By Fred Hendricks Note: This feature is in the Nov. TT&C 2014 issue.
Patrick Russell, All American Toy Company owner, is shown standing next to one of the company’s historic dies. The truck is an unfinished early version Ford.
Patrick Russell is shown with his brothers circa 1957 in Onalaska, Wash. Having worked in the logging industry, trucks provided jobs for later years. Patrick has all these trucks in his collection.
This 1947 Timber Toter log truck shows the early rectangle logo on the door. The 1:12 scale sand-cast cab was built on a single axle, painted with yellow wheels and a sand-cast trailer. Note also the unique steering mechanism on the truck hood.
The dump truck followed the Timber Toter and was built using the same Ford cab, including the steering device. The truck was known as the “Dyna Dump.”
Patrick Russell, owner of All American Toy Company, described his company, “We are entirely American with toy trucks manufactured and built in America. And while American collectors have a passion for our quality trucks, they’re appreciated around the world as well.” The roots of All American Toy Company can be traced to Clay and Beth Steinke who founded the firm in 1947. The company was launched in Salem, Ore., where it remains still. The All American boy of those years loved to play with trucks. Consequently, Clay envisioned a large heavy-duty toy truck; one that could endure extensive play, year after year, and still hold together. Kids of that era coveted the attractive and macho truck Ford was building. Steinke modeled his toy after a Ford cab from the late 1940s, using it as the foundation of his truck. The material of choice for the cab was heavy sand-cast aluminum. Toy trucks of this time could not be steered. All American, however, developed the means to maneuver its toy truck by inserting a steering mechanism through a brass air horn on top of the hood. This became known as the “Air Horn Steering” device. This unique feature helped the truck become very popular with children. In keeping with a durable toy, All American built the rugged frame using steel, welded for additional strength. The truck had a walking beam suspension, rubber tires and the sand-cast aluminum cab. High demand for the truck ensued. This consumer popularity required the fabrication of dies in the late 1940s which increased production and maintained consistent quality. At the height of their business, All American employed 27 people.
Company Evolution As the company’s second decade unfolded, All American produced several different truck styles to accompany the Ford cab. In 1956, competition dictated that All American offer a lower-priced toy truck. Refusing to compromise its high quality, the company chose to close its doors. In May of 1990, Bill Hellie and his son, Chip, purchased All American Toys from the original founders after it lay idle for three decades. They immediately released three limited edition trucks. The models included: 15 Bales and Brady tow trucks, eight tankers and seven log trucks. This production run consumed the remaining original stock that laid waiting in the warehouse. “These trucks were special editions, all with original parts and hand assembled. We put serial numbers on every one. And, they sold out instantly,” Chip Hellie said.
Want to read the rest of the story? It's available in the November TT&C 2014 magazine! Download here: APRIL TT&C 2014