Last updated

Industry Toys and games
Founded Mound, Minnesota, United States (1946)
FounderLynn Everett Bake,
Avery F. Crounse,
Alvin F. Tesch
Key people
Russell L.Wenkstern Nathon Tonka [1]
Parent Hasbro (1991–present)
Funrise Toys (2011-present)
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Tonka toys Played with Tonka toys.jpg
Tonka toys
1960s Tonka truck 1960's Tonka Truck.JPG
1960s Tonka truck
1978 model Tonka bottom dump truck Tonka Bottom dump truck.jpg
1978 model Tonka bottom dump truck

Tonka is an American producer of toy trucks. [2] The company was known for making steel toy models of construction type trucks and machinery. Maisto International, which makes diecast vehicles, acquired the rights to use the Tonka name in a line of 1:64 scale diecast vehicles, featuring mostly trucks.


Maisto International Inc. is a globally marketed toy brand that is part of the May Cheong Group. Though the brand is now headquartered in California, its origins and main company today are in Hong Kong. Maisto mainly manufactures die-cast models of automobiles, aircraft, and motorcycles. The company has also manufactured a number of Tonka products under license from Hasbro. It also now owns the former Italian Bburago and Polistil brand names.

Die casting metal casting process that is characterized by forcing molten metal under high pressure into a mould cavity

Die casting is a metal casting process that is characterized by forcing molten metal under high pressure into a mold cavity. The mold cavity is created using two hardened tool steel dies which have been machined into shape and work similarly to an injection mold during the process. Most die castings are made from non-ferrous metals, specifically zinc, copper, aluminium, magnesium, lead, pewter, and tin-based alloys. Depending on the type of metal being cast, a hot- or cold-chamber machine is used.



Mound Metalcraft was created in 1946 in Mound, Minnesota, by Lynn Everett Baker (1898–1964), Avery F. Crounse, and Alvin F. Tesch. Their original intent was to manufacture garden implements. Their building's former occupant, the Streater Company, had made and patented several toys. E. C. Streater was not interested in the toy business so they approached Mound Metalcraft. The three men at Mound Metalcraft thought they might make a good side line to their other products. [3]

Mound, Minnesota City in Minnesota, United States

Mound is a city in Hennepin County, Minnesota, United States. The population was 9,052 at the 2010 census. Mound is the birthplace of the Tonka truck, named after Lake Minnetonka. The Tonka Toys headquarters was originally in Mound, but moved to facilitate material deliveries. Mound is about twenty miles west of downtown Minneapolis, the county seat.

Minnesota State of the United States of America

Minnesota is a state in the Upper Midwest, Great Lakes, and northern regions of the United States. Minnesota was admitted as the 32nd U.S. state on May 11, 1858, created from the eastern half of the Minnesota Territory. The state has a large number of lakes, and is known by the slogan the "Land of 10,000 Lakes". Its official motto is L'Étoile du Nord.

After some modifications to the design by Alvin Tesch and the addition of a new logo created by Erling Eklof (based on a University of Minnesota drafting student's sketch by Donald B. Olson who later became the company Chief Industrial Engineer; with the Dakota Sioux word "Tanka" or Tonka, which means "great" or "big"), the company began selling metal toys, which soon became the primary business. [4] In November, 1955, Mound Metalcraft changed its name to Tonka Toys Incorporated. The logo at this time was an oval, showing the Tonka Toys name in red above waves, presumably honoring nearby Lake Minnetonka. [5] In 1964, Tonka acquired the Mell Manufacturing Company in Chicago, allowing it to produce barbecue grills, eventually under the Tonka Firebowl label. [6]

Dakota, also referred to as Dakhota, is a Siouan language spoken by the Dakota people of the Sioux tribes. Dakota is closely related to and mutually intelligible with the Lakota language. It is critically endangered, with only around 290 fluent speakers left out of an ethnic population of almost 20,000.

Lake Minnetonka lake in Minnesota, United States

Lake Minnetonka is an inland lake located approximately 15 miles (24 km) west-southwest of Minneapolis, Minnesota. The lake lies within Hennepin County and Carver County and is surrounded by 13 municipalities. At 14,528 acres (5,879 ha), it is Minnesota's ninth largest lake and is popular among boaters, sailors, and fishermen. It is also one of Minnesota's most affluent residential areas.

Chicago City in Illinois, United States

Chicago, officially the City of Chicago, is the most populous city in Illinois, as well as the third most populous city in the United States. With an estimated population of 2,705,994 (2018), it is the most populous city in the Midwest. Chicago is the principal city of the Chicago metropolitan area, often referred to as Chicagoland, and the county seat of Cook County, the second most populous county in the United States. The metropolitan area, at nearly 10 million people, is the third-largest in the United States.

