Digger Toy Present

This post will attempt to answer that tricky perennial question around birthday and Christmas time – which is the best digger present to get?

Of course, it all depends on the age of the child (or adult) the gift is for. Though we all love diggers, different age groups like and expect different things in a toy.

Toy Digger Present IdeasLet’s start with the youngest first. Our top recommendation for a present for preschool kids is without doubt Dexter the Digger by Wow Toys. The manufacturer recommends this particular toy for children from one and a half up to the age of five years, but let’s not kid ourselves, many older kids will love playing with this too.

Dexter is a superbly robust digger that will resist the fiercest mishandling. His friendly face and rounded edges make him the most tactile of all the toys listed here. He comes with great fun accessories including a driver that easily slots into the cab and some plastic boulders for scooping up. Dexter makes for a very exciting present as wrapped up he makes an extremely large gift indeed.

For slightly older kids the best gift would have to be the Bruder Toys JCB 4CX. No child would be disappointed with the size of this present – the box it comes in measures a whopping 50 centimetres across and 20 cm high. Only trouble is, you might need to get a bigger Christmas tree to put it under!

The JCB 4CX is a classic, iconic digger. Unlike Dexter’s kiddy-styling Bruder pride themselves on making robust and accurate scale toys. Bruder’s 4CX is a superb blend of kid-tough and realistic digger styling which all helps it stand up to the most ruthless play imaginable. In short, it looks great, plays great and makes a great gift.

Toy Digger GiftsIf you’re not quite ready to commit to the mighty 4CX, Bruder do have a smaller (and cheaper) alternative in the kid brother JCB Midi. This is still a fabulous present with the box measuring in at a substantial 38cm across. It’s a brilliant alternative to the 4CX and also an excellent companion for anyone looking to start their own mini backyard construction site!

Now, what to get the older kid that has (mostly) grown out of garden excavations, but still loves diggers? Fortunately, Britains Toys have the answer in their terrific JCB 3CX model digger. We call this a ‘model’ as it’s mostly made of die-cast metal (apart from the cab). This means it’s ideally suited to display and more gentle indoor play. Older kids, teenagers and adults will all appreciate the authenticity of this toy digger; it’s a much more faithful replica than those previously mentioned. It can be posed in a variety of ways due to its moving buckets, boom, stick and even front axle. It makes a great desk toy or display piece.

So there we have it! A toy digger for fans of all ages, and you birthday gift and Christmas present problem solved.

Siku Terex Backhoe Loader

The Siku Backhoe Loader is a 1:50 scale toy model of the real Terex backhoe digger.

This is both a fantastically desirable display piece as well as a wonderfully accurate toy digger.

The chassis, tractor unit, bucket, boom and stick are all die-cast metal. Only the cab and some smaller parts are made of plastic, whilst the tyres are made from a very durable rubber compound.

Terex Backhoe Loader CabSiku’s Backhoe Loader is realistically styled with great detail. Even the interior of the cab is highly detailed with an impressively accurate steering wheel and dashboard.

Siku Terex Digger Boom and StickThe overall paint application is second to none in terms of quality and durability. The paint details of the Terex decals and safety warning stickers are amazing. The quality of the Siku paint finish means that these toy diggers will not suffer chipped paintwork unless really thrown about onto a hard surface.

As for playability, the Terex Backhoe Loader has many moving parts. The boom, stick and bucket of the backhoe all pivot very satisfactorily on their toy hydraulic rams. The entire backhoe arm can be swung through 180 degrees at the back of the digger. The front loader moves through approximately 45 degrees, from just above the roof of the cab to flat down on the ground.

Siku Backhoe Loader WheelsThe wheels are free-wheeling on axles that run through the chassis. Though the stabilizer legs are fixed, a welcome surprise are the wing mirrors which can be swung out or folded in. It should be pointed out that there is no access to position a driver inside the backhoe as the doors are moulded as part of the cab.

This toy backhoe is licensed by the NYSE listed Terex corporation. Terex was originally a spin off division of General Motors who came up with the name by combining the latin words terra (earth) and rex (king). Terex make a range of backhoes on which the Siku toy is based including the 970 Elite, 980 Elite, TLB 840 and the mighty TLB890, the most productive digger in its class.

