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Monday, February 24, 2020
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Farm toys range from sandbox to curio cabinet

Replicas of the real thing, it’s the detail that decides if they’re meant to be played with or go straight into the collection

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There’s something markedly human about collecting. Whether it’s curious baubles found at the market, extravagant paintings worth small fortunes, that mug that says “world’s greatest dad” or a souvenir from a family vacation, it seems a natural compulsion we share to seek out unique and interesting things and put on display for others to see.

In the rural areas, the item of choice has a distinctly local flavour. Head to any of the nearby farm equipment dealers in the area, and  many will carry life-like and intricate replicas of the massive machinery that dots the farmland in the townships.

“Well it’s all John Deere, first of all. Anything from 1/64th, which is the smallest one, all the way up to your 1/16th scale precision models,” says Kyle Bosomworth, parts consultant at the Premier Equipment Ltd. in Elmira, and an avid collector of the John Deere models himself.

“[It’s] the thrill of the hunt for some of the items,” says Bosomworth of his passion for collecting. “It’s a little bit of everything. I worked at an auction house, so I picked up a few things there. And go to other auctions just to see what I find.”

There’s a wide range of reasons people pick up miniatures, he notes, and a corresponding range in quality, going from plastic toys on one hand to the high-end, rarified collector’s items manufactured with hard metals and lifelike authenticity.

“So they would have different levels of quality they would produce,” says Brad Lang, parts manager at the Stoltz Sales and Service, which carries its own line of models in the company’s signature red scheme. “So some are produced at kind of a play-toy quality. And then there are some that are produced at a significantly higher detail.”

“We have a few of those people that want the latest, but then there’s also some that will come in and they’ll have three or four kids. And to keep them all happy and to keep them from fighting, they all get the same toy,” notes Bosomworth.

On the other end, the value for the toys could easily run into the thousands.

“We’ve got one that’s coming up for sale, it’s a 1/16th scale S-780 Combine available in the spring of 2020,” says Bosomworth. But at $1,110, picking this little yet weighty die-cast item is not an inexpensive purchase, and not an impulse buy.

The demand for collector’s items has dipped significantly in recent years, note the equipment dealers, which the miniatures not generating the same level of enthusiasm amongst younger customers.

“Without a doubt it has. It’s not what it once was,” says Lang. “The younger generations can’t really afford it.”

Naturally, the monetary value of the rare collector’s items – one of the attractions of collecting – has also taken a hit, making the initial investment an even costlier proposition.

“I’ve been to the auction sales and they don’t bring the money they used to. But if you get the collectible toys that are not as high production, then they still bring good value,” says Bosomworth.

Those interested in seeking out the local memorabilia on offer can check any of the equipment dealers in town, or search through their catalogues for the latest. Whether it’s a plaything to stick in the sandbox, or a prized possession locked behind a sheet of glass, there’s a good selection to be browsed.

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