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Industry Toys and games
Founded Mound, Minnesota, United States (1946)
Founder Lynn Everett Bake,
Avery F. Crounse,
Alvin F. Tesch
Key people
Russell L. Wenkstern[1]
Parent Hasbro (1991–present)
Tonka toys
1960s Tonka truck
1978 model Tonka bottom dump truck

Tonka is an American producer of toy trucks.[2] 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. The Winifred Museum in Winifred, Montana, has a collection of more than 3,000 Tonka toys.[3]


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.[4]

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.[5] 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.[6] In 1964, Tonka acquired the Mell Manufacturing Company in Chicago, allowing it to produce barbecue grills, eventually under the Tonka Firebowl label.[7]

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.[8]

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

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.

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]

In other media[edit]

Video games[edit]

15 video games based on the toys were released between 1996 to 2006.[11]

Game Title Release Date
Tonka Construction August 20, 1996
Tonka Search & Rescue October 15, 1997
Tonka Garage April 7, 1998
Tonka Construction 2 October 2, 1999
Tonka Raceway December 6, 1999
Tonka Space Station November 6, 2000
Tonka Search & Rescue 2 November 15, 2000
Tonka Monster Truck September 25, 2001
Tonka: Rescue Patrol November 18, 2003
Tonka Firefighter February 27, 2004
Tonka: On The Job November 15, 2006


A direct-to-video movie, title Tonka Tough Truck Adventures: The Biggest Show on Wheels!, was released in 2004.

In 2012, an animated movie based on the toys 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]


  1. ^ Published: January 22, 2000 (January 22, 2000). "Russell L. Wenkstern, 87, Toy Chief and Dump Truck Co-Developer - New York Times". Retrieved October 22, 2012. 
  2. ^ ANTHONY RAMIREZPublished: February 1, 1991 (February 1, 1991). "Tonka Accepts Offer From Hasbro - New York Times". Retrieved October 17, 2012. 
  3. ^ "Winifred Museum - Russell Country Montana". Retrieved October 22, 2012. 
  4. ^ "Tonka`s Troubles Nothing To Toy With As Ghostbusters Line Fades". Chicago Tribune. August 19, 1990. Retrieved October 17, 2012. 
  5. ^ Dennis David and Lloyd Laumann, Tonka (MBI Publishing Company, 2004) p14
  6. ^ "Tonka Logo". Retrieved October 17, 2012. 
  7. ^ Dennis David, Lloyd L. Laumann, Tonka, 2004, MBI Publishing Company, pp. 85–6, ISBN 0-7603-1868-9
  8. ^ ANTHONY RAMIREZPublished: February 1, 1991 (February 1, 1991). "Tonka Accepts Offer From Hasbro". The New York Times. Retrieved October 17, 2012. 
  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. ^ Game Search - GameFAQs, CBS Interactive Inc.,
  12. ^ a b Fleming, Mike (June 11, 2012). "Sony To Make Tonka Trucks Animated Pic". Deadline. Retrieved June 30, 2012. 

External links[edit]