Tonka Tough

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This is why Tonka is the Trope Namer


"Whoever did this was strong. This is 340 pounds of Tonka-tough steel."
Leela, Futurama

A toy, usually 1970s or 1980s vintage, that is considered so tough, it could survive a nuclear war (almost). It may suffer for countless years at the hands of a destructive brat, but will only suffer minor scuffs and breakages in the process. It will still look relatively unharmed after a 10-year stay in someone's poo-filled unheated closet located above a very greasy snackbar. Better yet, in the hands of a collector, it will often clean up so well after such an event that it will look almost new. Sometimes it will be reissued, and will then kick the ass of later, more accurate products. Usually, it isn't a very realistic and/or accurate representation of its subject, but this should not distract from its most important quality: its toughness.

May also be applied to other nearly indestructible items, such as certain vintage computer systems (e.g. Game Boy).

Compare Made of Indestructium.

Not to be confused with Nintendo Hard, which is about difficulty not durability.


Examples of Tonka Tough include:
  • The Tonka Mighty Dump Truck was advertised as being virtually indestructible through the course of normal play, and damned near impossible to break outside of normal play. In one memorable advertisement for the truck, they had an elephant step on it, as seen at the top of this page. The truck was fine. Think about it... an eight-pound toy truck that could hold several tons of elephant foot and not break. This toughness extended (and still extends) to pretty much the entire Tonka brand, regardless of the toy.
    • According to Hasbro (who owns the Tonka toy line), there are currently seven people around the world who, because of the Tonka guarantee, receive a lifetime supply of free merchandise because they somehow managed to destroy a Tonka toy through the normal course of play. Whenever a claim is made on the guarantee, Tonka sends out a team of investigators to make sure the toy in question wasn't destroyed intentionally (by detonating it with explosives, for example), or by extraordinary means that don't count as "normal play" (like accidentally running it through a machine press, for example). For Tonka, the Tonka Tough guarantee is Serious Business.
  • Fischer Technik construction toys are made from super tough nylon, are either so hard or so flexible they can't be broken, and will usually survive 30 years of play and storage with only minor yellowing.
  • Mattel Barbie dolls of humans and animals.
    • Only exception being if you yanked the heads off (which could be surprisingly easy).
  • LEGO bricks, and by extension its Duplo subbrand. Those things are Nigh Invulnerable to your average 10 year old boy, and when trodden on, will deal significantly more damage to you than you do to it.
    • Thirty-year-old white bricks will yellow slightly, but colored bricks will be indistinguishable from new ones.
    • Also very dog-resistant.
    • This isn't entirely true, especially regarding Bionicle/HeroFactory socket joints, infamous for shattering with very little effort (especially when lime-coloured).
    • Using your teeth to separate two bricks that refuse to come apart is a bad idea. Your teeth will break before the bricks do.
  • Fisher Price Little People.
    • Dave Barry once riffed that Fisher Price toys are so tough because they're made of a mysterious plastic-like substance from another planet. Furthermore he sees no reason why we can't make indestructible cars by enlarging Fisher Price toys and adding real engines and seats.
    • The playsets themselves are nearly indestructible as well, even to rambunctious three year olds.
  • Nintendo's console systems are famous for this. It's often joked that Nintendo makes its goods out of an indestructible alloy called Nintendium.
    • The Game Cube. One unit was demonstrated to survive bludgeoning with bats, thrown like a ball and towed on pavement by a moving car. It still worked.
    • There are also stories of people used a Game Cube and controller as an Improvised Weapon in self defense against a knife-wielding street mugger, with no lasting damage to the GCN.
    • There is a Game Boy that survived a bombing in the Gulf War. It's still running, and is currently housed in Nintendo's store in NYC for the world to see.
      • The original screen was probably bacon-crispy and had to be replaced, but the circuitry survived.
    • Electronic Gaming Monthly did an article about the then-new Game Boy Advance, in which the writer and their friends did all manner of abusive things to it, including flushing it down a toilet. After drying out for three days, the white GBA resumed working as though nothing ever happened, earning it the nickname Jesus from the staff.
    • The DS has a slightly less reputable history, most especially the DS Lite, which was prone to the hinge problems. All editions were prone to the L and R buttons occasionally going haywire. By the time of the XL, these had mostly been rectified and will presumably carry over to the 3DS.
    • GB, GBA, and DS cartridges have all gone through their share of washers and driers and continued working without an issue.
      • Let's Player Deceased Crab did a parody of Arkanoid DS, where his version of "playing" the game was to destroy the cartridge. Needless to say after many hammering attempts, it took him a while to even get the case open.
    • The SNES cartridges are legendarily tough, but the SNES system can take a beating as well. Water dropped in the system? No problem. Accidentally dropped it down a of stairs? Still works. Run it over with a car by accident while moving? The SNES shrugs it off with ease.
