Tonka Tough
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.

Of course, there's a good reason for these toys' sheer durability: they have to be capable of withstanding play by rough children who may not have a good grasp on how to take care of their belongings; otherwise, the end result will result in a lot of unhappy, crying children and angry parents who want refunds at best and lawsuits arising from injured children at worst.

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

Compare Made of Indestructium, which is mainly for fictional items with the same reputation.

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


  • 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. Another advert depicted a Tonka truck and a real full-size truck being pushed over a cliff - with the full-size truck ending up a crumpled write-off and the Tonka truck still intact.
    • 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/Hero Factory socket joints, infamous for shattering with very little effort (especially when lime-coloured).
      • The newer Hero Factory sockets beginning from the 2.0 line are pleasingly tough, though. Also, a lot of the earlier pieces, like those in Slizers and Robo Riders were fairly strong as well, and it wasn't until the designers changed the sockets' outer rim that they became so brittle.
    • Using your teeth to separate two bricks that refuse to come apart is a bad idea. Your teeth will break before the bricks do. That is why you can actually buy these things called Brick Separators. As for taking apart non-traditional pieces (like the early BIONICLE heads)? MOCists have designed several types of separating-constructions for almost every individual case.
    • Turns out a single LEGO brick can withstand 950 pounds of force before breaking.
    • Full-grown adults stepping on them will have no effect on the piece, no matter how small. Indeed, the tiniest square pieces are well known to be usable as substitute caltrops for their ability to perfectly blend in with carpeting and inflict serious damage to the first bare foot that discovers their hiding spot.
  • 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 systems (both console and handheld) are famous for this. It's often joked that they are made from "Nintendium". Nintendo has gone on record as saying that, in the case of the DS, they would refuse to develop any DS prototype further until it could survive a 1.5 meter or 5 feet drop ten times without any loss in functionality, as mandated by Satoru Iwata himself. A similar philosophy probably went into making the other Nintendo consoles as well.
    • The NES:
      • 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. Nintendo 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.
      • Nintendo of Japan finally stopped repairing the Famicom after 20 years. In other words, they expected the console to last 20 years.
      • The NES Controllers are made tough so that they can handle frustrated NES players. Their long cords could theoretically allow them to be used as makeshift flails.
      • The cartridge batteries. Twenty years later, it still remembers all the save data from back then, even after 15 or more years without being used. And the spiel in the instruction manual for pretty much every game says it should last five.
    • The Super NES:
      • 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 set of stairs? Still works. Run it over with a car by accident while moving? The SNES shrugs it off with ease. One SNES and Super Mario World cartridge survived a fire that destroyed the rest of the house it was in!
    • The Game Boy:
      • Nintendo's early testing included throwing Game Boys from a three story building.
      • There are a lot stories of them surviving being thrown from apartment windows, run over by cars, flushed in toilets...
      • There is a Game Boy that survived a bombing in the Gulf War. (It is the page image for Made of Indestructium.) Now, the original screen was bacon-crispy and had to be replaced, but the circuitry survived. It's still running, playing Tetris, and is currently housed in Nintendo's store in NYC for the world to see.
      • A couple of Let's Play people decided to test 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 Pokémon Red Version.
      • 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.
      • Another letter from a different owner in a later issue had them claim that they had left their Game Boy Color out in the backyard to be exposed to the elements and the changings seasons for a year. They found it, cleaned it, and managed to boot it up and resume play on their copy of Pokemon Silver, and yes, the save data was still perfectly fine.
      • 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 GameCube's portable equivalent, the Game Boy Advance SP, has an equally strong reputation for being impossible to destroy, the only weak point being the hinges. Nintendo was apparently using a prime lode of Nintendium for that generation.
    • The Nintendo 64:
      • The Nintendo 64 once took a shotgun blast at point-blank range. There's a big gap in the casing but it works just fine.
      • On an episode of Carlos Mencia's show, Mind of Mencia, a midget was smashing old electronics with a large sledgehammer. Everything was smashed to bits in one go, save for a Nintendo 64. It took two strikes before any visible cracks formed in the case, and a third strike before the casing began to dent.
