As Stephanie King posed for a picture in front of the Ford F-750 Tonka dump truck in mid-July at Science City, she asked her 2-year-old son, Bentley, what he thought of it.
“It is big,” Bentley said.
Bentley is too young to understand the impact Tonka toys have had on children for more than six decades. But it was obvious to see the impression it had on many generations on July 17. Fathers and grandfathers with their children stopped in front of the yellow, 33,000-pound truck, inspected it and took photos before going into Science City at Union Station.
“I think it is pretty neat they have built it for this,” King said. “My brother had lots of Tonka trucks.”
Despite the heat, Christy Nitsche, director of programming at Science City, figured more than a thousand people visited Science City on July 17, the only day the truck was there.
“A lot of them will come right past here,” Nitsche said. “You will have hundreds of kids looking at it. The truck is amazing. It is awesome. We love having stuff like this here to drive guests here. Kids love this.”
The Ford F-750 Tonka dump truck was built at Ohio Assembly Plant to help promote the new 2016 Ford F-650/750 commercial truck lineup that will be available later this year.
Ford teamed up with Funrise Toy Corporation, the manufacturer of Tonka-branded products under license from Hasbro, to build the truck currently on display.
The truck was first unveiled in March. It will spend the rest of the year going to places like Science City and to truck, commercial and vocational trade shows across the country.
“From Generation Z to the Greatest Generation, Ford and Tonka continue to set the standards for tough trucks,” said John Ruppert, general manager of Ford commercial vehicle sales and marketing in a March press release. “People of all ages have been counting on Ford F-Series and Tonka trucks to get the job done – from construction site to sandbox – for more than 60 years.”
While on display for one day at Science City, people were able to view many aspects of the dump truck, such as the lifting and lowering of the truck bed.
The technology of the truck is one of the things Nitsche liked for the children and teenagers to see.
“There is an important connection between the auto industry and STEM education,” Nitsche said. “We are really thankful in our partnership with Ford and the opportunity to bring things like this here to really show the fun, exciting and different aspects of STEM.”
STEM stands for science technology, engineering and mathematics. The goal of STEM education is to encourage students to take an interest in STEM subjects at an early age.
“The Ford Fund helped to bring Spark!Lab to (Science City),” Nitsche said. “It is a Smithsonian program. It opened in August 2014. We have had a ton of people come through. It focuses on invention. It is a natural fit for Ford. Ford is a huge partner in Union Station in general.”
The relationship between Ford and Science City is so good that it only took a couple of weeks to arrange for the Ford F-750 Tonka dump truck to be displayed for one day in Kansas City. It was the only time it was in Kansas City.
“We thought it would be great to have it at Science City,” said Ford spokesperson Christine Schick. “There are a lot of summer programs going on and a lot of kids stopping by.
“Everybody played with these toys when they were kids. You see a lot of people walking up and taking pictures. We have a great partnership with Science City. We love working with them. We are happy to be here. It is a fun, nice way to give back to the community once again.”