BAYKO and Girls

Well, as an old bloke, ["pale, male and stale" is the appropriate satirical phrase, I believe] judging by the page title at least, I'm putting my size 14s on somewhat dangerous political ground here - but here goes!!! My feminist credentials are beyond question, so don't worry your pretty little head about that!!!
WARNING!  If you try to follow up on this article by Googling "girls" and/or "models" you may get more than you bargain for!!!
Label from a pre-war set #21
Every manufacturer wants as big a market as possible for their product.
Excluding girls would exclude 51% of the potential market - not a good idea…
…but not all boys want to play with a toy that is “for girls”!
Don't shoot the messenger, I'm simply reporting well documented childhood opinions I've heard expressed, more than once, over the decades - you know well enough that you've heard them as well!
Having two daughters may have helped, of course, but, superficially at least, Victorian born C.B. Plimpton, BAYKO's inventor, wouldn't seem to have been an obvious candidate for feminist of the year - or was he…
…the evidence certainly shows that he was prepared to challenge the stereotypes and push back the sexist frontiers, at least a little, and certainly seems to have targeted the BAYKO market in an inclusive way.
Don't let's get too carried away with the thought that the world of BAYKO was totally gender blind, it wasn't, but lets give both Plimpton and, ultimately, MECCANO some credit.
December, 1952 BAYKO advert in MECCANO MAGAZINE showing both a boy and a girl
I struggled for some way of quantifying the gender balance…
…it must be the mathematician in me.
By way of an example, a brief analysis of the 148 'MECCANO Magazine' adverts I have shows the following : -
41% of MM adverts include an image of a girl, if only on a set box label.
15% of the rest mention that the product will suit girls.
36% mention neither gender.
That's well over half of the adverts in what, let's remember, wasn't exactly a feminist publication.
By way of balance, it should be said that very many of the images used in the adverts were aimed at boys…
…but, I think we can be sure that adverts in 'GIRL' comic weren't…
In the last year or so [1963 / 1964] of BAYKO's association with 'MECCANO Magazine', there was a series of articles about the worlds first and finest plastic construction toy, under the authorship of “Architect”.
One of these articles, from November, 1963, was built around a model from “Christine LeConte of Grange on the Wirral Peninsular, who is only nine years of age.”
Thanks to Paul Monforth and his cousin's daughter Heather, for pointing this out.
Hats off to C.B. and his successors - the boys definitely outnumbered them, but girls were always fully included in BAYKO - and still are…

Mint set 1 from the late 1950s showing a girl and a boy on the lid

…even if my ex-wife did refer to herself as a “BAYKO Widow”!
But the proof of the proverbial pudding, as they say, is in the eating: -
The BAYKO Club already has several lady members - Jackie Britton is one of our original members - and, of course, more are always welcome.
I, and most other BAYKO Club members, also know several other ladies who actively pursue our excellent hobby.
More significantly, I've had countless conversations with ladies at exhibitions [don't tell Diana!] which started, “Oh, I had a BAYKO set when I was a girl and I just loved it!”.
Similarly, I have had several conversations with people who were so enthralled with building all the models in the manuals, then, more importantly, models of their own design, and eventually went on to become architects - and a good 40%, I would say, were women.
It would be nice to see more and more ladies [or should that be girls‽] re-living the BAYKO-enriched days of childhood!
Well, that's it as far as my words are concerned - for the rest of this section I'll let the following examples of BAYKO images and quotes do all talking and, hopefully, demonstrate just how inclusive and 'gender neutral' BAYKO always was, and, indeed, still is.
Pat Fereday concentrates on her latest BAYKO project
Firstly, the proof of the pudding, as they say - should you believe any were actually necessary - a couple of examples of girls who have played, very successfully, with BAYKO.
A nostalgic family discussion on toys, triggered by a new grandchild, led to Pat Fereday sending the first image [right]. It shows her, in 1955, in a super photo taken by her dad.
As you can clearly see, she was concentrating, very studiously, as she built one of the first of her many BAYKO models…
…what a truly fabulous photo…
…click anywhere on the image to see a larger version.
The next photo [below] brings us bang up to date.
Cliveden by Pamela James
This splendid BAYKO model was built by Pamela James.
It's an accurate representation of the well known English stately home - Cliveden, the famous home of Nancy Astor, who, although American born, was the first elected female Member of Parliament to actually took up her seat…
…thanks to Rosemary Waugh for correcting my earlier Mitford sisters error…
…my apologies for the earlier error.
There is certainly another example of a girl with ambitious building plans, in this case a young lady in Antwerp in 1952 - unless she was being sent the parts lists for the 'Country Club' and 'Block of Flats' models out of a mere passing interest.
Jessica proudly shows off here latest project, built with her granddad's BAYKO set.
Don't let me leave you with the idea that girls' involvement with BAYKO is purely historical, I regularly hear tales that having been born in the 21st century doesn't protect you from addiction to the world's first and finest plastic construction toy.
I could equally say, to the granddads and grandmas out there, it's about time you got that BAYKO out of the attic [or cellar].
That's exactly what Granddad Eddie did for his granddaughter, Jessica, [left] seen here with her [then] latest project - excellent Jessica, well done.
Eddie tells me that it's almost the first thing that Jessica asks when she visits - can we get the BAYKO out, please, granddad Eddie - smart girl.
Another [I keep wanting to say BAYKO Belle or BAYKO Babe, but, of course I won't, or the 'Thought Police' will get me, to say nothing of my sister, ex wife and the the rest of the right-thinking world] lady BAYKO collector is Glenys Adams, who harvested her [occasionally factually shaky] memories of a much-loved childhood BAYKO set, to create an excellent, readable article, in the December, 2019 edition of 'The Best of British' magazine.
Pages 54 & 55 of the December 2019 issue of Best of British magazine
The red ink outlined, double page spread [right] on pages 54 and 55 of the magazine, also includes short references to some construction toy rivals / contemporaries, and is a good read.
The magazine has carried a wide variety of, often nostalgia-based, articles over the years and is worth reading.
If you'd like to know more about Glenys's article...

