Scratch-Cast: Scratch-Built Farm Toys

Business partners Gary Van Hove and Brian Schmidt create scratch-built farm toys at Scratch Cast.

| February 2008

  • Gary Van Hove and a sampling of Scratch-Cast farm toys
    Gary Van Hove and a sampling of Scratch-Cast farm toys.
  • A close-up of the gates on the Powder River cattle crowder
    A close-up of the gates on the Powder River cattle crowder.
  • Cattle crowd tub with head gate
    This cattle crowd tub with head gate (also available without the head gate) is made by Gary Van Hove and Brian Schmidt.
  • A Scratch-Cast Vermeer 14-wheel hay rake
    A Scratch-Cast Vermeer 14-wheel hay rake.
  • The Westfield hydraulic grain auger by Scratch-Cast in 1/64-scale
    The Westfield hydraulic grain auger by Scratch-Cast in 1/64-scale.
  • A steel grain bin set-up by Scratch-Cast
    A steel grain bin set-up by Scratch-Cast.
  • Bin fans made of resin, as well as the ladder to climb the grain bin, are visible in this photo
    Bin fans made of resin, as well as the ladder to climb the grain bin, are visible in this photo.
  • Note the detail in this 1/64-scale New Holland bale wagon
    Note the detail in this 1/64-scale New Holland bale wagon.
  • The ribs, roof door, and ladder are detailed parts of these grain bins
    The ribs, roof door, and ladder are detailed parts of these grain bins.
  • The Scratch-Cast New Holland bale wagon, opened
    The Scratch-Cast New Holland bale wagon, opened.
  • Brian Schmidt holds a red Nuhn liquid manure tank and a green Houle liquid manure tank made by Scratch-Cast
    Brian Schmidt holds a red Nuhn liquid manure tank and a green Houle liquid manure tank made by Scratch-Cast.
  • The Nuhn liquid manure tank, painted and ready to go
    The Nuhn liquid manure tank, painted and ready to go.
  • Houle liquid manure tank made by Scratch-Cast
    Note the detail on this Houle liquid manure tank made by Scratch-Cast.

  • Gary Van Hove and a sampling of Scratch-Cast farm toys
  • A close-up of the gates on the Powder River cattle crowder
  • Cattle crowd tub with head gate
  • A Scratch-Cast Vermeer 14-wheel hay rake
  • The Westfield hydraulic grain auger by Scratch-Cast in 1/64-scale
  • A steel grain bin set-up by Scratch-Cast
  • Bin fans made of resin, as well as the ladder to climb the grain bin, are visible in this photo
  • Note the detail in this 1/64-scale New Holland bale wagon
  • The ribs, roof door, and ladder are detailed parts of these grain bins
  • The Scratch-Cast New Holland bale wagon, opened
  • Brian Schmidt holds a red Nuhn liquid manure tank and a green Houle liquid manure tank made by Scratch-Cast
  • The Nuhn liquid manure tank, painted and ready to go
  • Houle liquid manure tank made by Scratch-Cast

Twenty years ago at a farm toy show, Gary Van Hove sold a scratch-built irrigation system to a boy. Now a man, the buyer recently returned to the show for a special reason: He wanted his son to meet Gary - and he wanted to buy one of Gary's toys for the boy.

"It's really unique to have a little boy buy stuff from you, watch him grow up, not see him for a while and then have him come to a show with his son or daughter, and say, 'Remember me?'" Gary says. "Sometimes I have to think back a long ways. Sometimes there's even three generations involved."

Today Gary - who lives in Edgerton, Minn. - works in partnership with one of those boys he influenced. Brian Schmidt, now 34, spotted Gary's scratch-built implements at a toy show more than a decade ago. That contact spurred him to make small toys of his own.

Partners in scratch-built toys

The two men arrived at their current avocation through different paths. Gary began scratch-building toys in the 1980s after he and his son, Chad, discovered the expense of collecting farm toys. "Chad always loved to tear things apart, and we saw how these toys were built," Gary says. "So Chad and I scratch-built a 1/64-scale 4-row stock chopper as a way to offset costs. We built 13 of them, and set up to sell them in the parking lot outside the National Farm Toy Show in Dyersville, Iowa, in 1984." Ten minutes later, they sold out.



After that, they built a snow blower and anything else that was different, fun and appealed to the market. "We built whatever people asked for, or what we liked," Gary says. "That's when I first realized I'd found something I could do and enjoy." They named the business C&G Toys.

Brian, on the other hand, had the hankering to make implements ever since he was a kid. "The Ertl company pretty much built only tractors, and didn't have much for equipment," he explains. "So I started making my own implements out of cardboard and tape."