Having It All


| July 2003



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He has more than 3,400 of the intricate, tiny toys

Jason Dalton's family first noticed that he meticulously guarded and cared for his farm toys when he was only 6 years old. Before visiting friends or relatives, Jason always wrapped his toys in soft cloth to prevent scratches on the journey and never played roughly with them. About the same time, he began to acquire farm toys in pairs as presents - one to play with and one to keep in its package, untouched for his ever-growing collection. That's when the Newton, Iowa, native began to amass what is ostensibly the world's largest collection of 1/64-scale farm toys.

When he was just 10 years old, Jason owned 800 different 1/64-scale farm toys. The gargantuan collection prompted Replica magazine, published by ERTL, a large manufacturer of farm toys, to award Jason the honor of 'Largest 1/64-scale farm toy collection in the world.' Jason, now 24 years old, says his collection has ballooned to 3,400 1/64-scale farm toys and is likely still the largest in the world. 'I know of a guy in Canada who has nearly 3,000,' Jason says, 'and a couple others in the U.S. who have big collections, but not as big as mine.'

Small beginnings

Jason's mother, Judy, and uncle Steve Gifford began to buy farm toys for Jason from the time he was a year old. He collected most any scale toys in those early years, but then for some reason Jason took a fancy for 1/64-scale models. 'Maybe (I chose 1/64-scale models) because I always made buildings out of cardboard and the toys fit into those small buildings,' he says. 'Or maybe (I chose them) because these small toys didn't take up nearly as much room.'

Jason's reputation as an avid collector began just as early in life. Farm toy dealers remember an eager and excited young collector at toy shows who knew what he wanted, even in first grade. Others remember him from farm toy auctions. Jason says he was lucky to have an uncle willing to take him along to auctions. Today, Jason uses his talents to work at farm toy auctions with Julian Skretta, an auctioneer who remembers 6-year-old Jason raising his hand at auctions to buy 1/64-scale farm toys.

By the time he was 8 years old, Jason mowed lawns, did odd jobs and used his allowance to buy 1/64-scale farm toys. At age 10, he won a Replica contest for a 1/64-scale farm toy variation. By the time he was 12, he studied hobby magazines such as Toy Farmer and Toy Tractor Times, and sought out other collectors, all to satisfy his enormous appetite for toy tractor information.

High school entrepreneur

In 1995 as a high school freshman, Jason created his own business, Dalton Farm Toys, as an FFA project. An ad he placed in Toy Farmer magazine listed 30 different toys, and the first customer ordered $230 worth of the miniature equipment replicas. 'I thought, 'This is great, for my first-ever sale.' So I started setting up at toy shows and advertising regularly for Dalton Farm Toys in Toy Farmer magazine,' Jason says. His efforts paid off and won Jason state and national FFA awards.