Wednesday, 24 April 2019

‘Bayko. The Original Plastic Building Sets’


The objects in the collection of the Plastics Historical Society are cared for by MoDiP and from time to time additions to the collection come our way.  As the museum’s Documentation Officer, it is my job to catalogue these items so that they can be made available for all to see via MoDiP’s website.  One of the more recent arrivals was an intriguing wooden box containing an amount of Bayko.

Image credit: MoDiP
For those unfamiliar with Bayko, it was a building construction system consisting primarily intended for model buildings but basic, entry level sets were introduced to appeal to children.

Image credit: MoDiP

It comprised bases, bricks, windows and doors etc., with metal rods, inserted into the base to hold it all together.
 

Image credit: MoDiP



Image credit: MoDiP

Image credit: MoDiP

Image credit: MoDiP
The sets were available from 1934 to 1967.  Bayko was invented by Charles Plimpton in 1933. The material from which it was made came from Bakelite Limited and the sets were initially called “Bayko Lite Construction Sets’.
By 1938 the Bayko name had been adopted and new sets with specialist components were offered. Production was interrupted by World War II when the company switched to production to support the war effort.  It resumed making Bayko in 1946, offering a reduced range of sets.  
Charles Plimpton died in 1948 and his wife Audrey Plimpton took over the running of the company. Audrey Plimpton retired in 1959 at which point the company was sold to Meccano Ltd, whose magazines Bayko had been advertising in for 25 years. Meccano Ltd redesigned the sets, added to the number of sets available and began to make the parts from polystyrene to cut costs.  Subsequent years saw other changes such as the introduction of flanged bricks and limiting the colours available, under the ownership of Tri-ang, who bought out Meccano Ltd, but eventually demand for the sets fell. By 1967 all manufacturing of sets and spare parts ceased.
MoDiP has its own example of Bayko which has been on display a number of times, but if you would like the opportunity to examine either of the two sets in our care please make an appointment with a member of the MoDiP team to do so.

Pam Langdown, Documentation Officer.

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