Further Equal Opportunities Evidence BAYKO Committed to Print.

Below this point are extracts from all ten styles of manual issued with standard BAYKO sets throughout the life of the product, all of which refer to “Children” or “Boys and Girls” or some other gender-neutral phrase, never just to Boys.

Front cover of the first ever BAYKO manual - click here for the manual
Sets #1 to #5 Manual, 1934
Page 1 of the first ever BAYKO manual
“These sets teach children to develop skill with their hands and with their brains, and, above all, to form the habit of thinking out problems for themselves, because they make these problems a fascinating game.”
Front cover of the 1935 to 1937 BAYKO manual - click here for the manual
Sets #1 to #6 Manual, 1935 to 1937
Page 1 of the 1935 to 1937 BAYKO manual
“Bayko sets awaken a common interest in young and old alike.”
Front cover of the 1938 to 1940 20s Series BAYKO manual - click here for the manual
Sets #20 to #23 Manual, 1938 to 1941
Page 2 of the 1938 to 1941 20s Series BAYKO manual
Front cover of the 1939 to 1942 BAYKO manual - click here for the manual
Sets #1 to #6 Manual, 1939 to 1942
Page 1 of the 1939 to 1942 BAYKO manual
“…these Sets are ideal for children incapacitated by sickness or disease.”
Front cover of the 1939 to 1946 BAYKO manual - click here for the manual
Sets #0 to #2 Manual, 1946
Page 2 of the 1946 BAYKO manual
“…these Sets are ideal for children incapacitated by sickness or disease.”
Front cover of the 1949 BAYKO manual - click here for the manual
Sets #0 to #3 Manual, 1949
Rear cover of the 1949 BAYKO manual
Front cover of the 1950s BAYKO manual - click here for the manual
Sets #0 to #3 Manual, 1950s
Inside front cover of the 1950s BAYKO manual
“…these Sets are ideal for children incapacitated by sickness or disease.”
Front cover of the 1950s BAYKO set 3X manual - click here for the manual
Set #3X Manual, 1950s
Inside Front Cover of the 1950s BAYKO set 3X manual
Front cover of the 1950s BAYKO set 4 manual - click here for the manual
Set #0 to #4 Manual, 1950s
Inside Front Cover of the 1950s BAYKO set 4 manual
“…these Sets are ideal for children incapacitated by sickness or disease.”
Front cover of the first MECCANO era manual - click here for the manual
MECCANO Era Manual, August, 1960
Page 2 of the first MECCANO era manual
“The master building system for boys and girls.”

BAYKO Cinema Advert - Unisex

This information is a relatively recent arrival, but after a short delay, my brain [or what passes for one!] has finally caught up, and realised that a reference to it really should be included in this section as well.
Front view of the Australian cinema advertising slide
These two images show the front [left] and rear [right] views of a glass slide which was used by an Australian toyshop, “Cyril F. Noisette, of 352 St. Georges Road, North Fitzroy”, in Melbourne, for Cinema advertising, presumably in the same city.
Rear view of the Australian cinema advertising slide
The evidence that Australia, Bruce and Sheila stereotypes notwithstanding, was an equal opportunity advertising market, is transparent. [Sorry, I knew you'd see through that one!]
The children's images are clearly based on the images from the 1950s standard set label, which point towards Plimpton's probable involvement in the design.
I have to say that I'm a fan of the slogan they have included in the slide : -
If you'd like to find out a little more about BAYKO cinema advertising…
I should, perhaps, offer a little balance. More BAYKO advertising was targeted towards the 'spear side' [the opposite of the 'distaff side', apparently] though these were in publications like 'MECCANO Magazine' and 'BOYS OWN', with just one advert, in 'GIRL' comic to [fail to] redress the balance. Adverts in other comics and newspaper tended to be scrupulously neutral.
Below here are links to related info : -
Click on any of the links below for related information.

The 'Flaming BAYKOMAN' site logo

Latest update - August 11, 2022
The BAYKO name and Logo are the Registered Trade Mark of Transport of Delight.