BAYKO Lookie Likie - DENDRO?

I thought it best to start this page with a bit of a general explanation - so here it is. Rather than present you with a "signed, sealed, delivered" presentation of the information [with apologies to Stevie Wonder], I thought it would be more appropriate to try and walk through the general process by which I explored and analysed this latest BAYKO-related discovery, and hopefully, in doing so, give you a flavour of how I've inched forward to arrive at my current opinion. The down side of this approach is that it creates some repetition as first the item details are presented, then subsequently analysed. Last one - I've given all dimensions in terms of Brick-multiples, rather than "holes" because I think it communicates the differences more meaningfully. Now, as they say, read on [please!] : -
The DENDRO, complete with its briefcase, dropped through the proverbial letter box on the weekend before Christmas 2020, courtesy of Mr. ebay's largesse, since then, assorted health and other issues have helped stretch things out a bit. I'd also like to acknowledge the help of fellow BAYKO Collectors Club members Gary Birch, Chris Boutal, Rob Palmer and Brian Salter for their invaluable contributions to this process. It has been a surprisingly lengthy process, as I said, but I don't think that's a bad thing.
So what is DENDRO? Basically it looks and feels like a painted wooden version of BAYKO. The parts are the same size as BAYKO, and there is a sufficient number of damaged items in the collection to demonstrate that they are wood, probably fruit wood, not a wood/resin composite.
Sadly its provenance, "A house clearance somewhere in southern England", is about as much use as the proverbial chocolate fireguard!
DENDRO - the Name?
Almost by definition, there can't be a correct place on the site to put this information, for the simple reason that it isn't actually BAYKO! However, even the most cursory of glances makes it abundantly clear that, whatever else it is, it's undoubtedly BAYKO-related. I will, of course, do my very best to find out the true history of this product, assuming it actually was one, but, in the mean time I'm going to give it the temporary [I hope!] label DENDRO [as in Dendrochronology - the study of tree rings - because most parts are made of wood]. Perhaps I should have called it XYLO [as in XYLOphone] what do you think‽
There are two distinct advantages to taking this approach, both for me I'm afraid : -
The main eBay advert for the DENDRO
Firstly, as a shorthand id., it makes the webmaster's life easier, quicker, less repetitive yet somehow more consistent, therefore, hopefully, helping to foster better understanding. In doing so, it makes it easier to fit it neatly into my website standards.
Secondly, if and when I do find out what it's actually called, I can then simply copy and paste the correct name, right across the entire site, in just a couple of clicks - not just a pretty face, eh!
To expedite matters, if you can help identify DENDRO, and educate me, then I'd love to hear from you…
The Case for DENDRO
DENDRO briefcase - closed and flat
Sorry about the [almost] unavoidable pun, but I thought I should lay out a brief case [oops, there I go again] for the importance of the DENDRO Briefcase.
Thye DENDRO Briefcase - open and empty
If you look beyond the, albeit fairly substantial, surface damage [both images, left] the DENDRO Briefcase clearly started it's hard working life as an impressive, surprisingly well constructed item, dovetail joints and all - at the top end of a shedmeister's range.
DENDRO briefcase - closed & upright
There are accurate, purpose built, channels in the 'vertical' pieces of 'tray' divider, into which the shorter, 'horizontal' dividers were slotted and glued. This is a more labour intensive - i.e. more expensive - technique than simply gluing, but results in significantly greater strength and durability. Quite a posh box!
Although it's long gone, there is also evidence of material [padding?] in the lid [right], presumably to help reduce movement, and consequent rattling, in transit, and, of course, to present well on opening. This could easily have been helped by the inclusion of an internal cover - there's room, but zero evidence, of course.
Just one of the case's sections has a concave bottom, which is perfect for picking up Rods - so the DENDRO Briefcase MAY be bespoke.
