He Customizes Farm Toys With 3D Parts

You won’t find anything but red in Allen Konwinski’s personal farm toy collection of International Harvester and Farmall tractors. But as a custom builder, he thrives on adding personalized details on 1/16th-scale tractors of all colors. Demand for his work is the result of his attention to detail, including finishing touches from his wife and using quality 3D-printed parts.


     Farm toys have been a part of Konwinski’s life ever since he was the youngest of six kids playing with a few new and several hand-me-down toys. He collected as a teen in the 80s and did some customizing in the 90s. After getting out of it for a while, he started collecting again in 2014. He was attracted to the idea of taking old toys and making them as realistic to the originals as possible.


     “I started collecting with no intention of selling. I took pictures and posted them online, and the rest is history,” says the full-time business owner of Al-Kon Custom Farm Toys. “The toy world is booming; there’s no slow down.”


     About half of his work comes from customers sending him toys and photos of real tractors. Because modern paints don’t usually match the original paints, he typically takes them apart, sandblasts down to the metal, and repaints everything. Like most custom builders, he uses brass for many parts—to connect steps, tank mounts, etc. But in the past few years, he started buying 3D-printed parts.


     “It’s the direction the toy world is going,” he says. “In the past, some plastic 3D parts were made poorly in China. But things have progressed. Now, they use a specific resin that is very tough. I’ve taken (3D-printed) rims and thrown them on the floor, and they just bounce. Resin prints perfect detail.”


     Konwinski says he and other custom builders keep U.S. 3D-printing business owners, such as Lance Van Der Weerd of Tri-State 3D Customs (www.tristate3dcustoms.com), very busy.


     With Gorilla Super Glue Gel and pins to attach the parts, Konwinski merges 3D parts with his brass work and other personal details that his customers request. One IH tractor had a green toolbox, for example. Another had a unique hook with twine on it.


     He adds 3D-printed transistor radios to many of his models, and he adds parts that replicate after-market fuel tanks, quick hitches, weights, and stadium lights. The only other parts he purchases are tires, wheels, lights, and decals. Konwinski notes that his wife, Amy, paints fine details, such as lug nuts and other small parts.


     Some of his favorite projects include replicating International’s 5 millionth tractor, which was auctioned off in 1976. Konwinski starts with a 1066 tractor and tears it apart to add details and repaint it in the correct red and white colors. His version doesn’t have a cab and has a 3D-printed quick hitch.


     He has also customized 4-WD John Deere 7520 tractors in four colors to replicate the patio series tractors sold from 1969 to 1971.


     Konwinski mostly shops online to buy “builders”—tractors that he can customize. He shares ideas and photos with other custom toy buyers and sellers on his Facebook forum—All-Color Farm Toy Custom’s.


     Quality 3D printing has taken customized toys to a new level, he says. And he knows he’s done good work when people see photos of his toys and tell him they look like full-size tractors.


     Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Al-Kon Custom Farm Toys, Springfield, Mo. (ph 417-309-1436; alkoncustoms@gmail.com; Facebook: Al-Kon Custom Farm Toys).