Given that it is statistically likely that at least a few people are reading this on an iPhone with a cracked screen, it’s probably not going to blow anyone’s mind for us to say that modern technology, as impressive as it is, is often quite flimsy. Something that contrasts quite starkly with the design philosophy of the humble Tonka Truck, a toy so sturdy it was literally designed to survive being stomped on by an elephant.
Referred to in advertising and official company literature as the Tonka Mighty Dump Truck, this hunk of yellow steel was first manufactured by the Tonka company (now owned by Hasbro) in 1965 and quickly became the toy for kids who enjoyed kicking the shit out of their belongings.
Part of the reason why is that the truck was effectively indestructible in comparison to other toys of the era. In fact, there are still Tonka Trucks from the motherfucking 1960’s in the hands of collectors that not only still work, but look like they’re brand new. This is largely because the body of early Tonka Trucks was made of automotive grade steel whilst the wheels were solid hunks of hardened rubber, both of which can survive decades of abuse because it’s literally the stuff actual dump trucks are made of.
However, the company had to change this when they began receiving complaints that the toy was literally too heavy for children to lift, resulting in minor changes being made to it’s design. This said, Tonka remained absolutely steadfast in its commitment to ensuring that the toy retained its now legendary levels of durability, going as far to issue each toy sold with a lifetime warranty that guaranteed anyone who bought one free Tonka toys for life if they somehow managed to break one during normal play. As an aside, Hasbro continues to honor this, though only for toys made after they bought the brand.
Far from being a marketing stunt or something like that, the offer was genuine and Tonka was exceptionally proud of the toy’s toughness, famously advertising it by having a elephant stomp on one. With the ad’s tagline reading simply, a toy shouldn’t break just because you play with it.
This was by no means a one time thing and in yet another ad, the company paid to have an actual dump-truck drive off a cliff and threw a Tonka Truck down after it. As you might expect given the image directly above this sentence, the Tonka Truck survived and was still working when it landed. The dump truck however was completely totaled.
With this in mind it probably comes as no surprise that Tonka was famously very skeptical of anyone who claimed to have broken one of their trucks through normal play and as a result, maintained an internal team of experts whose only job was making sure said claims were genuine. Hasbro has continued this tradition and seemingly remains as confident in the resilience of the toys as Tonka was. Something we say because according to a persistent industry rumour, there has only been 7 people world-wide who have ever successfully managed to convince the company they broke a Tonka Truck by playing with it.
A claim we’d be hesitant to believe if it wasn’t for the fact there’s literal video evidence of one of these things shoulder-pressing an entire elephant.