Tonka Toys – The Toy Company Review
When most of us think of toy trucks for young children, the one toy company that jumps immediately to mind is Tonka. This long lived and successful toy company has been providing quality toy trucks to children for decades. Interestingly, the company didn’t originally start out intending to become primarily a manufacturer of children’s toys. Originally called Mound Metalcraft, and created on September 18, 1946 in Mound, Minnesota, the company’s intent was to manufacturer garden tools and different kinds of metal tie racks. They decided to modify some lines of metal toys that they had inherited from a former occupant of the building, the Streater Company, as side products. Little did they know that these side products would soon become their best selling products and take over the whole operation.
IN 1955, on November 23, the name of the Mound Metalcraft Company was officially changed to Tonka Toys Incorporated. They chose the name “Tonka” because it was a Dakota Sioux word which meant “Big” or “Great”. Of course, the toys that they created were actually smaller versions of their larger adult counterparts, but the name signifies the aspiration that every young child has to become bigger, to grow up, and to take part in adult activities like driving dump trucks and working in the dirt.
Tonka is most famous for its line of trucks for children, which have gained a reputation for being incredibly durable and difficult to break. Surprisingly, though, Tonka also manufactures several other lines of toys that are very different from trucks, such as the Star Fairies dolls, the Bathing Beauties dolls, the Hollywood’s dolls, the Keypers Animal Shaped Lock Boxes, and the Pound Puppies. But Tonka also delved into more toys or boys, such as the Gobots toys, the Rock Lords, and the Steel Monsters.
Tonka even continued to branch out into other non toy metal manufacturing lines, for example, in 1964 it acquired the Mell Manufacturing Company from Chicago, Illinois, and from that began to produce barbecue grills, giving them the label “Tonka Firebowl”. Currently, however, the company is owned by Hasbro and is focused specifically on creating toys for young children. High quality plastic has replaced metal for Tonka trucks in many places, but the company’s reputation for great quality durable toys continues to satisfy new generations of consumers.
Over its history, the Tonka Toy Company has produced over 3,000 different lines of toys, which have been catalogued and can be seen at the Winifred Museum in Winifred, Montana. Today, Tonka continues to think up new lines of toys for young children and provide high quality play experiences that will stay with young minds for a lifetime. Tonka’s even delved into the electronic age with new toys that are meant to be interactive, such as the Tonka Interactive Rumblin Chuck, an animated little dump truck with a face and voice that moves around on its own and engages young children in fun play through sensors situated throughout its body.
Tonka continues to evolve and change with the times as each generation continues to grow, learn, and have babies of its own which will play with new and different Tonka toys. The company is sure to provide toys to keep children happy for decades to come.
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