Michael Litvack's Toy Cars and Trucks


Little boys collect. Little boys grow up to be big boys... And they still collect. Ask a thousand people, and a thousand answers will spew out. In my case, collecting toys was simply an off shoot of collecting, period. In the late 50's, I inherited about 20 Big Band 78's from a soldier uncle of mine, who felt his youth had been lost overseas. I loved what I heard, and started buying used record at 10 cents a piece, then by the pound, cutting out the need to count each record... and I was on my way. No Buddy Holly, no Beatles, no rock and roll...just swing, and the history that went with it! In University, my degrees were in history, and I found that music reflected the changing attitudes and mores of the decades. With my first house, came space, and how to fill it. The cheapest way was with used/junk/pseudo antique furniture. Room after room was filled up with Victorian, Jacobean, deco...whatever I could buy, refinish, and sometimes sell. This lead to touring antique shops and welfare stores, always learning as I went. Records lead to Gramophones and Victrolas, and into radios; wood, bakelite, Tombstones, waterfalls. Somewhere along the way, toy trucks caught my eye in the antique shops. Prices were sky high, and the demand far exceeded the supply. These were used as "décor" pieces to highlight a hutch, a golden oak bookcase, or just as a conversation piece. I had to have one, too. A Lincoln sand truck from the late forties was my first. The type that I didn't have as a little boy, but now could. A second came along, and 2 looked great on a shelf...but three would look even better! As a child, toys were scarce. but big cars were everywhere. The late 40's saw the explosion in design, and a rebirth in car and truck numbers. I fell in love with cars then, knowing every model and style. Toys just filled in the gap in the wanting and having. When I began to paint, my wife suggested that I put a car into every painting: to make it easy to recognize one of my works...a car or a bicycle, and so I've done it. Toy collecting allows a person to dream and imagine the history of each piece: my cars are not perfect, no 10's, just the culmination of many children's hands pushing them across a hardwood floor. Many of my buys have separate stories attached, but...thatís another story.

Michael Litvack

When I saw a few pictures of Michael's collection I just had to write this page.
The toys shown are just a small sample of the total collection. I hope you enjoy looking at these as much as I did before writing the page.




Not only does Michael collect toy cars and trucks, he collects almost anything that he can.
This picture is a 1905 Dining room with all the decorative pieces to match the time frame...
For those interested in TOY CARS, let me explain how and why I divided the vehicles into 4 separate categories. Everyone knows of Tonka, Hot Wheels, Matchbox, Corgi, Majorette, amongst others. For example brand names such as Coca Cola,( the leader in historical toys), the various oil companies, such as Shell, Esso, Fina, know  how important it is to introduce brand loyalty at a young consumer. Toys are a big business: only recently it was revealed that Mattel produced more "vehicles" than General Motors, and made a lot more money in the process. In collecting, brand identification with logos result in the toy being more valuable than a plain steel façade. This name recognition multiplies the value if 2 key features are combined...eg. Coca Cola  Trucks and the Olympics, as there are collectors for both categories. All this now brings me to my 4 categories. Other collectors may adhere to just one of the four groups, or to just one advertised company...but that is what makes life interesting, and opens up the world of trading and exchanging.

The process of pouring hot metal into a die  to make a casting will result in a simple shape without great detail. Dinky was one of the first commercial companies that featured Miniatures in 1933. These cars and trucks were to be accessories for the model railroad displays, The body was riveted on to a chassis which also held the bumpers. Tires and wheels were separate components. Lights, chrome trim were painted on to the one-piece body. Matchbox, Corgi, amongst others joined the parade, with Hot Wheels taking over leadership gradually in the late 1960's. Most of the present Diecast are plastic , with the detailing mostly done with decals and stickers. The scale can vary depending upon the manufacturer, with the size ranging from 3/4 inch to 6 inches.
Tootsie toys of Chicago,one of United States' first companies, produced tiny vehicles about one inch. In the picture section, look for 2 very small steel cast cars produced in the 1940ís as a gift surprise for Cracker Jack popcorn.

Pressed Steel
These are the giants of the toy world. Strips of metal are bent into various shapes, just like the real, full size cars. They are then welded, screwed, or riveted to form the body. Of the car or truck. The metal parts, once assembled,are either dip painted or spray painted, bringing reality to the piece. On the giant tractors and trailors, advertising for various companies are silk screened or applied with vinyl signage. The older cars and trucks of this sort also had people  and windows stamped on the appropriate locations. Germany and Japan were leaders in this field, with the earliest examples demanding a high price.The Minnitoy Company of Canada produced oil tankers  that were strong enough to hold a child, measuring up to 30 inches long. The best known examples of this category are Lincoln, Tonka, Buddy L, and Structo. Tonka derived its name from a town in Minnesota called Lake Minnetonka: beginning as a toy garden producer, production was shifted to a few trucks and steam shovels, gradually evolving into the company we know today. Oil companies  with their tankers, are highly collectible with the petrolia fans.

Models are the easiest to describe. If the car or truck looks real; if the wheels turn, if doors open and shut, trunk and hood open, it is a model. Depending on the size, anywhere from 4 inches to 20 inches, detail may vary with 100's of parts carefully assembled. Dash board and movable steering add to the charm and mystique. Paint is professionally applied, with waxing if necessary. Tires are real rubber and free rolling; identifiable names are just like the real thing. Too bad, but these are not for children's play. Some of the higher end scale models have operating engines. Ertl began as a sample company to show farm equiptment by travelling salesmen. Gradually, these "working models" grew into an exacting line of cars, trucks, tractors.

Odds and Sods
This is the category that I have the most fun with. These are the orphans of the toyworld. Wooden, hand made trucks evoking a more simpler age of mass production. Unique packaging such as the tinplate French cookie box, complete with lithographed passengers. The brass and copper firetruck that plays, Cole Porter's , "Smoke gets in Your Eyes".
While the ladder raises and drops, The Coca Cola racer made of empty cans. The Third World wooden trucks, the Disney characters with the early Muppets. Motorcycles and hubcaps...anything and everything based on the automobile industry. Soon a separate page of car painting situations done in my own pseudo-naïve style will follow. Nothing in life is perfect, and we just plod along for the ride. Collecting gives us that challenge; to find that special toy, and then, on to the next !


Now lets have a look at the toys. 

Click on one of the links below to view that category of toys
as explained above

Pressed Steel
Odds and Sods



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