Curbside Miniatures: 1969 Tonka VW Beetle – My VW Gateway Toy

When I was seven or so, I fell out of a tree in our front yard and suffered a large gash on my leg. As part of my recovery program, a new toy appeared in my bedroom to help take my mind off the pain.

Tonka introduced this stamped steel VW Beetle in 1965, and made minor variations through the early 1970s. The shade of blue in which my car started life places it in the 1967-69 timeframe, consistent with when I got the car.

The movie The Love Bug premiered in 1968, and like many a youngster, I fell in love with “the little car.” It was a natural to repaint my toy, and as you can tell by the patina, it got a lot of loving attention from a very active boy.


Like many a young lad, I collected a number of other Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars over the years, but it seems the only ones that managed to avoid being discarded were the VWs.

For the most part, my collection includes few rare or collectible editions – they’re just common VW toys that happened to catch my eye.

Herbie turns up frequently in my collection, including this Pinewood Derby car. The small red Beetle (which I believe dates back to the 1960s and was made by Wiking) was given to me by a friend who bought it in Germany.

Finishing up the collection is my attempt to recreate The Mayfield Belle in scale.

Toy cars can easily become a “gateway drug” that sparks an interest in cars for a kid – my Tonka Beetle may well be the reason I’ve driven VWs for the past 25 years!