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Industry Toys and games
Founded Mound, Minnesota, United States (June 22, 1946)
FounderLynn Everett Bake,
Avery F. Crounse,
Alvin F. Tesch
Mound   OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg
Key people
Russell L.Wenkstern Nathon Tonka [1]
Parent Hasbro (1991–present)
Funrise Toys (2011–2020)
Basic Fun! (2020–present)
Website   OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg
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.



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]

After some modifications to the design by Alvin Tesch and the addition of a new logo created by Erling Eklof, the company began selling metal toys, which soon became the primary business. The logo was based on a University of Minnesota drafting student's sketch by Donald B. Olson, who later became the company's chief industrial engineer. The logo used the Dakota Sioux word tanka, which means "great" or "big". [4] :14 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, Illinois, allowing it to produce barbecue grills, eventually under the Tonka Firebowl label. [4] :85–86

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. [6] 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. [7]

Tonka has produced a variety of toys, 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 .

Tonka produced video games as Tonka 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 US. However, the Master System's market share declined, since Tonka did not 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. [8]

In 2001, Tonka trucks were inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame at The Strong in Rochester, New York. [9] The Winifred Museum in Winifred, Montana, has a collection of more than 3,000 Tonka toys. [10]

In other media

Video games

Thirteen video games based on the toys were released between 1996 and 2006. [11]

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 Construction Site2002 TDK Mediactive
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! (Direct-to-Video; CGI)September 28, 2004 Hasbro Studios, SD Entertainment, and Paramount Home Entertainment

In 2012, an animated film 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. [12] 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). [12]

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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. 1 2 David, Dennis; Laumann, Lloyd (2004). Tonka. MBI Publishing Company. ISBN   0-7603-1868-9.
  5. "Tonka Logo". Retrieved October 17, 2012.
  6. Ramirez, Anthony (February 1, 1991). "Tonka Accepts Offer From Hasbro". The New York Times. Retrieved October 17, 2012.
  7. Hirsch, Jerry (May 10, 2015). "For Arnie Rubin, selling toys has been all fun and games". Los Angeles Times . Retrieved January 22, 2019.
  8. "Hasbro Reacquires Digital Gaming Rights From Infogrames for $66 Million". (Press release). Hasbro. June 8, 2005.
  9. "Tonka Trucks". National Toy Hall of Fame. Retrieved May 19, 2013.
  10. "Winifred Museum - Russell Country Montana". Archived from the original on April 17, 2012. Retrieved October 22, 2012.
  11. Game Search: "Tonka". GameFAQs.
  12. 1 2 Fleming, Mike (June 11, 2012). "Sony To Make Tonka Trucks Animated Pic". Deadline. Retrieved June 30, 2012.