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Toy farm tractors have been on the market since the 1920's. In the 1970's they became the focus of many serious collectors. As a result children no longer dominate the hobby of toy tractor collecting. The hobby is enjoyed today by children and adults alike. There are many reasons given for collecting farm toys. Modelers create miniature farm scenes; serious collectors focus on everything from one brand of model to antiques. Invariably the most common reason for collecting farm toys is nostalgia. Often for the machinery that was used on the family farm.
Most toy tractors and other farm toys are mass-produced die-cast models manufactured by Racing Champions Ertl, Scale Models and Spec-Cast.
The most popular tractor brands available are John Deere, Case IH (International Harvester), Ford New-Holland and AGCO, which includes Massey Ferguson, Gleaner, Allis Chalmers, and Oliver . Older models like Minneapolis-Moline and Farmall are also available. Collectors are not limited to farm toy tractors alone, many implements and accessories are also available. Barns, grain bins and even animals can be found to recreate the whole farm.
The four most common versions of tractors are the: shelf model, collector edition, precision and pedal tractor. These versions vary by length of manufacture and detail of the model. The shelf model is usually manufactured over a period of several years and is not as valuable as a limited or collector edition toy. The limited or collector editions are limited to a one time order or a specific quantity produced which raises its value. The precision series are a toy replica that is highly detailed with wire and filters on the model and is released in a numbered series. The precisions are popular with many serious collectors. Pedal tractors are the ride-on versions of new and vintage tractors.
The most common scales of the replicas are 1/8, 1/16, 1/25, 1/32, 1/43, 1/50, 1/64 and 1/87. Most hobbyists collect the 1/16 scale model which is a model that measures one inch for every sixteen inches of a real tractor or implement. This translates to a model or a standard tractor that is roughly five to seven inches tall and seven to ten inches long. However, a collector with limited display space may collect the 1/64 scale which is the most common smaller version. As a result of this popularity the widest selection of toy tractors are available in the 1/16th and 1/64th scales.
The littlest tractor enthusiasts are not forgotten. John Deere has recently developed an entire line of kids toys. The John Deere Kids line includes unique toy books, push and roll tractors, kid size lawn tool toys and ride on rumble wheels.