The A.C. Gilbert Company was an American toy company that once was one of the largest toy companies in the world. It all began in 1913 when Alfred Carlton Gilbert, a trained doctor and multi-talented inventor, dreamed up a toy while taking the train to New York. A.C. was intrigued by the girders being erected to support the electric lines for the New York railroad being converted from steam to electricity. He called it the erector set. Gilbert saw the erector set as more than just a toy. It was a tool to learn how buildings are made and how to work with motors. Kids all across America responded. Erector sets were what every boy wanted at Christmas, making Gilbert the country's biggest toy manufacturer. But the outbreak of WWI not only near marked the end of Gilbert's fortune; it nearly marked the end of Christmas gifts! The First World War recognized that there would be rationing in manufacturing. Gilbert took his toy show to the nation's capital to make his case. He was able to persuade Congress that the investment in the future was equal to or more important than the investment in the war. Gilbert was considered “the man who saved Christmas”. But saving Christmas was just one of the benefits. Erector sets have inspired future inventors and scientists. Like chemist Otto Wichterle, who invented the soft contact lenses using an erector set. In 1948, Yale Medical School student William Sewell used an erector set pieces to create the first artificial heart pump. Erector was a toy from his youth.
In 1961 A. C. Gilbert died. In order to settle estate taxes his majority holding in the company that bore his name was sold off. Although A. C.'s son remained as head of the company, the real power rested with the new majority owners who had big ideas about the direction that Erector and the A. C. Gilbert Company’s other toys should take. By 1966 the A. C. Gilbert toy company went out of business and the A. C. Gilbert and Erector names were acquired by Gabriel Toys. The brand traveled through several hands including Ideal Toys and Tyco Toys. In 2000, Meccano bought Erector brand and unified its presence in all continents.
Even today Meccano sets are sold under the ERECTOR® brand in the US. It is considered the longest continuous running brand in the toy industry.
MECCANO is moving constantly towards more innovation by devising new assembly systems, new materials and integrating new technologies into its toys.
This has been shown especially when in 2008; Meccano launched a range of robotic products called "Spykee". This was the first robot to be controllable from a computer via Wi-Fi from anywhere in the world via the Internet. Spykee is equipped with a webcam, a microphone, a loudspeaker and two motors. It moves, sees, hears, speaks, takes pictures and videos, It detects intruders and reads digital music. When its battery is low, Spykee returns to its charging base.
To help introduce and expand to a new audience, the Meccano system and the Erector brand has boosted its traditional collection of items with an exciting new range of licensed products. In 2011 the first of these ranges launched featuring products from “The Adventures of Tintin” by Steven Spielberg. Following this success, Meccano has acquired three new and exciting properties for 2012: Raving Rabbids, Sonic the Hedgehog and the Epic game of Gears of War. These iconic characters and universe are part of the daily lives of children while being supported by a strong community of fans.
With ERECTOR ® brands, dedicated to the U.S. market, and MECCANO ® for the rest of the world, the group is currently selling in over 50 countries and 70% of its sales come from markets outside of France.
The head office and factory of Meccano is located in Calais, France and two sale office subsidiaries were created, one in Hong Kong and one in the United Kingdom.
Meccano attaches great importance to the quality and safety of its toys.
All Meccano toys are designed and developed in France.
The design office is a creative technical laboratory with unique expertise acquired through years of experience.
Meccano toys are monitored throughout their manufacture from raw material to finished product. All products carry a tracking number so they can be traced from components through to their final destination.
Meccano toys are tested in certified laboratories (Bureau Veritas and Intertek) according to the relevant countries standards and guidelines.
« Made in France »
After an overhaul of its Manufacturing base and industrial facilities, Meccano decided in 2010 to relocate part of its manufacturing to France. Today, a large part of the Meccano range is manufactured in France, in the historic factory of Calais. This decision was made so that Meccano could increase its manufacturing flexibility and subsequently optimise serviceability to its European markets.