By David Ankin
I first felt “the itch” when I was a kid, growing up in the heart of motor country in Indiana and Michigan. Watching my dad, a skilled car fabricator nicknamed “The Iron Man” for his impressive metalworking skills, I yearned to build my own custom rides. And so I learned to tinker and create my first custom Toyz!
I’d modify my bike — once I extended the front fork by hammering together two regular bike forks — my first Chopper! The funny thing is, even though my father is a welder, it didn’t occur to me to ask him to weld the forks together. Trust me, that did not end well.
Next up was a motorized dirt bike I’d tune and modify with spare dollars I could earn mowing lawns or helping in the garage. Naturally, this road led to fast cars, motorcycles and a passion for driving — aka, playing with (and breaking) my Toyz.
Straight out of high school I scored what I considered my dream job at the time — doing live stunts as Batman for Six Flags in Texas. For three years, I performed trick shows six days a week. It was a blast. Eventually, I had to grow up, just a little.
So I moved to Myrtle Beach, where I discovered a knack for live venues and built several bars. This career introduced me to a wide array of seriously impressive vehicle builders and designers, further fueling “the itch.” And it allowed me to put away money for my true passion.
In 2014, I finally made the leap into full-time toy-making. Partnering with David Young, a sharp businessman who shared my love for motorsports and the manufacturing process, we launched ToyMakerz LLC in Reidsville, N.C.
After a few years of research and design, we decided to share our rides with the world and launched ToyMakerz, the TV show on Velocity. What followed has been a wild, non-stop ride atop a cannonball.
Seasons 1 and 2 were highly acclaimed and featured custom ToyMakerz creations like the GPS (a 3/4 scale chain-driven personal supercar), the SB (a mean, mashed up truck with a NASCAR-level engine) and the Beast (a fully custom, mid-engine formula car, winner of the Magnaflow People’s Choice Award at SEMA). Along the way, we met incredible toymakers of all types and continued to grow our skill sets.
Now airing on HISTORY Channel and FYI, in partnership with A+E Networks, ToyMakerz Season 3 has allowed us to take our toymaking to another level. Here’s an overview of what we’ve built:
ToyMakerz S3 Episode 1 – ’71 Charger – A Richard Petty Tribute
We take on a project for a Richard Petty mega-fan to overhaul a signature 70’s Charger “Petty Style” and set up the surprise of a lifetime – an appearance by The King himself.
ToyMakerz S3 Episode 2 – Capital City Bike Fest and Car Show
Teaming up with Epic Moto Co., we’ll strip weight and increase horsepower, while converting an American V-Twin bagger into a street fighter to be revealed at the Capital City Bike Fest and Car Show in Raleigh, NC, one of our favorite annual events.
ToyMakerz S3 Episode 3 – ’56 International Shop Truck and GoPro Race Day
Every shop needs a great shop truck. We were stunned to find a perfect ’56 International flatbed truck that somehow still runs.
ToyMakerz S3 Episode 4 – Misfit Toyz Invitational
We invited some of our top fabricator friends and ToyMakerz Nation standouts to create and race their own one-of-a-kind Misfit Toyz. It rained cats and dogs, making for one of the funniest events I’ve ever seen.
ToyMakerz S3 Episode 5 – ToyMakerz Drag Races – VW Style
When my buddy Scott Sain challenged me to a VW Drag Race at the 2018 VW Germanaire drag race at the South Carolina Motorplex, how could I possibly say no?
ToyMakerz S3 Episode 6 – Challenger Mods for Sarah Edwards
Jet car pilot Sarah Edwards needed a daily driver. A perfect project for ToyMakerz! We’re thinking American muscle…
ToyMakerz S3 Episode 7 – Kraken Monster Truck Debut and Thunder Roadster Road Race
We put the finishing touches on a remarkable new monster truck, The Kraken, and help our good buddy, land-speed record holder Lee Shirts, tune his Thunder Roadster for a race at gorgeous Virginia International
ToyMakerz S3 Episode 8 ’41 Willys Coupe – David’s New Exhibition Car
Now, this Toy is truly ridiculous. We envisioned and built a completely out-of-the-box, over-the-top, exhibition car based on a ’41 Willys Coupe that can make tracks like no other car. To top things off, Dean Cain stops by for a visit, as do our top 3 Show Us Your Rides finalists.
It was an awesome season. But now that all is said and done and we’ve had a few months to soak things in, I’m starting to feel that itch again.
Stay tuned for word on what’s shaping up to be an even more outrageous season 4.
Visit the archived episodes on ToyMakerz.
(David Ankin, a former stuntman, motorcycle racer, fabricator and customizer and restaurant owner. He’s catapulted the small city of Reidsville, N.C., where his ToyMakerz, Inc. company shop is located, into the national spotlight. He was a guest on Episode No. 72 of The Weekly Driver Podcast. Listen to the wide-ranging interview H ERE