Summer Toy Show

September/October 2019

By: Bill Proft

In June, I attended the Summer Farm Toy Show in Dyersville, Iowa. It had been quite a number of years since I was able to go, so when the opportunity presented itself this year, I decided to check it out. In overall size (number of attendees and vendors), this show is much smaller than the National in November. However, there were more dealers than I expected, filling both the Farm Toy Museum gym and quite a bit of Beckman High school. In this article, I am going to cover some of what I saw that should be of interest to readers of Classic Farm and Tractor.

One of the first tables I walked past was for Toy Farmer. More than a year ago, they announced their 40th anniversary tractor as a 1/16th scale version of the Allis-Chalmers 440. Photo 1 shows the carton and toy. This is a big model that was produced by Ertl. There were some delays in production and shipping from China, but it was now available at the show. It could have been pre-ordered for $199 plus $25 for shipping. At the show, they were being offered for $212. Obviously, picking up a model at the show saved some shipping costs.

Ertl is calling this a Prestige miniature so there is a fair amount of detail. In Photo 2, you can see the radiator fill cap through a small hole in the hood and the tiny rain caps on top of each exhaust stack. Also note the complete air cleaner assembly, work and warning lights, hand holds on the cab and a knob on the cab door. A windshield wiper is attached to the front of the cab as well. Photo 3 shows the front of the tractor where you can see the detailed grille screen with Allis-Chalmers trademark printed in black and silver. Note the well detailed engine and large wheels and tires.

The hydraulic system, complete with black hoses that run to the drawbar area, is visible in Photo 4. Inside the cab, there appeared to be a fair amount of detail including a nicely appointed dashboard area complete with all of the lights and gauges. The cab doors were not open on this model, but tiny hinges are visible in Photo 5. Overall, this seems to be a really nice replica of the 440 tractor. The price is a little steep, in my opinion, but this is a very large toy. If you are an Allis-Chalmers fan, this is probably a good item to add to your collection.

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SpecCast had a display immediately around the corner from Toy Farmer. New items from them included a couple of “choppers” or forage harvesters and an Oliver 1600 tractor with corn picker (Photos 6 and 7). Each chopper came with a two-row corn head and what I would call a hay head. The Allis-Chalmers machine is labeled as a model 782 and the Ford as a model 680. The detail appeared to be relatively good in both cases with items such as PTO shafts, cranks to adjust the discharge chute and even tiny pins in the hitch. The Oliver tractor and corn picker were being made for the 2019 Wisconsin Farm Technology show. According to the graphics on the box, this miniature replicates the 1600 tractor and 74H picker. Also noted is the fact that the production run was limited to 1,000 units. So, Oliver fans should be looking for this model with some of the toy dealers who specialize in many brands.

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Old, new in the box (NIB) farm toys are very interesting and certainly command high prices. What you don’t see regularly are large collections of NIB items, particularly those in “bubble boxes.” Photos 8 and 9 show the Tru-Scale toys that one gentleman had for sale. He was selling off this part of his collection so that he could make room for more of what were his primary interest: Allis-Chalmers toys. Note the huge array of fully enclosed, open front and plain cardboard cartons, along with the bubble boxes with original clear plastic wrap. Included were several trailers, elevators, corn pickers, plows and combines. These toys were mint and certainly had to be of interest to Tru-Scale collectors. I have never seen so many NIB Tru-Scale toys assembled in one spot and it was certainly fun to see these.

Since this was a toy show, there were a few very nice displays. I found it particularly interesting that folks traveled from great distances to set up their displays at this show. Folks from Georgia and Maryland visited along with Kelly Mutschler from Northlake, Texas. He has created beautiful displays in the past and has presented them at the National Farm Toy Show in November. This time, he created a spring planting scene, which included relatively modern tractors and equipment, all of which were customized. However, while the field work of the machines were the centerpiece of the display, he had included several older buildings as well. Photo 10 shows the old machine shed he added to one corner of the display. Note the old flare box wagon, Oliver tractor and pickup truck. Each had been “weathered” to look old in this otherwise modern scene. The incredible part for me was the detail he added. In Photo 11, you can see some of the items on the storage shelf next to the truck. Tiny spray cans and oil cans, a vise, bottles of nuts and bolts, and even a “fan belt” are on or around the shelves. Trees, flowers and weeds surround the buildings on this display. The more I looked it over, the more I found. The effort here was incredible and I’m glad I was able to see it firsthand.

The last item that I will share this month is a new book that I found while at the show. On one of the tables lining the main hallway in Beckman High School were several copies of a paperback book entitled “Ertl Company History” (Photo 12). I nearly walked past the table without a second thought, but ultimately decided to stop for a look. The lady behind the table explained that it was a brand new book written by Joseph L. Ertl. He was one of the six children of Fred and Gertrude Ertl who started the Ertl Company. Joe eventually started his own business, Scale Models, but was part of the family business during their early years.

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This book covers the time period from 1958 to 1968 when Ertl moved from Dubuque to Dyersville, Iowa and really became the major player in the farm toy business. Joe describes what was going on year by year and provides tons of reproduced pages from early catalogs and promotional material. I picked up a signed copy at the show for $25. I was told that afterwards the price was going to be $30. However, I have looked on the internet and I can find no place where it is for sale as of this writing. Once I get some additional details, I will pass them on. From the few minutes that I have spent with this book, I think that it is a good resource for anyone collecting Ertl farm toys. The pictures and timelines give us a perspective from someone who actually co-owned the business.

So, there is a quick update on some of the new items to be looking for in the world of farm toys. Regardless of brand preference, there’s something for every- Photo 12 Photo 10 • Photo 11, below one. In addition, for those of you who like to build displays or add something to help showcase your collection, I hope the pictures of the Kelly Mutschler display provide some energy and enthusiasm for you to get started. Enjoy.