Tonka, originally know as Mound Metalcraft Company the first items produced were not the well known toys of today but rather rakes, hoes, shovels and racks for hats, ties and shoes. The first two toys were produced circa 1947. These toys were the #100 Steam Shovel and the #150 Crane and Clam. Both of these were displayed at the New York Toy Show that same year. With the positive reception of these toys, additional ones were produced. The name Tonka was derived from Lake Minnetonka which was the area where the plant producing the toys was located.
The goal of Tonka Toys was to produce a toy that was reasonable in price, could hold up to play and was fun. The first two toys were simple with hard rubber wheels. The popular cab-over or snub nose trucks were all the same, however, 1949 - 1953 changes were made to the grill of these trucks. Most of these trucks were based on the Ford trucks. In 1954 the round fender was introduced with changes to design following throughout the years.
The stamp steel Tonka toys maintained their style until 1961. After that time they were known as generic trucks and any resemblance to the Ford F Series was gone. Some collectors today specialize in the variations of Tonka trucks they collect bases on style, i.e., round fenders, cab-overs, square fenders.
By David Moncrief
For more information on Tonka trucks, check out the Tonka Price Guides available on Amazon.