Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Zac's Top 5 New Releases of 2008

I want to start by saying this list wasn’t compiled as a poll or of anyone’s opinion than my own. I also only used models that I have seen in person, since I think that's the most fair way to judge them. The criteria I used to judge this was the following:

1. Quality of the model. I’m getting really tired of the toy companies producing cheaply constructed models of inferior production quality. I cant fault the manufacturers for using plastic or resin due to the cost of metal, and the ease of molding plastic, but anybody who still produces die cast with high detail receives bonus points. Furthermore 3 models in specific with high detail were kept off this list because the gross amount of plastic than cheapens them (John Deere Baler, and The Case IH baler. Both are good models, but are more toy like than collectible like in my opinion.

2. Level of detail. This is different from quality. You can create something from plastic, paint it, and it looks exactly like the real machine (HN320). My problem with plastic is when it comes from the mold and is a different color than the die cast part of the tractor (Look at the Ertl 4wd produced in the last 10 years. Only a few have the painted plastic cab top. The ones that don’t are a different color, have white stress lines, and often don’t fit correctly.) This is an easy thing to fix, yet Ertl doesn't because it probably costs 8 cents more per model. So models that score highly in this category will have excellent details, hoses, fuel lines, working doors, and show minimal casting flash, and have excellent paint. If something is made from plastic, fine, but I shouldn’t be able to tell its plastic just by looking at it.

3. Uniqueness. Ideally I would have 100 brand new models to choose from that have excellent detail and a very high level of finish. This is not reality, and toy companies are in the business of making money. Not their fault, but it limits the models that are produced because they have to maximize the usage of their existing casts, and minimize tooling costs. So I will give bonus points for a model that we haven’t seen before or sticks out from a long lines of the typical clones of previous models that are paraded out every year.

The Top 5

5. 1/64 Steiger Panther II Stars and Stripes (ertl)– While the new Steiger casts are relatively fresh in the 1/64 tractors, they made their big splash in 2007. I chose this tractor mainly because it scored highly in level of detail (for 1/64th) and Uniqueness. Sure this close to the 10th variation to come from the new Steiger castings, but it’s the first one covered in the American flag. The original tractor was produced in 1976 for the Bicentennial, and Toy Tractor Times has produced a 1/64 replica to commemorate the production of this tractor. It was released as part of a spirit of 76 set, and comes with a Case 1370 that also is bearing the stars and stripes. This tractor is not just unique but boasts very good detail for a 1/64 4wd. It has excellent paint and finish, cab glass, window trim, and a mini toolbox. In general the Steigers have had good detail, but this one has a very good finish.

4. 1/64 John Deere DB44 Bauer Built (spec cast)– Basically this is a smaller version of the DB90 that was released a few years ago. The reason it son the list is because it’s a smaller version of the best 1/64 implement of all time. This may be a bold statement, but Id say I’ve personally seen 99% of all 1/64 scale implements on earth, and this model has the highest detail, best finish quality, and smoothest operation of any mass produced 1/64 implement that I have seen. And on top of all that its mostly die cast, and has a hitch pin that actually makes sense and works with many tractors. The DB 44 has realistic seed tanks, row openers, tires, wheels, and telescoping hitch. It may be the little brother of the DB90, buts its just as nice, and in fact probably makes more sense on most peoples farms.

3. 1/64th John Deere 9630T (ertl)– I Just really, really like the improvements made on this model. This is not unique because Ertl has produced many 9000 series tracked variations, but they added cab glass, a very nicely casted hood and engine, and excellent finish and paint on they whole model. So this model for a 1/64 boasts excellent quality and good detail. I do have 1 major criticism of the detail and that’s of the louse replica of the adjustable hitch on the back. If you look at the cast there is a giant line down the back that makes the cast halves and the drawbar is made very sloppily. Overall a great model with good detail. And to top it off is only about $8.

2. 1/16 Big Bud HN320 (universal hobbies)– The only 1/16 scale model on the list has the best detail of any tractor in my collection including all of the precisions that I own. I will do a future article on this tractor in full photo detail, but let me tell you what put it on the list, Imagine a tractor that has exact replicas of the fan belts and spark plug wires. Yes its that detailed.

