Thursday, October 10, 2013

Top 5 Working Trucks

Vehicles are meant to be pushed around. Whatever toy vehicle you purchase should be able to withstand hours of full-bore pushing, racing and crashing. That means the body and chassis need to be sturdy. The wheels need good traction. The axles shouldn't break or snap when landing from being launched from a slide. In short, it needs to be designed with tough play in mind.

Working trucks all have the same basic work - scooping and dumping. However, some toys are built better than others for true preschool play and I've compiled a short list for you to peruse. Below is a list of the most popular trucks in our fleet...and our fleet is HUGE thanks to generous grandparents, great grandparents, friends and other relatives.

I've dropped them all in one spot on Click here!

6. This Backhoe by Bruder has been bumped from the top 5 list and replace by the Tonka Grader. 5. Backhoe. Backhoes are probably appealing to children because they have TWO scoops. Our Caterpillar brand backhoe was well-loved but not designed to withstand the actual digging and hard play that my son engaged in. The first thing to go was the supports on the boom for the front loader bucket. Then the lights and buttons failed because sand got in. I didn't sweat it nor did my son but the next backhoe will be a different brand. Bruder's ROADMAX series is a crazy-durable line of trucks that can handle the really rough sandbox play of a preschooler. This backhoe has no frills (lights and buttons), which is just the way I like it. In fact, one is hidden away in the closet for someone's birthday. Review to follow. [Update: 11/24/2014. This Bruder backhoe is good for gentler play than my kid does. The backhoe, stabilizers and cab broke shortly after the first trip to the sandy park near our house. If you're looking for a backhoe then I recommend the "Tonka Trencher" over this one.]

5. Tonka Grader. For details see my Toy Review of the Tonka Grader here. In short, it is awesome. I have no gripes about the grader. Ours has endured many hours of rough play in sand, wood chips and snow.

4. Tonka Garbage Truck. Garbage truck drivers everywhere are local heros to toddlers and preschoolers. Indeed, they wave at children when they go by the park and our family has a weekly ritual to run out to see them go by to collect our personal trash. So what truck fleet would be complete without a garbage truck? My son sleeps with the garbage truck toy as a lovey. While I am not wild about the amount of noise the lever makes when he pulls it, he LOVES it. Plus, when the handle on the lever is squeezed, it raises the trucks boom to unload the contents of the bin. The wheels have great traction and the bed is easily cleaned out after a day at the park. The black bin can be removed for easy driving. (The bin and boom fit tightly so it is usually replaced by an adult after my kiddo tries by himself for a while.) All in all, this is a fav...durable, usable and easy on the eyes (if not the ears). [Note: Whoa! I just saw the price of this truck on tripled what we paid for it. I'll keep my eyes peeled for a good substitute!]

3. Tonka Trencher. This is essentially a backhoe loader with one very important feature - track wheels. The scoops are sturdy and easy to manipulate. My kid sometimes pushes it through the sand with the front scoop down acting as a bulldozer blade while is smashes the backhoe, fully extended, into the ground to drag and dig a trench. The rubber tracks stay on very well but when they are removed they are strong enough to be "conveyor belts"or chains for a newly invented machine. They are easy to put back on, too, and the longest lasting tracks of any of our tracked trucks. It is a very tough truck and is highly recommended for preschool engineers.

2. Dump Truck. There are two important things about a dump truck. First, the bed should be designed to actually contain the load. Our best dump trucks have a bed that has an angled bottom so stuff doesn't fall out en route to its destination. Second, the wheels should have some traction. Our Green Toys dump truck gets next to no use because the wheels can't actually work on any surface (carpet, sand, sidewalk). If you want to save yourself some clean-up then a third option to consider is avoiding buttons, lights, and crevices. Our most used dump trucks (Little Tikes Rugged Rigs) have a beautiful bed and great wheels but sand is ALWAYS falling out...even after a power washing; it is a mystery to me why the bed needs creases and folds. This "Funrise Dump Truck" seems to be a perfect upgrade for my kid.

1. Battat Front Loader. This front end loader is awesome. It is big enough and durable enough that my four year old still uses it after two years of hard work. It is light weight enough that my one year old can articulate the loader bucket and carry it around the work site. On occasion, the screws that hold the bucket to the boom fall out but they are easily replaced by a trip to the hardware store (I've only had to do this once). I consider this the number one truck for a preschool engineer's fleet because it is versatile in terms of work potential as well as age suitability. The bucket can be positioned in a number of ways to carry a load and it can be turned upside down to act as a blade to push sand around. Listed for 18 months old and up, this truck is a must-have.

Stay tuned for more gift ideas for truck-lovers including books, videos, and songs...

[Disclosure Statement: This post contains affiliate links. If you click and purchase, I receive a small referral fee at no cost to you. To see how I spend the money see my "Philanthropy" page. ]


  1. These were all really good. I would also recommend the Melissa and Doug wood car transporter. It is very sturdy fits other cars besides the wood ones it comes with. The only thing I would say is that the wood cars fall apart fairly easy and it is no thrills. No paint no buttons etc. It is my sons favorite truck of all the trucks he has.

    1. We love our M & D trucks too but I forbid wooden trucks to be taken outside. The transporter is awesome because it is like a puzzle to put together and the up-and-down motion of the trailer is mechanically interesting to boot. The spacing for the wheels is great because it holds the M & D cars that come with it as well as other toy cars. Plus, it can hold more than just cars for transport. For example, our has doubled as a logging truck to haul "logs" around the house, too. Thanks for sharing!! Here's a link to the toy that Alexis and I are discussing:

  2. Thank you for sharing! I've been eyeing getting my little guy a garbage truck, thanks for the reminder! We are going to the "touch a truck" event this Saturday morning for the very reason that trucks are awesome and why wouldn't you want to go see what is inside all those awesome big vehicles? So sorry I forgot to mention it to you until now.

    1. Thanks for the info!! We were booked that weekend so we couldn't make it.