|Low-resolution images of the se-tenant issue that includes the Meccano stamp|
As most small boys of the 1950s and 60s, I was an avid stamp collector. In those days all kids had hobbies and such activities were regularly promoted in comics and magazines such as Meccano Magazine and Airfix Magazine. Not that I needed any encouragement. Lots of my school friends collected stamps to some extent or another. At the time, I could not afford to buy the magazines, on my meagre pocket money, and have any left to buy Meccano or stamps. I would buy old copies at jumble sales (remember those!) and marvel over the adverts for stamps, catalogues and albums to keep them in. Stamp collecting was a big thing in those days, not just for me, but for my Dad who was also a collector. I often looked at the early commemorative stamps and dreamt of one day designing my own. I did go on to working in publishing and design, indeed Sue and I ran our own design business for well over twenty years until we sold it to our younger partner 17 years ago. I have no idea where that time has gone. Our work has always been closely linked with the toy and model trade, to some extent, working with companies such as Airfix, among others, on both design and editorial, and more recently with the new owners of Meccano, Spin Master. Never did I imagine, while looking at those second-hand copies of Airfix Magazine, I would end up as Art Editor and then Editorial Director.
Since we sold the business, we have had much more time to spend on our joint passion for Meccano.
Sworn to secrecy, discussion began with Royal Mail and it was decided that a Ferris wheel would be ideal as it would suit the format. After dismissing several of the later models it was decided that the pre-war model would be the most suitable. "Do you think you could build that for us so we can have it photographed and featured on one of the stamps in the Classic Toys issue?" was the question. It took me several milli-seconds to say yes. For me this was the closet I am ever going to get to design my own stamp, I was hardly going to say no. Okay, it is not my design, although I did subsequently get some input into it, it could not be better as far as I was concerned, me getting one of my Meccano models on to a stamp, never in a million years did I ever think that would happen. It is not possible to publish high-quality images of stamps, for obvious reasons, but below is a partial image of the artwork used showing the detail of the model.
|The model in detail|
All this happened during the first few months of 2016. It was all hurried up and I was told it was for publication late in the year. What I did not realise at the time was they ware talking about 2017! Sue and I have not been able to talk about it until very recently, personally I was busting to tell and keeping it to ourselves for over a year was hard. It is only now, that images are in the public domain, we can talk about it freely.
The model was built as closely as possible to the published instructions using parts from the period, even the nuts and bolts were mostly pre-war It makes an impressive model when built standing a couple of inches under 3ft tall. Photographed at an angle shows the complexity of construction almost lost in a full side on shot shown below.
Nowadays the toy is perceived in a completely different way. Today Meccano is more of a kit of parts designed to build one model; even the multiple model sets are mostly not used as intended. The kids mainly see the building as a nuisance, a means to an end. At one of the Meccano road shows, a dad with his son was talking to us about the 10-model Dinosaur set. The young boy was looking at the back of the box and said to his dad "Look dad, we can build all these different models." The reply given was the perfect example of how modern Meccano is perceived today. "Yes son, when you have built that one maybe you can have another set for your birthday so you can build another one."
I wonder if, in time to come, the current generation will be looking at today's Meccano with a nostalgic eye. I am not sure if they will be commemorating it on stamps as I fear the adhesive postage stamp could soon be a thing of the past.