Buddy L Trucks CopiedBy

Buddy "L" Trucks Copied

Reproductions of four Buddy "L" trucks with a possible fifth model are now in the market.

Although the new trucks appear to be pricey at $825-$850 each, that is a fraction of what originals bring. An original "Red Baby" express truck brought $28,000 at auction. That same model is one of the trucks being reproduced and now available new for $850.

Original Buddy "L" trucks were made by the Moline Pressed Steel Company of Moline, Illinois beginning in 1921. The company made large, realistic detailed toys of heavy gauge steel. Trucks, for example, are commonly 21″-24″ in length and can weigh 12 to 20 pounds. Models of construction equipment can weigh up to 40+ pounds. The original Buddy "L" line also included trains and railroad accessories.

The trucks being reproduced with the original catalog numbers followed by original years of production are the Railway Express Truck (#204A, 1930-32), Ice Truck (#207-II, 1932), "Red Baby" Express Truck (#200-IHC-II, 1929-1930) and Auto Wrecking Truck (#209, 1930-32). A side dumping Sand and Gravel Truck (202A, 1932) may also be available.

The new Buddy "L" trucks were sold by T-Reproductions of Tennessee. The company has been making Buddy "L" railroad items since the early 1990s but these trucks are their first vehicles.

According to the company, each new model is limited to 475 pieces. The products are assembled in the Tennessee shop from parts made in the United States and overseas. New models are virtually identical to their old counterparts in every detail including moving parts, dimensions, paint colors and Buddy "L" decals. If you're really knowledgeable about old toys, you would notice that the new paint is acrylic enamel; paint on comparable originals is baked enamel.

Each new truck has a tag stamped with that piece's production sequence such as "#XX of 475". Tags are glued to the bottom of the trucks with an industrial adhesive.

The original Buddy "L" company still exists but is greatly diversified into many products. What toys it does market are made in overseas facilities and have no resemblance to the original pressed steel monsters of the 1920-30s. All reproductions in this article are made by T-Reproductions which has no connection to the original Buddy "L" company. However, the original company retains legal rights to the Buddy "L" name and trademarks and T-Reproductions make their products under license from the original firm.

The new Buddy "L" trucks are among the most accurate reproductions ACRN has seen. However, although these new trucks are sold as legitimate collectibles in their own right, this type of product almost always finds its way into the antiques market. No matter how good the intentions of the manufacturer, there will always be the unethical reseller who will alter these products and offer them as old.

Everyone would be far better served if the new trucks had a permanent, non-removable mark stamped directly into the cab, cargo bed or frame rather than the glued-on tag currently used.

All Buddy-"L" truck photos courtesy of T-Reproductions


Fig. 1 Reproduction of Buddy "L" Railway Express Truck, original #204A. New truck is heavy gauge pressed steel, about 25″ in length. Original made 1930-32.


Fig. 2 Reproduction Buddy "L" Ice Truck, #207-II originally made 1932. Over 26″ in length, canvas cover over cargo bed. Includes miniature ice tongs and blocks of ice.


Fig. 3 New Auto Wrecking Truck, #2-209, originally made 1930-1932. The original is one of the rarest Buddy "L" wreckers. Made of 20 gauge steel.


Fig. 4 New "Red Baby" Express Truck, #200-IHC-II originally made 1929-1930. McCormick Deering decal along hood, International Harvester decal on cargo box, IHC Sales and Service decal on cab sides.