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Toylines (alphabetical order)
(Tonka Drivers) (1988)
Aurora (1987)
Go Bots (1985)
Play People (1979)
Rock Lords (1986)
Spiral Zone (1987)
Star Fairies (1985)
Steel Monsters (1986)
Super Naturals (1987)
Willow (1988)
Toylines (chronological order)
1979 Play People
1985 Go Bots
1985 Star Fairies
1986 Rock Lords
1986 Steel Monsters
1987 Aurora
1987 Spiral Zone
1987 Super Naturals
1988 (Tonka Drivers)
1988 Willow
Company history
About Tonka    
Tonka began in the basement of an old school house in 1947, as Mound Metalcraft Company. Today it is the Tonka Toy Group of multi-billion dollar Hasbro, Inc. Tonka Toys is known as for making tough steel trucks, built to last. Over the years, steel ghas given way to plastic, though. Tonka's first pickup did not roll off the assembly line until 1955. So what what was going on at Mound Metalcraft from 1947 to 1955? The company make lawn and garden utensils (rakes, hoes and the like). Although the Tonka name appeared on all products manufactured by Mound Metalcraft from 1947 on, Tonka, as a company, did not incorporate until 1955.
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From the News Archive
Hasbro Transformers vs Tonka Gobots

The Transformers Vs. The Gobots

During the mid to late 1980's there was a war taking place. It was not just a war between Autobots and Decepticons, or Guardians and Renegades. It was a war between Transformers and Gobots. The war was a struggle for fans and ultimately survival. When the dust finally settled there was a clear victor in the contest. As a result of the war Transformers and Gobots have been forever linked to each others history. The conflict has had a lasting impact on today's Transformers fans. Gobots receive a very mixed reaction from the Transformers fandom. Some Transformers fans cringe at the mention of Gobots, because they hate them for some reason. Other fans are indifferent towards Gobots. There is still another group of fans who for some reason or another like something about Gobots. This article will look back at the beginning of the war, how it ended, and the lasting impact the battle had on the Transformers franchise.

The Staging Game Begins

Both Hasbro and Tonka were two of the biggest toy companies in the United States during the 1980's. Both were constantly competing in the market with one another to get parents to buy their products for children. Tonka was popular for their toy trucks and construction vehicles. Hasbro was known for a wide range of games and toys, mainly G.I. Joe. The competition would come to a head in 1984, when both companies released products that on the surface were very similar to one another, robots that could change into something else.

The beginning of the Transformers goes further back then 1984. The idea of Transforming robots was nothing new to Hasbro. Hasbro had already formed a partnership with Japanese toy maker Takara in 1969, when Hasbro, then known as Hassenfeld Brothers was looking to expand into Japan. The two companies worked together to create the Microman line based on Hassenfeld Brothers' G.I. Joe figures. In order to appeal to the Japanese market Stephen Hassenfeld developed a different type of G.I. Joe figure that looked more like a cyborg. Thus, the Microman line was born. However, the two companies were not done working with each other.

Under the direction of Stephen Hassenfeld, Hassenfeld Brothers began working on scaled accessories for either the Microman or G.I. Joe line that could turn into robots. In 1974 the company received the first patent for first transforming toy figure. This toy would later be released as Megatron. In 1981 both Takara and Hassenfeld Brothers would put the patent to use.

In 1982 Bandai, a Japanese toy company began producing a toy line of transforming robots called Machine Robo. Machine Robo enjoyed moderate success in Japan, and this caught the attention of executives at Tonka. Tonka had by this time heard the news about what was happening at Hasbro. After seeing the results of the Diakron line Tonka officials realized that there was a place in the United States market for transforming robots. So, Tonka entered a partnership with Bandai to bring Bandai's Machine Robo toys to North America.
War Breaks Out At Retail Stores

Tonka may have entered the planning phases later then Hasbro, but it was able to beat Hasbro to store shelves. Tonka began to distribute Gobots to retail stores in the United States in 1984. Gobots were released five months before the first Transformers hit the shelves. It seemed like Gobots had an advantage by being the first to the market. However, when Hasbro released Transformers whatever advantage Tonka had was soon gone.

Posted 3/22/2007
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