Vintage Tonka Trucks – Metal Toys that Last

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In the electronic age that we live in today, it’s fun to look back at various forms of entertainment. Toys certainly aren’t what they used to be and usually take the form of video games or some other electronic device. But back in the day, a few pieces of plastic slapped together was all that was needed to provide hours of fun.

In the case of Tonka, it wasn’t always plastic, though. The toy company that specialized in making miniature metal trucks was founded in 1946. Mound Metalcraft, as the company was originally named, was run by three partners, with the intent of selling gardening tools.

Tonka Started out with Gardening Tools

Tonka Image1 280x210 Vintage Tonka Trucks   Metal Toys that LastAs a side project to their main business, the men began manufacturing metal toys. As it turned out, the toy sales skyrocketed and it soon became their primary business. They adopted the Dakota-Sioux word for “Great” as their company name and in 1955, Mound Metalcraft officially became Tonka Toys Incorporated.

The most recognizable and popular line of toys didn’t come until a decade later. The construction line featured various vehicles and construction equipment. The signature dump truck is what most people think of when they hear “Tonka truck.”

Click here for another vintage tonka trucks article from us. Over the past half century, these vintage toys have been keeping young kids entertained, even when the company made the switch from metal to plastic in the late ’80s. After all, a tough truck is still a tough truck, even if it’s been plasticized. Tonka also expanded early on to include girls in its market with a line of dolls and the original Pound Puppies.

Though the company was purchased by Hasbro in 1991, Tonka toys are still being made today, with a similar level of detail, much to the joy of many children. In fact, you can still find a good Tonka Truck for under $50. It’s a purchase that you only have to make once.

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13 Comments

  1. hi there, i got this truck when i was six or seven, and have just been blessed with a beautiful son, and was wondering can the stickers be located for these trucks also have a loading shovel that needs stickers

  2. Hey, I remember as a boy all i wanted for Christmas was a Tonka Big Yellow Dump Truck. Tody I am sorry that when I reaches 14 I gave it to my cousin, who didn’t care it, bu thank God I bought one of the new ones and it now enclosed in my glass cabinet along with my Triang, and Autoart models which I collect.

  3. I have some metal Tonka trucks, fire truck, dump truck, tow truck, military jeep trucks and more, I was just wondering if anyone know if they are worth anything today. Thanks

  4. You say that tonka trucks moved to plastic – which is true but they still use metal for the dump truck area. 5.2 million lbs of steel are still used to create tonka trucks each year.

  5. my mother worked for Mattel when I was a little kid so my sister got Barbie’s and I got Hot Wheels and Tonka trucks I can remember being able to put one leg in the dumptruck and push it with my other leg ,I even broke the wooden gate driving into the gate truck and I were fine

  6. I was wondering about a vintage tonka trucks mine is red and trying to find out how much it would be worth it looks like it was put through the ringer. but wanted info please contact me at this email address

  7. I BOUGHT MY SONS TONKA TWO PIECE FIRE TRUCK IN 1968. HAS AIREL LADDER.HOW DO YOU TELL THE YEAR ON THE TRUCK?,ALSO WHAT ARE THEY WORTH TODAY?. THANK YOU FOR ANY HELP.

  8. hey i dont think those are the original tonka toys those were made b a guy named streater anyway someone is selling on of 3 original toys left its streater excavating on ebay the featured i think, its got to be worth thousands

  9. Not sure about that one Samantha. Try doing a google search for tonka collectors, maybe. Good luck!

  10. Samantha Vadnais on

    How do you tell the year on tonka trucks and what are they worth? Please notify me at my e-mail address!
    Thank You Samantha Vadnais

  11. Its good to see a couple of pics of the original Tonka toys. I had the Bulldozer pictured above, the original bulldozer which had the blade lever in the operators station, the articulated front end loader and the original Dumptruck (also above). Provided hundreds of hours of entertainment in the strip of earth down the side of my mums house. Wished they still made them the original way!

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