1. Case IH 7088 (ertl)– If you have ever read this blog purposely and not because you were searching for Zac’s Trackers, or Macs Tractor Trailers, or Wax Packaging, then you know mainly this site displays highly detailed 1/64 scale replicas. So just about any precision that is produced in 1/64 is bound to occupy this spot. This is a unique model because it’s the first 1/64 Case IH Authentic model, and the first authentic combine, but I have to note that there have been many Case IH combines produced, especially with the 8000/7000 body style. The level of detail is good but not great. The wheels steer, the cab opens, and the feederhousing can raise and lower, so that is good for detail, but all of these things are relatively sloppy. The quality is better than the 7930 sprayer (Please don’t get me started) But there is some quality lacking. I will go through all of the intricacies of the 7088 in a future article, but because of the level of detail in 1/64 it gets my #1 release of the year.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

I hope that something with 4 wheels showed up under your tree this morning. Within the next week I will have very thorough reviews of the Big Bud HN 320 4wd, and Case IH 7088 Authentic. Above is a John Deere 7720 that I added some "custom" details to.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Toys for Tots

Last year I started the Christmas season with a post about Toys For Tots. I will do the same this year because I think its an important organization with an important mission. For all of you tractor collectors out there think how much it would mean to give a child his/her first John Deere 4020. Here is the website if you would like to give directly, and they also list places you can drop off toys.

Gift ideas for collectors

Being a toy tractor collector when your young is great because birthdays and Christmas become the days your carpet farm gets updated with the latest machinery. When you get old and obsessed with farm toys (except for myself of course) you know the exact date that everything is being released and your friends and family members become apprehensive about giving you a tractor for Christmas because they assume you already have it. Well since you are still a collector there are things out there that you don’t have and couldn’t find, or are so new even the most avid collector hasn’t purchased yet. So I decided to put together a list of 10 things any toy tractor collector would want for Christmas.

If your stil completely confused after my christmas gift giving guide please take some time to wander over to and click on "gift certificate." They have somthing for every farm toy collector, and may just be the easiest Christmas present to buy.

10. The Ertl precision series. Although many people that collect this series buy them when they first come out, many collectors are casual buyers of this series because of their large size (1/16 scale) and higher price ($120-180). One of biggest benefits of collecting this series is that for the sake of realism, there are few better. In the precision series the levers move, the gauges are painted, they have chains and all metal parts. The other main benefit is that for the sake of value the precision series is one in which almost every single model goes up in value as it ages. With toy tractors many of them have increased in value, but it’s hard to tell which ones will double, and which ones will end up in the clearance bin. With the precision series almost all of them at the very least will hold their current value, and many go up. For example the first few John Deere 4020s that were produced in the 90’s sold for around $100, I have seen them sell for as much as $500 on ebay.

The good news for someone you know that collects the precision series is that a few new precisions were just released in time for Christmas.

1/16 IH 6588 2 + 2 with rear spacer duals - Precision Key Series #7
1/16 JD 4020 Standard WF Precision Key Series #6
1/16 JD 7020 4WD with cab & duals - Precision Key Series #7 (Due December 28th)

9. 1/16 Big Bud HN-320 – If you know for a fact that a collector in your life likes four wheel drive tractors, then you can be certain that this tractor in on their radar. Being the first tractor in a new Big Bud series this tractor promises to increase in value, and the fact that it was made by universal hobbies means that the detail will be excellent. It is a little more expensive than the rest of the things on this list, but you can be sure it will be whomever receives it their favorite thing under the tree.

8. Storage – What good are all these fabulous tractors if you don’t have a place to put them? Some good ideas for storage containers are:
A. The big Tupperware Christmas ornament boxes. Lucky for us 1/64th scale collectors a toy tractor is similar in size to an ornament, so I am able to squeeze 30-50 tractors in a box.
B. Shelving – Most collectors like to display their treasures so any type of shelves would be great.

7. If they collect big 1/16th scale toys get them a smaller 1/64th scale model (like something in the Ertl Authentic series), and vice-versa if they normally collect the little ones. Usually people have a reason for what they collect, but almost every collector I know strays away from their scale of choice once in a while when their interest is peaked. Also this could become the center piece of their collection or the spawn of a new hobby for them (and God knows that if someone collects toy tractors they need more hobbies).

6. A Pedal Combine – When I was thinking about this one I was going to qualify it by saying, if they are young than they will want a pedal combine, but now that I think of it adult collectors seem to really like these too. These are quite big so it may not be ideal for a collector with space limitations. But if they are under 10 and love farming there is no better gift on this list.

5. Something custom – if you cant think of anything that you favorite collector may not have why not buy them something one of a kind. Farm toy customs have become very popular and sought after. They have a level of detail and quality that are not usually found on shelf models. For the most part customs retain their value, and some of them actually see modest increases depending on the market demand. The trick with customs is finding them. Farm toy shows are the best places to look because you can see what your getting. eBay is a good alternative if there are no shows close to you, you may just have to make a leap of faith. There are websites that sell custom toys so just google it any you might get lucky.

