July 21, 2009

Purple Mountains Of Farm Toys From Sea To Shining Sea

ferguson_outback.jpg

Leaving Philadelphia on the 5th of July, we decided we wanted to be anywhere but I-95, so we headed to DC via the farm country of Lancaster County. Of course, the only Amish Experience we could expect is that every single business would be closed on Sunday. And it pretty much was, but while looking around on the county visitor's website, I came across Outback Toys, which is apparently a farm toy megastore in Lititz run by real farm equipment dealers Binkley and Hurst Bros.

jd_cornhead_outback.jpg

Ho. Ly. Smokes, there are a lot of farm toys. No, seriously. Outback's pedal tractor section has 96 items, and only a small fraction of them are accessories. But even the accessories--I mean, just look at this: you can get either a corn head [above] or a grain head for either your John Deere or International Harvester pedal tractor. They sell pedal tractor-scale bales of straw!

b-h_bale_of_straw.jpg

Scrolling through all the pedal tractors, I marveled at kid-sized versions of long-lost brands like the simple battleship grey Ferguson TO-20 [aka the TE-20, top]; or the limited run Oliver 1850, painted purple as kind of an inside joke; the special edition Farmall from the 92nd PA Farm Show; the classic orange livery of Allis Chalmers.

oliver_tractor_outback.jpg

That's when I noticed some similarities between all these die-cast heritage brands. Turns out there's basically one pedal tractor outfit still making their product in the US of A these days, and that's Joe Ertl's Scale Models Toys of Dyersville, Iowa. Joe was even inducted into the Farm Toy Hall of Fame a while back. Doing well by doing good by farmers, that's the way I see it.

ertl_trike_outback.jpg

And in the off season, Ertl's there cooking up some Mighty Trikes with big balloon tires, all the better to prepare your little 4-H'er to pilot his ATV around the yard when he's old enough [i.e., turns three].

Outback Toys | Binkley and Hurst [outbacktoystore.com]
Scale Models Toys [scalemodelstoys.com]
For further reading: Farm Toy Report/Toy Tractor Show: "your #1 source for farm toy news" [toytractorshow.com]

1 Comment

Said it before, and I'll say it again. I love the mighty trike. It's too heavy for the really young set to ride, so it's really only useful for 3, 4 and drunk 25 year olds to ride. We have the JD version, and I almost bought the NH version so that both my girls could have them.

The Case one comes with flame decals, BTW. yes, it's awesome.

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