Thursday, October 1, 2020

Shout Out for Otaco Collectors

This is just a short post today, but I wanted to get the word out to any Otaco Minnitoy collectors (or those just interested in the history of Otaco) about J. Alan Johnston's book, recently published. This is a locally produced book, that's been well researched and has taken years to compile ... and if there are still copies available, very definitely worth buying.

The book has over 150 pages, filled with information on the original Otaco toys (did y'all know there were toys other than those big trucks the collectors want), including things like the kids wooden wagon, and the fishing rods. I knew about the watergun, but I didn't know about the fishing rods at all.  When I asked the hubby, he said "oh ya, Uncle Bob used to to have one of those."    Well, I'll be.  That would have been nice to keep just because in the photo in the book, they look a little different than modern rods.

It also provides information on the toys - the manufacturing, differences between early toys and later ones, the colour varieties, the specs for manufacturing ... pretty much everything you could want to know, including a ton of photos and reproductions of early advertising.

Included in the book is some interesting history about Otaco and it's manufacturing in Orillia, so the book has some nice historical references, along with the toy histories.

If you are interested in purchasing a copy of this book you can contact:

J. Alan Johnston

Monday, September 28, 2020

The Upheaval of Toys

New Broadloom

Work  on the toyroom is progressing, albeit a little slower than I would have hoped.

Finally, on Saturday the broadloom was installed. That was after our daughter and son-in-law stopped in to move all the cabinets out into the yard ... it looked like a garage sale with stuff everywhere.

After the carpet was down, we managed to bring in the TV stand and the desk ourselves, and all the drawers that got removed from the cabinets, but we couldn't manage the cabinets ... they got tarped and left outside overnight as we prayed it didn't rain.

Sunday afternoon, the 'kids' stopped by on their way home from their trip and moved them back inside for us. Still ... although everything is in the house, the room hasn't been put together.  We still have to wait for more renos - the baseboards have to be installed, and he's decided to remove the door and front end of the room and make more wall space. On the stair landing (would be left side in the photo) is an opening that used to be a window (the man cave was a garage at one time). We will get that filled in with drywall and small shelving for some of the little toys, hopefully, at the same time the door area is filled in.

The Impassible Mess
I'm praying that won't take too long - I'd like to see it done by the weekend cause, if not, I won't be responsible for what happens, lol.  My livingroom is nearly impassible (yes, impassible, not impossible). The day before we moved the cabinets, I moved all the toys that were in them into the livingroom, and emptied several totes into the TV cabinet in the livingroom.

We managed to put several totes (maybe 6 or 8) in the crawl space next to the toyroom, and he took away more than a dozen empty totes.  

I can handle a little mess, once in a while, but this is more than a little mess.  I think in the long run it isn't such a long time when you consider this should be our last home, forever (well, until nursing home time of course). We moved in at the beginning of December 2019, and from February to May we were in Florida, and by then, when we got home contractors and construction were still not happening, so getting things finished didn't really get started here until mid to late summer.

...and he just left home to go pick up another toy (I know for sure at least one Otaco toy, and maybe two, just don't know if he's picking them both up today).  I'd rather like to see some progress on getting rid of the ones he no longer intends to display before filling up space we don't have yet.

Livingroom Toys

Maybe by the next post we'll have almost completed the moves, but it's doubtful. To get to the complete stage we need to move the TV cabinet in the livingroom into the toy room, along with two cabinets at the far end of the livingroom (hidden right now by the two filing cabinets), and move the TV stand in the toyroom into the livingroom. And we need to treadmill moved out of the toyroom and into the sunroom at the front of the house ... and since that room hasn't been renovated yet, that's going to have to be moved again sometime next year. ugh.

The good news ... tomorrow, they start the new siding on the outside of the house. I'm looking forward to getting that finally done. At least the outside of the house will look awesome as we continue to work on the inside.

To be honest, the inside isn't awful either. It's just a matter of finishing the toyroom. Most of the house has been completely reno'd before we moved in. There is a lot of little stuff left inside that we'd like to finish - replacing some of the ceiling trims (perhaps one room at a time) with crown moulding instead of the skinny trim that's there; we still have some electrical stuff that needs dealt with; I couldn't decide on a backsplash when the kitchen was completed so I didn't install it back in December. I've finally decided what I want, and ordered the subway tile this week. When I can find someone to install it, it will get done.

TV Space and Diningroom (Livingroom is at back of house)


Kitchen and Dining area

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

The Smaller Collections

In our collection we have several collections of smaller toys, and those collections are limited in the number of toys we have (or will have). One of these small collections are of Studebaker models. That collection began way back in the late 1940s when my father-in-law worked at the Studebaker factory. Neither I, nor my husband, know exactly how my father-in-law acquired the first toy, but that car (made of plastic and rubber tires) was a prototype design for the car Studebaker was to build the following year (1950 or 1951). 

It surprises me even more that this car has survived all these years, in basically perfect condition. It isn't terribly detailed, but has a tin insert on the underside, and does have silver coloured bumpers and the typical Studebaker "pointed bullet" front.

