The year of manufacture of most Tonka trucks is fairly easy to determine by focusing on the Tonka logo door decal. There are minor differences in some year models such as the hood scoop and windshield posts for the 1957 Tonka pickup versus the 1956 Tonka pickup, however by focusing on the Tonka logo door decal you can narrow down the year of production. Once you know the years the truck had that particular logo decal, you should be able to do a little online research and come up with the toy's exact year of production based upon such things as grill type, hubcaps, headlights, tailgate, tires, etc.
1947-1955 Tonka Logo - top portion has red letters on gold background with three birds flying in the sky; note "Mound Metalcraft Inc. Mound, Minn." in white letters in lower portion on blue background with "waves" symbolizing Lake Minnetonka. There is a small "by" in red letters just beneath the "Tonka Toys" wording.
1956-1957 Tonka Logo - top portion has red letters on gold background with three birds flying in the sky; the lower portion stil has the waves of Lake Minnetonka in blue; note "Mound Metalcraft Inc." is now gone and just "Mound, Minn." appears in the lower portion.
1958-1961 Tonka Logo - note major change in design. The three birds still fly in the sky however the sky is now white and the lower portion still has the waves of Lake Minnetonka, however the lake color is now gold.
1962-1969 Tonka Logo - new style font for company name in white on red background in upper portion with gold background in the lower section. The "waves" of Lake Minnetonka still appear and "Mound, Minn." is now shown in black letters over a gold background.
1970-1973 Tonka Logo - Subtle change by eliminating "Mound, Minn." from the lower portion and instead using "U.S.A." over a gold background.
1974-1975 Tonka Logo - The upper portion has a slight change by moving the circle R for registered trademark to the end of the word "Tonka"; lower portion has no writing and a bright yellow background.
1976-1977 Tonka Logo - The "waves" of Lake Minnetonka are now gone and the entire decal has a red background with the word "Tonka" in white. The registered trademark symbol again is moved above the "k" in Tonka.
1978-Present Tonka Logo - The oval has been dropped and the word "Tonka" appears in red with the registered trademark symbol above the "k" in Tonka.
Interesting Tonka Facts:
- The word "Tonka" comes from the Dakota-Sioux word meaning "great."
- On November 22, 1955, the company's name was changed from Mound Metalcraft Incorporated to Tonka Toys Incorporated.
- In 1957 Tonka perfected the progressive die stamping method enabling them to manufacture over 10,000 trucks per day.
- By the mid-1960's Tonka increased their annual output to 8,000,000 toys, which exceeded the combined output of the American automobile industry and Tonka became the largest builder of toy trucks in the world.
- The Mighty Tonka Dump Truck introduced in 1964, and still being produced today, became the most successful toy truck in history with over 25 million sold.
- The last Tonka Toy manufactured in the Mound, Minnesota facility was a Tonka Hard Hat on December 9, 1983 and on April 21, 1983 Tonka Toys began rolling off the new assembly line in El Paso, Texas.
- At peak production, 1,500 employees produced 325,000 Tonka Toys per week.
- More than 12,500 tons of 20-gauge automotive grade steel were used each year, which is enough to build 19,500 automobiles
- Tonka manufactured over 60 million toy tires each year.
- Tonka used more than 50,000 gallons of nontoxic paint annually. This was enough paint to cover 10,000 houses.
- The Tonka press room punched out over 1 million stampings each week.
- Tonka was acquired by Hasbro in 1991.
Tonka Facts from: "Tonka" by Dennis David and Lloyd Laumann, copyright 2004.
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Fred Carlton ~ TonkaToyMan from Tonka Town