In 1987, Tonka purchased Kenner Parker, including UK toy giant Palitoy, for $555 million, borrowing extensively to fund the acquisition. However, the cost of servicing the debt meant Tonka itself had to find a buyer and it was eventually acquired by Hasbro in 1991. [7] In 1998, Hasbro began a licensing deal with Funrise Toys to manufacture and distribute Tonka trucks. The deal began with versions of the trucks fitted with electronics for lights and sounds, but grew to encompass the entire brand. [8]

Kenner Products was an American toy company founded in 1946. Throughout its history the Kenner brand produced several highly recognizable toys and merchandise lines, including action figures like the original series of Star Wars and Jurassic Park, as well as die cast models. The company was closed by its corporate parent Hasbro in 2000.

Palitoy was a British toy company. It manufactured some of the most popular toys in Britain, some original items and others under licence. Its products included Action Man, Action Girl, Action Force, Tiny Tears, Pippa, Tressy, Mainline Model Railways, Merlin, Star Wars figures, Play-Doh and the Care Bears.

Hasbro American toy and media company

Hasbro, Inc. is an American worldwide toy and board game company. It is the largest toy maker in the world in terms of stock market value, and third largest with revenues of approximately $5.12 billion. Hasbro acquired the trademarks and products of Kenner, Parker Brothers, and Milton Bradley, among others. Among its products are Monopoly, G.I. Joe, Furby, Transformers, Nerf, My Little Pony, Twister and the Power Rangers franchise. The Hasbro brand also spawned TV shows to promote its products, such as Family Game Night on the Discovery Family network. The corporate headquarters is located in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. The majority of its products are manufactured in East Asia.

In 2001, Tonka trucks were inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame at The Strong in Rochester, New York. [9]

The National Toy Hall of Fame is an American hall of fame that recognizes the contributions of toys and games that have sustained their popularity for many years. Criteria for induction include: icon status ; longevity ; discovery ; and innovation. Established in 1998 under the direction of Ed Sobey, it was originally housed at A. C. Gilbert's Discovery Village in Salem, Oregon, United States, but was moved to the Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester, New York, in 2002 after it outgrew its original home.

The Strong educational institution

The Strong is an interactive, collections-based educational institution in Rochester, New York, United States, devoted to the study and exploration of play. It carries out this mission through six programmatic arms called “Play Partners.” These are the National Toy Hall of Fame, the World Video Game Hall of Fame, the International Center for the History of Electronic Games, the Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play, the American Journal of Play, and the Woodbury School. The Strong houses the National Museum of Play.

Rochester, New York City in Western New York

Rochester is a city on the southern shore of Lake Ontario in western New York. With a population of 208,046 residents, Rochester is the seat of Monroe County and the third most populous city in New York state, after New York City and Buffalo. The metropolitan area has a population of just over 1 million people. It is about 73 miles (117 km) east of Buffalo and 87 miles (140 km) west of Syracuse.

Tonka has produced a variety of toys over the years, including dolls ( Star Fairies , Bathing Beauties , Maple Town , and Hollywoods ) and other toys aimed at girls like Keypers and aimed at boys like Gobots , Rock Lords , Spiral Zone , and Steel Monsters . It was the original manufacturer of the Pound Puppies toy line, and in the late 1980s licensed products inspired by Maple Town .

Doll model of a human being, often used as a toy for children

A doll is a model of a human, often used as a toy for children. Dolls have traditionally been used in magic and religious rituals throughout the world, and traditional dolls made of materials such as clay and wood are found in the Americas, Asia, Africa and Europe. The earliest documented dolls go back to the ancient civilizations of Egypt, Greece and Rome. They have been made as crude, rudimentary playthings as well as elaborate art. Modern doll manufacturing has its roots in Germany, from the 15th century. With industrialization and new materials such as porcelain and plastic, dolls were increasingly mass-produced. During the 20th century, dolls became increasingly popular as collectibles.

Star Fairies was a doll toy series of the 1980s made by the Tonka company. The dolls had different costumes and personalities. Star Fairies was adapted into a televised cartoon movie, made by Hanna-Barbera in 1985. Family Home Entertainment released this TV movie on VHS in 1986.

