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Meccano Dark blue / Dark yellow Outfits

Here's a collection of pictures of dark blue / dark yellow outfits, from the end of the Binns Road period in 1978/79.  These outfits are not particularly easy to date, as there are few obvious differences marking the changes.  You also have to be very careful with outfits that are not still shrink-wrapped.

In addition to the new outfits 1 to 5, the previous 1970's outfits 9 and 10 were still available during this period, in the dark blue / dark yellow colour scheme.  The parts in these outfits also changed from dark blue to iridescent along the lines of the changes shown below, between 1978 and 1979.  Outfit 10's from 1978 are extremely rare, however, presumably because of their potential sales only to adult collectors who would probably have preferred to stick with the existing blue/yellow/zinc colour scheme and bought up the old stock.  There are many more 1979 dark blue outfit 10's in existence, because they were all sold off when the factory closed.

Chronological summary

The following table shows the changes to the parts finishes during this period.  The entries in bold show a couple of elements from each period that can be used to identify outfits quickly.

Period1) v. early 782) early 783) mid 784) Late 78-79
Dark Blue PartsMatt finish Gloss finish Gloss finish Gloss finish
Brackets/nuts/bolts/washersMatt brass Matt brass Matt brass Iridescent
Grub Screws Black Zinc Zinc Iridescent
21 – 1½'' pulley Matt brass Dark blue Dark blue,
Dark yellow
Iridescent
22 – 1'' pulley Matt brass Yellow plastic Yellow plastic Yellow plastic,
Iridescent
23 – ½'' pulley Yellow plastic Yellow plastic Yellow plastic Yellow, red plastic
24, 24b, 518 – Bush WheelsMatt brass Matt brass Matt brass Iridescent
26, 27a, 28 – GearsBrass Brass, yellow plasticYellow plasticYellow plastic
27c – 2½'' gear wheelDark yellowDark yellowYellow plastic Yellow plastic
27f – Multipurpose gearPale yellow White White, YellowYellow
48, 48a, 215 – stripsDark blue Dark blue Matt brass Iridescent
190a – Yellow flex plate Metal Metal, PlasticPlastic Plastic
235a – 3'' narrow strip Round ends Round ends Round ends Truncated
452 – tyre for ½'' pulleyBlack, GreyBlack, Grey Grey Grey
Miniature Plug Part 612 Part 611 Part 611 Part 611
Connecting Wire Yellow White White Transparent
57c – Hook included No Yes Yes Yes
Parts Container Box Red Red, Orange-RedOrange-Red Orange-Red,
Blue
I attach my table showing the differences found in sets 1 to 5 over the 4 loosely defined periods. There are bound to be overlaps and exceptions. However it is the best I can do and will be useful in dating these sets approximately.

The very early 1978 sets seem to be quite rare, I only have two, a set 2 and set S. Mine both have dome headed bolts but Richard has a set with cheesehead bolts. Blue, brown and purple connecting wire have also been found but I can't place them in periods. William Irwin

There are in fact two different editions of the Outfit 1 manual (included in every outfit), which can also be used to date outfits.  The earliest manual has no hook, and shows the ½'' tyre as part number 452.  The later manual has the hook and shows the tyre as part number 13452.  Beware that these can be swapped from one outfit to another.

The box lids are of two varieties, English-only and bilingual (English and French). 

For outfit 5, the box lid with only English on the front is quite scarce. In fact, of the couple I have, the parts are all period 1 ie matt blue, 70's brass 1½'' pulleys and bushwheels etc. I reckon all English sales [of 5 outfits] had the dual language on after this period. Outfits 1-4 with the dual language lids are definitely export.

There are also examples of the red parts tray being made in red cardboard - I think I have a 1 set and a combat set with them. The odd thing is they don't seem to have come at the end of production. The latest production sets seemed to have the flimsy light blue trays (I have sets 2 to 5 plus an Army set with these trays)

As William said, there were overlaps. I am pretty sure I have seen iridescent nuts and bolts in sets with matt brass parts too. Richard Payn

Pictures wanted!

If you have any pictures of missing outfits below, or another picture of an outfit that is better or not quite the same as one that's already here, please help us by sending a copy of it! It would be very much appreciated.  You can email it straight to us, or upload it to the Rust Bucket forum...

Meccano Main Outfits

Dark blue / dark yellow Pocket Meccano set
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Loading picture dbdyPocket

Pocket Meccano

A great success since its introduction in 1971 as something of a promotional gimmick, the Pocket Meccano continued into this period with the new colours.  Note that this outfit contains a matt brass spanner, as well as the zinc-plated combined spanner/screwdriver from the original 1930's pattern.
Dark blue / dark yellow Starter set A
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Another layout of the Starter Set A
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Starter Set A

For export only, and not part of the original release, this is the smallest "Starter Set A".  Apparently, the original outfit 1 was supposed to contain these parts, but was upgraded at the last minute.  Read more about the history of the mysterious Starter Set A in this article on the ISM website by William Irwin here.  

