Update – The article below was written a few days ago before the announcement that Maplin had gone into administration. It is very sad that so many people are facing an unknown future and we wish them well. Maybe something can be saved by a buyer but I fully expect whatever emerges at the other end will be nothing like the company is today.
It would seem that Maplins is no longer with us. After many months of bad financial news filtering out, the BBC is reporting that Maplins went into administration on the 28th February 2018. For those of us old enough, Maplins still holds a small amount of fondness but sadly it has evolved into a shadow of its former self.
In the early 80’s Maplins was a treasure trove of everything that a hobbyist could ever need, for those people into electronics I certainly don’t need to say anymore.For computer fans, Maplins had many off the shelf kits for the ZX81, ZX Spectrum and other contemporary micros which could be used to expand your system cheaply. This was only the tip of the iceberg, so much more could be found the Maplins catalogue, which became almost a bible for those looking for parts.
It sad that today, Maplins seems to have become a purveyor of cheap electronic crap that is almost always hugely overpriced. The last time I bought anything was a few years ago. Needing some solder and being too impatient to wait for Amazon, headed into my local Maplins who promptly parted me from far too much money for what turned out to be the worst solder I have ever used.
Speaking of the Maplins catalogue, many people would have fond memories of the covers, each year would bring a new catalogue with some amazing artwork; typically painted by Lionel Jeans. I’ve always thought his cover art on the catalogue really complimented the artwork that Sinclair Research used on the ZX81 and ZX Spectrum manuals. For me it is very nostalgic – one of my defining memories is around the time I got my hands my first ZX81 in 1983, spending a lot of time in WH Smiths looking at the Maplins catalogue on the shelf next to the contemporary home computer magazines of the time.
Only time will tell if Maplins will survive but let’s return to the question at hand… Will Maplins be missed? Yes, but not for what they have become. They will be missed for what they once used to be.