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Tonka

From Sega Retro

Tonka logo.svg

Tonka

Founded: 1946
Merged into: Hasbro (1991)

Tonka is an American toy company known primarily for its toy trucks and construction vehicles. In 1991 it was purchased by Hasbro, and the brand is still in use today.

Tonka are notable within the Sega community as the United States distribution rights for the Sega Master System was put in Tonka's hands in 1988. This was because at the time, 83% of the North American video games market was held by Nintendo, and Sega were under the impression that Tonka would be able to a better job at marketing the system in this region. Sega would instead invest in Europe and have a greater level of success.

Tonka mostly failed to make an impact with the console, and the system's popularity continued to decline. Thanks to a policy by Nintendo that was in effect at the time, third-party developers who backed Nintendo's console in North America were not allowed to produce games for other systems. This meant that only Activision and Parker Brothers were the only third-party companies to back the Master System, and at the time Parker Brothers was owned by Tonka.

By 1990 the Sega Mega Drive was beginning to pick up steam in North America, and so Sega bought back the Master System rights and produced a redesigned and more cost-effective version of the Master System - the Sega Master System II.