Some companies started in a garage, Tonka started in a Minnesota school basement. The company, founded in 1946 by Lynn Baker, Avery Crounse and Alvin Tesch, initially manufactured garden and closet accessories and was named Mound Metalcraft.
It wasn’t until 1955 when the company manufactured and distributed its first line of toy trucks: steam shovels and cranes. The success of the line of trucks was such that the company abandoned its initial focus, changed its name to Tonka and concentrated on making toy trucks.
In 1964 Tonka launched its most popular truck to date, the Mighty Dump, a sturdy yellow dump truck made from automotive grade steel. The company made sure its products resembled the real trucks and did extensive research to ensure their authentic feel and look.
Tonka’s toys have been such a part of the fiber of American classic toys that Tonka trucks were inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame in Rochester, New York in 2001.
There are also museums dedicated to these iconic trucks, such as the Tonka Toy Museum located on the top floor of the Mound City Hall in Minnesota where the company started. The Winifred Museum in Winifred, Montana has one of the largest collections of Tonka toys in the world with more than 3,000 items on display.
In 1991 Tonka became part of the Hasbro family of brands.
Over the years Tonka has manufactured and distributed a variety of toys, such as the doll lines for Star Fairies, Bathing Beauties, Hollywoods and Maple Town. The brand also produced Steel Monsters, Spiral Zone, Rock Lords and Gobots and was the original manufacturer of Pound Puppies in the 80s.
But the toys that most people associate with the name Tonka are trucks; sturdy, well-made and designed toy trucks. The Tonka brand still has an extensive lineup of work trucks, with Front Loaders, Classic Dump Trucks, Graders, Bulldozers, Pick Up Trucks, Trenchers, Back Hoes and Fire Trucks.
Tonka also has a line named Tonka Chuck & Friends that offers easier to handle vehicles for younger children. This line includes Boomer the Fire Truck, Rowdy the Garbage Truck, Biggs the Monster Truck and Dusty the 4x4 Truck, to name a few. The Chuck & Friends line has vehicles in different sizes, some with remote control and talking features and it also has a wide selection of playsets and accessories.
Tonka’s line of Die-Cast vehicles is designed with Tonka’s high quality standards with a metal body. This line has a wide array of vehicles, including rescue trucks, emergency vehicles, construction trucks, helicopters, boads and many more.
It seems that nowadays there is a new toy fad every couple of years. One type of toy will become popular for a year or two and then kids will move on to the next fad. So it is amazing to find a toy that has been around since the 50s and it still is at the forefront of the industry and keeps gaining fans with every new generation.
Any kid today can play with a Tonka truck very similar to the ones used by his or her parents or grandparents. In fact, Tonka trucks are so sturdy, a kid today can play with the same truck his or her parents used in the 50s because many Tonka vehicles have sustained the pass of time beautifully.
Tonka trucks are fun and well-made classic toys that we are sure will continue capturing children’s imaginations for decades to come. For their great design, sturdy construction and realistic portray of real vehicles, we have to give Tonka 5 stars out of 5.