Fun Ho! Nos. 104 and 104B Tractors
Barry Young 2004
THIS tractor probably holds the record for longevity as far as sales are concerned. It is also remarkable in that there are so few variations or modifications.
Modelled on a cast iron toy (possibly Arcade), The 104 had plain wheels, 1" diameter front and 1 3/4" diameter rear, while the 104B was always equipped with the ubiquitous cast spoked wheels.
The records give a start date of 1942, but along with a few other early Fun Ho! they precede this by at least a year or so. The reason for this gap in stock information is the fire that burned all records in 1941, so we only have firm records from 1942.
With the steady increase in requests for more detailed information on this subject, we intend to write about the few " Pre -listed" toys concerned, and numbers 104 and 104B are involved. A Pre-listed version has of recent years been seen many times, similar to the current model, except that it had a very insignificant towbar, with a small hole of about 3/16" diameter. At that time there did not appear to be any implements to tow, so the towbar was largely symbolic.
In the early 1950's, Fun Ho! commenced a range of farm implements and, as far as we can estimate, around 1941, in preparation for this event, the 104 tractor tow bar was lifted up to seat level, where it has stayed ever since, perforated with a generous hole, able to accept the clumsiest drawbar.
To achieve this it is believed that a new moulding plate was made, and the number 104 was stamped on the mould upside down, and can be clearly seen to this day. This number has never been seen on any of the Pre-listed tractors.
The wheels on the Pre-listed 104 were cast ali wheels, cast in sand, 1" diameter front and 1 3/4" diameter rear, and the axles were round headed nails (see 'Wheels' article in this website). Around 1951, these cast wheels would have been replaced with the new solid plastic wheels. From 1982 and onwards, the heavily lugged plastic injection moulded wheels, with FUN HO on the side are known to have been used as alternative rear wheels, with and without their yellow trims.
Pre-listed No. 104B castings were the same as for No. 104 in all respects, but the cast wheels were 1 3/4" diameter front and 2 1/2" diameter rear, both having eight spokes and flat treads. These wheels were used also for the No. 78, 104B and the 503 tractors respectively. Earliest models would have heavy round head nails as axles, a necessary economic gesture of the times. Steel shafting was not available during or immediately after the 1939-1946 war.
All cast toys were dipped in paint, till the 1980s, when some cast toys were powder-coated. Since this was by spray-gun, the 'inside' of castings was often not completely covered with the Powder colour used. (see Fashioning Fun Ho ! Toys, Paint & Powder-coating, page 6).
Earliest colours were rather dull on any Fun Ho! Toys, because non-leaded paints were used which lacked the brightness, but in the 1960's, resin paints which had no poisonous substances, but were very colourful and bright were generally used. Standard reds, blues and greens were sacrificed for a range of 'new' colours -- red, yellow, turquoise, mauve and sickly green which were extensively used on all cast ali toys, with the fortunate exception of the fire engine range, which were painted the brightest red available!
Driver's hats and coats were a variety of alternate colours, and faces and hands were picked out in pink. From the late 1970's the faces and hands were left unpainted, and only the hat was painted. Towards the end of official production in 1982 quite a few hats were painted black.
FUN HO! TRACTORS, Nos 104 & 104b WE SALUTE YOU !!
From the Pre-listed toys made prior to 1941, to the standard models from 1942, to 1987, to the 'Repro' versions of both illustrious models made since 1990, - and which in 2004 are still available from the Fun Ho! National Toy Museum in Inglewood - congratulations on over 60 years of almost continual marketing!
Barry G.B.Young ........(2004)