| the Randy Rusk collection
HStAilPl oPnYe to my house from Australia, it did introduce me to like- Randy is thrilled that by working in resin manufacturers have been able to
CAMPER Japan, Europe, China and minded collectors from produce some really quirky and unusual camper releases, such as this
even Russia. I was always around the world. In fact, 1938 REO truck with Curtiss Aerocar set from AutoCult.
looking for exact scale through an eBay auction I
Randy Rusk has spent a lifetime building rcRooaladlnectdtryiiopn.R,uaslkl paanckdehdisfocraamvpeirnygs-rpeelcaitaeld replicas, though, rather than met a great guy from Belgium sellers’ and auction websites, remarkable, museum-quality
up one of the largest accumulations of toys. Even then, if it was a named Michael. He’s since and decades’ worth of hobby- replica of this rare and
camping-related toys and models in camper, there were no rules. become my source for all the ist friends established around unusual camper set.
the USA. This month he talks to Lindsey I’d add a Tekno, a Mebetoy, Hachette parts works camp- the world, nothing seems out It’s really beautiful, and
Amrani about the journey and why, a Polistil, an Oxford, etc. ers and motorhomes now of reach anymore. It just takes only a few hundred of them
in 2018, he finally made the decision available. Michael’s always patience and money. I’m actu- were made worldwide.
to turn part of his magnificent QHow have you gone about on the hunt at toy shows, and ally more likely to hold off on
collection over to a museum sourcing models for your he knows what I want even buying something today if it Then, of course, the parts
before I do! has a high price tag, because works models are much
QFirstly, Randy, what was QWhich were the toys, auction and met a guy who had a sizeable Brooklin collection, collection over the years? And there’s a better than average cheaper but just as much fun
it that kindled your and brands, you most the MICA MOY book. My head aided by their Pierce QI appreciate this may seem chance one will reappear at a to collect. And talk about odd!
loved as a boy? exploded! That was the first Arrow Travelodge, Wesley are there any reference books like asking you to choose price I’m willing to pay. With Look at the Vixen 21, the
interest in this particular time I learned about first Slumbercoach, Willerby a favourite child, but is there the exception of some really Ultravan or the Mikafa.
AI was drawn to photos and series Yesteryears and all the Vogue caravan, and the SMV or websites you have found one model within your vast old or very limited models, like They’re mostly diecast metal.
collecting theme? stories about antique cars variations that were known 12 in their RobEddie range. collection you could pinpoint the Swan, there’s not a lot that I’m not sure how Hachette
when I was quite young, in the to exist. Soon, I was writing invaluable and can recom- as the most treasured? earns the distinction of being found a way to be financially
AMy dad was a school- early 1970s. Noticing that, to other collectors (this was QDid you set yourself any called rare anymore. viable with these releases, but I
teacher for nearly 40 years, my mom bought me some before the internet) to fill as parameters – i.e. by mend to others who share your AActually, that’s quite easy. don’t care as long as they keep
which allowed his vacation Matchbox Models of Yesteryear many gaps in my collection as And you may be surprised QThose who collect on this putting more into the market.
time to always sync up with for my ninth birthday, and possible. I joined MICA and restricting the eras, scales, interest in the theme? to learn it’s not a camper — theme have been well
ours as we were growing up. I was hooked! Soon, I was worked hard to become a com- although I do have some served by our toy/model manu- QRoughly how many camp-
So our family – my dad, mom, saving up money from chores pletist. My mom would still materials in which vehicles AOne of the first ways I favourites among those, facturers, but are there, in your ing toys/models have you
two sisters and me – did a lot and mowing neighbours’ step in to feed my hobby – even began sourcing models including the aforementioned opinion, still any glaring gaps accumulated over the years?
of travelling in the US each lawns to go to Ben Franklin’s, when I was an adult – buying are modelled, condition, etc? was subscribing to Model Brooklin Airstream. My most in the market?
