Tonka Toys of the 80s

Written by angela castillo
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The Tonka Toys company started in 1946 as a business called Mound Metalcraft. According to the Antique Toys Today website, the original focus of the business was to make tie racks and garden tools. In 1947, the focus shifted to metal trucks. The name of the company was changed to Tonka Toys in 1955, and the company quickly became a huge success. During the 1980s, the Tonka Brand branched out to include many types of toys aimed at both girls and boys.

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Pound Puppies

Tonka purchased Pound Puppies, which were the creation of Mike Bowling, in 1985. In 1986 they became the best selling toy in the world. They came in a variety of sizes and colours, and each one came in a box that looked like a doghouse. Many different accessories, including pet carriers and beds, were available for them. In 1988 Hanna-Barbera created a cartoon series based on the popular stuffed toys, and they also inspired a full-length feature movie that came out in theatres in 1988. Other animals were soon created for the line, including Pound Pur-r-ries (cats) and Pound Ponies.


Go-Bots figurines were based on a popular animated series that ran during the early 80s. According to the Toy Archive web site, there were more than 60 figures produced between 1984 and 1987. Like their competitors, Transformers, there were the good guys (Guardians) and the bad guys (Renegades). Another similar feature was that the robots could transform into vehicles. Some of the toys were available with hologram cards.

Tonka Trucks

Through the 1980s, Tonka continued to produce the toy trucks that made them famous. In 1983, Tonka changed the basic design of their trucks that had been a standard since 1964. This design is still incorporated in trucks manufactured today. In addition to trucks, they also created bulldozers, cranes, dump trucks, front-end loaders and many other models of heavy equipment. Tonka trucks are known for their durability and craftsmanship.


Keypers came in two sizes, babies and adults. They were made by Tonka from 1985 to 1990. The adult dolls had a door located on their bodies that you could open with a key; the babies simply had a small storage compartment. They came in a large variety of styles including bears, rabbits, cats, dogs, squirrels and kangaroos. The dolls came with brushes and soft hair that you could style, similar to the popular "My Little Pony" dolls made by Kenner.

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