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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Founded in 1945, by Fred Ertl Jr, the Ertl Company was originally located in Dubuque, Iowa. Fred Ertl Jr had immigrated from Germany to Dubuque in the 1920s. He had worked as a iron molder for the Adams Company at first, but following a labor strike, in 1945, he founded his own company.

They are best known for making farm vehicles and equipment. They made their farm toys from an aluminum alloy. Fred Ertl and his sons, traveled individually to local store and five and dimes selling their items in a one to one approach throughout the area in order to gain traction in an industry that they eventually helped shape.

In 1959, they moved to Dyersville, Iowa .

In 1967, Ertl is acquired by Victor Comptometer Corporation. (?)

In the 1970s, they began their "Miniatures of the World" diecast car line. By the 1980s, this line had evolved into the "Replica Series". Models ranged from vintage to modern day American cars. Along with Japanese and British sport cars. Their blister cards were intended to be used as trading cars among collectors. They depicted the included vehicle and gave related specifications about them. Models from this series were also available as "Street Rods" and "Fun Truckin'" releases.

In 1971, Ertl acquires Carter Tru-Scale.

In 1973, they began making plastic model kits.where they made model vehicle (kits) until the early 1980s. Scale Models made miniature farm tractors and was started by Joseph F Ertl and based in Dyersville. (?)

In 1974, Ertl acquired Structo Stamped Steel.

In 1977, (Walter) Kidde, Inc. (a fire safety company) acquired Ertl when they purchased the Victor Comptometer Corp.

In the late 1970s, Ertl made a series of plastic model kits of heavy duty commercial trucks, over-the-road trailers, tractors, plows, and farm wagons. These kits never achieved a wide popularity, but they did led to the acquisition of AMT, iIn 1983. AMT was purchased by Ertl from Lesney, and then renamed AMT/Ertl. AMT/Ertl then had a 24-year relationship until AMT was sold in 2007.

Around 1980, it is thought that Ertl had a contractual arrangement with Peter Lin, who owned Lintoys, in Hong Kong to make Ertl modes. Ertl castings could be found in some LinToy packages in certain markets. These were identical in color scheme to those offered by Ertl in their "Miniatures of the World" series, but had the Lintoy name and 'Made in Hong Kong' on their bases.

Ertl also issued many movie and TV related series. Such as - "Blade Runner", the "Mail Van" model from "Postman Pat" (a British animated tv series), and "James' Car" from the James Bond Jr cartoon series. Other series included "Die-Cast Tractor", "Super Stocker" (2) packs, and NASCAR stock cars. A friction pull back series was called "Pow-R Pull". Their Big Farm series was done in 1:16 scale and featured lights and sounds play action.

In the early 1980s, production moved first to Hong Kong and then to Taiwan, Korea, Singapore and eventually China.

In 1981, Ertl acquires AMT a model kit company.

In 1985, Ertl acquired MPC another model kit maker.

In the mid 1980s, Ertl made a promotional set for Hardee's that included a pickup truck, trailer and a 1980s Road Runner (Trans AM). The base plate of the casting identifies it as the "Hardee's Road Runner".

In 1987, Hanson PLC purchased Kidde. Which also includes Ertl who also acquires another model kit company called ESCI.

In 1990, Ertl introduces their first Precision Series farm toy miniature replica.

In the 1990s (?), Ertl also began production in Mexico and began laying off employees at the original Ertl factory. The factory then became a distribution facility and outlet store. And later the home of the National Farm Toy Museum. (?)

In the early 1990s, a novelty series was issued with a comic strip that was viewable inside the car called "Speed Stips". A separate viewer was required that attached to the car's base to see the comic strip. Nutmeg Collectibles was also using some Ertl castings to make sprint and modified race cars from. This relationship ended in 1994 with Parlor City Toys took over this custom production line, but was began again in 2003 when Dave's Racing Collectibles picked up the line from Parlor City.

Through the 1990s, they continued to produce more movie and tv related series along with a line of NASCAR race cars.

In 1992, Fred Ertl, Jr. & Robert J. Ertl both retire.

In 1993, Ertl began their Wing Of Texaco die cast airplane collection series.