Because this car has memories for my husband, he's hung onto it for years, and last year decided to try to find some modern models of it, and ... so began the collection. Not many of them, but enough to display on one shelf. In the photo below, the green car (front left) is the prototype, the remaining cars are newly purchased (the dark red 1950s is essentially the same design as the green car).

This next batch are from The National Motor Museum Mint, and is the Silver Age of Chevrolet Collection. A series of Chevy classics like the 1959 El Camino, and the 1965 Chev Malibu, among others. I'm not sure this is the entire collection of that series, but it he was satisfied with the cars he had, which arrived one car each month. The Shelby GT500 in the front is not part of the Chevy collection, we just had nowhere else to put it right now, nor is the red convertible on the far left.

The last "small" collection are these mix of vehicles in a larger scale than the Chevy collection (this collection is where the where red convertible belongs, and also included but not shown in the picture below is an older model Corvette).

The Odds and Sods 1

 "Odds and Sods" are the toys we have one or two of, but not much in the way of a "collection". Some things just catch the Toyman's eye, and he'll grab them ... for whatever reason.  I have no idea why some of them are included, but ... as the wife, even I can admit some of them are pretty interesting. 

These two are from Richmond Toys - that's a brand I'd never heard of before. They're pretty well made steel toys, much like the Lincoln or Otaco toys. The design is somewhat similar, and the dump truck is a nearly identical design, other than the front end. 

Richmond Tow Truck

Richmond Dump Truck

I haven't been able to find out very much about the Richmond brand toys, other than they were produced in Michigan, during the 1940s - Richmond closed down in 1948. According to this page (Taylor's Old Toy Trucks) the toys use a design that is the same as one produced in Canada, by Ellwood Toys (another Ontario company I have never heard of).  The other interesting thing on that page is that Ellwood purchased the Lincoln dies after Lincoln went out of business.  I need to do some more research on that.  After learning that little bit, I guess it isn't surprising that they resemble Lincoln Toys.

The Heinz metal truck above is from Metalcraft Corp. This truck appears new, or nearly new, except for the metal grill on the front, which appears pretty warn, so if this is an older truck then it's been restored, but looking at the bottom, it's hard to say if it's new or restored.  The body is a light yellowish-beige, but the hubcaps on the tires are olive green (I mean, really the colour of bottled green olives). It seems like an odd choice of colour.  There is another in much worse condition found on the Heritage Auctions site, and they site the toy as being from 1930s. Whether this one is, or is a reproduction, I don't know and haven't time to research right now. Something else to find out!

Another thing I discovered when I found the one on the auction site, is that they had a box for it (the auction I mean). On the box, it says it has real electric lights, but the one we have doesn't appear to have anything at all in the light slot :).

Two additional toys we have are from Structo. One is an oil tanker style, but on the bottom is a wind up key, this being one of the first we acquired.


Structo Wind-up Tanker

And lastly for this post, a Structo Transportation Carrier. I think this was interesting to  him because it came complete with two cars for the carrier. Inside, is a ramp which can be removed to "drive" the cars down from the top or out from the interior. Over all, it's in pretty good shape, and looks to be original condition.

Til next folks ... happy collecting!

Monday, September 14, 2020

After the Move

It's now almost a year (well, actually only 9 months) after we moved into our new place and (sigh) we are still "under construction". I guess I shouldn't be that surprised ... it tends to end up always being that way for us.

We moved into this place December 1st, after it being renovated completely inside for 3 full months, and it still wasn't fully completed. The exterior still needs new siding (working on getting someone for that) and new windows (going into tomorrow (Sept 15) finally, so  yay!), the entry (was actually called a sunroom in the listing but we won't be using it as that, but as the entry hall) has not had anything done as yet (probably have to wait til spring now) and the man-cave (ie: the toy room) is still waiting on it's floor (carpeting - on order, so yay again) and a proper handrail for the stairs.

What the room used to be was a garage ... it's  been converted with an entry door, window, and sliding door out to what eventually will be a ground level deck. That was a much bigger job than we expected because the outer wall supports and wood turned out to be rotten and ant-infested so we had an entire exterior wall to replace.

It's also been tough to decide what furniture is actually needed in that room so some purchased things got re-homed to other people, and there is still at least one piece that will eventually see the same end (the TV stand - very nice piece, but the TV will go on his cabinets, and the cabinets are useful to house the toys).

 I'm also hoping to talk him into selling off the treadmill ... there's really no room out there for it, and to keep it means we'd have to put it into the entry hall taking up most of the entry. I guess we'll see what happens to that once his toy cave is finished.

I'm hoping by Christmas it will look awesome (and all the totes will be gone!).  He's still in the process of selling off some of the stuff he doesn't feel inclined to keep any longer, and he's given things to our nephews and grandsons, and even donated boxes of toys (still in packages) to charity drives and people in need (bless his heart!). 

Still, there are an awful lot of toys to go through and unpack and make decisions on ... and strangely, I'm noticing toys in the cabinets that I haven't seen before. I wonder why?

He's just begun to unpack some of his Supertest toys ... this picture shows a very few of them, much of them still in boxes.  And I think he has a bunch of the First Gear Supertest (no boxes) that he's going to sell (because they are duplicates of what he has).

I guess we'll see what comes of that in the near future.