Overall, the Terex Backhoe Loader 3531 by Siku Toys is an outstanding 1:50 scale model.

Siku Backhoe Loader

JCB Digger

JCB DiggerDiggers, especially in the USA, are sometimes called backhoe loaders. In the UK the digger is often referred to simply by its iconic brand name, the initials JCB.

The first real JCB was built by Joseph Cyril Bamford who began his famous UK company from his garage in 1945.

The digger was invented by Joseph Cyril Bamford in 1953. Joe Bamford (1916 – 2001) worked in engineering before serving with the RAF in WW2. After the War, Joe set up a workshop in a rented lock-up garage. Bamford’s first product was a trailer. J C Bamford (Excavators) Ltd was founded in the Staffordshire town of Uttoxeter.

In 1953 the first JCB digger was produced. The farm tractor had been around since the 19th century. Bamford added a front bucket and back scoop or backhoe and the now legendary JCB was born.

It wasn’t long before the JCB became a widely used machine which today is exported all over the world. Key to its success was its versatility. The JCB is ideal for construction and landscaping jobs as well as road building and mending. The seat in the JCB’s cab can swivel to face the backhoe and its stabilizers when extended make the unit a very stable platform. The front scoop is especially useful for scraping, grading, lifting, loading and carrying whilst the backhoe can perform a multitude of tasks, not least of which is digging precise trenches.

The JCB is very suitable for use in urban environments where space may be restricted. It also comes in varying sizes, such as the 2CX, 3CX and 4CX JCB. For larger jobs an excavator may be more appropriate, and on smaller jobs a skid steer or loadall.

The JCB can be fitted with a variety of attachments and buckets for use in different tasks. These include the breaker, grapple and auger. A breaker is ideal for breaking up concrete and tarmac surfaces. The grapple attachment is useful for lifting and dragging. An auger fitted to a digger can be used for drilling and post hole boring. The front loader bucket of a JCB is often fitted with a clamshell or retractable section for more efficient loading of say muck, aggregates or rubble.

In 1978 JCB launched their enormously popular Loadall telescopic handler. By 1990 JCB had begun producing the Fastrac Tractor capable of the relatively fast road speed of 40mph.

When Joseph Bamford CBE died in 2001, JCB could very proudly be described as the biggest privately-held engineering company in the UK and a global brand with a truly world class reputation.

Caterpillar Digger

Caterpillar DiggerThe massive US corporation Caterpillar Inc is synonymous with tracked vehicles.

The Caterpillar Tractor Company, renowned for its tracked vehicles, was formed in the US in 1925 and switched from steam to diesel power in the 1930s.

The first nineteenth century steam-powered tractors were heavy and prone to getting bogged down in soft ground. As early as 1901 Alvin Lombard was granted a patent for a continuous track which he put into production on steam log haulers.

Caterpillar Bulldozer

During the First World War the first tanks with continuous tracks were employed to traverse the difficult terrain.

The Caterpillar Tractor Company began in 1925 following the merger of Holt Manufacturing and Best Gas Traction.

Caterpillar Bulldozer ToysFollowing CAT’s switch to diesel power and successful campaigns supplying the US Navy Seabees fighting construction battalions in WWII, the company emerged in the 1950’s as a global force in the design and manufacture of construction vehicles.

Today Caterpillar makes an enormous range of diggers, bulldozers, loaders and excavators supplying a wide range of industries all around the world. In fact, the term ‘bulldozer’ is more or less synonymous with Caterpillar.

In recent years Caterpillar have licensed several toy companies including Germany’s Bruder Toys to make ranges of toys based on their renowned diggers and bulldozers.

Types of Digger

Backhoe Digger
There are several different types of digger all designed for different work environments and for carrying out specific jobs.

Backhoe Loader

This incredibly compact and versatile vehicle was invented in the UK by J C Bamford in 1953. The backhoe loader is also known as a backhoe and a digger as well as by the trademark JCB initials.

