Little rigs attract visitors

A collection of tractors, 18-wheelers and fire trucks attracted dozens of curious visitors, including some from other states, to a building on the southeast side of Fort Dodge Saturday.

Cramming all that heavy equipment into one building was simplified by the fact that none of it was full-sized. All the vehicles were scale models displayed during the Fort Dodge Toy & Diecast Show on the former Smithway MotorXpress property that is now the east campus of Iowa Central Community College.

The show gives people the opportunity to remember the things they played with as children, said Dennis Swift, who organized the show.

”I sell the memories,” the Fort Dodge man said.

Swift said 15 vendors from Iowa, Minnesota and Nebraska were selling items during Saturday’s event.

The presence of those vendors attracted people like Phil Goraczkowski, of Fairmont, Minn., who combined a trip to the show with a visit to his son who lives in Fort Dodge.

Goraczkowski said he’s been collecting and building scale models of farm equipment for 30 years. He said he grew up on a farm and was always interested in farm machinery. A single visit to a show started him in the hobby.

”I like the challenge of finding something the companies don’t make and building it,” he said.

He said he has 125 pieces that are in a scale in which 1 inch equals 32 inches.

The best part of the hobby, he said, is the people he has met at the toy shows.

He offers this advice for anyone thinking about getting into the diecast toy hobby: ”Buy what you like.”

That advice is echoed by Claude Reeves, the owner of Claude’s Collectibles in Clive. He recommends that a novice buyer start small with items that are in the 1/64 scale.

Reeves said he started in 1988 by collecting coin banks shaped like cars. He now sells items at 10 to 15 shows a year.

The most detailed models displayed at the show had large price tags. For example, a tractor-trailer with an excavator on its flatbed trailer would set a buyer back by $215.

Jeff Mumby, the owner of Jeff’s Collectibles in Lincoln, Neb., said nothing he sells is for anyone younger than 13. He added that he doesn’t deal in anything made of plastic because it won’t have any value in the future.

The Toy & Diecast Show has been held in Fort Dodge for 17 years, according to Bill Brian, of Fort Dodge. He organized the show for the first 15 years when it was held at the Webster County Fairgrounds while he and his wife, Bonnie, were the managers there.

Brian said he’s been in diecast toys for 40 years, starting when he got interested in the farm toys sold by his father at his John Deere dealership.

Swift, who specializes in scale model fire trucks, began organizing the show last year. It was held at the Iowa Central site for the first time on Saturday.

”It’s pretty fun coming to the shows,” he said.