To the right, an unusual variation on the Starter Set A.  This outfit has two matt brass double angle strips, where the other outfits have a channel bearing.  The parts list of this set doesn't include a channel bearing, but all other examples found have one included! The screwdriver is iridescent, and there is no small parts box at all, just a bag of parts.  The parts date this as a "type 3" outfit, the latest one of the Starter Set A so far known.


Dark blue / dark yellow outfit 1
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Construction Set 1

Period 4 outfit from 1979, English box, iridescent double angle strips.  Note the thin plastic light blue small parts tray that is thought to be an economy measure during 1979, normally solid red plastic.  A small number of outfit 1's are also found with red cardboard trays.
Dark blue / dark yellow outfit 2
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Dark blue / dark yellow outfit 2
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Construction Set 2

Period 4 outfit from 1979, English box, iridescent 1½'' pulley and double angle strips.

To the right is a period 1 outfit, note the matt brass 1½'' pulleys and blue double angle strips.  There is no hook supplied in this outfit.

Dark blue / dark yellow outfit 3
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Loading picture dbdy3

Construction Set 3

Period 2 outfit from early 1978.  1½'' pulley and double angle strips are dark blue, small parts are matt brass.  Tyres are black and one of the multipurpose gears (27f) is pale yellow, possibly dating this outfit very early in period 2, crossing over into period 1 slightly.
Dark blue / dark yellow outfit 4
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Construction Set 4

Period 4 outfit from 1979.  English box, iridescent double angle strips and pulleys.
Dark blue / dark yellow outfit 5
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Construction Set 5

A later, period 4 outfit from 1979.  Bilingual box lid, iridescent double angle strips (except for the 48b), plastic 2½'' gear part 27c.
Dark blue / dark yellow outfit 9
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Loading picture dbdy9

Outfit 9

A 1979 outfit 9 in light oak box.  The 2½'' double angle strips are not blue, showing this to be a later outfit.  The 1½'' pulley is iridescent, and the 2'' pulleys are dark yellow.  The steering wheel is dark blue. 

The outfit 9 of this period is laid out exactly as the previous 1970's blue/yellow/zinc outfits.  Opening the box reveals a card of the wheels in the lid (often, the parts can get dislodged from this top tray as they're stored upside-down).  The tray in the bottom lifts out to reveal a third tray below, containing cardboard boxes with axles and some parts, and plastic trays containing nuts and bolts and other small parts. Close-ups of each tray are shown below:

DBDY outfit 9, top tray
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DBDY outfit 9, middle tray
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DBDY outfit 9, lower tray
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Dark blue / dark yellow outfit 10
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Loading picture dbdy10

Outfit 10

A 1979 outfit 10 in 3-drawer chest.  The 2½'' double angle strips are not blue, showing this to be a later outfit.  Some gears are brass, some plastic, and the 1½'' pulley is iridescent.  The steering wheel remains in the odd 60's light blue finish.  The 10-outfit also contains six of the new three-part road wheels, needed in order to make all the models from the new outfit 5.  The parts were placed in the plastic trays, not strung to cards as they were in the past.  Close-ups of each tray are shown below:
DBDY outfit 10, top tray
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DBDY outfit 10, middle tray
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DBDY outfit 10, lower tray
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Below is shown another near-mint outfit from Greg Rahn, in original outer cardboard box.  The parts are all placed in the plastic trays and are mostly wrapped, but the strips and angle girders are held together with rubber bands, as the outfit above is.  Is this the way they left the factory?

1979 10-set in cardboard box
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1979 10-set top drawer
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1979 10-set middle drawer
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1979 10-set bottom drawer
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Meccano Accessory Outfits

Dark blue / dark yellow outfit S
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Outfit S (small)

This converts an outfit 1 or 2 into an outfit 3.  However, if you had an outfit 1, you also needed a motor (shown below) to make an outfit 3.
Dark blue / dark yellow outfit L
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Outfit L (large)

This converts an outfit 3 or 4 into an outfit 5.
Dark blue / dark yellow motor
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Loading picture dbdypower

Motor outfit

This box contains the motor and battery pack that is not supplied in the outfit 1.  To convert an outfit 1 to an outfit 3 requires both this and the outfit S above.
6-speed gearbox and universal coupling
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Junior Powerdrive Unit
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Loading picture dbdyJPDU

Gearbox and Junior Powerdrive

The 6-speed gearbox and the Junior Powerdrive motor from the 70's continued into this period in new boxes but otherwise unchanged. 
Magic Motor
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Loading picture dbdyMagic The Magic Motor was still available, in a new box, although it was not referenced in any of the manuals of this period.  This box states "Made in Japan to Meccano specifications".
Powerdrive Motor
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Loading picture dbdyPDU The Powerdrive motor, by far the best Meccano motor, was still available but also unreferenced in any outfits.  As before, these were German made motors by the Richard company.  Although the box shows black grub screws, in fact contemporary zinc ones were supplied.
Meccano Steam Engine
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Loading picture dbdySteam The Meccano Steam Engine, still made by Mamod, continued to be available too.  The differences you can see from this photograph include the silver painted base plate, and the then current dark yellow sprocket and yellow plastic pinion.