      • 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. It's also possible after the stick is sufficiently worn out for it to be accidentally pushed down into the controller, where it gets stuck and no longer be used at all. 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.
      • Once the ceiling fell on a Nintendo 64. The only thing that happened to it was that the reset button got stuck. Other than that it was as good as new
    • The Nintendo GameCube, that goofy purple lunchbox:
      • The top of the disk case is a weak point, but with the open button taped down the system will survive most anything.
      • One unit was demonstrated to survive being bludgeoned with bats, thrown like a ball and towed on pavement by a moving car. It still worked.
      • There are also stories of people using a GameCube and controller as an Improvised Weapon in self defense against a knife-wielding street mugger, with no lasting damage to the GCN.
      • According to legend, one player lit his Game Cube on fire in a fit of rage. Mario Kart Double-Dash!! kept going for five minutes.
      • In an X-Play segment called "Webb of Destruction", Morgan Webb attempted to destroy a PlayStation 2, an XBox, and a GameCube. She performed three destructive stunts: dropping a weight on each system, hitting each console with a sledgehammer, and dropping each system from a height. After each stunt, the systems were tested to see if they still worked. The GameCube'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. Take a look.
      • The show references this further when it mentioned the next Death Star will be made of the hardest material known to man: used Game Boy Advances.
    • The Nintendo DS:
      • The DS has a slightly less reputable history, most especially the DS Lite, which was prone to the hinge problems. The joint just below the R button can weaken and snap very easily, leaving a broken R button (which most games use as a major button) or a free swinging topscreen. Then, it only takes one clumsy drop just right for the screen to snap out of the right side and the wires on the left to be strained enough to render the topscreen almost unusable. All editions of the DS 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.
      • And, it has been tested that a Nintendo 3DS can survive, with no damage, being kept in the left jacket pocket of the coat of a driver, that hits a stationary vehicle at 35 miles per hour. However, the PSP can as well.
      • GB, GBA, and DS cartridges have all gone through their share of washers and driers and continued working without an issue.
      • As detailed in one installment of Iwata Asks, the DS game Walk with me! Do you know your walking routine? (Personal Trainer: Walking in North America) came packaged with a pedometer called the Activity Meter. One man lost his while walking his dog, only to find it a month later, covered in mud and submerged in a puddle. Of course, it still worked perfectly.
      • It's been demonstrated that even if the upper screen is removed entirely, the DS is still a perfectly functional Game Boy Advance.
      • Another DS was known to have survived a trip up Mount Everest, up to altitudes that caused other electronic equipment to stop working.
      • Your 3DS fell out of your pocket and slammed right on a concrete sidewalk? No problem! You will need to inspect your 3DS for a good minute before you locate the tiny dent of the direct impact point. You will not even lose data if it was on standby because it will have shrugged off the fall without even turning off. You may have damaged the sidewalk, though.
    • Referenced 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.
    • The Wii Remote originally had a rather weak wrist strap, which led to a number of Remotes getting embedded in walls or TVs. Nintendo quickly updated its production with sturdier straps, but not for the Wiimote's protection: for the protection of everything else! Notice that in all those humorous pictures of embedded remotes, it is always the wall or TV that is damaged, not the remote. Current models of the Wiimote come with a rubber sleeve that is perhaps best described as a bumper.
    • An impersonator of Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime explains - in a manner that suggests that he can't decide if he's Billy Mays or the Power Thirst announcer - the hard work and dedication that goes into making Nintendo products so durable in this video.
    • The Wii U.
      • This video demonstrates the durability of the Wii U gamepad by dropping it from various angles. The end result: Nintendo still has it.
      • Amiibos are seemingly indestructible as well. When ScrewAttack did an amiibo cockfight (amiibos fight each other, and the loser forfeits their amiibo to be destroyed), two of the items used to destroy them (a sledgehammer and a blender) actually broke while trying to destroy one. Other testers have reported the Amiibos surviving prolonged submersion, oven temperatures and being run over by a car. IGN also reported a Kirby Amiibo being immune to anything short of "pliers, a hacksaw and a lot of willpower".
    • The Nintendo 3DS
      • A 3DS was set on fire and then extinguished with water. It still runs.
