The All American Toy Company was founded in 1947 by Clay and Beth Steinke of Salem. The company started when Clay thought that a large, heavy duty toy truck was needed, that could be played with for years and years and still hold together. He decided on using the late 1940’s era Ford cabs as the basis for his truck, and developed a means of steering through the hood of the cab using a brass air horn. This became known as the ‘Air Horn Steering’, which not only made the toy truly unique, but very popular with its customers. With a heavy cast Aluminum cab, rugged steel frame, walking beam suspension and rubber tires, the company developed the finest toy log truck ever mass produced. The first cabs were sand cast, and soon the demand was so high for these toys that the company had dies fabricated in the late 40’s, to increase production and consistency in quality. The first truck issued was the famous log truck named the “Timber Toter” and retailed for $19.95. These were 1/12th scale, and measured 36 inches long and weighed a heavy 10 pounds! The truck was designed with quality, durability and a high level of ‘playability’ in mind.
In May of 1990 Bill Hellie and his son Chip purchased the company from the founders and produced three limited editions. They produced 15 Bales and Brady Tow Trucks, 8 Tankers and 7 log trucks, using up the remaining original stock. Then a toy collector by the name of Patrick Russell, through a turn of events, struck a deal to obtain the company and dies in May of 1992. The dies were cracked and rusted shut. There was much concern over whether the dies would even be able to be opened, and used ever again. By September 17, 1992, after buckets of penetrating oil, and much personal effort by the employees of the die company, the dies were producing again. The company now only produces very limited runs of this truck. Both Clay and Beth Steinke, along with a few of the machinists who worked on the trucks were involved in this process, and provided insight into the company history and philosophy of quality.
In January of 1997, the All American Toy Company released their first all new toy truck. With the aid of family and friends, Patrick created a new die for a 1/16th scale commonly known as the ‘narrow nose’ Kenworth. These are also only produced in very limited editions runs, and in keeping with the company tradition, use rubber tires and all metal parts. Finally as an added touch in tribute to the founders, Patrick designed a means whereby the single air horn on the top of the cab recreates the famous ‘Air Horn Steering!’ Shortly thereafter both Clay and Beth Steinke passed away. The first truck produced was a Founders Edition Log Truck, with #92 going to Clay and Beth as a means of thanks.
The All American Toy Company was headquartered in Salem and owned and operated by Patrick Russell. In the fall of 2015, Pat Russell sold the company to Paul and Kelly Cross of Dallas. Pat is still a mentor and has a great relationship with the new owners and hopes to carry the tradition into the next generation with their son Henry.
A new limited edition book about the history of the All American Toy Company has been released to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the company. Only 200 signed copies will be released with custom cab bookstand. Go to allamericantoyco.com to order your copy now!