spring, summer and winter a local department store, to me the elusive Sunlight Seife Collector magazine. My treasured is the 1:43 scale AAt last count, it’s approach-
break. On a teacher’s salary, buy the latest releases. By the or other hard-to-find releases AHonestly, for the next 20 preferred scale – 1:43 – has model of the 1910 Brooke Swan AI really feel that right now ing 500 camper models
that meant we did a lot of time I left home for college, as birthday gifts. years, I was like a kid in a always had a more loyal Car made by EMC for One43. is a bit of a new golden age in a variety of scales, mostly
camping in tents, various I had a pretty good collection. candy store. I bought anything following in Europe than in It is so unusual, so beautiful for 1:43 collectors of camp- 1:64, 1:43, 1:24 and 1:18. With
pop-up campers and About the time Mattel and everything that appealed the US. So flipping through and so delicate that I placed a ing vehicles. I was strictly a online searches for old ones,
eventually a small RV. QWhen and why did you purchased Matchbox and the to me in a range of scales and the pages of new releases pre-order for one the moment metal-only collector for many as well as the newest releases,
My parents got a more begin collecting toys/ MOY line started to falter, materials — diecast, resin, and reviews helped educate I saw it. I’m glad I did, as only years, but with the contribu- I’m probably picking up five or
luxurious tow-behind RV models an adult? I started looking for some- white metal. The only thing me about what was available a few were ever made. It’s the tions from Autocult, Ace, Neo, more additional models each
once we were out of the house, thing new. I stumbled upon that reined me in was my outside of our shores. prize jewel in my collection Schuco and others, I’ve ven- month.
but our routine of setting up AIt was only after I got Brooklin models and saw a budget. I never dropped a of more than 18,000 models, tured into resin models, too.
camp was definitely influen- my first real job and got photo of their beautifully penny on models until all bills The next big step came and I’ll never part with it. Their more cost-effective tool- QYour homes in the US tend
tial in my eventual pursuit of married that the collecting rendered Airstream camper. were paid, food was in the when I started following the ing has allowed for some really to be far larger than ours
vehicles that mimicked those But at the time, I’d never refrigerator, kids were clothed www.diecast.org 1:43 forum. QAre there any items that oddball limited-issue camper in the UK, but that’s a huge
great childhood experiences. bug really took hold. spent that much on a single and expenses were covered. It’s a US-based collectors’ have proved/continue to releases that never would have number of models. Have you
I went to a toy model, so it took a while to I’ve also been blessed with a group with members from prove particularly elusive? seen the light of day other- had them all on display, or
pull the trigger and order very understanding wife. around the world. I would wise. Take the 1938 REO truck have a lot of them had to be
Randy was thrilled to one. After all, it was a camper post pictures of camper AHonestly, this was harder with Curtiss Aerocar set from kept packed away or put into
discover the beautifully and I had to have it! Plus, as I The evolution of the internet models I found, and others in the earlier days before Autocult, for example. For just storage?
rendered camper models discovered, they also put out a really contributed to an would chime in with photos the internet. But with easy 180 Euros, you can own a truly
produced in white metal Shasta Airflyte, which I had to explosion in my collection. of their own. That’s where access to collectors’ forums, AIn addition to campers,
by Brooklin Models. have. Soon, I was building up I was finding models from I connected with another The jewel in Randy’s 18,000 my collection also has
around the world that could rabid camper collector named strong collection is not a camper but significant offshoots of woody
now be inexpensively shipped Peter, who unexpectedly this exquisite 1:43 scale model of wagons, hearses, fire engines
died in 2018. He and I had a the 1910 Brooke Swan Car made and show cars, among others. I
friendly rivalry to see who by EMC for One43. can’t display them all, so most
could uncover the newest are now in secure storage.
camper releases first – and he
usually beat me.
While I’m not
a big fan of eBay,
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| the Randy Rusk collection
down sizing and getting rid of collections, it eased the pain. THE RV/MH HALL OF FAME
a lot of stuff we don’t need. But I couldn’t bring myself to
That caused me to start sell my campers, even though The RV and Manufactured Housing Hall of Fame, located in Elkhart, Indiana, is dedicated to
reflecting on the boxes and it was clear there were simply preserving the history and honouring the pioneers and individuals who have made significant
boxes of models in my too many of them to ever contributions to the RV and Manufactured Housing industries. Within its multiuse facility is the
collection. Not long after that, display in my home. RV Founders Hall, which displays trailers, photos and memorabilia reaching back to the 1920s
a record rainstorm swept and 1930s and is open to the public from 10 am to 4 pm Monday through Saturday. The museum
through our area and drove That’s when I started think- presents chronological and technological advancements in the industry from before WW I
water into our basement. ing about finding all of them to the present. Learn more about the RV/MH Hall of Fame at www.rvmhhalloffame.org.