The JCB digger is a triumph of vehicle engineering. Widely used in many industries, though mainly construction, the digger is conceptually straightforward; its basically a tractor with a front bucket and backhoe attached.

A digger’s front bucket can typically be used for loading whilst the backhoe is used for digging. This vehicle, unlike some other types of digger, can be driven on the road as well as used on site. The digger driver can switch functions easily with the aid of a revolving seat in the cab.

When digging, the JCB can lower its hydraulic stabilizers and front scoop to give greater stability. The hydraulic systems employed in these digging machines allow them to exert tremendous forces and dig holes and trenches quickly and easily.


ExcavatorExcavators have just one arm at the front of the cab. The arm is made up of two sections called the boom and stick with a bucket at the end. The cab is mounted on a revolving platform with either tracks or wheels beneath.

The modern hydraulic diesel excavator developed from the steam shovel patented by William Otis in 1839. The steam shovel was very widely used in the construction of railways.

Common uses for excavators include grading, landscaping, digging and demolition. Some of the largest excavators are used in the mining industry. Smaller mini excavators are used in restricted spaces and some are even designed to fit through doorways and narrow gates. Mini diggers and most wheeled excavators have a blade at the front used for pushing muck and aggregates in a similar way to a bulldozer.


Bulldozers have huge front-mounted steel blades pushed along by powerful diesel tractor units mounted on caterpillar tracks. This formidable vehicle is principally used in roadbuilding, construction and mining.

Caterpillar BulldozerThe bulldozer developed from the farm tractor, its use first becoming widespread in America from the 1920’s. The first commercial bulldozer was the Caterpillar Sixty Horsepower, or Cat 60, developed by Holt in California. Holt subsequently merged with Best in 1925 to form the now legendary Caterpillar Tractor Company.

The word bulldozer is believed to derive from the term a ‘bull-dose’ meaning a large measure of medicine, and is sometimes shortened to just dozer.

As well as different front blades for different tasks, bulldozers are often fitted with claw-like rear ripper attachments for breaking up hard surfaces. The bulldozer’s wide tracks help it to traverse the most challenging terrain without assistance, a fact that has led to its adoption by the military in armoured versions. In fact, the bulldozer is the forerunner of the modern tank.


The Loadall was first introduced to universal acclaim by JCB Excavators Ltd in 1978, though similar vehicles have been developed by Caterpillar and Manitou. The loadall is also known as a telescopic handler or telehandler.

Compact and versatile the loadall is widely used in construction and agriculture. The loadall has an extendable pivoting arm or boom with, usually, a forklift attachment. It is ideal for lifting pallets stacked with bricks or other heavy materials and raising them to inaccessible heights with great efficiency, relative safety and exact precision.

Other attachments for the loadall include the shovel, grapple and bale lift.

Wheel Loader

The wheel loader, or front loader, is a large, powerful vehicle usually fitted with a big front bucket or scoop. Wheel loaders are used in the construction, mining and logging industries.

The front loader has a large bucket which can be raised, lowered and tilted for tipping. This makes them ideal vehicles for loading trucks with loose materials such as sand, rubble, rock or aggregates. When fitted with a claw, wheel loaders can efficiently be used to lift, carry and load logs.


The skid steer or skid loader is capable of turning in its own tracks making it extremely useful in tight situations. Although it has four-wheel drive, the wheels on each side of the vehicle can turn in opposite directions simultaneously.

The first skid steer was made by US company Melroe Manufacturing in 1960. It was called the Bobcat, a name which is now used generally to describe this type of small digger.

The skid steer can be fitted with a variety of tool attachments. Used as a front loader its compact front bucket can push, load and carry.

Digger Hire

Digger hire is vital in the construction industry especially when set against the substantial cost of purchasing expensive plant that may sit idle for much of the time

Before you hire a digger its essential to know what type of machine will be required as well as some of the pitfalls. This obviously depends on the job in hand.

Micro digger hire and mini digger hire are very common as these compact vehicles are ideal for smaller digging jobs. Whats more anyone can hire these vehicles weighing up to 1.5 tonnes without a digger drivers licence, provided that they are used only on private land.

