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2013/120/213 Instruction book, 'Buz Builder The Model Engineering Set for Boys of All Ages', for Set No.1, paper, made by Buzza Products, Artarmon, New South Wales, Australia, 1948-1970. Click to enlarge.

Buzz Builder instruction book

This item is from a large collection of Meccano, and Meccano copies (including Ezy-Bilt, Buzz, Bral, Temsi and Jolei-Spiele). The collection covers a 60-year period from 1928 until 1988 and comprises over 20 Meccano models, 7 boxed sets, over 200 manuals and instruction books; as well as spare parts. The collection was put together by a retired Sydney mining engineer, Malcolm Booker, who made many of the models. As a child Malcolm was a keen Meccano builder but became both an avid Meccano collector and builder as an adult.

Meccano, the children's construction toy, was invented by Frank Hornby in England, in 1901. Meccano's famous perforated metal strips were inspired by full size metal girders which could be joined together and strengthened with cross bracing. Meccano gave children the components and technology to actually design and make their own machinery: working model cranes, tip wagons, cars, aeroplanes, swing bridges, machine tools and locomotives in miniature.

Throughout most of the twentieth century Meccano was exported around the world, especially to Commonwealth countries, and inspired a worldwide club intended not only to interest boys in engineering but also 'to make every boy's life brighter and happier' and 'to foster clean mindedness, truthfulness, ambition and initiative in boys'. There is no doubt that Meccano spawned a generation of technically-minded adults and engineers; it was also used in engineering firms for model building and by inventors for working out ideas, just as computers are used today (2013). By the 1960s rival plastic construction toys, which were cheaper and aimed at both boys and girls, took away much of the Meccano market and the firm closed its Binns Road factory in Liverpool in 1979. Nevertheless, Meccano continues to be made in various countries, and adult devotees still meet and display their models.

The importance of this collection is that it embodies the huge range and diversity of Meccano products, advertising, production and manufacture over 60 years even after it was no longer made in England. The fact that Meccano reached a world wide audience, before the advent of the internet and social media, is testimony to the value of the product, the company's advertising and Frank Hornby's extensive entrepreneurial skills and vision.

Margaret Simpson
Curator, Transport & Toys
February 2013

Information provided by Malcolm Booker, 2011.


Object No.


Object Statement

Instruction book, 'Buz Builder The Model Engineering Set for Boys of All Ages', for Set No.1, paper, made by Buzza Products, Artarmon, New South Wales, Australia, 1948-1970

Physical Description

Instruction book, 'Buz Builder The Model Engineering Set for Boys of All Ages', for the No.1 set. Buz was one of the Australian-made copies of Meccano. It was made between 1948 and 1970 by Buzza Products of 80 Hotham Parade, Artarmon, a Sydney suburb. The cover features a coloured illustration of three boys playing on the floor with a large crane while the father sits in an armchair watching them smoking a pipe. It is 16 pages and features black and white photographs of the models inside. It has the mark: Book of Models 1-2.



Buzza Products was established by August Kraus, a German engineer. Kraus was interred at Long Bay Gaol in Sydney during the Second World War but his engineering and mechanical skills were recognised and he was released to manufacture Morse keys for Morse code sets for the Army and Navy. The chosen name for the firm was Buzza Products in response to the keys. After the War Kraus continued making Morse code practise sets in Clarence Street, Sydney. In 1954 they moved to the Sydney suburb of Artarmon. They went on to make BUZ construction sets in 1 to 9 sizes, similar to Meccano, from about 1948 until the early 1970s. Buz also made other toys including music boxes, concertinas and xylophones. Information supplied by Dave Lardner.



This collection of Meccano items was put together by Malcolm Booker, a retired mining engineer. Malcolm was born in Sydney in 1936 and grew up in the Sydney suburb of Greenwich. He received his first Meccano set at the age of 8 for Christmas in 1942. It was not actually a set but a well-used box which he described as an 'abused odd assortment of parts'. This was during the War years and toys were in short supply. The box contained only three tyres for the four Meccano wheels and Malcolm's father fashioned a piece of round rubber for the fourth tyre. Occasionally Malcolm's father would bring home a few pieces of second-hand Meccano to add to the set.