    • Forget the truck... a guy once wrote in to Nintendo Power, saying his SNES and Super Mario World cartridge survived a fire that destroyed the rest of the house it was in!
    • Have you ever tried to destroy any cartridge of the Famicom, the original Japanese version of NES? They have even thicker plastic and are able to shrug off a truck riding over them, unlike the (comparatively) flimsy American cartridges. The console itself is no less tough, although in this case its flat, streamlined shape helped as well.
    • The cartridges in general survive washing machines just fine. The most that'll happen is the label coming off; dry them and they'll work just like on day one. They'll even smell like a spring breeze.
    • When Carlos Mencia decided to destroy a Nintendo 64 for his show Mind of Mencia, it took two strikes from a large mallet before any visible cracks formed in the case.
    • A couple of Let's Play people decided to test[1] whether the old Game Boy cartridges live up to the reputation. Throwing and hitting it didn't even leave a mark. Dirt jammed into it while it's in the Game Boy? No problem. Covering the contacts in alcohol and running magnets over it? Didn't bother it. Dunking it in water finally made it fail to start. So they dried it out by burning a hole through the cartridge. They BURNED the electronics inside the cartridge. Also failed to start. So they waited an hour and came back to it. Presumably, the Nintendium just laughed at them as it started right up. The most fitting part? The cartridge was of Pokemon Red Version.
    • In short, it's not just Nintendo's games that are hard.
    • Averted, sadly, with the Nintendo 64 control stick. It was built in such a way that the plastic quickly wore itself down from the rotation, resulting in a loose stick with extreme center play. On the other hand, it uses optical encoders instead of potentiometers like later Nintendo controllers, which are significantly more durable and precise due to their contactless nature. It's a shame that the mechanical gimbal and pivot assembly can't hold up compared to the sensors.
    • Likely lampshaded in Pokémon Black and White. After the first battle, your room looks like a tornado just hit it, but if you examine the Wii, you'll find that there's not even a scratch on it.
    • In an X-Play segment called Webb of Destruction"", Morgan Webb submitted a Game Cube, Xbox and Playstation 2 in a series of damage tests to name the toughest console. The GC's lid quickly snapped off, but this had no effect on its functionality and it was the last console to be able to play games, or indeed to start up at all.
    • In a letter from a 1999 issue of Nintendo Power, one boy had lost his Game Boy Color in the garage, only to find it 3 months later sitting in a puddle of used oil. After carefully disassembling and cleaning it, it was able to work like brand-new, if a bit worse for wear. The editor recommended to all readers to not allow your systems to be submerged in any liquid for safety's sake, but also that this sounded entirely plausible.
  • The Takatoku VF-1. By extension, all later VF-1 toys based on the same mold qualify: Matsuhiro VF-1J, Bandai's 1980s VF-1's, Bandai's early 2000nds VF-1 reissues, Bandai's late 2000nds VF-1 reissues and Jetfire.
  • Bandai's mid-1990s Macross 7 1/65 VF-17 and VF-19 releases and their 2001 reissues.
  • Bandai/Tonka's earlier Super Gobots.
  • Most of Bandai's 1990s Super Sentai and Power Rangers toys.
  • Quite a few Transformers toys are well known for the fact that they simply refuse to be destroyed, including quite a few of the 1987-1988 toy releases, which started using tougher, thicker plastic than many of the Diaclone-based toys, and several of the Beast Wars era toys, where the use of ball and socket joints as well as thick hinges meant that they could survive much tougher play. The main issue for those particular toys tends to be losing small, independent parts rather than damage or destruction of the toy. Other toys, however, are known to break at the drop of a hat, including many of the 1984-release toys and anything that suffers from Gold Plastic Syndrome.
  • MSX machines made by Yamaha appear to be completely indestructible. It's not unheard of them surviving decades in the Soviet high schools with no apparent wear.
  • Motorola's RAZR series. Able to survive anything, from dipping (returned to normal functioning after just one day drying) to being thrown from the third floor window -- if you're lucky enough not to crack the screen. Metal case certainly helps.
    • More generally, this tends to apply to quite a lot of older phones - you can throw them from the third floor and they'll be fine.
  • The government can't afford to buy armor when you're in tour in hostile territory? No problem, just make sure you always have your Panasonic Toughbook with you.
  • Nokia 3310 model cell phone. Takes beating, getting wet, can be used as ice hockey puck and the damn thing still works.
    • It can be put through a washing machine without any damage at all.
    • The 3310 can only be destroyed in the fires of Mordor.
  • as Top Gear discovered, the Toyota Hilux is indestructible.
  • Flash Memory is this, compared to other forms of data storage. Kid-friendly toys almost exclusively use it and stories abound of thumb drives being lost in the wash, sat on, dropped in freezing snow, found in desolate areas, etc.
  • Western Electric's telephones during the days when the Bell telephone company (which would later be led by WE's owner, AT&T) reigned supreme. Many of them are still in use today.

Notes

  1. To explain, the methods of damaging the cartridge correspond to several of the elemental types of Pokémon. The process is detailed on this page