by Larry LeMasters
In 2011, Austin Early in life, Austin Randolph learned that Woody Allen is right: "Eighty percent of success is showing up." Austin, of Russellville, Mo., is only 14 years old, and he is already a division winner at the Mid-America Toy Show in St. Louis. "I was the only participant in my division," Austin adds with a shy grin. Clearly, just showing up paid off.
"I started playing with farm toys and collecting them at a very young age," Austin said. "I got my first pedal tractor on my first birthday, and from there my collection just took off. I started getting toy tractors for presents on almost every birthday and at Christmas, too. My grandpa, Larry Forck, influenced what kind of tractors I like, and he really got me interested in all farm machinery. When I was 4 years old, Grandpa bought a new John Deere 5203 tractor and a new 10-foot John Deere bush hob. At the time, I thought the tractor was the greatest thing I'd ever seen. I dreamt of driving it, and once I got old enough, he let me sit on his lap and steer it as we drove into the woods to cut firewood."
In 2011, Austin was looking through the magazines at his local Tractor Supply store when he discovered a copy of the August issue of Toy Farmer magazine. "Until then, I had never realized that farm toys and trucks were that big of a deal, and it made me wonder if I should try to make one of these farm layouts of my own."
He saw an advertisement in the magazine for an upcoming farm toy show in a nearby town, and begged his parents (Clay and Michelle Randolph) to take him to it. "When Grandpa, Mom and I got to the show," Austin said, "I was blown away! I had never seen so many farm toys in one place, at one time. That was the moment that jumpstarted my collecting and customizing endeavors."
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