Tonka Toys


Courtesy the Minnesota Historical Society

Tonka Toys
Alvin Tesch
Mound Metalcraft Company
  • Game Design
  • Product Design

Tonka toys were invented and produced in Mound, Minnesota, by the Mound Metalcraft Company. In 1947, the company was approached by Streater Industries, another local business, to take over several toy patents. Alvin Tesch, one of the founders of Mound Metalcraft, modified some of the designs, and with the addition of a logo designed by Erling Eklof with the Dakota Sioux word Tonka'' meaningBig” in red above waves of water, presumably referring to nearby Lake Minnetonka, the Tonka Toys business began. Early toys included a crane and a steam shovel, but quickly expanded to include other trucks, delivery vans, and construction equipment. The detail of the metal toys and their reputation for being indestructible have made Tonka Toys an enduring part of childhood and a vintage collectable.