4. Little Men – The railroad collectors have taken detailing to the next level and created miniature people that go on their displays. Although farm toys are rapidly increasing in detail, the “mini-farmers” haven’t made their way fully into the mainstream. So for a few dollars you can buy your collector some little farmers to help out on his/her carpets. These can be found on the internet or any railroad hobby shop.

3. Go to Dyersville Iowa. Why? Because it’s the farm toy capital of the world. The National farm toy museum is there, along with a few factories and the Ertl outlet store. If you’re a fan of awesome architecture the Basilica downtown is straight from a European postcard. Also about an hour east is Galena, IL. There you can see the residence of Ulysses S. Grant, and explore a cool downtown scene with shops that you would expect on Madison avenue in New York and many excellent restaurants. While in Dyersville you will see more toy tractors than you thought was humanly possible, but its small enough to see everything in 1 day (Except for the weekend of the national farm toy show, that takes a few days to sort through).

2. Any of the newest releases:
1. 1/64 John Deere “Snowy” 730 – Comes with a Christmas carol on the back and snow painted on the top of the tractor. Inexpensive and great for Christmas.
2. 1/64 Farmall 706 “Snowy” – Same deal as the Deere
3. 1/64 Spirit of 76’ 2 tractor set from toy tractor times. I haven’t reviewed this set on my site yet but I will and the review will show that these tractors are very nice. Money well spent, and a unique collectable.
4. 1/64 9870 Combine with Draper Head. Before this tractor was released the only way to get the draper head was from the combine set that has since been discontinued. The head was selling for $35 alone before this, now you can have the whole thing for $15.

1. The Case IH 7088 Authentic combine. This is the first authentic form Case IH, and the first combine in the series. The other models that Ertl has made are a John Deere 8530, and a 7930 sprayer. Any of these are good presents, but most likely your collector has the 8530 and the 7930 already, but the 7088 has JUST been released and it is awesome. I inspected a few of them up close at the national show and this is the most detailed and most realistic 1/64th scale combine that has ever been produced. I have seen these advertised for as little as $23.95. This detail in a combine at this price is unheard of, and would make any collector happy this year on the 25th.

So now that you have some ideas your thinking to yourself “Thanks for the ideas Zac but where can I find all these tractors and such?” Here is a list of places I look for tractors, and remember nothing works as well as google.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Questions and Comments

It only took a year, but I finally have enough questions and comments to put up a post containing all of this blog’s comments and questions. If you have a question that you think I could help answer, or your having a tough time finding a specific farm toy, or you dislike my posts, please question or comment on this blog.

I'll start with the most recent and work my way through the past so if you find yourself nodding off at least you’ll have seen the most recent posts.

1. You Tractor – I’m sure if your internet savvy enough to have stumbled upon this site with is devoted to toy tractors you have probably heard of . To my surprise some other devoted carpet farmer out there has created . A site devoted to 100% tractor videos. Sounds good to me.

2. From anonymous: “Hey i was wondering, does the 3-point hitch move up and down unlike the 2007 show tractor?”

There is actually a yes and no answer to this question. The 3-pt hitch is much smaller than last years model, and the bottom part is fixed into place. The top part can move about 30 degrees up or down. So no the whole thing doesn’t move, but yes the top part does move. For practical purposes if you actually mounted an implement to the tractor it would not move up or down.

3. From anonymous: “i like your blog:) do you make tractors?”:
Although I will answer this question I feel like I should point out this post is most likely a thinly veiled attempt from my wife to make me feel like “somebody is out there.”
So yes I have been known to customize and even custom fabricate tractors. I really enjoy the 1/64th scale, but I have worked on a few 1/16th models. I frequently sell some of the items that I have worked on through eBay on this site. Most of what I customize is for my own personal collection, and what I sell is a duplicate or something that I feel like no longer fits my collection. If you are interested in having me make a tractor for you or customize something let me know. I’m not omni-talented but I’m pretty good at a few things.
This also would be an opportune time to tell the readers that are still awake that I am still going to release a special edition

4. From anonymous: “Where's the 1:87 tractors I'm gonna want? :-)”
Uh, I kinda forgot about this post. Back in April I thought I was going to have an abundance of free time and I would crank out toy tractor posts like crazy, but I got busy and 7 months have passed and whoops I didn’t post this article. Actually the impetus for this article was my trip to Europe and the 1/87th tractors I brought back from there. So I will try to get this article out when I can, but I’m going refrain from more empty promises about writing articles. That being said I plan on writing several articles in December.

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