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 (the elevator) 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.
 
(Note - he managed to find himself a new elevator, one in much better shape than the previous one, and it includes the carrier bucket on it. He's pretty happy about that!)

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.

The Otaco Minnitoy grader that goes between the dozer and the hopper.


EDIT: We finally managed to find the grader, so now the dozer set is complete! (Not exactly pristine, but at least he has one, and will be looking for one in better condition.)

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.
He was pretty lucky in finding the Beaver Lumber truck - it's one of the more difficult ones to find now.

 
The Minnitoy aboveis another of the construction toys, waiting for it's logo. This one, although it's similar to the fuels and the Department of Highways truck has a wider box than the others.
 
 
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.

Another EDIT notation - he finally managed to get himself the Minnitransport tractor trailer for the collection. Seemed something he should have since we have the advertising page!

The red Minnitransport tractor was soon followed by the blue one. This truck I believe also comes in green, but we haven't seen one of those yet.


A BA oil tanker steel toy made by Otaco in Orillia, commonly known as minnitoys.
So finally, some of the "more photos to come" are ready to be posted. In all truth, partly, I've been lazy about adding stuff and some of the toys just weren't in a place that was totally accessible. We're planning a home move so now some of the toys are ready to be packed up for storage until we find a new home so I managed to grab a few more pictures of the ones already acquired, and two that were in the completion stages for refurb. For those, he has the wheels, they just haven't been put back on.

An Otaco Minnitoy with the Fina gas logo.

The white stuff that looks like it's part of the A in Fina is not part of the truck - it's a flash reflection.

The Sunoco gas tanker from Otaco.

A red and yellow Otaco Minnitoy tanker bearing the Shell gas logo.

There are a couple of others unfinished at the moment - one waiting it's logos (Toronto Star, dark blue one) and Essex foods, waiting to have it wheels put back on. 

Essex Quality Foods Otaco Minnitoy Truck

Essex is waiting to have the wheels/tires put on, and the door logos.

Very dark blue tractor trailer with no logos or wheels.

This one (above) is a very dark blue and is the Toronto Star tractor trailer. Yeah, I know it looks black in the picture but it isn't.  He had the logos applied to that one, so here is a picture with the logos on (looks blue at least) ... but I'm wondering why there are no wheels on the back. I know he has them ... for that matter, he purchased a bunch of rubber tires for these this past spring (oh, which I just found sitting in a plastic bag on his desk, hahaha).
 

 
The collection wouldn't be complete without the Texaco Tractor Trailer either. This is one of the most popular Otaco toys.

Otaco toy's Texaco tractor trailer.
The truck below is one of the earliest ones he purchased. It's the Esso truck, and although it's in the same condition he found it in, this one is probably in the worst condition of all the ones he owns. It hasn't been restored, and unless we are able to find new logos, it may not be restored. The only place on the truck where you can read the logo is on the back; the two side logos are nearly gone.
The Canada Packers Minnitoy is one that has been restored and for some reason, one that he really wanted.

This last one on the page (so far) is the Auto Wrecker Minnitoy. It's one he's been wanting to find for quite a while and that was more difficult to get his hands on. He finally found one, but to be honest ... I'm wondering if it's the only one he's going to have. The tow truck came in a variety of colours - the one he has is red, but I've seen it in a lighter green and a light blue, and I believe an orange.  There is something about tractor trailers and tow trucks that seems to captivate him ... it must be a guy thing :)



... and that's not all of them. There are several others I haven't been able to get at in order to take photos, so yeah, there are still more to come on this page.
 
Oops, one more. The Supertest tanker.
 

 
 
 

5 comments:

  1. Nice. The only one I have myself is the Irving Tractor Trailer but now I see why it was getting so many messages when it was in the background of a photo of some Rack Mount audio gear I was selling on Kijiji 😄

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  2. Nice. The only one I have myself is the Irving Tractor Trailer but now I see why it was getting so many messages when it was in the background of a photo of some Rack Mount audio gear I was selling on Kijiji 😄

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  3. I have a Tippet-Richardson Minnitoy Semi Truck which I was given back in the 1960's. It is in used condition but still a good looking Otaco toy. Anyone interested?

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    1. You didn't leave a contact but I sent my husband a message about your minnitoy. He's out of town for a few days, but if you want to leave some sort of contact option for him, leave a reply to this and I won't post the comment publicly, but I can send him your contact details.

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    2. Can you send me soon info. This the toy collector. I may be interested in it . TY Ron [ Toyman ]

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