Tough Tonka Toys!

May of us remember playing with Tonka trucks as a kid in the sandpit out the back, and the good news that Tonka toys are still going strong in the 21st century!

Tonka Toys started way, way back in 1946 as Mound Metalcraft, in Mound, Minnesota, USA. Strangely enough, the three men who started the company planned to manufacture garden implements, and their first products were metal tie-racks! Fate decreed, however, that what started as a sideline—two metal toys originally produced by a company that used to occupy their building—became their main business. In their first year of operation, a staff of only a half dozen people produced a total of 37,000 metal trucks in just two designs. In 1955 the company became Tonka Toys and metal toys became their primary business—the Dakota-Sioux word ‘Tonka’ was chosen because it means ‘strength’. Tonka Toys was purchased by the toy giant Hasbro in 1991.

Tonka Toys have always been known for indestructability, even though the original metal was gradually replaced by mostly plastic since the late 1980s. They are especially known for dump trucks and the ‘Mighty’ line of construction equipment that was introduced in 1964. Even though they’ve also produced dolls, computer games and plush toys over the years, they’ll always be known for tough toy trucks. The Winifred Museum in Winifred, Montana, has a collection of more than 3,000 Tonka toys, possibly the largest collection in the world.

Take the Classic Dump Truck—it’s all about ‘big ’n chunky’! Even the plastic chassis and front end are sturdy, and the tipping truck bed—itself nearly a foot long—is a solid slab of yellow steel. The tyres are almost 13cm in diameter, built for travelling over any pile of lesser toys! Sure, this is not a vehicle with a great deal of sophistication—the truck bed tilts, and that’s it—but it can take a lot of rough use!

The beefy Tonka Strong Arm Dump Truck has a super action trigger lever. Pull the lever and the Dump Truck vibrates as sparks flash in the arm’s window. Squeeze the trigger and the dump truck bed lifts and dumps!

For something a little more complex, check out the Tonka Mod Machines System Deluxe DX9 Rock Crawler. Create and customize your own ‘monster’ vehicle—and then take it apart to do it all over again! The cool DX9 Rock Crawler vehicle comes with parts accessories that allow you to configure it to your own design. Add the lower traction wheels for some ‘city driving’ or the high-traction wheels for ‘adventure driving’. The spoiler even converts to a plow accessory! When you’ve got your vehicle built, start cranking up the power and lift your speed mode for stability or lower it for increased speed. Either way, you and your customized vehicle have some awesome driving ahead of you! The set includes the vehicle body, 2 sets of 4 tires, a spoiler that converts to a ‘plow”, and Tonka tool accessories.

When you can’t tell what kind of ‘road’ conditions you’re going to face, you need a vehicle that can handle them all! The die-cast Tonka Tread Shifters can be customized and converted to handle the toughest on or off-road ‘terrain’ conditions. Choose from more than 20 wheel positions and decide if you’ll need the four off-road treads. Adjust your axles to just the right position and put the roll cage accessory on or take it off. No matter how you configure your vehicle, you’ll be the king of the sandbox! the vehicle body comes with 4 off-road treads and a removable roll-cage accessory.

Chek out the different models— the Swamp Shocker, the Turbo Euro Rally, the Continent Cruiser, the Cavern Crawler, the Surf-N-Dirt, and the Quicksand Crusher—all specially designed for tough terrain the world over!

Tonka Toys have definitely moved beyond those original two metal trucks, but they’re still producing tough toys for tough use. You can trust a Tonka toy to take the punishment that only a child with a big imagination is capable of dishing out!