DENDRO Quantum
So, I thought, perhaps, the best place to start - it must be the long-retired mathematician in me - is by counting the bits - it's always a good idea to count your bits. It's particularly relevant here, because the sheer scale and imbalance of the collection is surely significant and must tell us something of what it is, and, perhaps, its [DENDRO?]chronology.
The first thing to observe [below] is that, except, perhaps, for set #6 Pillars and set #5 Corner Bricks, the DENDRO part quantities bear absolutely no relation whatsoever to any of their BAYKO counterparts.

Comparison - BAYKO c.1935 with DENDRO
Part No.
BAYKO / DENDRO Part Description
BAYKO Standard Sets
Small Roof - Brown [set #6 Mottled Green] [7 x 5 Brick]
Large Roof - Brown [set #6 Mottled Green] [11 x 7 Brick]
DENDRO Roof - Terracotta[ish] [8 x 6 Brick]
Bricks - Brown/Red
Bricks - Cream
Bricks - Oak
Half Bricks - Brown/Red
Half Bricks - Cream
Half Bricks - Oak
Corner Bricks - Brown/Red
Corner Bricks - Cream
Corner Bricks - Oak
Windows - Green [set #6 White]
Doors - Green [set #6 White]
Canopy - Brown/Red [set #6 'Oak']
Chimney - Brown [set #6 'Oak']
Arch - Brown/Red [set #6 'Oak']
Steps Left - Brown/Red [set #6 'Oak'] [DENDRO  Cream]
Steps Right - Brown/Red [set #6 'Oak'] [DENDRO  Cream]
Steps Straight [¾ width - ish] White primer
Platform - Brown/Red [set #6 'Oak']
Pillars - 3-Brick - Cream

Apart from the obvious Roof discrepancies, and the Bases, Floors and Rods [which I intend to cover below] the absence of Arches and Platforms stands out. The former looks like a missed opportunity, they were prevalent in other construction toys - surely they would have been relatively easy to manufacture - whilst predictable manufacturing issues probably affected the latter…
…of course, comments like those rather assume that there's something retrospective in the timing of DENDRO's manufacture…
…which still remains to be decided!
DENDRO Details - Wood
O.K., taking a top down approach, let's take a close look at each of the DENDRO wooden parts : -
DENDRO ROOF exterior
There's real woodworking skill here. Consider the Roof's underside, [right] it comprises four, 'professionally' cut, interlocking, pieces, one for each Roof face, plus other bits to form the sturdy base and the ridge tiles. I can see advantages in this, for grinding out the rows of slate/tiles, but, like the grinder must, this effect ends just under the 'ridge tiles' [diagonal]. The work of a top class shedmeister - or better - surely.
DENDRO ROOF interior
Measuring 8 x 6 Bricks, the DENDRO Roof is slightly larger than the BAYKO Medium Roof [originally called the Small Roof, remember] which is 7 x 5 Bricks.
Apart from its paler colour, the DENDRO Roof [left] is clearly distinguished by the shape of its base, where it projects from the general slope of the four sides in order to better accept the rectangular 'slot' which accommodates the tops of the Rods.
So where does the 8 x 6 bricks of the DENDRO Roofs fit in - when and why, did things change? I can't get away from the thought that the arrival of the Arch, at some point - a Day One BAYKO part remember - must have contributed to the fact that all sides of the BAYKO Roofs of that period were produced to accommodate an odd number of bricks [11 x 7 & 7 x 5 bricks] allowing Arches to be located centrally - highly desirable architecturally.
DENDRO Chimneys
DENDRO BAYKO Chimney Comparison
As you can see from the photo [left] this DENDRO part is somewhat anomalous, and clearly, rather over scale - certainly when compared to the BAYKO item [right].
With no less that 9 of them in the collection, there isn't actually enough ridge space, on the three Roofs provided, to accommodate them all! One per Roof only - which, of itself, is not a good call, commercially!
The pale-ish brown colour [terracotta-like?] is clearly intended to blend with the Roofs, and is, for some reason, quite appealing - or is that just me?
