Like many vendors at the Dyersville Summer Farm Toy Show, Taylor Foster of North Liberty has a passion for the miniature vehicles that stems from growing up on a farm. Unlike many other vendors, though, Foster’s business, Empty Pockets Rebuilds, creates custom hand-painted toys specifically focused on an under-represented farm machine, the field tiler.
“I’ve always loved custom farm toys,” said Foster. “My dad got me into it from the get go, so I’ve been into it for 32 years since the day I was born. My dad did a lot of field tiling and trenching, but there were no field tile toys out there. I wanted to bring that market to this, because I know there’s other guys out there who want it too.”
According to Foster, field tiling is a process of draining where a trench is dug in order to bury plastic tile four to six feet under the ground to assist in water drainage, helping with crop production and increasing yields.
Foster said his company got its name as a sort of recycle from his previous interest in four-wheeler racing.
“I used to race four-wheelers a few years back and with everything you do in a hobby, you’re always broke,” he said. “In four-wheelers I was always broke racing and trying to scrounge up my money to make it to the track. I had all the logos and T-shirts for racing. Now I gave up racing and am into toys, so I had to use the logo.”
Foster creates his custom field tile toys from plastic resin with a 3D printer and hand-paints them before bringing them to market.
“They’re all 3D and I have a design file to get them printed, then I do all the paint and assembly,” he said. “My wife does a lot of the detail painting. It’s time-consuming because you’re dealing with such a small object and they’re really fine. You want to make the best product for the customers. If I was to spend my time making them out of brass, it would be a $500-$1,000 toy. Now, I can bring this 3D part in and really make it affordable for the customer. When I was a kid, I would have gone nuts with it growing up, so I want to be able to have a kid be able to put on display what his dad has out in the field.”
Foster said he’s planning on returning to Dyersville for the November Toy Show. He can be found on Facebook and Instagram @EmptyPocketsRebuilds or contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.