Note: This feature is in the July TT&C 2017 issue.
After accessorizing this truck, Anthony photographed it on his field display board at a local state park to capture the fall colors.
Anthony customized this truck with different wheels and tires, and added a snowplow. Using his snow display board, he took this photo while it was actually snowing to capture the effect.
Anyone who stumbles onto Willis & Son Customs on Facebook might think it is a site for a business that customizes semitrucks. Tastefully detailed semitrucks and trailers are photographed on highways and rural roads. Viewers need to read the page’s description to learn that the photos showcase 1/64 scale toys.
The person behind the page is Anthony Martinez, 38, of Walkersville, Md. The “son” part of the page refers to his 16-year-old son, Dylan, who has been part of Anthony’s collecting and customizing hobby.
Collecting trucks naturally evolved for Anthony, who grew up working on dairy farms and playing with farm toys as a kid. At 18, he “wanted the freedom of being out of the office and on the road” and started driving truck for a living. He qualified for his license by working with a fire department. Over two decades, he has driven a variety of rigs. When he’s not driving, he enjoys collecting, customizing and photographing toy trucks.
On the road
Within a couple of years of starting to drive professionally, Anthony started seriously collecting. Often what he drove influenced his choices for collecting.
“When I really started collecting, I was pulling a tanker for filling pools, so I have a lot of tankers,” Anthony says. Though collecting buddies tease him that they are milk tankers, Anthony explains that he used the milk tankers as water tankers.
“One I customized, a Die-Cast Promotions Peterbilt 379, is close to what I drove,” Anthony says, pointing to a dark red truck with a water tanker on the frame he stretched.
He has a variety of other tankers as well, including food-grade tankers and fuel tankers, which he also hauled.
“Now I pull a walking floor and haul mulch and woodchips,” Anthony says, so he has added many walking floor trucks to his collection.
The miniature trucks are good therapy after hectic workdays driving in the heavy traffic around Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Virginia. Beyond the traffic challenge, many sites he delivers to are typically on uneven ground, but the walking floor works well for unloading, he says.
On the ’Net
Altogether, Anthony has about 150 scale models, including trucks, pickups, farm toys, and rescue and highway department vehicles by Die-Cast Promotions, Ertl, GreenLight and M2 Machines. He purchased many of them through eBay on the Internet and through die-cast collector businesses. One of his favorite companies is the Mini Chrome Shop, owned by toy dealer Jimmy Rosenberger Jr.
“I buy them new or used—it depends on the price,” he says. “Over the years, I’ve dialed it down to my favorite colors—blue and orange. I also favor Peterbilt trucks.”
He adds that one group of trucks in his collection took awhile to find, but he’s managed to collect all 10 Wilkens walking floor trucks, which are Peterbilt, Kenworth and International trucks.
“I have a Safeway tanker because my grandfather worked for them as a butcher,” Anthony adds. “Another truck has Rudy Trucking on it—a local company. A lot of them (toys) have a reason why I bought them.”
He keeps his trucks in showcases and curio cabinets throughout his home—in his bedroom, family room and basement.