The paint hides the likely method for adding the two pots [lathe turning then gluing and / or inserting?] - but I'm afraid that I can't tell which.
Not immediately obvious, but [look right again] the chimney pot orientations are at 90° to each other - DENDRO along the ridge and BAYKO across it. Why?
DENDRO red and white Bricks
I've grouped these two together for fairly obvious reasons - they're basically the same - size isn't everything as we all know!
DENDRO red and white Half Bricks
Bricks [left] and Half Bricks [right] are all wooden pieces, with 'Reverse Brick' slots, to the rear, and Rod grooves, at the left and right edges, all ground out of the cut 'blank', plus a brick pattern stamped[?] onto the front face. [Impressed?]
There are two extra marks on the rear, which may result from the process by which the pieces were driven past the grinders.
The quanta [above] really do seem excessive to a BAYKO eye, e.g. many serious collectors don't own 95 Red Half Bricks! There's 67% more wall area than you get even in a set #6! All this with a relatively parsimonious number of Windows - 42% of set #6!
The idea has been floated that C.B. Plimpton's original plan may have been to standardise on Half Bricks, with the switch to full Bricks being decided on later.  This is possible, and would help explain the disproportionate number of Half Bricks. However, we then have to explain the logic for, timing of and indeed the subsequent scale of, the massive switch to standard Bricks - 100 more here than a Set #6 - 55%! I'm not sold I'm afraid.
DENDRO Corner Bricks
These DENDRO Corner Bricks are cut from a solid block of wood, which has the required triangular cross section - i.e. plan view. [left]
DENDRO BAYKO Corner Brick Comparison
Faux Colour to Highlight
The [very nearly] full rod grooves, at each edge, contrast with the 'fizzle out' edging of the BAYKO equivalent. The main controlling Rod hole is drilled through the corner, and has proved to be a point of weakness on quite a few pieces - did BAYKO learn?
The rationale for the choice of this shape rather than the more familiar 'L-shaped' plan view is surely that it is not just much more robust, but also simpler and comparatively failure proof during the manufacturing process - I believe this risk level was also probably instrumental in the decision not to produce any 'L-shaped' DENDRO Platforms, though there could have been a two-part solution.
Interestingly the DENDRO modelling of the brick pattern replicates the correct positioning of 'headers' and 'stretchers' at the corner, unlike their BAYKO counterparts [right above]. Move your mouse over the image to see what I mean.
I should point out that it's certainly more than possible that all the above DENDRO bricks were made from long strips or blocks, which were ground out, cut to size, 'impressed' and painted, probably in that order.
DENDRO Corner Bricks with missing brick patterns
Not a DEBDRO part, I know, but important enough for its own section. Please don't be misled by my using the word 'impressed' [above], my original guess as to how the brick patterns were created was that our craftsman had made a stamp to impress the brickwork pattern into the wood [yet another thing I got wrong]…
…until I saw these two Corner Bricks [left]…
…don't you just love cock ups, they can teach us so much.
One face of these Corners Bricks [top left & bottom right] has only been partially decorated - by the look of it, with three shallow saw cuts each, which delineate the horizontal brick courses - and nothing else.
If you slide your mouse over the image you will see, highlighted [clumsily!] in red, the missing lines. I've chosen to replicate the correct DENDRO pattern, rather than the incorrect BAYKO one.
The vertical brick divisions were, almost certainly, added by tapping a screwdriver [3/16 inch blade] with a hammer to 'separate' the individual bricks in each course. There are instances where these marks are not quite vertical, and / or a tad out of position - exactly the sort of errors you'd be most likely to see with this methodology. Alternatively, a small Heath Robinsonesque, 'multi-screwdriver-blade jig could have been 'cobbled together' to help impress the brickwork more efficiently, and more consistently.
As an aside, and totally coincidentally, most BAYKO Screwdrivers, throughout the product's life, also have 3/16 inch blades [or thereabouts] - pure coincidence, of course.
