Toy Tractors With Powerful Pull

| August 2003

When Thomas Peters left his farm near Orion, Ill., in the early 1970s, he never thought that he would miss the country life. He spent the next two decades running small businesses and renting his farmland. During that time, Tom also met and married his wife, Betty, and bought a house in Orion, where they've now lived for decades.

As life slowed down for Tom in the mid-1990s, 'There was a void from being off the farm that needed to be filled,' he says. Like other former farmers, he began collecting toys as a way to keep his farm memories alive.

He also took an active role in improving his farmland. By changing tenants and practices, Tom says proudly, one of his farms is now host to regional water quality and erosion prevention demonstrations. 'When I looked over the place, there were gullies that would swallow your pickup,' Tom explains. 'Now I see settlement dams, grass waterways, concrete block spillways and buffer strips - it makes me feel good.'

Tom's careful stewardship of the land obviously carries over to the meticulous nature of his toy collecting - although he admits that toys can't easily fill the void left by leaving the farm.

As a toy collector, Tom seeks out tractors that personally interest him, such as the International Harvester Co.'s Farmall Cub. In fact, his first complete toy series was composed of all seven versions of the Cub tractor that ERTL produced. Yet, one toy collecting challenge, Tom says, is finding all variants made of a particular model. 'There are 15 or so variants of the ERTL John Deere Model 3040 from the 1960s according to my books,' Tom adds. 'I have 13 of them.'

Differences between each variant are often as subtle as the length of oil filters and numbers cast into the piece, or a different number of levers cast into the operator's station. More-obvious differences can include narrow front instead of wide front wheel configurations, but those are the easy variants to spot. Still others are built with three-point hitches, while some aren't, and a few models have cast wheels and others sport the plastic variety. With such a myriad of models to choose from, collectors could spend years amassing a complete collection. Tom's dedication to collecting variants is evident in one of his favorite models: the IH Farmall 560, of which he has more than 12 variations.