For more than 70 years, the Tonka truck has been an icon of play.
Simply say the word “Tonka” and you’re bound to conjure an immediate image of a gigantic yellow dump truck with black trim and massive tires. But a Tonka isn’t always a truck — sometimes it’s a tractor, a crane, a hauler, an excavator or another piece of heavy construction equipment that’s presented in the perfect scale for endless adventure. The classic Tonka vehicles were made of stamped steel, rugged plastics, and could withstand years of hardcore play. Whatever job a kid could dream up, Tonka could tackle it.
I grew up as a Tonka kid.
My cousins and I spent a lot of time with our fleet of Tonka vehicles. And a few years back, I ran across a couple “vintage” pieces at a parking lot sale held in an unlikely, yet appropriate location: a construction company. I bought them for my own kids.
Tonka was created in 1946 by a gardening supply company in Mound, Minnesota, called Mound Metalcraft, which later became Tonka Toys Incorporated. Hasbro eventually purchased Tonka, and along with its licensees, has been producing new toys under the name since 1991. As tastes have changed, the Tonka brand has fluctuated in the mainstream, but it’s never gone away.
So why the history lesson?
Well, Basic Fun! just brought Tonka back to its rough and tumble roots, and the Florida-based toymaker is raising a flag for the legacy of real play. We’re talking genuine Tonka here — not just any yellow truck, and not a plastic shell with the Tonka name slapped on it. The Tonka Steel Classics line lives up to the slogan on the package: “Made with Metal. Built Tonka Tough.”
Created under license from Hasbro, Basic Fun!’s Tonka collection re-establishes the brand for new generations. The first wave is a retro throwback to kids who grew up with the brand and now have kids of their own. The Front Loader, Bulldozer, and Mighty Dump Truck are all back in action and reporting for duty. It’s icy outside right now, but I can’t wait to see my kids playing with these when the sandbox thaws out this spring. Of course, a little snow is no match for Tonka, especially when the big one rolls out: the Toughest Mighty Dump Truck.
Conveniently, Basic Fun! has just the trick for bringing the fun of down and dirty play indoors without a mess.
Tonka Metal Movers are small-scale, die-cast vehicles that kids can hold in the palm of their hand. Each Metal Movers two-pack comes with 5 ounces of “Tonka Tough Dirt” — a sand compound that kids can pack and pound like dirt, but it cleans up without at mud or mess. It’s perfect for playing on the floor or table at any time – and a fantastic way for kids to have some “summer fun” when it’s cold or rainy outside.
As a lifelong Tonka fan, I’m really impressed with the first wave of Tonka Steel Classics and Metal Movers and look forward to seeing what else rolls out in the months and years ahead.