DENDRO Windows
Intriguingly, the Georgian style, multi-pane Window format holds sway here, but six panes being selected [left] in preference to BAYKO's eight [right]. I suspect that this was a value engineering decision, with much tighter tolerances being available with plastic moulding technology. The 'panes' are cut individually using combinations of drill, chisel and rasp, or similar. The use of a Square Cutter is possible, but certainly not universal, as not all edges are rectilinear!!!
DENDRO BAYKO Window Comparison
If only it was that simple!
DENDRO Matchstick Window
Why would you do that?
This image [central] potentially tells us another story - this Window has had its internal woodwork removed.
The glazing bars must have been made with strips [think matches] cut to length and glued [surely with a former].
You couldn't possibly do that so cleanly with a chisel - the interior was clearly separate.
Add the Rod grooves when the glue has set and Robert, as they say, is your father's brother!
Also, very clearly visible, are the junctions between the vertical and horizontal frame components…
Consider a possible initial three figure target for the total production of DENDRO Windows…
…some were built!
…hence plan B!!!
The chosen Light Green DENDRO Window colour wasn't achievable, cost effectively, until c.1937 in their plastic BAYKO equivalent - there's definitely a chicken and egg argument to be explored here.
BAYKO's lack of a range of Windows was clearly an issue, which was rectified in 1938 and 1939. Here the issue is just how few of this single style were provided - only 38 - roughly the same as a set #4. That's five Half Bricks for each Window!!!
The issue which kept the total number of DENDRO Windows down may be nothing more suspicious than their labour intensive manufacturing method, but…?
DENDRO DOORS - single panel sides
DENDRO DOORS - double panel sides
Either DENDRO's driving force had a Door fetish [whatever that might actually be] or expected a lot of large garages to be built by modellers - we'll never know. Whatever the rationale, with 27 Doors, that's almost three times as many as in a set #6! I know that, to date, I've never built a model with that many Doors, though the late Robin Throp did!
Although not an exact copy, the DENDRO Door is double [and different] sided, similar to BAYKO ones, the simple detail being routed out, a single panel on one side, [left] and double panels on the other, [right] though there are a couple of 'double singles' if you know what I mean. Light Green again.
DENDRO Canopies
DENDRO BAYKO Canopy comparison
This item, in Red [left] is likely to raise the most BAYKO eyebrows. There are no less than 20 [yes twenty!] DENDRO Canopies…
…perhaps the aforementioned fetish is for parts than measure 2½ x 1 bricks
…or perhaps an undecorated slab with five holes was just so easy to make.
Incidentally, set #6 only has 4 Canopies, just 20% of the DENDRO figure.
As you can see [right] these Canopies DO NOT have the side rod grooves of the earliest BAYKO examples, nor any routed out ornamentation.
DENDRO Side Steps, left and right
DENDRO Straight Steps Sub Unit
The main Steps here [left] are both Left and Right handed Side Steps matching the standard BAYKO ones of the period. There are 8 and 9 of these, respectively, almost three times the set #6 offering!
Both Left and Right versions are made by the simple expedient of gluing a narrow [⅝ inch] Straight Step type 'sub-unit' [right] to a standard Brick, then painting the composite piece pale cream.
There are also a further 4 of these step 'sub-units' primed [literally] and ready to go! I don't believe these were in any way intended as a prototype of the later BAYKO Straight Steps - there are more than enough of those in the '12 inches to the foot scale' world!
Two DENDRO Pillars
Last, but by no means least, [left] are these plain, cream-painted, wooden dowels [in effect] with a rod hole drilled, as optimistic [or musical!] golfers long for, "straight down the middle". The majority MAY have been drilled from both ends [for easier accuracy] but certainly not all.
These are about as basic a Pillar as you could ever hope to meet. With the simple use of a lathe, the modest decorative features on BAYKO Pillars [right] could easily have been replicated, or even embellished - does this suggest, perhaps, that DENDRO Pillars precede them? Lathe turning is almost universally popular with woodworking professionals and hobbyists alike - it lets them show off, successfully, with even modest skill levels, so…?
