DIECAST NEWS

EARLY DEVELOPMENT OF TONKIN REPLICAS. (1970-2000)

         The predecessor of Tonkin Replicas Inc was Tonkin Inc, a marketing company started in 1970 by Jack Tonkin.  Among the early clients of Tonkin was Kenworth Truck, a division of PACCAR.  Kenworth used Tonkin for a wide range of services including direct mail, dealer communications, 50th year Anniversary celebration, calendars, advertising specialties, premiums and wearables.  Within several years Tonkin had obtained an exclusive license for the Kenworth Trademark for all logo, trade name products and this agreement set the stage for subsequent exclusive licensing agreements with Peterbilt, Freightliner, Consolidated Freightways, Volvo, International and Caterpillar.  Fulfillment of these contracts require large warehousing and distribution systems in North America and eventually worldwide. By the time Jack Tonkin had sold the company and retired in 1998, the company had grown to 60 million in sales and employed 200 people.   It was Consolidated Freightways (CF) that first asked Tonkin to build a scale model for them.  They wanted a 1/87, or HO, scale with the White/Freightliner cabover and set of 28' doubles CF manufactured for their customer relation needs. That order led Jack into China in the late 70's to arrange for tooling and production of this first model. Once CF began wide spread use of these models, other fleets noticed and asked Tonkin to build models for them.  The other fleets asked for more details than the 1/87 scale CF used so Tonkin created the 1/53 scale for fleets like Roadway, Carl Malone Trucking, Carolina Freight and others. Eventually CF and their affiliate ConWay Transportation adopted the 1/53 scale for all their truck models.    An extended service of the Tonkin license with the OEM's was to sub license product categories for retail markets, a territory Tonkin did not cover.  The licensing requirement for most of the trucking trademarks brought every scale model maker to Tonkin asking for a license to sell their models retail (and to collectors). This process exposed Jack Tonkin to how the entire scale model industry operated and he visited many of the factories in China making the models for the various companies he licensed.  Production of scale models in the 70's and 80's was not easy.  There were some good tool makers but the assembly/decoration factories had very crude assembly processes so the rejection ratios were very high and often passed under the quality control inspections to end up being shipped to the US.  This problem has been addressed by some importers but the problem still persists for many companies marketing scale models.   These issues prompted some US companies to limit the number of assembly parts for their models to reduce the complexity of putting all the parts together at the factories.  Others simply did not push the issue with factories as occasionally a factory would simply refuse the order if it created too many rejects and production problems.   

Next issue: The Emergence of Tonkin Replicas.