Toy Farmer

''Toy Farmer'' trademark features caricatures Zeke and Mildred.

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Collectors of toy farm engines have their own magazine, 'The Toy Farmer,' to tell them what's hot and what's not.

The magazine is published by Claire Scheibe, of Lamoure, N.D. 58458, with the assistance of his wife, Cathy, and Chris Thompson, an aide. It started with 17 subscribers in 1978, now has over 1,600.

Scheibe started the first National Farm Toy Show and Sale in Dyersville, Iowa, in 1978, and this is drawing bigger attention each year. The Ertl Company, a homegrown industry in Dyersville, which is one of the top farm toy manufacturers, helped get the show started. Scheibe works with Ertl on new toy development.

We read about Scheibe in Farm Journal early this year, and got in so busy it took him six months to answer, but now we are in touch more frequently.

Scheibe estimates there are 10,000 farm toy collectors in the United States. We'd suggest Canada has a lot of them, too.

Many of the toy collectors are already collectors of full-size engines, Claire finds. He feels there is a close relationship between the two collecting hobbies.

Chris Thompson reports that toy engines are on sale at booths of some of the full-scale steam and gas shows, where flea markets and booths are part of the scene.

'I've worked a lot of gas engine and steam shows,' says Chris, 'and we attract the same types of visitors from all walks of life, and all ages from 8 to 80.'

The number of farm toy shows is increasing. Between 25 and 30 were set for late summer and into fall. The fourth annual National Farm Toy Show is set for November at Dyersville, Iowa.