Otaco

Otaco Minnitoys have become the Toyman's most recent craze. Honestly, this is one toy collection that makes sense. These toys were made here in our town by a company just about everyone has heard of. There is a history behind the creation of these toys, but the time period for the production of Otaco toys was relatively short if compared with other toy makers. That's because the factory that made them really wasn't a toy factory. It was a foundry. (See: Orillia Heritage).

One of the first toys they made was the construction set, several of which we have.

One of the first toys offered by Otaco was this construction set.
The shovel can be found for sale fairly often (usually somewhere between $150 and $275 depending on the condition), but that extra piece to the right is apparently pretty rare. I think some minnitoy collectors might not even be aware it exists, and we certainly didn't. He acquired that piece from a fella doing a little repair and restoration on one of his other vehicles. The shovel can be found in different colours as well - I've seen green, yellow, blue and the red one we have. Be careful what you pay when purchasing one of these - some have the bucket/shovel part missing, and so the pricing on those should be a lot less than the price for one that's complete.

There is a newsletter from 1948 (June 26th, marked as "Children's Day) that shows the shovel issued as a kit. The kit is titled "Buildo Shovel and Crane", and billed as a constructive toy that children receive in pieces and build into the shovel/crane. This kit-toy doesn't show the side panels, so I don't know if they came with it or not. It is noted that it is built of "heavy gauged steel" with an "infra-red baked enamel" finish.

Another advertisement titles the one we have as a "Minnitoy Shovel and Crane" (the photo does show the side panels in the pre-built toy) and notes that it is finished in "assorted colors" (yeah, they use the American spelling for color in the page) with the same infra-red baked enamel. The photo also shows a small wire turn handle on the crane upright, with a small wooden knob, and it's set into a spot that we assumed would be for another string. (Sorry, I don't own the old newsletter pages, but you can find them on Orillia Heritage Center's Facebook page.)

The dozer and wagon are fairly easy to acquire too, although the bulldozer sometimes doesn't have the shovel attachment, and isn't always sold with the wagon. The bulldozer comes in different colours too - this one is a dark red/maroon colour, but we also have one (minus the shovel) that's yellow with black lettering. It too has the wagon attachment. There is another piece that is meant to sit between the bulldozer and the wagon - a grader. We don't have that yet, but the Toyman is on the hunt for one.

A steel minnitoy truck in red and yellow with the sand and gravel logo on the dump; these toys were produced in Orillia, Ontario by Otaco.



The balance of his Otaco toys (so far) consist of trucks - several tankers (Fina, Sunoco, BA, Shell and Esso), a few tractor trailers, and a handful of smaller trucks, some of which could be displayed with the construction toys, like the Sand & Gravel truck, or the Department of Highways truck.


A yellow Dept. of Highways trucked produced by Otaco in Orillia.


An Otaco minnitoy dump truck with the coal and wood logo, made in Orillia, Ontario.

One of the smaller minnitoy trucks, this one with Beaver Lumber logos.


Finding paper information on the toys Otaco produced is almost as hard (maybe even more difficult) as finding the trucks themselves. We did find a couple of small pieces - one was a newspaper article showing the Minnitransport tractor trailer (a toy he hasn't acquired yet, although they are out there), but there is unfortunately, no date on that. The other is a news letter titled "Bartaco Year Book, 1962) and includes a short paragraph about the Minitoys, and shows the White Rose Oil tanker (another one he's looking for). Oh, and about "Bartaco" ... I don't think a lot of people would recognize that as "Otaco", but for an explanation see (history of Otaco). That change occurred in 1961, so the  year before the newsletter we have came out.



A BA oil tanker steel toy made by Otaco in Orillia, commonly known as minnitoys.

...more photos to come.

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