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Toys – Tonka

3 min read
Toys – Tonka

Tonka Toys. Even the name sounds tough. And make no mistake about it. Tonka toys were tough, especially back in the good old days when toys were made to last, or as they would say in their TV commercials, “They’re made Tonka tough”. Yes, every tough kid had to have his Tonka truck. So when did this all start? How long has Tonka been cranking out these tough trucks?

Tonka started in 1947. The first trucks were made by a company called Mound Metalcraft. The company was located in Mound, Minnesota in a very small warehouse. No, this wasn’t what you would call a big business when it began. The company itself actually specialized in manufacturing garden tools, which had to be tough. Taking that some technology and approach, they began making some of the toughest trucks ever put together.

In their first year alone, Mound Metalcraft manufactured over 37,000 of these tough trucks. This in spite of the fact that they only had two designs. The two designs were a steam shovel and a crane. Oh and in case you’re wondering, the word Tonka means “great” in Sioux.

After World War II Tonka trucks became very popular with post war families. The demand for these trucks was so great that it far outweighed production. A year of the company’s inventory would be sold out in just a few months.

The whole premise of the Tonka company and one that they refused to ever compromise on, was that their toys should be durable and give your child as much play time as possible out of them. They felt that there was no reason their toys shouldn’t last for many years. And they did.

In the almost 60 years since the first Tonka toys were made, over 250 million of them have been sold. To this day, their vehicles are made to withstand just about anything you can throw at them. What began as just two trucks has grown into a whole line of trucks and playsets.

Over the years there have been some milestones in the Tonka legacy. It took over 17 years since their first truck, but in 1964 the most popular truck that they ever made, the Mighty Dump, came into existence. No truck of theirs ever sold more units. Between 1965 and 1972 was what was called the “Mighty Age”. This is when the Tonka Mighty Series grew tremendously, giving us titles like the Mighty Clam, Crane, Shovel, Scraper, Car Carrier, Bulldozer, Wrecker, Hydraulic Dump, Roller, Bottom Dump, Mixer, Loadmaster and Grader. These were some of the most popular trucks ever.

Between 1973 and 1982 Tonka added more vehicle categories. This period of time gave us the Rescue Vehicle, Car Carrier, Forklift, Earth Mover, Adventure Buggy and, believe it or not, the Mighty Winnebago.

Over the next 25 years Tonka continued to produce quality products and new additions such as Chuck My Talking Truck, the first talking Tonka Toy.

Tonka promises to come out with trucks that are even tougher than the ones made almost 60 years ago.

That is going to be a tough act to follow.

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