DENDRO Details - Non-Wood
In addition to the above wooden pieces, there are three further DENDRO parts, in different materials - i.e. not wood. Specifically the resin Bases, the Resin Bonded Paper Floors and, last, but by no means least, the metal Rods : -
Small DENDRO Base
The DENDRO Bases aren't like the conventional ones. They're just 'slabs' of solid phenol formaldehyde [or very similar] with the Rod hole matrix scribed for hand drilling [to judge by the alignment of the actual holes].
Large DENDRO Base
In some ways, they're not unlike the wooden blocks which were used for several of the models shown in the early BAYKO manuals [though, here ALL holes have been drilled] so they're not 'wholely' without precedent. There are three DENDRO blocks, two [left] are the same size, 8 x 7 bricks - exactly, enough for a house with a simple Canopy porch at the front. The third [right] is much larger, with rather quirky dimensions - 15 x 9½ bricks. Early BAYKO Bases were 9 x 7 bricks, made of the same resin, and also had the same half-brick width border.
There is no provision for these DENDRO Bases to be joined together - no holes, no Base Links, no Screws, no Nuts. Not what you'd expect if DENDRO was somehow additive to a collection. Also, if you look very closely at them, you might see that one hole wasn't drilled!
Gary Birch informs me that such resin slabs, measuring 12 x 8 inches were available, in the 1930s, for the public to buy, so this is, probably, the most likely source. This means that the large piece [11⅝ x 7½ inches] is [almost?] one of those slabs, and the two base units [6⅜ x 5¾ inches] basically slightly smaller than half slabs! Thanks Gary, case proven I think.
DENDRO Floor - the smaller cut one
There are two surviving pieces of DENDRO Floor, both looking a bit like fellow victims of the dog that ate your homework all those years ago! One started life as the same size as the DENDRO Roofs, the other [left] may have been a little smaller, though there is a suggestion that it has been cut, so may have matched the other originally.
Both DENDRO Floors are made from Resin Bonded Paper, just like all the BAYKO ones, though closer to the later 1/64 inch thick, thin ones, certainly not the original, thicker, 1/32 inch Floors. Did this 'chewing', or other experiences, by some means influence BAYKO's launch decision on Floor thickness?
DENDRO Rods - 6, 6, 3, 1, 1/2 Brick
DENDRO Rods - sizes 2 and  4 Bricks
As we've already established, DENDRO uses exactly the same gauge Rods in exactly the same way that BAYKO does. All the Rods, are 75 thou [= 1.905 mm] in diameter and most [left] seem to have had a bright [chrome?] coating. I say seem, partly because of the prevalence of rust, but, nevertheless, you can see at least a residual shine on all five sizes shown [left to right - 6-, 5-, 3-, 1- and ½-Brick Rods].
Oddly, they seem to have been made from two different Wires [as both the trade, and early BAYKO manuals refer to them] to judge by the noticeably higher level of rusting of the 2-Brick and 4-Brick Rods [right]. The two photos were taken at the same time, under the same [shiny new] light, so the dullness is an accurate representation of the higher level of rust.
To accommodate the section of Rod slotting into the Base and the bit showing proud of the Bricks, most DENDRO Rods seem to have been cut with a 'spare' length, or tolerance, of 7/16 inch compared with BAYKO's standard of 3/8 inch [i.e. 6/16 inch]. I say most, because the dreaded cock-up [sums wrong?] has crept in, with a 'spare' on the 5-Brick Rods, of 9/16 inch!
The smaller Rod lengths are even more eccentric with 'spare' figures of just 5/16 inch and 3/16 inch for 1-Brick and ½-Brick Rods ["sic!"], respectively. Remember, BAYKO ½-Brick Rods didn't see the light of day until 1946, a good decade later!
