The British Model Builder, Outfit No.1

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Exhibit

The British Model Builder, Outfit No.1

BTMM map 004.gif
location:
Arch Two , Area 4
Meccano Construction Sets (display)

An empty pack for The British Model Builder, Outfit No.1, made (anonymously) by Meccano Ltd. during the 1930s, and sold for 9d.

British Model Builder

The British Model Builder appeared in 1932 was an "anonymised" metal construction system inspired and motivated by the appearance of the cheaper Trix construction sets that had been patented in 1931, and which had started to appear in budget outlets such as Woolworths, undercutting Meccano sales. The design of the Trix system allowed usable sets to be sold that had a much smaller set of parts than standard Meccano, which meant that the price could be correspondingly lower.

Rather than allow Trix unopposed dominance at the cheaper end of the market, Meccano Ltd. retaliated by producing similar-looking sets based on the same fundamental idea, which were sold as "British Model Builder" with no obvious manufacturer's name or address (with merely "British Made" and "Printed in Britain" on the packs). Stripping out anything that identified the sets with "official" Meccano meant that the company could sell the sets cheaply through budget outlets without upsetting the "proper" Meccano dealers.

"British Model Builder" vs "X Series"

Having created a budget metal construction system similar to Trix, it seems that at least some people at Meccano seem to have liked it, and persuaded the company to also supply a version under the Meccano brandname, as "X Series". The "X" version differed from the "BMB" version chiefly in being painted in Meccano green-and-red, while the "BMB" version was supplied as unpainted silver metal parts, like Trix.

Packaging

The pack is a one-piece flat carton that opens at the ends, with a matt finish that would have been cheaper than the glossy printing normally associated with Meccano products. The top is printed in black, red, green, and halftoned colour, and "The British Model Builder" is printed in black against halftoned blue on all four edges, to make the name visible when the packs were stacked. The bottom surface is plain white.

Although the pack doesn't indicate an explicit link with Meccano or Meccano Limited, the company doesn't seem to have been able to resist using the tagline "CAN BE USED WITH MECCANO", to advertise the mainstream product and encourage BMB buyers and users to consider "moving up" to Meccano as an upgrade.

External links