During the early 1950s Malcolm went on to buy particular Meccano parts for the models he gradually built which included a variety of elevators, trucks, tractors, a crane lorry and a travelling bucket dredger for which his father made the tiny buckets. Malcolm recalls that the Meccano parts for the models were sourced from a number of Sydney outlets. The one with the best supply and range was the Walther & Stevenson Ltd department store in George Street, next was Herbert Small's in Pitt Street, followed by Searls', also in Pitt Street, and lastly Hobbyco in their old premises in George Street. If the part required could not be obtained from these shops, then the avid Meccano modeller went to the Sydney Meccano agents, E.G. Page, in Pitt Street. Malcolm said that 'If you told them that you could not get the parts you wanted at any of the four shops and did not make a habit of going there too often they would sell you the few parts you were not able to get'. Malcolm recalled 'the aficionados of the hobby soon learnt not to buy pinions and 1-inch gears from Hobbyco as they had their own make which did not mesh very well with the 'genuine' Meccano ones'. By 1952 Malcolm had collected enough parts equal to the largest Meccano kit made, the No.10 set.

Malcolm stopped building Meccano in about 1953 at the age of 17 in order to concentrate on his school work. His interest in Meccano made him want to become a mechanical engineer but he could only secure a scholarship for mining engineering. Nevertheless, Malcolm considers that his Meccano-building experiences certainly helped him throughout his working career to see 'what things would work and what would not'.

Malcolm began his working career in 1960 at the historic Coal Cliff Colliery, south of Sydney, where he began as a technical assistant. He rose to become underground manager and later assistant manger at the Darkes Forest Mine nearby which had opened in 1971. (By 1980 Coal Cliff Colliery was said to have been the largest underground colliery in Australia with a workforce of 988. It closed in 1991.) Malcolm then worked as the manager of the Grose Valley Colliery, (formerly the Hartley Vale No.4 colliery) in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney, from 1975 until 1977, and then went to the company's head office as a mining engineer from 1977 until 1983.

Malcolm's interest in Meccano was reignited in 1978. By them he had moved back to live in Sydney and his 3-year-old son had become interested in a large Meccano truck Malcolm he had made as a boy in 1952. Malcolm would wind up the clockwork motor and change the gears and work the steering. After taking his son for a ride on the Ferris wheel on Manly Wharf he came home and his son asked Malcolm if he could make a Ferris wheel. (This Meccano model is now in the Museum's education collection complete with the little Smurfs who were the passengers).

From 1983 until 1990 Malcolm worked for the Swiss-based firm, Asea Brown Boveri Ltd, developing a system for pumping coal slurries (the fine coal and water bi product of mining), then with the Perth-based firm, Malcolm Thompson Pumps, where he was involved with selecting pumps for specific purposes from 1991 until his retirement in 1996.

After his retirement Malcolm became much more involved with Meccano. In 1981 he had been a foundation member of the Sydney-based Meccano Modellers Association and is currently its president (in 2012). He was also a foundation member of the International Society of Meccanomen and was the Australian committee man for 6 years.

During his retirement Malcolm developed an enthusiasm for building and collecting large Meccano models. As an adult he had the luxury of keeping the big models he made rather than having to take them apart as he needed to do when a child. He did this by buying second-hand Meccano parts. He said that he gained a lot of pleasure from purchasing old Meccano that other enthusiasts would have consigned to the rubbish bin which were often bent, rusty and flaking paint. He restored these in the workshop of his Killarney Heights home in Sydney. This involved removing all the bumps with a nylon-faced hammer and running the pieces through a small plate roller. They were then dipped in caustic soda for between one to three days, to remove the remaining paint and grease. The caustic soda was washed off and then the Meccano placed in a solution of dilute hydrochloric acid, for about 2 hours, and washed off again. The Meccano pieces were then smoothed with a circular wire brush and spray painted in the traditional red or green colours.

Before moving to a retirement village in 2011, Malcolm sold a number of his models but also donated this large collection to the Museum, together with several hundred Meccano instruction books. Malcolm would certainly qualify for the title 'Mr Meccano' in Australia.


Credit Line

Gift of Malcolm Booker, 2013

Acquisition Date

5 November 2013

Cite this Object


Buzz Builder instruction book 2016, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 9 July 2020, <>


{{cite web |url= |title=Buzz Builder instruction book |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=9 July 2020 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}

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