In the mid 1990s, Britians Petite was acquired by Ertl.

In 1995, Hanson PLC consolidated its U.S. companies to form U.S.I. (United States Industries).

In the late 1990s, Ertl launched their "American Muscle" series. This was a line of diecast collectible cars and trucks done in 1:18 scale that quickly found a dedicated following, among collectors around the World. But especially by the American baby boomers who grew up with these cars. The Limited Editions of 2,500 were especially sought after with the most popular and desirable being the 1957 Chevy Bel Air model known as 'Peggy Sue' (?).

In 1999, Racing Champions acquired The Ertl Company.

In 2000, Ertl is merged with Racing Champions and became known as RCErtl which later became known as RC2 Brands around 2003-2004.

In 2000, Ertl acquired Britains Limited.

In 2003, Racing Champions Ertl (RCErtl) acquired Chicago-based Learning Curve International, Inc.

In 2004, RC2 Corporation acquired the Playing Mantis assets and The First Years Inc.

In 2009, Ertl celebrates 50 years of location in Dyersville, IA

In 2010, Ertl celebrated its 65th Anniversary

In 2011, Tomy acquired RC2 Brands and maintained control of all Ertl, Johnny Lightning and Racing Champions tooling. Most vehicle casting models were moved into the Johnny Lightning line up and Ertl began producing farm vehicles and related equipment castings exclusively.

In 2013, Tomy discontinues production of the Johnny Lightning brand

In 2015, Round 2 LLC obtains the rights to use Racing Champions, American Muscle and ERTL Custom and Premium tooling from Ertl//Tomy

In 2016, Round 2 LLC obtains the rights to use the Johnny Lighting tooling from Tomy.

Known Ertl Series

Ertl Collectibles - vehicle banks and aircraft
Ertl American Muscle
Ertl Big Farm Series
Ertl Mighty Movers - construction equipment & tractor trailers
Ertl Replica Series
European Classics
Body Shop
Early Muscle
Ford Legends Series #1
Grandes Marques
Speed Strips
Ertl 1/18 Scale
2001 American Muscle
Vintage Vehicles
Heritage Precisions - Farm Vehicles & Equipment

Ertl also produced a number of die cast airplane models over the years, including many promotional items for Texaco, Continental Airlines and others. (Are these the Vintage Fuel line know held under Round 2 LLC.)

Sourced references -

Member input - @jonnyGURU
Ertl | hobbyDB
Fred Ertl Sr. | hobbyDB
Encyclopedia of Small-Scale Diecast Motor Vehicle Manufacturers - Sahakangas, Foster & Weber (2006)
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45,117 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
Today, I updated the brand association histories with Ertl and provided thread links to other history threads here at HobbyTalk. The Walter Kidde ownership notation is the same fire safety equipment company still active today. This is not unusual; since several other food companes, TV studios and movie production companies -among other types of businesses have also owned various other diecast makers at various points of their individual production history. :cheers2:

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45,117 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for your input! I updated the history per your comments and added you to the resource listings.

I do have a question about the ERTL pickup trucks that have been available at Tractor Supply Company locations in the past decade.

Over time the tags on them have changed from ERTL to ERTL/Tomy. I know the available truck models have changed over time as well. Did these begin as an ERTL produced casting line or migrate from another brand aquired with RC2?

45,117 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I've also noted that some John Deere tractors (I believe as an ERTL product) has been available at Wal Marts recently. I will have to check to make sure about them being still an ERTL/Tomy product.

3 Posts
Well, ALL Ertl now is branded Ertl/Tomy. But the only thing now under the Ertl brand is tractors and some trucks like some Peterbilt dump trucks, etc. Everything else got moved over to Johnny Lightning.

Good example is the Dukes of Hazzard toys. Original Ertl, even during RC2 years. Post Tomy are now branded Johnny Lightning. Exact same toolings.

45,117 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I've started back through the brand listings to follow up with other web site resources that were found along the way of the previous reviews. As such, I added some more date references around the Ertl brand and their owner history over time. I had not run across the Victor,, Carter, Structo, and Hanson ownership references before. Some of these may have occured- just because they were being held by another company these other companies - Victor and Hanson - were more interested in.
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