The story of the Kraus brothers is symbolic of the European migrants who came to Sydney between the Wars and made a significant contribution to our economy; and the standing of Australian industry in general and the industries of Willoughby in particular. Gus Kraus (born in Germany in 1904) was an engineer from came to Sydney from Munich in 1927 charged with installing modern textile machinery in local factories. Following service in the German army, his brother Victor joined him in Sydney in 1929.
In 1939 Gus and Vic Kraus commenced manufacturing BUZ (Morse code) sets under contract to the firm of Gulterman & King. The new venture operated as Buzza Products and its products were made in the upper floors of the Gulterman & King in Clarence Street, Sydney. On the outbreak of war with Germany in 1939, Gus was interned in Long Bay Gaol, but he was quickly released in order to increase the production of BUZ sets for the Australian and United States navies and armies.1
With the availability of the English-made Meccano building sets severely curtailed by World War II, the Kraus brothers commenced the manufacture of an equivalent product, the well-known BUZ Builder sets for the hobby trade in 1945. These were also distributed by Gulterman & King. The Korean War (1950-53) also served to continue limitations on the availability of Hornby and Meccano products in Australia. An Australian-made Meccano equivalent competitor was EZY-BUILT sets manufactured in Adelaide. Other Australian-made construction kits were ‘Bettafit’ and ‘Model-It’, but these appear to have had limited distribution.2
Gus was a quiet, confident man for whom work was a big part of life. He spent long hours at his factory and personally promoted its products at Toy Fairs and similar events.
Gus passed away quietly in his favourite lounge chair early in February 1975 aged 71.3
His wife Beryl, and two sons, Richard and Michael, kept the business going manufacturing the Buz Builder until 1977.
1 Mary Thom, personal communication 12 May 2011, based on interview with Beryl Kraus.
2 Larder, Dave, ‘The History of BUZ in Artarmon’, article held in WDHS archives, nd; Brian Kuss, letter on BUZ Builder in The Australian Hornby Collector, June 1997, p 8.
3 Australasian Sportsgoods & Toy Retailer, February 1975, p 45,‘BUZZA’ Products Chief passes on’ by Ted Hamilton.