Toys have a special way of brightening the day of people both young and old.
For Gary and Donna Pippin of Billings, their own love of farm toy collecting grew into something much more.
“I’m like a little kid when UPS shows up back there with new toys. Yesterday we got a shipment of new stuff. I’m like a little kid as I’m the first one there with a pocket knife opening the boxes up,” said Gary Pippin, who owns Action Toys.
It’s that love and excitement for farm toys that led the Pippins to start Action Toys 32 years ago in just a small window display in downtown Billings.
“We like farm toys, so we collected a few things. Back about that time, my wife decided to, because I worked at the sugar factory all the time she talked to the ERTL company about some toys,” Gary Pippin said. “So they sent her a few and we set up at the NILE one year and everyone wanted to know where our store was. Well, we didn’t have one so she got the big idea to start a store.”
From those humble beginnings, Action Toys is now home to almost 4,000 different farm toys. And like farming and ranching, their business is also very family-oriented.
“Basically, my wife and daughter have collected a lot more of these than I have. As I worked at the sugar factory, they traveled to the national toy show every year and did a lot of the farm toy shows while I was working,” said Pippin.
What about his favorite farm toy?
“Well, we have a custom beet digger that’s in a case there that was custom built and one of a kind built by a guy in Wyoming. I like that. I have some other custom toys that he built some Farmhand loaders and an Eversman ditcher.”
Farm toys play also very important educational role.
“I think every kid should grow up on a farm and I think every kid should have some farm toys and animals and stuff like that to realize where this stuff comes from and the importance of agriculture and life,” said Pippin.
But one of the biggest rewards is watching the expression of first time visitors, especially children.
“It’s amazing and I love to see the little kids. The little kids that haven’t been here before and walk in the front door and go “oh wow” you know it’s just amazing.”
From that small window display in 1986 that started it all, today Action Toys’ current retail store in Billings is 4,400 square feet filled with only farm toy tractors and other farm related collectibles.
To learn more about Action Toys, visit www.actionfarmtoys.com.
Source: MTN & Northern Ag Network