For the silent film actresses see Sennett's Bathing Beauties

Tonka produced video games, including Tonka Raceway, and purchased the rights to distribute and market the Sega Master System after Sega of America stopped competing against the Nintendo Entertainment System in the U.S. However, the Master System's market share declined, since Tonka didn't have experience with video games or how to market them. Hasbro sold the digital gaming rights for various properties (including My Little Pony , Magic: The Gathering , Tonka, Playskool, and Transformers ) to Infogrames for US$100 million in 2000, buying back the rights for US$66 million in June 2005. [10]

The Winifred Museum in Winifred, Montana, has a collection of more than 3,000 Tonka toys. [11]

In other media

Video games

Fifteen video games based on the toys were released between 1996 and 2006. [12]

Game TitleRelease DateDeveloperPublisher
Tonka ConstructionAugust 20, 1996Vortex Media Arts Hasbro Interactive
Tonka Search & RescueOctober 15, 1997Media Station
Tonka GarageApril 7, 1998
Tonka Construction 2October 2, 1999 ImaginEngine
Magellan Interactive
Tonka RacewayDecember 6, 1999Media Station
Tonka Space StationNovember 6, 2000Data Design Interactive
Tonka Monster TrucksSeptember 25, 2001Data Design Interactive Infogrames
Tonka Search & Rescue 2November 15, 2002 Artech Studios
Tonka TownLate 2003 ImaginEngine Atari
Tonka: Rescue PatrolNovember 18, 2003 Lucky Chicken Games TDK Mediactive
Tonka FirefighterFebruary 27, 2004UnknownAtari
Tonka: On the JobNovember 15, 2006 Webfoot Technologies THQ


TV series

TitlePremiere dateEnd dateNetworkNote
Challenge of the GoBots September 8, 19841985 First-run syndication co-production with Hanna-Barbera Productions
Pound Puppies September 13, 1986December 19, 1987 ABC

TV movies and specials

TitlePremiere dateNetworkCo-production with
Star Fairies October 26, 1985 Syndication Hanna-Barbera Productions
Pound Puppies ABC


#TitleRelease dateCo-production with
1 GoBots: Battle of the Rock Lords March 21, 1986 Hanna-Barbera Productions and Clubhouse Pictures
2 Pound Puppies and the Legend of Big Paw March 18, 1988 Tristar Pictures, Carolco Pictures, Atlantic/Kushner-Locke, The Maltese Companies, Cuckoo's Nest Studio, and Wang Film Productions
3Tonka Tough Truck Adventures: The Biggest Show on Wheels!September 28, 2004 Hasbro Studios, SD Entertainment, and Paramount Home Entertainment

In 2012, an animated movie based on the trucks toy line was in development. It was to be produced by Sony Pictures Animation, Hasbro Studios, and Happy Madison Productions, and to be distributed by Columbia Pictures. [13] A script was written by Happy Madison alumni Fred Wolf, and was to be produced by Adam Sandler and Jack Giarraputo, Brian Goldner (CEO and president of Hasbro) and Bennett Schneir (Hasbro’s senior vice president and managing director of motion pictures). [13]

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Blythe (doll)

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Playskool American company that produces educational toys and games

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  1. Published: January 22, 2000 (January 22, 2000). "Russell L. Wenkstern, 87, Toy Chief and Dump Truck Co-Developer". The New York Times . Retrieved October 22, 2012.
  2. ANTHONY RAMIREZPublished: February 1, 1991 (February 1, 1991). "Tonka Accepts Offer from Hasbro". The New York Times . Retrieved October 17, 2012.
  3. "Tonka`s Troubles Nothing To Toy With As Ghostbusters Line Fades". Chicago Tribune. August 19, 1990. Retrieved October 17, 2012.
  4. Dennis David and Lloyd Laumann, Tonka (MBI Publishing Company, 2004) p. 14
  5. "Tonka Logo". Retrieved October 17, 2012.
  6. Dennis David, Lloyd L. Laumann, Tonka, 2004, MBI Publishing Company, pp. 85–6, ISBN   0-7603-1868-9
  7. ANTHONY RAMIREZPublished: February 1, 1991 (February 1, 1991). "Tonka Accepts Offer From Hasbro". The New York Times. Retrieved October 17, 2012.
  8. Hirsch, Jerry (May 10, 2015). "For Arnie Rubin, selling toys has been all fun and games". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 22, 2019.
  9. "Tonka Trucks". National Toy Hall of Fame. Retrieved May 19, 2013.
  10. Hasbro Reacquires Digital Gaming Rights From Infogrames for $66 Million, Hasbro press release, June 8, 2005.
  11. "Winifred Museum - Russell Country Montana". Archived from the original on April 17, 2012. Retrieved October 22, 2012.
  12. Game Search: "Tonka". GameFAQs.
  13. 1 2 Fleming, Mike (June 11, 2012). "Sony To Make Tonka Trucks Animated Pic". Deadline. Retrieved June 30, 2012.