New Materials, Technology Revive Farm Toy Hobby
(Page 3 of 5)
Carter Tru-Scale Products
Early Carter Tru-Scale farm toys included the 1950 Tru-Scale M and 860 tractors, and combines, discs, elevators, plows and trailers. “All of these implements were working models,” says Doug Harke in Toy Farmer magazine. “Most collectors are familiar with Carter’s earliest implements, which included plows and wagons to be pulled by Allis-Chalmers, Case, Farmall and John Deere tractors. As those implements became dated by release of new models of full-size equipment, Tru-Scale continued the toys with an orange-red/tan paint scheme with Tru-Scale decals. The best example is the John Deere 12A pull-type combine, which was marketed in the 1950s and then replaced by the No. 30 auger combine in the late 1950s.” That same 12A combine was then marketed, clad in red and yellow, as a Tru-Scale combine.
Some Tru-Scale tractor models were sold at hardware and toy stores, like the sand-cast Farmall M, with a steel U-shaped hitch or wire loop for a hitch. In 1962, Tru-Scale introduced its 401 tractor, which resembled the International Harvester 460. Red, green and yellow 890 and 891 Tru-Scale tractors followed. They strongly resembled the International Harvester 806 tractors.
Carter Tru-Scale Products also made a series of 1/16-scale sets in pressed steel. “For a number of reasons Tru-Scale sets are very scarce,” Harke says. “This may be due to low sales figures or hard use by children.” Later, Carter moved to 1/25-scale sets named “Tru-Toy” farm sets.
Collectors like the high quality of Tru-Scale toys. That quality was no accident, says Carter’s son-in-law, George Anderson. When Anderson reported to work at CMTC in 1952, Joe Carter handed him a catalog for a John Deere corn picker and told him to measure a full-size picker, and then make a miniature one. From that information he learned how to make the 1/16-scale toy as he went, making the easiest parts first. He still owns that prototype picker.
At one point, Carter Tru-Scale had a chance to make a huge expansion, selling toys in volume to K-Mart, but Joe Carter didn’t want to expand. He chose to remain independent and pursue the projects of his choice, rather than be held accountable to producing toys to fill orders. Eventually CMTC was sold to Victor Comptometer, at that time the parent company of Ertl Co.
The 1950s saw a proliferation of farm toy companies, perhaps because of the success of Ertl, Eska and Tru-Scale. The upstarts included Slik-Toys, Lansing, Iowa, which manufactured Slik, Lansing and Kipp toys. They made many Slik Oliver, Minneapolis-Moline and Massey-Harris toys. Later, after Arcade Mfg. Co. folded, Slik bought those molds and made Slik toys using Arcade molds. Slik farm toy boxes, especially those for Minneapolis-Moline and Oliver, are some of the most colorful in the business.
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