Note: This feature is in the Jan. TT&C 2018 issue.
Mike Randall with his 1938 Master Metal Railway Express truck.
This month’s cover of Toy Trucker & Contractor depicts “Christmas 1937,” as New York collector Mike Randall shares some of the rare and unique toys in his collection. Here, he spotlights some of his favorites, starting with the classic toys featured on the cover from 1937, when the United States was in the midst of an economic downturn during the Great Depression.
On the cover
The toys featured are two classic 1937 Buddy L International Harvester trucks. One is an Army truck version painted olive drab green, pulling a trailer with a canvas cover. The other is a Navy truck version painted battleship gray. Both trucks were acquired from the original owner, Dave Eastman of Ithaca, N.Y., who wanted both toys to stay together. They were purchased Dec. 23, 2016.
The three-wheel scooter where the little girl is seated has an interesting story and is a rare piece. The scooter is a 1937 Barr, manufactured by the Barr Typewriter Corporation, Weedsport, N.Y., my hometown. The Barr company produced three-wheeled and two-wheeled scooters from 1936-1938. The scooter is in excellent condition and all original.
The Old Brutus Historical Society’s museum is located across the street from the location of the Barr factory. My wife and I have discussed with museum officials about donating the Barr scooter to the museum for its final resting place. The scooter was purchased from a collector in Missouri about 10 years ago.
Railway Express Truck
Master Metal toys were manufactured in Buffalo, N.Y., for only one year, in 1938. Master Metal was an old steel appliance manufacturer. It mainly focused on making heavy metal cabinets, garbage cans, toolboxes and other items. The toy trucks it made were a dump, stake rack, coal dump, streamlined van body and the most scarce, a fuel tanker truck. The Holland Steel Co. of Holland, N.Y., took over the toy truck line in 1939 and possibly into 1940. The Holland toys used much lighter metal and I do not believe many survived.
The Master Metal toy trucks are extremely scarce, especially the 1938 Railway Express truck and this one is totally complete. I purchased this truck from a collector in Avon, N.Y., on Aug. 24 and the only things missing were the headlight bulbs. I was frantically trying to find small threaded bulbs the day before the photo shoot. I finally found them at an electrical store and my afternoon was a success after placing the D-cell battery in its position and the lights came on.
A couple of colleague collectors and I were studying the cab design, and we all agreed the cab was patterned after an early Fageol cabover.