To me, the inconsistency of the above tolerances [ignoring the error] suggests prototypical thinking rather than simple copying - I repeat, to me. Ditto with the ½-Brick Rods launch. It also tells us that ALL the Rods are DENDRO not BAYKO.
I can now move this discussion on a little further, having built my first DENDRO model [below] - which had to be with BAYKO Rods because of risks around the rust issue. The reason the DENDRO Rods are a bit longer is due to the cumulative effect of the cutting inaccuracy of the parts - that extra 1/16 inch seems to make a difference!
DENDRO Disappears?
DENDRO first model - leftish view
Before the general "DENDRO Discussion" [below] there's one further thought to consider. The DENDRO briefcase - clearly made to a very high standard, though showing signs of its eighty odd year life - isn't completely bursting at the seams. This leaves open the possibility that 'someone', 'somewhere' [remember those post code adds?] built a DENDRO model which subsequently got separated from the main collection. Now, unless of course such a model turns up, I can't quantify specifically what, if anything, that means for the collection's parts totals [above]…
DENDRO first model - front view
…nevertheless, my view is that the only credible major impact would be on the total numbers of Windows, and, to a lesser extent, Corner Bricks, pushing their totals up towards more logical heights…
…however, many of the other DENDRO parts would have to have been used alongside them, of course, affecting their totals too!
As a result, I believe, my comments on the irrationality of the contents still hold good, and thus I don't support the missing DENDRO theory. I'm not a supporter of the case for the existence of this DENDRO "dark matter" or "dark energy" - perhaps it just fell into a black hole!
As an aside, assuming Gary Birch's information on sourcing the Base slabs to be correct [why wouldn't it be?] then you'd expect the 'missing model' to involve two small bases [or where's the other one?] or one large slab base - it gets less and less likely.
DENDRO Discussion
DENDRO first model - front view
So lets go through the assorted clues, and see what, if any, conclusions we can draw from the information available to us.
DENDRO first model rightish view
Firstly the woodworking, particularly the Roof construction, already mentioned, has to be recognised as being of a high standard, certainly at the top end of shed quality, if not well beyond, into the realm of the professional, though we should remember just how popular the woodworking hobby was in the 1930s.
Secondly, although, probably not beyond the capability of this shedmeister, we should also consider the hand made creation of any jigs for creating the brickwork patterns on all the DENDRO Bricks.
Thirdly the labour intensive creation of DENDRO Windows, is the more likely explanation of their low numbers rather than any deal breaker between between shed or pro.
The range of DENDRO parts mirrors the early BAYKO range pretty closely, though with some substantial differences in quantum - no solace there! So, was DENDRO a copy of BAYKO, or was it prescient in some way? I have begun to think that the details of the structure of this DENDRO collection may offer some useful direction. Basically, as an experienced BAYKO collector, the proportions of many of the DENDRO parts in the collection make no sense at all to me. In no particular order : -
Inverted question mark
The ridiculously large Deluge of Doors.
Question mark
The comparatively Wee number of Windows.
The Heap of Half Bricks, particularly the Red ones.
The relatively Constrained Count of Corner Bricks.
The Cornucopia of Canopies.
The Similar Surplus of Side Steps.
The even more similar Copious Chimney Count!
The Billions of standard Bricks.
All with three Roofs to sit on top!
With three Bases to sit underneath!
Does all that suggest AN UNFAMILIARITY with the PRACTICAL PLAY ASPECTS of the toy itself? Personally I believe it does. Of course, it could be the epitome of the lost male motorist refusing to ask for, or take, direction, and driving his shedwork blindly on in the wrong direction. After all - what does little Johnnie [or little Jenny] know‽ Personally I've more respect for the common sense of shedmeisters who are, almost by definition, practical guys.
The suggestion that DENDRO might have been a Chippy's 'Apprentice Piece' is an interesting one. However, surely things like conformity to the set contents as shown in the manuals would have been regarded [marked?] as significant. Similarly, the DENDRO Bases would surely have been made of wood!