Diggers and excavators can be hired by the day, weekend, week or for longer periods. For residential use it is often the case that extremely good hire rates are offered by hire companies for weekends since they are less likely to be required for commercial use at that time.

Before hiring a digger it pays to read the small print of the rental agreement’s terms and conditions.

In order to compare costs its important to know whether VAT is included in the hire rate and if an extra charge is made for delivery.

Commonly a cleaning charge will be payable if the digger or excavator is returned ‘dirty’, meaning in a less clean condition than when it was initially hired.

The hirer will be responsible for maintaining the digger in good working order. This means ensuring that sufficient diesel, water and grease levels are maintained. More grease will be required in wet or particularly arduous conditions.

Reasonable wear and tear will be acceptable, but confirm whether the hirer is responsible for damages and repairs and to which parts of the digger. Punctures and hoses may be down to the hirer, other more involved breakdowns may be the responsibility of the digger hire company.

When hiring a digger it is important to remember that the insurance cover for the machine may well be down to you as the hirer. Similarly, insurance cover for accidents to the machine, property or yourself will most likely be down to the operator. Check with the digger hire company whether insurance is included in the rental contract or can be added.

Diggers are high value items and, though they will almost certainly be fitted with good specification immobilisers, and even if they can be stored overnight in locked premises, they should be insured. If the hire company does not offer insurance, then it is not unusual to add the digger to your house insurance, though a premium will have to be paid for this. To arrange this type of insurance you will require the make, model and serial number of the vehicle as well as the dates of the hire period.

It is perfectly possible for a private individual to hire a micro digger or mini digger up to 1.5 tonnes without any prior experience of operating these types of vehicle. The hire company will usually arrange a brief lesson on how to operate the digger, normally provided by the driver of the loading vehicle on which the digger is delivered. For example, the 1.5 tonne JCB mini digger hire operator will find just four levers in the cab; two levers for the front bucket, one for forward and one for reverse. Track driven mini excavators such as the JCB 0.8t or 1.5t units are ideal for hiring to use in confined areas such as driveways or gardens. These diggers can be hired with a range of buckets for ditching and grading etc.

Although in principle a brief lesson is sufficient to learn the basics of these smaller machines, and obviously saves on the cost of hiring the digger with a driver, clearly great care must be taken in practice to ensure the safety of the hirer and anyone assisting with the job. It is strongly advisable to attend an appropriate training course provided by an accredited training provider prior to hiring any digger with which you are unfamiliar.

When considering the larger machines, such as excavator hire or backhoe loader hire, it is necessary to have a driver with the appropriate licence and experience to drive such vehicles. This may be the hirer himself or else the possibility of digger and driver hire can entertained. Small or large contract owner operators can alternatively be engaged instead of a digger hire company. Clearly, in this latter case you get the expertise of the driver as well as just the hired digger. Bear in mind that a hire digger is of limited use in the hands of an unskilled operator.

And finally, when it comes to digger hire always remember, safety first!

Buying A Digger

Digger sales represent a major capital expenditure and should be weighed up against the relative cost of hiring a digger.

Perhaps the biggest decision to make is whether to buy a new or a used digger. Further considerations include digger insurance, licencing and driver requirements and storage. Transportation between sites may also be a factor and will affect the size of the machine purchased.

If you are looking to buy a new digger you will have to decide on the make and model as well as the size of the digger required.

The size of diggers and excavators is classified in terms of their relative weights as measured in tonnes. For example a fairly typical mini digger might weigh 1.5 tonnes. A heavier machine will have a heavier counterweight or cab weight to support a boom and stick with greater reach.

Several companies specialise in the repair and rebuilding of used diggers. It is perfectly feasible to buy a digger specifically with this aim in mind. Many dealerships and small plant specialists will offer completely or part refurbished diggers and excavators for sale. Look out for any warranties offered along with the sale, though always read the small print to be certain of what is and covered and, more importantly what is excluded.

Of course, its important not to lose sight of what the digger will actually be required to do. Is it an all-purpose relatively compact, general digger such as a JCB backhoe loader that is required, or a more specialised micro digger or giant excavator? The type of terrain on which the vehicle will be used is also important to consider. Tracked excavators can work on a greater range of terrains but do not have the road speed and capability of thier wheeled counterparts.

