When toy collectors think ‘farm toys’, they think Ertl. Since the mid-1940s, the Ertl Toy company has established itself as the finest farm-toy maker in the die-cast toy world, creating miniaturised vehicles that present a high level of realistic detail at a small size.
These toys became a great success and allowed Ertl to expand into merchandising several different vehicle-related toys that have become popular around the world.
The Ertl die-cast car legacy began in the Dubuque, Iowa basement of Fred J. Ertl, Sr. in 1945. A German immigrant who had learned die-casting techniques in his homeland, Ertl decided to use these skills to create die-cast toys modelled after farm equipment for his children.
When work became scarce, Ertl decided to turn his toy-making into a business. He obtained licenses from John Deere and International Harvester to make miniaturised versions of their farm equipment, using their original blueprints to capture all the real-life details of these trucks at a scale-model size.
The initial toys did well and led to Ertl’s moving his business from the basement to a building on Dubuque’s west side. In 1959, Fred Ertl moved his fast-growing business to Dyersville, Iowa.
The company has remained there ever since and has also added branches around the world in places like Canada, the United Kingdom, Italy and Hong Kong. Meanwhile, the Ertl toy line has expanded to include model kits and collector’s vehicles.
Ertl Toys continues to be one of the Top-10 toy companies in the US. Their toys, past and present, are big favourites on the collector market. There are even collectors who specialise in specific lines of Ertl toys, and this has led to the formation of several Ertl collectors’ clubs all over the world.
The continued success and popularity of these toys are proof positive that Ertl’s vehicles continue to be among the finest in the die-cast world.