Years ago, when grandpa came to visit us from Holland, he brought a Mobaco construction set he played with in the 1930's.
My kids loved it. Unlike Meccano or even Lego, large models go together quickly. And they're just the right size for Playmobil figures!
Mobaco was manufactured by the Dutch company N.V. Plaatmetaalindustrie van Mouwerik en Bal between 1924 and ±1961, in Zeist, The Netherlands.
Moubal, as the company was commonly known, was a manufacturer of sheet metal products. Story has it that a few times a year they would clean their machines and make Mobaco parts.
Starting in 1948, Jumbo, a toy and puzzle company, took over sales and marketing. They redesigned the sets and manuals, added a few parts and turned it into more of a mass market product.
With the advent of Lego, interest waned. Around 1961, Mobaco was discontinued, and in 1981 Moubal went bankrupt. Unfortunately, their archives were destroyed. Which makes it difficult to put together an accurate history...
The Mobaco system consists of square wooden columns of various lengths that fit into evenly spaced holes in a thick fiberboard base board. The columns have slots on all four sides, into which cardboard panels can slide. The panels have different colors, and are either solid, or have window or door cut-outs of various shapes.
Structural rigidity comes from horizontal cardboard strips and floorplates that slide over the columns and rest on the wall panels. To make rigid corners and make long walls, two layers of these strips are installed, overlapping at seams and corners.
The system allows for pitched roofs. There are special gable ends and purlins that form the structural support for the roof. Opposite roof panels interlock at the ridge with hooks, and hang from the ridge beam. There are many roof panel shapes, allowing for complex roof designs.
With a limited number of parts, elaborate models can be made. Models are pleasing to the eye and have a distinct 19th century look. They are really easy to put together.
Mobaco is regularly found on the Dutch second hand website marktplaats.nl. Occasionally it can be found on eBay.com, or at local auction sites in countries where Dutch people emigrated to in the 1950's (UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand).
A few years ago, MiniPLEX, a small Dutch company, started producing an all-wood laser-cut version of Mobaco. After a 40-year hiatus, you can buy it again!
Back in 2005, when I searched the internet for information about Mobaco, there wasn't much. That's why I decided to dedicate a site to this lovely system.
As a result, I came in contact with several Mobaco collectors, who were most graceful in sharing their knowledge and material. I'd like to extend special thanks to Leen Kalden (indefatigable researcher and source of much of the material here), Peter Adams, Alex Geelhoed, Henri de Graaf and Mr. Halbertsma, all in The Netherlands, as well as several other contributors, for their generous help!
If you have any information that might be useful to add to this site, or corrections that should be made, please contact me at c***mol###wanadoo***fr (anti-spam: replace *** with a period and ### with @).
Note: Trademarks are the ownership of their respective companies. If you feel any material on this website infringes on your rights, please contact me for removal/correction.
Site originally created in 2005.
Expanded and rebuilt in Seamonkey, December 2014, March - May 2016
Revised December 2017, March 2018