From WikiAlpha
Jump to: navigation, search
Industry Toys and games
Founded Mound, Minnesota, United States (June 22, 1946)
Founder(s) Lynn Everett Baker,
Avery F. Crounse,
Alvin F. Tesch
Key people Russell L.Wenkstern[1]
Parent Hasbro (1991–present)
Funrise Toys (1998–2020)
Basic Fun! (2020–present)
File:1960's Tonka Truck.JPG
1960s Tonka truck
File:Tonka Bottom dump truck.jpg
1978 model Tonka bottom dump truck

Tonka is an American producer of toy trucks.[2] The company is 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, 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 sideline 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, 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, such as Keypers, and aimed at boys, such as Gobots, Rock Lords, Spiral Zone, Legions of Power 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 Title Release Date Developer Publisher
Tonka Construction August 20, 1996 Vortex Media Arts Hasbro Interactive
Tonka Search & Rescue October 15, 1997 Media Station
Tonka Garage April 7, 1998
Tonka Construction 2 October 2, 1999 ImaginEngine
Magellan Interactive
Tonka Raceway December 6, 1999 Media Station
Tonka Space Station November 6, 2000 Data Design Interactive
Tonka Monster Trucks September 25, 2001 Data Design Interactive Infogrames
Tonka Search & Rescue 2 November 15, 2002 Artech Studios
Tonka Construction Site 2002 TDK Mediactive
Tonka Town Late 2003 ImaginEngine Atari
Tonka: Rescue Patrol November 18, 2003 Lucky Chicken Games TDK Mediactive
Tonka Firefighter February 27, 2004 Unknown Atari
Tonka: On the Job November 15, 2006 Webfoot Technologies THQ


TV series

Title Premiere date End date Network Note
Challenge of the GoBots September 8, 1984 1985 First-run syndication co-production with Hanna-Barbera Productions
Pound Puppies September 13, 1986 December 19, 1987 ABC

TV movies and specials

Title Premiere date Network Co-production with
Star Fairies October 26, 1985 Syndication Hanna-Barbera Productions
Pound Puppies ABC


# Title Release date Co-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
3 Tonka 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 alumnus 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]


  1. Published: January 22, 2000 (January 22, 2000). "Russell L. Wenkstern, 87, Toy Chief and Dump Truck Co-Developer". The New York Times. 
  2. ANTHONY RAMIREZPublished: February 1, 1991 (February 1, 1991). "Tonka Accepts Offer from Hasbro". The New York Times. 
  3. "Tonka's Troubles Nothing To Toy With As Ghostbusters Line Fades". Chicago Tribune. August 19, 1990. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 David, Dennis; Laumann, Lloyd (2004). Tonka. MBI Publishing Company. ISBN 0-7603-1868-9. 
  5. "History of Tonka Toys". 
  6. Ramirez, Anthony (February 1, 1991). "Tonka Accepts Offer From Hasbro". The New York Times. 
  7. Hirsch, Jerry (May 10, 2015). "For Arnie Rubin, selling toys has been all fun and games". Los Angeles Times. 
  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. 
  10. "Winifred Museum - Russell Country Montana". 
  11. Game Search: "Tonka". GameFAQs.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Fleming, Mike (June 11, 2012). "Sony To Make Tonka Trucks Animated Pic". Deadline. 

External links