This later steam engine also has a whistle on top of the boiler, clearly shown in this photograph.

Themed outfits

Army construction set from 1978
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Army Construction Set

The mid-70's "multikits" were repackaged in 1978, and all renamed "construction sets".  This Army Construction Set is almost identical to the previous Army Multikit, but the olive green is a slightly darker shade.  There are minor differences, but the main one is the packaging into expanded polystyrene trays.  This outfit dates from early to mid 1978, with zinc spanners visible.
Combat construction set from 1979
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Combat construction set from 1978
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Loading picture dbdyCombata

Combat Construction Set

The 1978 Combat Construction Set is in a new expanded polystyrene tray, rather than the previous moulded thin plastic version of 1975.  Half-inch pulleys p/n 23 is in the new 'phase 2' version.  This outfit has matt brass spanners, dating it from late 1978, and the one to the right is later, probably 1979, with iridescent spanners.
Highway Construction Set from 1978
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Highway Construction Set

Again, a very similar outfit to the previous Highway Multikit, although the yellow is now the dark yellow as used in the flexible plates and other parts of the main numbered outfits.  This is an early version, with zinc spanners indicating an early 1978 outfit.
Crane Construction Set from 1979
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Crane Construction Set from 1978
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Crane Construction Set

This Crane Construction Set has dark yellow (as with all 1978/79 theme sets), but has the iridescent spanners and other small parts, dating it probably from 1979.  Compare it with the example to the right from 1978, with dark yellow double angle strips and 1½'' pulley, matt brass spanners and nuts and bolts.
Space 2501 outfit with white Space-only pulleys
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Space 2501 outfit with red pulleys
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Space 2501 outfit

New to this period is the Space 2501 outfit.  Two versions from 1979 are shown here.  To the left, with the original white half-inch pulleys (part 23), and to the right with the red pulleys, which were also used in some main outfits of this period.
Meccanoids outfit from 1979
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Meccanoids outfit

The ill-fated (and ill-conceived) Meccanoids outfit.  Although the badly designed models did work, with 60 and 15-tooth gears, the proposed 15-tooth plastic gears never made it into production.  At the last minute, the outfits were shipped with the plastic 19 and 57-tooth gears instead.  The resulting 3:1 instead of 4:1 reduction meant that many of the models didn't actually work when built. 


Manuals for these outfits

Clicking on the following images will display a copy of the relevant manual for this era of Meccano outfit.  Warning – These files are very large (the size is given next to each one).  The time it will take to download each one depends mainly on your connection speed.  As a rough guide, 10MB takes about 35 minutes to download on a dial-up modem, around 1-2 minutes on 'ordinary' broadband, or as little as 5-10 seconds on a very fast connection.  You have been warned!

The best option is almost certainly to click on the manual images with your right mouse button, then select either "Save Target As" or "Save Link As" and save the manual to your computer for viewing later.

Further information

Total number of messages on this page: 21.  This is page 1 of 4.   Next

Michael Walker      (at 7:11am, Wed 22nd Feb, 17)

Duncan, to obtain a parts list for your 1979 Outfit 9, click on the "Outfits" tab near the top of this page, then go to the bottom of the drop-down menu where you will see an option called "Parts list Generator". After you have clicked on that, a dialogue box appears in which you can select any year and any outfit, and this will produce the parts list you require.

Duncan      (at 3:28am, Wed 22nd Feb, 17)

I have a set 9 +/_ 1979 in a light Oak box. The set is not complete. Is there any way I can get a parts list for this set? Thanks duncantrollip@allquip.co.za

Barry Gerdes      (at 5:22pm, Mon 17th Feb, 14)

I bought a #3 of this series for $2 and recently sold it for $10

mark      (at 3:25pm, Mon 17th Feb, 14)

Hi i have a 1978 meccano construction set with number 2 on the box i was just wondering if someone could tell me wot it is worth thanks

Drew Scriver      (at 7:16am, Sun 3rd Nov, 13)

Great!. I loved your articles, some of my collection dates from when I bought odd bits as a 7year old boy in the forties, now I'm 79 and still treasure my meccano and still have 100 magazines and many instruction books. Long live MECCANO

zlogxt      (at 7:45am, Fri 22nd Mar, 13)

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