1/16 Scale Farm Toy Builder
Jim Buske builds detailed 1/16 scale farm implements
Jim Buske and some of the toys he hand-crafts.
Photo by Assignment Photography
Jim Buske has barrels and barrels of fun – and maybe implements and implements of fun, too, for this toy builder makes 1/16 scale miniature 55-gallon oil barrels, hay forks, extension cords, shovels, vises, and most any other farm-related tool you can think of. His big prizes, though, are his very limited runs (10 to 50) of masterfully-crafted 1/16 scale farm implements, constructed in great detail.
Jim became a professional toy builder because he couldn't find anyone else to make a toy for him.
"I just wanted a scale model of that John Deere 650 plow I used to run right out of high school," the 55-year-old Oakes, N.D., man says. "At my first toy show, in St. Louis, I talked to a bunch of builders, but nobody wanted to tackle a one-of-a-kind thing. So I decided to do it myself."
At Christmas in 1992, Jim (who then lived in Prescott, Ariz., where he owned a ServiceMaster business) returned home to North Dakota, and found a real 650 JD plow.
"I took a whole lot of pictures of it, and since I'd always liked mechanical drawing, I sat down and drew out every little piece, and reduced them to 1/16 scale (the generally accepted size for farm toys), and started building the plow. Then I had so much time and effort into it, I showed it around to a lot of people."
One person suggested he dismantle the painstakingly-done plow, make molds of the pieces, and cast parts to do more 650 JD plows.
Which he did. And the rest, as they say, is history. Jim used his prototype to get production approval from Deere & Co., and began making the plow. He made 50 of them, and they started selling.
That was the push Jim needed to sell the ServiceMaster business, move back to his childhood home in North Dakota, and start building toys for a living. His second implement was the John Deere 145 plow (neither it nor the 650 had ever been made as toys before. The Ertl Company has since made it as a Precision Classics 145 plow.)
The usual approval process for farm toys is to create a prototype, show it to company officials, discuss it, and wait for three votes out of a committee of five.
"When I decided to do the 145 plow, I called John Deere and told them," he says. "They said I should go ahead, and they'd vote on it later."
That was a resounding measure of their belief in Jim's ability. Shortly after, he received official permission.
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