Before you buy a digger consider the maximum height you will be loading to and the greatest depth you will be digging to. Consider the height of the machine and its diameter; will it be able to access and effectively work in smaller jobs and, if the intention is to store the digger inside, does it fit into its storage location?

Theres little point in buying a digger you cannot transport efficiently and cost effectively. Ask yourself, if you require a trailer, do you have a suitable vehicle to tow it? Will the digger require a low loader to travel meaningful distances in a realistic time or could it be driven on the public highway?

There are a tremendous number of jcb diggers for sale through a network of official JCB dealers. JCB sales have the greatest market share in the UK. Other possible makes to consider include Caterpillar, Kubota, Volvo, Bobcat and Hitachi.

Digger plant sales are handled by a variety of heavy plant dealers throughout the UK, most of which offer for sale both new and second hand diggers. Some specialize in particular makes, others are general plant dealerships that will also offer digger buckets and attachments for sale. It is adviseable to take good note of any special aftersales service contracts offered.

Before you buy a digger consider the cost of servicing, maintenance and spare parts. If buying a new digger, you may also wish to compare the relative resale values of different makes of digger.

When buying a digger it may or may not have licence plates depending on whether it has been used on the public highway. In either case its important to check that the serial number of the vehicle, located on the chasis, ties in with the make, model and year of manufacture. Check the engine number against the serial plate. Check the details on the serial plate with the digger’s decals; is it what it claims to be? The theft and ‘ringing’ of stolen diggers is a fact of life; as usual, caveat emptor. There are specialist organisations who can perform a data check on the digger to see if it has been reported stolen, written off, or has outstanding finance on it. These organisations will also provide a useful estimate of the value of the vehicle.

Be wary of grey market imports from outside the EU. The digger’s specifications may be hard to ascertain and unsuitable and there will be potentially complex registration and insurance issues to resolve.

Unlike most other vehicles whose relative wear can be ascertained with reference to the number of miles travelled, digger ‘mileage’ can be measured in hours of operation. In general, the lower the hours the better, depending on the type of use the vehicle has been subjected to. Very hard use over a short number of hours may cause more wear than light use over a longer number of hours.

If you decide to buy a used digger, an easy way to search for used diggers for sale is on ebay. Used digger sales can easily be reviewed by price and location.

Digger Insurance

Whether bought new, second hand or hired it is vital that at all times you have full digger insurance.

When insuring a newly purchased digger it makes sense to get a quote from a specialist insurer used to dealing with heavy plant and construction machinery.

Some specialist insurers that offer liability insurance to the construction industry may extend their cover to provide insurance for excavators and jcb diggers. This can be a simple and cost effective route to heavy plant insurance.

When you hire a digger, insurance may not be offered for the rental term. It is therefore the hirer’s responsibility to arrange adequate insurance cover for the duration of the hire period.

The hire company will provide you with the necessary information to insure the digger on hire. Before approaching an insurance company or broker you will need the make, model, year of manufacture, value and serial number of the vehicle.

The insurer will also want to know where the digger will be used, for example at a private residence, by the roadside or on an isolated site. For insurance purposes you will be asked if the digger will be driven on the public highway; this may increase your premium. It will also be important to state (accurately) whether the vehicle will be locked up overnight and/or attended at all times and if it has an immobiliser.

You can arrange your JCB insurance from one day to whatever set period you specify, to begin immediately or at a predetermined date and time, for example from the moment of delivery on site.

Due to the high rates of theft of plant (and low rates of recovery), equipment and vehicles such as diggers, dumper trucks and excavators, are increasingly being security marked with CESAR mini electronic transponders tags as well as high visibility tamper proof triangular identification plates and fitted with other telematic locating devices such as Tracker or A-Track. Where these are fitted the insurer will want to know; providing this information should help reduce your premiums. Insurance companies, hire companies and the construction industry itself are very supportive of such measures.

Indeed, A-Plant, for example has recently introduced CESAR in many of its hire vehicles including mini excavators, telehandlers and dumpers. Digger insurance will be reduced where such technologies are fitted.

