Farm toy tractors have been on the market since the 1920's. In the 1970's they became the focus of many serious collectors. Today the hobby is enjoyed by children and adults alike. There are many reasons given for collecting farm toys. Modelers create miniature farm scenes, and serious collectors focus on everything from one brand of tractors to whatever catches their eye. 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 farm implements are mass produced die-cast models manufactured by Ertl, Scale Models and Spec-Cast. Other companies such as Little buster Toys produce farm toys that work in conjunction with the tractors made by Ertl and Scale Models.
The most popular toy tractor brands available are John Deere, Case IH (International Harvester, Case & Farmall), New-Holland/Ford and AGCO (Allis Chalmers, Massey Ferguson, Massey Harris, Minneapolis-Moline, Gleaner, White and Oliver). 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 a whole farm.
The four most common versions of farm toy replicas are the: shelf model, collector edition, precision and pedal tractor. These versions vary by length of manufacture and detail of the model. A shelf model tractor 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 only a specific quantity are produced which raises its value. Over the last couple of decades the collector edition tractors have also been called: limited editions, dealer editions, and prestige series tractors. Precision series tractors are the best of the best and are highly detailed with wires, hoses, hitches, movable levers, detailed engines, and are released in a numbered series. The precision line of tractors are popular with many serious collectors. Last but not least the pedal tractors are the ride-on versions of new and vintage tractors, and are often handed down thru a family as keepsakes.
The most common scales of the farm toy replicas are 1/8, 1/16, 1/25, 1/32, 1/43, 1/50, 1/64 and 1/87. Most U.S. farm toy 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 4WD or large modern tractor replica will be larger than this. The scale that is most popular in Europe and is also sold in the US is 1/32 scale. A collector with limited display space may choose to collect 1/64 scale which is the most common smaller version. As a result of their popularity the widest selection of toy tractors and implements available in the US are the 1/16 and 1/64 scales.