Note: This feature is in the Aug. TT&C 2012 issue.
Dean and Carol Riessen stand by a display case chock-full of 1:64 scale truck models.
A 1:16 scale Ford cabover antique tractor pulling truck.
This 1:64 scale Wilson live-bottom grain trailer was customized by Dean Riessen with assistance from Martie Robinson. The power unit is a Volvo truck. Note also the roll-tarp cover on the trailer.
These are 1:64 scale Tyler tender trucks: (left to right) 379 Peterbilt and Freightliner cabover, both customized by Dean Riessen.
This 1:64 scale Pacer feed unit is mounted on a two-axle 385 Peterbilt truck, a custom model by Dean.
Other stories in the Aug. TT&C 2012 are:
• First Gear 20 Years of Innovation, Resourcefulness and Quality Replicas by Mark Macreading
• Jeff Silver, An Awesome Die-cast Guy by Diana West
• ATHS Show Report by Mark Macreading
Farm toy collecting is a natural evolution when you grew up on the farm. With Dean Riessen’s farm background and interest in farming, he began collecting farm toys in 1983. After amassing a sizable collection, Dean and Carol Riessen started selling farm toys. This hobby/enterprise lasted for a good 15 years.
When the Riessens offered their goods at farm toy shows, they saw the growing opportunity with toy trucks, particularly 1:64 scale. They soon switched from farm toys and climbed aboard the exciting toy truck bandwagon. Dean and Carol have been selling small truck replicas ever since.
Dean and Carol Riessen reside in Spencer, Iowa. Located in the northwest Iowa county of Clay, Spencer is truly America’s Heartland. The Visitor’s Bureau touts the community’s pace as leisurely, yet progressive…a wave, a smile and a friendly hello are commonplace, even among strangers.
George E. Spencer gave his name to the city of Spencer in 1859. Nearly 20 years later, the first railroad was built through the black fertile prairie land of Spencer. In less than a year, the settlement grew from 300 people to a bustling town of 1,000. The current population hovers around 12,000.
The Clay County Agriculture Society was organized in 1879. Through the efforts of the Agriculture Society, the Clay County Fair Association was formed in 1917. Since the founding of the fair, it has evolved over time into the Greatest County Fair in the World. The nine-day fair held in September attracts more than a quarter of a million visitors.
A disastrous fire in July 1931 destroyed most of the business district. The fire was reportedly caused by a youngster who dropped a burning sparkler into a box of fireworks. The civic-minded spirit of Spencer that flourishes yet today came together and rebuilt the business district into one of the most attractive communities in Iowa.
Dean grew up on the family farm near Hartley, Iowa. Like most Iowa farms in those times, a variety of crops were raised to support their dairy herd of 35 Holstein cows.
“I was involved in most youth activities during high school, including track. Our field work was completed with a variety of tractor brands, including Farmall, Massey-Harris along with a Massey Ferguson. I also helped the neighbors in the spring with their planting. I returned in the fall to help those same neighbors take their crops out.
“Most of my toys as a youngster were farm tractors. I hung on to my favorite toy, a 1:16 scale John Deere Model 620 tractor with loader, that I later restored. I always liked those old farm toy tractors. My lingering interest in tractors got me started in collecting farm-related belt buckles and farm toy models later in life,” Dean reflected.
When Dean graduated from high school, the U.S. Military draft program was in effect. Six months following graduation, Dean was called into active service with the Army. Following basic training, he was deployed to Vietnam in February 1966, just prior to his 21st birthday.
Later that year, Dean was severely injured in combat. He underwent extensive medical treatment, along with an extended period of rehabilitation. This resulted in meritorious service recognition with an honorable discharge.
“Following my military discharge in 1967, I returned home and started working for Monsanto. C-D Farm Service of Hartley, Iowa, bought Monsanto in 1969, so I continued working for that business. Carol and I married in 1969 and moved to Spencer.
“I commuted the short distance to Hartley and worked as an operation manager where I applied fertilizer and chemicals. I retired from the Hartley farm business with 32 years of service. Prior to retiring, I started collecting the belt buckles and farm toys. As we were living in Spencer, we launched our business from there,” he recalled.
Want to read the rest of the story? It's available in the August TT&C 2012 magazine!
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