'm aware, that smaller, 'New Series' sets, launched mid 1939, display any anomalous tendencies, however, that's certainly not true of the big boys - i.e. set #5 and set #6 - as Ian Cole's photo shows.
Apart from the 'were they, weren't they', Wall Capping controversy in set #6, [yes they were included], there are some fine examples of 'enhanced' larger sets. For example, the set #5 [left] which contain a full compliment of Orange Turrets and Red 3-Brick Pillars rather than the published standard of Red and White, respectively.
This begs a familiar question - why‽ Special mixes for the launch would have generated a severe risk of subsequent downstream disappointment, for later customers. Special mixes for major exhibitions are unlikely, given Herr Schicklgruber's spoiling tactics on the trade front. Special mixes for localised promotions in co-operation with specific retailers remains a possibility, though it would run the risk of upsetting other local toy stores.
My guess is one of two [not totally incompatible] alternatives. Either somebody thought it was a good idea [C.B. Plimpton or relatively new Marketing boss Fred Rogerson?], perhaps based on buoyant sales of the 20s series Special Sets, which launched the Orange Parts a year earlier; conversely, these sales may have become rather disappointing, leaving Orange ingredients in surplus.
Post-War Translucent Bases
If you get a chance to acquire one of these, get your cash / cheque book / credit card / debit card / handbag / mobile / money belt / purse / wallet out immediately - you're in hen's teeth territory.
Pale Green Translucent Base
These 'translucent' Bases are my all time favourite BAYKO part. In Pale Blue or Pale Green, they are made from a strange plastic which, in appearance and touch, to me at least, brings to mind a block of fancy soap!
Model with translucent Bases, 1946
We know some early post-war sets were made including these Bases, some of which were exported - one I own one, repatriated from Portugal. Should that be imPORTed?
I've never heard of larger sets with these Bases, presumably as, dating from 1946, they predate the gradual expansion of the range of post-war sets.
Post-War Grey
I really don't understand this one at all. If you were going to experiment with exciting new colour variants - would Grey be your first choice‽

Both Dark and Mid Grey post-war Bases

Perhaps the first variation [left] was the Grey Base [both Mid and, rarer, Dark versions]. This could have been founded on material availability issues, but it wasn't long before mid green became the standard through to, and a little beyond, the MECCANO takeover - sadly, nothing seems to have been published on this.
Probably the least sexy BAYKO part is the Canopy [personal opinion, I accept] but was the experimentation with Mid Grey [right] ever really likely to hit the mark?
Someone somewhere must have thought so, because Bay Window Covers joined the game. [left] Nothing was ever published about either of these, but it was clearly not thought to be a key sales driver - sets exist with all four possible combinations of Red and Grey Canopies, and Bay Window Covers. So, if your set is a little on the Grey side, you know why - ish.
The final Grey anomaly here [right], which was almost certainly triggered by material supply issues, was the relatively uncommon temporary switch to a Dark Grey for the otherwise standard Straight Steps.
Late MECCANO Chaos
Rather late in the day, after the decision had been taken to continue selling BAYKO, but without marketing support, up to its inevitable death, some rather anomalous BAYKO sets emerged. These sets are easy to identify, and actually quite popular, despite the anomalies.
Set #14 with mixed 'Flanged' and standard parts
Slightly earlier, MECCANO had begun their second retooling of BAYKO, by introducing the 'Flanged' or 'Minimalist' Bricks [right] and matching parts, but this was stopped half way through [literally in the case of the four sizes of standard Roof Ends]. The new parts were in a bright red or white plastic.
Retooled 'Flanged' Bricks
As the end approached, quality control standards fell away, and quite a few sets were produced [left] which contained both retooled and earlier style parts, despite the glaring mismatch in colours - a somewhat inglorious end I'm afraid. [Look at the three cards of parts at the top - the right hand pack contains beige parts].
To me, this really was a crying shame, the 'Flanged' parts, by far the most accurate BAYKO parts ever produced, could have helped drive a successful future - if only. If you'd like to find out a little more about these retooled BAYKO parts…
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Latest update - August 11, 2022
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