Which Tonka truck is best?

Tonka has long been known for making steel toys focused on trucks and machinery from the construction industry. These rugged, metal, to-scale model vehicles are the toughest toys in the business. Tonka trucks recreate the authentic look and feel of heavy-duty construction equipment and last for generations.

If you are looking for a rugged toy that pushes around dirt, sand and gravel, take a good look at the Tonka Steel Classics Road Grader. This 18-inch-long, cold rolled steel toy has steerable front wheels and a scraper blade that adjusts up and down, left and right.

What to know before you buy a Tonka truck

Over more than 70 years, Tonka has developed a sterling reputation for building high-quality products that withstand the toughest of play. Tonka trucks are so durable that they are passed along from one generation to the next. All their trucks, vehicles and heavy equipment are well-built, so how do you choose? A good place to start is with your kid’s age.


Tonka makes trucks for kids of all ages. For little ones as young as 1 year old, Tonka makes toy trucks with only large pieces that aren’t choking hazards. Look for age ranges on the box and use them as guidelines.


Tonka makes trucks so small that kids can hold them in their hands. They also make toy trucks that are so large that small kids can ride on them. As kids get older, they may want bigger, tougher trucks that do more things.

Construction vehicles

The Tonka toys that are popular with most kids are from the world of construction vehicles. In construction, vehicles are made for many different purposes, but they must all be tough and durable. Kids who love the idea of building their own roads can choose from bulldozers, backhoes, scrapers, excavators, claws, loaders, dump trucks and concrete mixers.

Commercial and work vehicles

Lots of businesses and industries want their vehicles to be as tough and rugged as construction industry equipment. Tonka makes tow trucks, equipment carriers, garbage trucks, emergency vehicles, fire trucks, first-responder ambulances and lots of 4×4 off-roader trucks.

What to look for in a quality Tonka truck

Moveable parts

When kids play with tough construction equipment, they want to be in control of the work. Look for vehicles with steerable front wheels. Also look for road grader blades to adjust left and right to push the dirt to one side or another. Blades and scrapers that adjust up and down on graders and bulldozers allow kids to choose how much dirt, sand or gravel they move. Look for dump truck beds that tilt, loaders that scoop and lift and excavators with movable articulating arms.


The more detail a Tonka truck has, the more authentic the reproduction. Check to see what features are prominent on the Tonka trucks you choose. For example, does that tow truck have a real hook?


Tonka trucks have been a favorite of collectors for many years and there are several websites devoted to fans and collectors. Like all collectibles, unopened and unused Tonka trucks in their original packaging are worth more than toys that have been played with. However, most kids will probably want Tonka trucks because they’re fun to play with and enjoy the collector cards that come with some models.

How much you can expect to spend on Tonka truck

Tonka trucks for little tykes typically cost $10-$20. Most Tonka trucks cost $20-$50. A few Tonka Steel Classics cost as much as $200.

Tonka truck FAQ

Are all Tonka trucks made entirely of steel?

A. Most Tonka trucks are made primarily of steel. Certain Tonka truck parts, such as tires and treads, are made of rubber or plastic. Some Tonka trucks may have a few plastic parts, but the bodies are always made of steel.

Are all Tonka trucks yellow and black?

A. Yellow and black have long been the color of construction equipment and are still the color standards today. Yellow was chosen in the early days because it was highly visible. Tonka’s construction vehicles are yellow and black, but there are Tonka commercial and work vehicles in other colors, too.

What’s the best Tonka truck to buy?

Top Tonka truck

Tonka Steel Classics Road Grader

Tonka Steel Classics Road Grader

What you need to know: This 18-inch-long road grader is one of Tonka’s most rugged pieces of cold-rolled steel toy machinery.

What you’ll love: The scraper blade adjusts up, down and through 180 degrees of rotation. The lever axle steering turns the huge front wheels so it can scrape, grade and smooth earth, sand and gravel like its real-life namesake. This Tonka product comes with a collector card.

What you should consider: This big, metal toy is best for kids who are big enough to handle it.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top Tonka truck for the money

Tonka Metal Movers Dump Truck Bulldozer Combo Pack

Tonka Metal Movers Dump Truck & Bulldozer Combo Pack

What you need to know: Push through the dirt and load up the dump truck with the diecast metal bulldozer and dump truck.

What you’ll love: This Tonka truck includes Tonka Dirt, a no-mess sand compound that mimics the condition on construction sites where this bulldozer and dump truck work. Kids take these 4-inch-long trucks wherever they go. This combo pack comes with two bonus collector cards.

What you should consider: Smaller Tonka trucks like this are for small kids.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Tonka The Claw Dump Truck

Tonka The Claw Dump Truck

What you need to know: The tires on this 17-inch-long dump truck transform into literal claws to climb steep surfaces.

What you’ll love: Take on any rugged terrain with The Claw’s expandable “Claw Grip” wheels. Press the bright orange hub, and the tires turn into claws. Press the buttons on top, and the cab lights up, and the siren wails. Put rocks and sand in the metal bed, and dump the load with a simple tilt function that is easy for young kids to use. 

What you should consider: This truck does not come with a collector card.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

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David Allan Van writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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