While I have a high regard for the skills demonstrated in DENDRO's creation, the actual 'finish' standards are a little lower in a few instances. The saw cuts [for brick course patterns] are a case in point. They are often left with a slightly fibrous appearance - i.e., a little rough. Was this a skill / competence issue or simple pragmatism, perhaps time pressure related? Sanding the patterned brick faces may have resolved things, or, of itself, have created visual issues - and there really are so many of them! I'm not sure which side of the attribution line this particular detail falls.
The permanently visible scribed matrix on the DENDRO Bases could be seen as a mistake, but, in a prototype or Sales context, could easily have [deliberately?] created a talking point through which to explain the product's basic parameters.
The omission of Arches is, I suggest, particularly noteworthy. A relatively simple cut out, plus reverse brick grooves and rod grooves - no problem. Similarly any impressed detailing. Perhaps the riskiest bit [though surely not for this craftsman] would have been drilling the two rod holes necessary to allow further construction above the Arch : -
Is it because this drilling proved too difficult? - I personally doubt it, given the skill level demonstrated elsewhere.
Is the lack of Arches in the DENDRO collection because they all broke? - Unlikely, all the damage elsewhere is superficial, not terminal and damaged Corner Bricks have not been discarded.
Is it because Arches hadn't yet been thought of? Doubtful, remember Arches were a Day One BAYKO part and several other contemporary systems had them! Always a supporter of the cock-up theory of life - did they just forget, or simply pass up an opportunity? I suspect the latter, but I'm still somewhat stumped by this specific issue, except to say that surely it's less likely to occur in shed replica work…
…if you reverse the perspective, and talk about a copying scenario - why wouldn't you copy the Arches‽
To me, the lack of any modelling detail on the Pillars is also quite significant. An easy item to make, and decorate, by turning on a lathe, why wasn't the minimal BAYKO 3-Brick Pillar ornamental detail copied, or even enhanced. Talk to any skilled woodworkist, that's just the sort of thing they enjoy playing with. Impressive effects for little effort and modest skill level. So do the detail-free DENDRO Pillars suggest an earlier DENDRO date?
Why were the DENDRO Chimneys such a noncommercial design? If copying, would you really re-invent a fully functional wheel? Surely these must be an unsuccessful prototype‽
DENDRO Conclusions?
Absolute proof may well never emerge, but I have to admit that my [originally] fantasy solution to the DENDRO conundrum, and the one that I [now] keep edging progressively towards, is this. That the collection started out life as Marketeers demonstrators or samples, produced for, or even by, BAYKO inventor C.B. Plimpton [we do know that he had a shed - I've seen it!] as part of the early sales development [for pre-launch purposes], or even for Focus Groups, testing the U.K. toy market waters - if the Focus Group concept actually existed then. There's nothing glaringly obvious to argue that it's not possible, indeed probable. The high quality of the 'wooden brief case' is supportive, as is the recurring 'whiff of the prototypical' across the piece[s].
Given the resources available to him at the time, it is a fair bet that the Marketeer [above] was C.B. Plimpton himself.
Why the Rod length tolerance variations if they weren't made at the prototype stage. If they were made later, and 'copied', surely the [then] standards would have been 'copied'!
Time is not insignificant here, there being three relevant, overlapping time streams in the run up to BAYKO's launch for Christmas, 1933, any of which could provide an explanation of the creation of DENDRO.
Firstly, progress from drawing board to a fully operational new technology, in the 1930s, would have taken closer to two years than one, possibly longer, so, at some stage it is possible that C.B. Plimpton needed financial support to cover the not insubstantial expenditure involved. In order to secure such funding, from potential investors, a demonstration of BAYKO [DENDRO - "A business case in a box" - Rob Palmer] may have been required, possibly as early as January, 1932.
