By Dee Goerge Note: This feature is in the June TT&C 2014 issue.
Neil set up a portion of his collection for a toy show in Aberdeen, S.D.
This Tootsie Toy Dairy truck is from the late ’20s. It’s the old cast-iron Mack series semi in Neil’s collection.
Neil prefers to keep his toys in their “played with” condition.
Neil was happy to find a new van with a trailer in a box (top box), complete with doors. The larger box is for a 1947 K5 International that included a set of three trailers. Neil purchased the pieces separately from the box.
Like father. Like son. Neil Rogers seems to have inherited the collecting bug from his father, Doug. Since Doug had sold Minneapolis-Moline farm equipment for 20 years, his first interest was in collecting toy tractors. With a couple of brothers in trucking, he started collecting trucks also. Neil followed suit. “We both were collecting a little bit of everything, and then we found ourselves bidding against each other,” Neil recalled. That’s when Neil decided to collect small-scale trucks and leave the tractors and bigger scale toys for his father. Spacewise it was a good decision. Thirty years later, about 80 percent of Neil’s 150-toy collection fits in a 10-foot antique showcase with a glass front. The “stars” of his collection are 70 Tootsietoy semis, mostly from 1947 to the late ’50s. Though they aren’t the oldest Tootsietoy models, they attract attention when Neil takes them to shows around his Huron, S.D., home. “The older men say they remember playing with them when they were kids. The younger ones are impressed with the quality of that old of a toy,” Neil said.
Diehard for Die-cast Back in the ’80s the 1/50 and 1/43 scale die-cast toys were easy to find at flea markets, auctions and toy shows. “I like the die-cast because they’re the same vintage as I am,” Neil said with a laugh. “And they were plentiful and inexpensive—usually $2-$5. They are in ‘played with’ condition.” Besides Tootsietoys, he has old Ralstoy and Matchbox toys—including a few he had when he was a kid. He also buys newer die-cast toys made by SIKU, Tonkin, Shinsei and First Gear. When Ertl came out with 1/43 scale tractors in the mid-’80s, Neil couldn’t resist buying some of them to put on his Tootsietoy flatbeds. It turned into a collecting dilemma. If he had an extra tractor, he needed another truck, and when he had an empty truck, he needed another tractor. Besides tractors, Neil purchased Tootsietoy 3-inch cars for some of his trucks. He filled a stake body trailer with cattle, hogs and sheep also made by Tootsietoy.
Trucks for Every Job “Tootsietoys were well-built and they had four major cab designs that actually resembled vehicles that were on the road,” he said. They were styled after a couple of International and Mack series trucks and a Chevrolet cabover truck, for example. Neil’s colorful collection includes gas trucks, milk trucks, car haulers, wrecking trucks, cement trucks, moving trucks, dry vans, grain trucks, stock trucks and ladder trucks.
Want to read the rest of the story? It's available in the June TT&C 2014 magazine! Download here: JUNE TT&C 2014