Now, I’d always stored my a new home. I’d been to the
Camping related models are just one of the thematic models up on plastic milk RV/MH Hall of Fame a couple displayed. He and his opera- an audience far greater than to see what I was doing. There
strands in the collection Randy has spent a lifetime putting crates, but the rising water times before and marvelled at tions manager, Ryan, ordered anything I’d achieve in my were lots of “Wow!”s. It gave
together, so it’s perhaps no surprise that he’s all out of stopped less than an inch their tremendous collection of some glass cases, and we set home spurred me northward. me the opportunity to talk
cabinet space at home! from causing catastrophic campers and RVs. But I always a date for the installation. The unexpected surprise was about my collection and why I
damage to a lifetime of found their display of model in discovering the fun of taking was donating it. One guy from
But as I sit at my desk talking other cherished pieces still AThe decision to donate collecting. The ensuing replicas to be lacking. In truth, I planned a couple days off everything out storage, sorting Europe was thrilled to see how
to you, I am surrounded by in my collection. my camper collection to clean-up process forced me they had only a small case work in late November and it by category and then taking many Hymer models I had
beautiful woody wagons from the museum was driven by to take stock of all of it and with a few donated Brooklins packed up my car for the the models out of their boxes. and even pointed to a Citroen
Conquest, WMC, Brooklin, QYou recently decided to two things – turning 50 and a ask: “Do I own this collection and some other toys. So rather two-hour drive to Elkhart. It was like Christmas! I rarely camper like the one his family
Matrix and Motor City, as well donate your collection record rainstorm. I turned 50 or does it own me?” spontaneously last summer, I’ll be honest, there were a few remove models from their orig- drove around the countryside
as Motorama–era show cars to a museum, the RV and in 2017, and that was the first I wrote a letter to their moments when I questioned if inal packaging but here I was when he was a kid. To make
from Bizarre, Great American Manufactured Housing Hall time I really started to think Over the next few weeks, I president, Darryl Searer, to see this was what I really wanted taking everything out, cutting that kind of connection and
Dream Machines, Minichamps of Fame in Elkhart, Indiana. about the long-term future of moved everything to an offsite, if he’d be interested in putting to do … giving away a size- open blister packs, unscrewing to know that thousands more
and others. Of course, that What prompted this my collection. As my wife climate-controlled and very my entire camper collection able collection that took me campers from their bases and people each year are going to
Swan is just over my shoulder decision and, when it and I have moved closer to dry storage unit. I began go- on permanent display. I didn’t many years – and many dollars putting models on shelf after see these models is more than
in the case that used to hold a came to the crunch, how becoming empty-nesters and ing through everything and know what to expect, but he – to accumulate. But know- shelf of the display cases. I had I ever could have hoped for or
number of my campers and heart wrenching was it? eventually retiring, we’ve been committed to start selling off called me the day he got my ing they’d be appreciated by a real blast, even though I was expected. Plus, I made some
stuff that no longer had such letter. I think he was even physically and emotionally great new friends with Darryl
an intense hold on me. It was more excited than I was, which exhausted after the second day. and Ryan, who are equally
hard at first, but as I sold more was really thrilling. I went tied to the camping life but in
pieces and heard from the up to meet him, hammered QHow do you feel about the a different way from my own.
new owners about how excited out the details and picked a decision now the collection I’ve committed to them that I
they were to add them to their premier spot for them to be is all laid out on permanent will continue to search for new
display in its new home? And examples for the collection.
what’s next for Randy Rusk? And I’m hoping now that
everything is in place, a few
AI couldn’t be more pleased of the current manufacturers
with my decision. While might be open to donating
I was setting up the displays, their models instead of me
museum visitors stopped by having to buy them all! MC
Some of the models in Randy’s collection, now on display at
the RV and Manufactured Housing Hall of Fame, in Elkhart, Indiana.
38 www.modelcollector.com | february 2019 39february 2019 | www.modelcollector.com