&  1000  Other  Metal  Constructional  Toys

MECCANO, ERECTOR & MÄRKLIN are the best known metal constructional systems (toys), but there have been over 1000 others down the years, from over 40 countries, and at least 10 are still being made in different parts of the world (not to mention the numerous small sets with parts made in China which are now widely available). A STABIL outfit Some of the '1000' were more or less copies of MECCANO, albeit with many fewer parts, but new ideas & parts were included in others. Some too had Rods instead of Strips or Girders as the main structural element, and in some the parts clipped together to avoid the need for Nuts & Bolts. The 1930s German STABIL set, left, has some unusual parts, including a few wooden ones (photo courtesy Roger Baker), and there are two rather nice models on the next page.

Many 'systems' were designed to be simple toys for children but some, like the still available Swedish FAC, were intended for use by professsional engineers to create mechanical prototypes, laboratory equipment, experimental models, etc.

In size, one version of the prewar Australian TOYTOWN had just 3 different types of part, plus a Nut and a Bolt, while the Italian AMI-LAC, had about 470.

Would you like to know more? If so there is a newsletter called 'OSN' (Other Systems Newsletter). It is about all metal constructional systems except MECCANO (which is well documented elsewhere) and has been running for over 25 years. Each issue has detailed information on the sets, parts, models, literature, & history of a selection of systems, old and new. Some idea of the scope can be seen from the Contents of the various issues of OSN, and from a detailed Index of Issues 1-52 (click here for Notes & Abbreviations). For details of prices and methods of payment please turn to Prices.

Newcomers to 'Other Systems' may also be interested in a Brief History of Other Systems, 1888 to 1918.

Some details of known systems are given in a Database: click here to view it; and here to see the Introduction, abbreviations, and 'Polylong' sets. Click here and here to print it out. Timothy Edward's alternative presentation of the Database (here) shows each system individually with the information presented without the abbreviations necessary in the Database, plus references to OSN pages, and items which can be downloaded. The latter include the MCS pages, and scans of manuals, etc. Also included is a method of searching easily for systems with particular characteristics.

Another useful source of information is the Encyclopédie Jeux Construction Métalliques. It lists all known systems, with photos and leading particulars. It's in French of course but there isn't much text and most of it relates to some key words, or the names of colours, Meccano parts, etc. It can be seen here , a site constructed by Claude Gobez in conjunction with Jean-Pierre (click on the initial letter of the system of interest).

From OSN 28 onwards the Newsletters have been printed in colour; before that the illustrations were in black & white, but reproductions of most of the coloured originals can be seen in the links below. If desired they can be downloaded and stuck into the Newsletters. Certain material which has yet to appear in OSN, or supplements to articles in it, can be seen at Extra Other Systems Material .

Click to see the illustrations from: … OSN 2OSN 3OSN 4-5OSN 6-8OSN 9-10OSN 11OSN 12OSN 13OSN 14OSN 15 (including a MEKSTRUCT Lorry from OSN 14) … OSN 16OSN 17-19OSN 20OSN 21OSN 22OSN 23OSN 24OSN 25OSN 26OSN 27.

If your have any questions about OSN, or 'other systems', please write to Tony Knowles, 7 Potters Way, Laverstock, Salisbury, SP1 1PY, England, or email to the address below right, but omitting the "o" in the centre of "osonl" and replacing "com" by "co dot uk". (But sorry, no advice about prices can be given.)

Recent additions and changes:


October 2020. OSN 54 was mailed out on 20th October 2020.

July 2019. The Database has been replaced by an updated version, and the wonders of Timothy Edward's new 'Other Systems' web pages are noted.

August 2017. The Index has been updated to include OSN 52, and various omissions & errors have been corrected.

March 2017. This page has been updated with, in particular, the mention above of the Encyclopédie Jeux Construction Métalliques.

February 2015. OSN 50: a few copies may have 2 or 3 pages misnumbered. The correct numbering can be seen in the Contents section.

May 2012: NB - Correction. In the OSN 46 piece on METALL-BAUKASTEN [5] (p1389) some words were omitted at the end of the second paragraph in some copies. They followed 'a short Screwed Rod' and are as follows: 'a square Nut, & 2 lengths of cheeseheaded Bolt.'


Although MECCANO in general isn't covered in OSN, U.S. MECCANO has been discussed, but more details can now be found at U.S. MECCANO. If you would like to know more about all other aspects of MECCANO the International Society of Meccanomen is an interesting site with links to many others. A Newsletter about both MECCANO & ERECTOR is available from the Southern California Meccano & Erector Club, and another Newsletter about ERECTOR and all Gilbert toys is published by the A.C.Gilbert Heritage Society. The German language Swiss AMS (Amateure für Metallmodellbau in der Schweiz) Club site is about all metal systems but particularly MECCANO, MÄRKLIN, & the Swiss-made STOKYS. Another excellent German language site is all about STABIL, and other Walther products. Also J.Klein has an interesting German site with images of many metal, wood, and stone systems. Other sites have details of STEEL TEC, and HUSTLER. 'Girders & Gears' has much about model building and a lot on ERECTOR and the Czech MERKUR. Repro MÄRKLIN and special parts are available from a German company called Metallus (Märklin has ceased to sell parts and sets, apart from one special set in Spring 2004). MECCANO sets, parts, & special parts can be obtained from Dave Taylor ; and MW Mailorder supply a wide range of model plans and other MECCANO literature. Repro MECCANO, plus some 'specials' are produced by Ashok Banerjee, an Indian enthusiast.