70th Anniversary and Making a Big Splash

It has been awhile since our last blog post. Here is what has been happening over the last year, and what is yet to come for this historic anniversary.

Looking back over the last year
Seventy years? Wow! It seems like yesterday It was October 31st, 2015 and we were the new owners of this historic company. My husband and I sometimes think back and wonder how we did it. We are just amazed at how far we have come in just over a year. Jumping into business ownership full force was a crazy and wild ride, but I’m glad we did it. I’ll have to admit that our heads are still spinning, but that is just how owning a small business goes, isn’t it? It comes with the territory. I never could have imagined how much work owning a company is. BUT, we LOVE it! It has become our second child, part of our family. For that, we wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Now that the dust has somewhat settled, we are finding our groove. Don’t get me wrong, our time is still tapped with us both still working our full time jobs. We have been trying our hardest to respond to email and phone calls after hours and on the weekends. Luckily for us, our customers are the best people in the world. We have never known anyone to be so kind, generous and full of emotions over these toy trucks. You have all been such a blessing. Thanks for taking it easy on us.

Looking forward
Onto the “What’s happening” at the toy shop. One project we have put to the top of our priority list has been the launch of our first limited edition. This one has even blown us away. Being that it is not the typical All American Limited Edition, we are hoping it still causes quite the stir. As it should!

Launching very soon will be a limited edition of 200 coffee table books with over 200 pages on the history of All American Toy Company.

Book limited edition

Photo of limited edition book with bookstand Picture credit: Barnett & Solomon

At the moment, the book is self published and we are hoping to get picked up very soon by a publisher (crossing fingers). The authors, Frank Barnett and Martha Solomon have entered it into the Independent Publishers Book Awards. Of which, we should be hearing if we won any awards in the beginning of April. It is a cattle call of sorts, where publishers can pickup the next best seller and take on all the expenses and release it to the world.

The book covers the timeline history of All American Toy Company. Thanks to our great mentor, and previous owner, Patrick Russell, Frank and Martha were able to photograph every truck ever produced since 1947. They also met with previous employees and the brains behind the 1947 operation and got some fun insight as to what it was like to work for this company back then, and how the company came to close it’s doors in the mid 50’s. Really, it is packed full of information that we still refer back to.

The one bonus to the limited edition is it’s not just the book.  We have created and designed a custom bookstand to display the book with your truck collection. The stand is fabricated from a die-cast cab from the original 1949 die.  In 1951 the die cracked, leaving a scar across the roof, hood, and down the front bumper.   Although Clay Steinke, the company's founder, was able to repair the die following that event, additional labor was needed to sand the scar down prior to painting each cab.  Few collectors have ever seen the unfinished original cab.  If you are an avid collector, words cannot describe how beautifully written and photographed it is. If you are interested in the book, please let us know so we can get you on the waiting list. You won’t regret it!

While the book launch is falling into place, Paul has been working on the next Kenworth Limited Edition. I don’t want give any spoilers on that one, so stay tuned and make sure to like our Facebook page for updates.

Thank you
Thanks again to all of our supporters and fans. Hearing your stories over the last year have been so heart warming. Never underestimate the power that a little toy truck can have over it’s driver, young and old.

~ The Cross Family

Pat Russell retires and passes the torch to new owners.

As All American Toy Company approaches its 70 year anniversary, there are new changes happening.  Pat Russell who brought the company back after a deep sleep for many years, and made it the successful company that it is today, has decided to retire and pass his Toy King crown to a new generation.

My name is Kelly Cross, one of the new owners of All American Toy Company.  I'd like to take a moment to introduce my family to you.  My husband Paul, has always had a love for All American Toy trucks which started when he was just a child in the early 80's.  His father would take him to his friends houses who would dig out their old Timber Toters from when they were children to play with, while the older guys cut their winters firewood.  When it came time to load up into his dads pickup, Paul always wanted to take the trucks with him.  However, he had to leave his beloved logging scene and trucks behind for another visit.  These early childhood memories stuck with him.  So when we became pregnant with our son Henry, he thought back to those fun times he had as a child, and wanted to give his son the same enjoyment of these trucks.  As my pregnancy progressed, and my stomach got bigger and bigger, we seemed to have acquired quite the collection.  Every time Paul would bid on a Timber Toter on ebay and would win the auction, he would remind me that it wasn't for him, it was for Henry. 

As the months went by and more and more trucks came to join our collection, I could see the happiness that they brought our whole family.  From bidding on it, winning the auction, waiting for the package to arrive and then the best part...the restoration.  This is where we developed a friendship with Pat.  Paul would take these trucks completely apart, and even bought a sand blast cabinet just for the restorations.  I saw him fall in love with the restoration of the trucks over an over again.  When one truck was completed, it was put on a shelf, awaiting the day for our bundle of joy to be able to play with them.  But, once the truck project was done, I could tell he was also disappointed and wanted to get another truck to fill the void.  I guess you can say he was bit by the bug.  So much in fact, that while I was laying in labor and delivery, one auction was about to close.  A new/old Hay Grain and Seed truck. I think I was so out of it, I just waved at him to go ahead. 

Now that my son just turned four, I can see the same excitement in his eyes to watch his Papa put together a new truck on our dining room table.  Except now, they all have names. Ferdinand for example was Pauls first Kenworth kit that he put together.

When Pat offered the opportunity of owning this historic company, My husband and I knew it was not something we could allow to slip through our fingers.  As of October 31, 2015 we bought this piece of history and hope to preserve its high quality name for many more generations to come. 

We could never show enough gratitude to Pat Russell for his continued mentorship.  Pat  is still very involved in the toy company offering his expert advice, which has been a great blessing.

Thank you all for your continued support!   

~ Kelly Cross 

  • Kelly Cross