      • A NeoGaf thread details the story of a user whose 3DS went through a laundry machine and survived practically unscratched after few days of letting it dry inside a bag of rice.
    • Nintendo Power once did a special where they published reader-submitted stories of Nintendo games, systems, and peripherals going through all manners of abuse and surviving anyway.
      • Arguably the best story in that section came from a Hawaiian reader, who'd had his original Game Boy half-melted by close-range exposure to lava. The buttons and control pad were slagged, but the machine would still turn on and the speakers still worked.
  • 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.
    • The 1985-1986 releases were made of diecast metal, so they fall under this trope as well. Those waves' Optimus Prime and Megatron are still in existence today. The Autobot Cars and Decepticon Seekers, as well as Decepticon Triple Changers such as Blitzwing and Astrotrain are also incredibly sturdy. An episode of the cartoon, "Child's Play", is sort of a big Lampshade Hanging of how hard they were to break. This can vary, though; the die-cast was tough, but the plastic was low-quality and the primitive transformations often left parts missing. G1 toys in some condition are innumerable; G1 toys in good condition are much harder to find.
      • Also lampshaded in Beast Wars when the Autobots' ship proves to be nearly impervious to damage, and the assembled Maximals make remarks about it being "die-cast construction".
      Optimus Primal: It's a lost art.
    • In general, there's a few tiers to Transformers durability. You have the standard releases, which can survive a lot of play unless you're deliberately trying to break them. Then you have the high-end releases, often Japanese-exclusive, that feature intricate and easily-broken mechanisms, detailed and easily-scraped paint, and a massive number of joints, all of which can loosen or snap - these are intended primarily for display on a collector's shelf, with just enough durability to get put in a good pose. Then you have younger-kid-oriented lines, like Fast Action Battlers, Gravity Bots, Cyber Slammers, and anything from Transformers Rescue Bots, which are made of thick, solid blocks of plastic and can survive just about anything short of being set on fire.
  • 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 popular Star TAC line from the late 90's. Motorola even stated this in the user manual; the phone would work even after receiving case-deforming hits.
    • A rancher called the cell phone company to report a lost/destroyed phone. He had dropped it in the pasture and heard his cow ringing.
    • There is, however, one exception. The HINGE on the Motorola is a bit troublesome. If it's open, it can be broken with sufficient force. If it's closed, nothing can harm it.
      • This leads to another weakness. If the hinge weakens, something trapped inside can quite easily break the screen by pushing against it.
  • 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.
    • A construction worker demolishing the Seattle Kingdome dropped his Nokia 252 from the upper deck onto solid concrete - the only adverse effect was a cracked screen.
    • Indeed, the screen is the only weak point of the thing. The rest could be used as frickin' body armor.
    • The Nokia Lumia 920 Smartphone is also remarkably sturdy. In fact, someone once tried to find out just what it would take to make the glass-screen break. A giant hammer? Doesn't scratch it. Nail-gun? Nope. Dropping it from 50 meters above the ground? Nothing. Duct-taping it to a rocket on New Year's Eve and launching it from the top of a 100-meters tall building, aiming it to make sure it'll land on concrete on the ground? Still no scratch to the screen! The phone itself got a few minor scratches from hitting the pavement while on fire from the fireworks but that's all.
    • One Nokia model from circa 3310 era was advertised as sturdy enough to be used to drive nails.
    • Drop it in the sea, pick it up the next morning, take the battery and SIM card out and leave them in the airing cupboard overnight and they'll all work just fine the morning after.
  • 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.
    • Unlike earlier hard drives and magnetic tape storage systems, flash memory doesn't have to worry about losing information from magnets. Any magnet strong enough to disrupt flash memory would be strong enough to pull the iron out of your blood.
  • 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. One part of the quality control series was to drop the phone ten feet onto a concrete floor, after which it had to make and receive a call (although cosmetic damage could be excused). Many of them are still in use today, often with superior sound quality to modern phones.
  • Various lines of Thomas the Tank Engine train toys can stand up to a child's railway adventures. The ERTL models were made of the same material as the engines on the show; surviving crashes from a great height with little more than a few scuff marks. The TOMY models are also as durable as you'd expect from a good train model.
