Meccano

From Academic Kids

Meccano is model construction material: metal strips of various shapes, sizes and colours, perforated with equidistant holes at a standard half-inch (12.7 mm) spacing, together with copious supplies of nuts and bolts. It is a versatile constructional medium: it is possible to build nearly anything, even to protoype new ideas and inventions.

History

Meccano Ltd was founded by Frank Hornby after his idea in 1901 of a new toy — "Mechanics Made Easy". This very quickly became known as Meccano, and was soon on sale across the world.

The initial factories were in James Street and Duke Street in Liverpool, UK, but by 1914 production had moved to a new site at Binns Road.

In 1909 the company added to its range by launching the "Hornby System of Mechanical Demonstration" which included pulleys. This was the first use of the Hornby name, which later was to become synonymous with their Hornby Dublo OO scale model railway system.

In 1920 the company started to produce O scale model railways, and this production line continued into the 1960s. In 1922, Meccano opened a factory in Elizabeth, New Jersey where it produced its building sets for the North American market. In 1927 it started producing clockwork lithographed tinplate O gauge trains there as well. However, in 1929, it sold its New Jersey factory to the A. C. Gilbert Company, whose similar Erector Set toy was popular in the United States, and Meccano's trains and construction sets disappeared from the U.S. market by 1930.

In 1938 the company launched the Hornby Dublo model railway system, and production continued until 1964, when it merged with Tri-ang.

By the late 1920s Meccano had became an international household name and many people today look back at their childhood with fond memories of building various models.

Some believe that Meccano is no longer made, but in truth it has never gone out of production. It is one of the few products in existence to have such a long-running success. At one stage Meccano was manufactured throughout the world (Spain, Argentina, USA, England, France), but in more recent times production has declined and the rights to Meccano have passed through three or four owners in France, to the current Japanese owners, Nikko, which still manufactures sets in France and China.

Purists, however, look down on modern French- and Chinese-made Meccano, for several reasons — the plates are thinner, or plastic; the bolts are hex-headed galvanised steel, rather than the original slot-headed brass ones. Also, the range and colour of component pieces remained largely unchanged until the late 1970s, since when all sorts of specialized pieces have been introduced, which some consider these as not "true" Meccano, especially the modern plastic gears, electric motors and battery boxes.

There are world-wide Meccano enthusiasts, with hundreds of websites covering every conceivable aspect of Meccano history, model building instructions and Frank Hornby's success with various products. Individuals and companies world-wide still manufacture replicas of various parts, some long out of production.

The is an annual World Meccano Exhibition at Skegness in England every year around July.

External links

nl:Meccano ja:メカノ

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