Secondly, new toys, from established toy companies, were generally launched at the annual British Industries Fairs, each February - indicative, I suspect, of the relatively long lead time up to the Christmas peak, in the U.K. toy trade. At the very latest, C.B. Plimpton would have needed third quarter, 1933 presentations to local retail buyers [probably representatives of large local Department Stores] - and would need something physical to present to them. However, we already know that early production issues hampered the Christmas, 1933 BAYKO launch, so they must have used something else. DENDRO [and its posh case!] would again fit the bill nicely.
It is, of course, possible, indeed highly desirable, that a Bakelite BAYKO set could also have been cobbled together from the earliest production runs, to give buyers a feel of exactly what they were going to get for their money, and give them confidence.
Thirdly, DENDRO could have been used to expose the BAKELITE mould manufacturers to the practical aspects of the toy, to understand the need for production accuracy to guarantee problem free use, of the end product, by little Johnnie. This would require DENDRO to be available significantly earlier in 1933 - Q1 or possibly late 1932.
Facts here are few and far between, so we're in the realm of conjecture, however, from comments made to me by C.B.'s daughters, I believe his finances, though tight, were secure in the family, so my money is on the secondary need for demonstrators - for Q3, 1933 marketing samples, and I'm also particularly struck by the Mould Manufacturers familiarisation  argument.
So why were some of the DENDRO parts quantities so excessive? Well, sometimes the simple answer is the best one - Marketing Bull! ["Excreta Tauri Omnia Vincit!"] Generally these parts are the ones that are the easiest to make - so let's shovel them in and impress the buyer with a full samples case!!! Either C.B. Plimpton [through his own career or exposure to his father's business] or the market experts at Berwicks Toys Ltd. [who handled BAYKO's marketing in the early years, though we don't know exactly when they came on board] could have floated this idea.
The long side of the Large and Medium BAYKO Roofs both measure an odd number of bricks, whereas DENDRO's is even. Was one of the outcomes of the above meetings to bring Arches into the BAYKO fold? Was the Roof-length change then triggered by an aesthetic, and architectural, need to provide the option to accommodate a three-brick-wide Arch centrally? Assuming we're in the prototype arena for a moment - the DENDRO Bases were sized to optimise use of the 12 inch x 8 inch slabs they were made from, so it's not unreasonable to suggest that, in their tern, the Roof size was selected to optimise use of the Bases.
To reverse the perspective again, in a copying scenario - why would you suddenly change the Roof to one with inferior building options‽
DENDRO Verdict
Were this a Court of Sessions, a "not guilty" verdict may just be appropriate, though very harsh ["beyond reasonable doubt"?]…
…maybe the Scottish "not proven" verdict would sit a little better.
However, in a Civil Court [much more appropriate, I understand, for such cases] it's settled "on the balance of probabilities"
…I believe the early samples / prototype argument to be proven.
DENDRO Statement
I am now happy to publicly propose and confirm the following OPINION. That I believe : -
DENDRO is a Plimpton-Inspired,
Wooden, BAYKO Prototype,
Built as a Marketing Aid,
& Concept Demonstrator
Dating from 1932 or 1933.
Again, I'd love to know what you think [or know] about DENDRO, or my opinion, and would love to hear from you…
If only we could rely on a test like DENDROchronology without devastating either my bank balance or the collection!
DENDRO Quarter Brick
One last detail, the DENDRO also includes [above] one Quarter Brick - i.e. with a single course of brick patterning. It has clearly been cut from a larger piece, also note the badly centred brick joint! What sort of idiot displays the smallest piece with the largest image‽
As it could have been created from a standard Brick or Half Brick at any time, I didn't want to mention it earlier, and potentially cloud the main analytical process somehow.
IF original, it could have assisted as part of a general discussion on BAYKO technology, and / or future new parts opportunities.
As an aside, I support the use of such parts, either for straight decorative purposes, creating sills, or the vertical realignment of Windows, etc.
Well, that's your lot I'm afraid! If you have any knowledge of DENDRO, or want to comment on anything you've read here, then I really would love to hear from you…
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