Digger Licence

You might assume that the DVLA would be responsible for issuing a digger licence. In fact it is the CITB that issues the only recognised industry standard digger licence.

You will not get a digger licence from the DVLA. You must undergo the appropriate digger driver licence training to get your approved CITB card. Whether you need a 360 digger licence or a jcb digger licence you must first pass your digger licence training at a CITB accredited training centre or college.

Whilst there is a special DVLA licence requirement for large goods vehicles (LGV), ‘digging machines’ are exempted. However you do still need a full current category B (car) driving licence to drive a digger on the public highway.

The Drivers and Vehicle Licencing Agency classify diggers or digging machines in the following way:-

  • vehicles which are limited to travel on public roads only for the purpose of proceeding to/from sites – used for trench digging or any kind of excavating or shovelling work eg vehicles with digging buckets/shovels

Driving an exempted goods vehicle is determined by its weight. Vehicles with a maximum authorised mass weighing between 3.5 and 7.5 tonnes may be driven at age 18 years. Vehicles which weigh more than 7.5 tonnes can be driven from the age of 21 years.

For licencing purposes the maximum authorised mass of a vehicle is calculated as the total weight of the vehicle plus the maximum load it can carry.

CITB-Construction Skills is a statutory body funded mainly by the construction industry. Their card scheme provides industry standard accreditation across the construction industry. Plant operators have their own particular scheme called the Construction Plant Competence Scheme (CPCS). This effectively is the digger driver’s licence to operate and is widely recognised on all NHBC construction sites.

The Construction Plant Competence Scheme is a card based licencing scheme to demonstrate the holder’s competence in plant operation (eg digger driving) and health and safety awareness. It is the most approximate qualification available to a digger licence.

To learn more about training for the digger licence go to the digger training page.

Digger Training

By far the most widely recognised digger training is the card scheme run by the Construction Plant Competence Scheme.

The CPCS is the plant operators section of the CITB Construction Skills organisation funded mainly by the construction industry. Many large contractors insist that digger drivers carry the card to demonstrate that they have undergone training in machine competence and health and safety awareness, though there is no legal requirement to do so.

There are two types of card issued by the CPCS. The first red Training Route card is designed for new entrants, those with limited experience and operators who would benefit from digger driver training. The full blue or green competence card is obtained by the Direct Route for which operators must be over 21 years of age with at least three years general plant operating experience and two years experience on the category of plant named on the card. Blue cards are for machine categories that have an NVQ or SVQ training qualification available.

Digger TrainingThe first two steps to acquiring the full card are to pass the CPCS operator test and the CITB-Construction Skills Health and Safety Test. If successful you can apply for the red trained plant operator card which most large construction companies require before you can drive a digger on site and begin to acquire greater experience.

The next step in the training is to log 300 machine hours in the CPCS log book and complete the appropriate NVQ or SVQ qualification. At that point you can apply to become a full CPCS cardholder. The reverse of the card will list the categories of digger you have qualified to drive, for example, excavator 180 or 360 above/below 5 tonnes, wheeled or tracked loading shovel, telescopic handler, crawler tractor/dozer and skid steer.

Training must be carried out with a CPCS Registered Training Provider, though its worth checking several providers since the rates for digger driver training courses will vary widely.

Digger training courses are of varying durations dependent upon the level of prior experience and the type of digger. For instance, typically for 360 excavator training a complete novice might need upwards of two weeks training. This excavator training would be part theory based classroom learning and part practical 360 excavator training.

Excavator training courses do vary in length and examples given are for guidance only. JCB digger training, categorised by CPCS as 180 excavators, would also require approximately two weeks of tuition. Whereas, Telescopic Handlers, JCB Loadalls, Wheel Loaders and ‘Loading Shovels’ require less driver training, typically a one week course for beginners.

The Registered Training Provider will provide certificated evidence of your attendance at the course. They can also assess candidates for the CITB Construction Skills Health and Safety Test. National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) testing can be done via On-Site Assessment and Training (OSAT). This involves an NVQ assessor watching you operate your digger on site, speaking to supervisors and taking photographic evidence.