  • Both the 1987 and 2003 lines of Playmates Toys' Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles action figures.
  • Not only Nintendo, but Atari cartridges are also incredibly durable, to the point of being submerged in a lake long enough for the label to be demolished (making identification of the game impossible), fished out sometime in the mid 90's, and still remaining perfectly playable.
    • In 2014, Microsoft (via Xbox) excavated the legendary E.T. The Extraterrestrial cartridges crushed then buried in the New Mexico desert back in 1983. They still play.
  • CDs are incredibly forgiving, being still playable even after suffering all kinds of abuse, thanks to the error correction technology the discs use. There are basically two things which can render them unusable, both due to operator error:
    • Excessive amount of scratches due to improper storage, no envelope, leaving them in the player for months and so on, until one quarter of the disc surface is matted out;
    • CD-rot due to improper storage, exposure to variations in temperature, degradation due to light and so on. Infrequently encountered in Real Life in reasonable stored CDs, there are discs recorded in 1995-1996 which are still perfectly readable. Note that this mainly applies to burned CDs, pressed ones (i.e. the kind you buy with music/data already on them) are more or less immune to this particular form of damage.
    • The way optical disks are built is that the underside can be scratched all to hell as long as they aren't deep enough to go to the data side. Otherwise some polishing will fix it and the disk can be read.
  • Timex watches, especially those manufactured in the 40s, 50, and 60s, were advertised as being nearly impossible to break, and they were. In one memorable commercial, they strapped a Timex watch to a boat's propeller and took it out for a spin in a swimming pool. Sure, the watch's band separated after about 10 minutes, but the watch itself kept running as if it had spent a peaceful day in a dresser drawer. Their slogan wasn't "It takes a licking and keeps on ticking" for nothing.
  • Here's a list of what punishment Panasonic's latest SD cards can take.
  • There are military grade computers that can survive being run over, dropped in water, being out in the desert and still work fine afterwards. Some can even be in close proximity to explosions and still be completely functional. Many are fitted with Thermite self-destruct charges as that's pretty much the only reliable way to destroy it without also destroying everything else.
  • Multiple companies producing gear for musicians make sure their products are properly constructed. Some examples include Fender showing that their guitars remain in tune even after being treated like they're expendable, or Danish TC Electronic (which produces Effects-Pedals for guitars and basses) doing everything in their power to destroy the pedals before they're painted. And yes, that means everything. This includes storing them over-night in a pressure-tank that could probably create diamonds out of coal, setting them on fire, then freezing them and vice-versa and more... The pedals that are constructed properly get to be painted. The rest are put in another enclosure, and go through the test again. And before they even get this far, they go through multiple professional gear-testers, who all have to vouch for how the Potentiometers and foot-switches "feel" to use.
    • The Soviet "Ural" electric guitar is best known for three things: its crappy sound, its enormous weight, and its legendary toughness. To use it as a self-defence implement against groups of hostile gopniks and play it as if nothing happened the next day, without any change in its (admittedly atrocious) sound was the norm in the day.
  • Hats made by Tilley Endurables are exactly what the company name implies. One of their favorite stories to tell is about a zookeeper whose Tilley hat was eaten by an elephant. Three times. He just waited for it to come out the other end, washed it, and kept using it.
  • Pre-2000 Toyota cars and trucks are well-known for being cheap, relatively easy maintenance, and being damned hard to kill. Even some of their later trucks and cars are amazingly durable, to the point where even the fellows from Top Gear tried (and failed) to kill a Toyota Hilux (Toyota Tacoma in N. America) The down side to this is that they are very popular as improvised infantry vehicles.
  • Tandem Computers made this their mission. Every single piece of kit in their machines had redundancy. Their computers exceeded five nines of uptime—that's less than five-and-a-half minutes of downtime a year. They even had the ability to upgrade their software without shutting any of it down. When the World Trade Center was bombed in 1993, an entire basement full of Tandem Computers suffered blast damage. Just the basement, though: the computers had only fallen over. They were fine.
  • Glock took a similar angle when advertising their pistols. They famously subjected the guns to cartoonishly extreme endurance tests, such as submergence in sea water for several months, to build a reputation for reliability.

Alternative Title(s): Made Of Nintendium