They lift, they haul, and they store piles of interesting items; when it comes to garbage trucks, what’s not to love? While most grown-ups see smelly vehicles that haul our junk, from a kid’s perspective, collecting a mysterious mash-up of stuff is endlessly fascinating. It’s no wonder that toys modeled after the real thing are a source of entertainment as they load them with trinkets and wheel them around.
The good news for parents is that garbage truck toys provide more than entertainment value for young minds. These interactive toy trucks help hone motor, sorting, and organizational skills, encourage teamwork, and even plant the seeds for early lessons in recycling and keeping the earth clean. So whether your youngster is into remote control vehicles or outdoor play, or you prefer Montessori toys without all the gadgets, there are plenty of options for garbage truck toys to keep your little hauler happy.
And if they want to become garbage men/women, just remember that little environmentalists do big things. Maybe one day they’ll help us clean the ocean or eradicate plastic from the earth. You can take the credit then.
Best Wooden Toys
In today’s digital world, sometimes it’s nice to get back to basics when it comes to inspiring your child’s creativity. So if your kid’s idea of play is toting trinkets around the house, this wooden option from Melissa & Doug is one of the simplest garbage truck toys Target has to offer. It’s free of buttons, lights, and sounds (you’re welcome), but it comes equipped with rolling wheels, a moving lift, and even a load of “trash” that can be hauled into the garbage bin.
This set of three big pieces is ideal for younger players, and unlike some other techie toys on the market, it’s sturdy enough withstand moderate wear and tear without pieces snapping off. A bonus for parents: Between its minimalist construction and neatly-printed recycling symbol (might as well start ‘em young!), this classic toy won’t be an eyesore when it’s left in the living room for frequent play.
This 24-piece Imagination Generation set comes with a garbage truck … and so much more. Specifically, it contains four recycling bins, 16 trash tiles, a recycling receptacle, a street sign, the Recycling Center organizer, and of course, a rolling green truck. It’s suitable for ages 3 and up (due to its two dozen small parts), and ideal for kiddos who prefer sorting to hauling.
Made with wood and bright water-based paints, it’s a “high quality, beautifully made wooden toy,” according to an Amazon reviewer. Other accolades attest to its durability and entertainment value. “This toy is perfectly portable for kiddos that are obsessed with garbage trucks!” another purchaser says. “My 4-year-old loves sorting the recyclables and playing with the little truck.” In addition to teaching valuable skills like categorization and pattern recognition, parents love that their youngsters are learning a real-world lesson in helping the environment.
Best For Outdoor Play
Whether it’s due to this truck’s durability, safe materials, earth-friendly packaging, or perhaps all three, reviewers happily shelled out five stars for the Green Toys Recycling Truck. Kids of all ages love the movable dumpster, which has three sorting slots and plenty of room to stash small toys and natural treasures, while parents appreciate that it’s made with child-safe materials.
True to form, this recycling truck is made in the USA from recycled plastic milk jugs and is free of BPA, PVC, and phthalates. It’s also lightweight, easy to clean (and dishwasher safe), and packaged with eco-friendly materials. “No metal, so no worries about rusting if this gets left outside or played with in the bath or sink,” one customer points out. Another raves, “Our children are not easy on toys and Green Toys durability has surpassed other ‘name brand’ products we have owned.”
Looking for an outdoor-safe toy with a little more *pizzazz*? The Playkidiz Garbage Truck Toy includes flashing lights, realistic sounds, and movable parts like a trash can lift, and cab doors that open and close. Of course, the dumpster itself opens (from the top) so players can retrieve the knick knacks they’ve collected.
Thanks to its six-wheel design, it can be rolled over uneven terrain, meaning you can go ahead and encourage the kiddos to take it outdoors to play (yessss!).
“My son LOVES this truck,” reported one customer. “The garbage cans that come along with it are very nicely made and he feels very ‘real’ playing with it.” Keep in mind that this toy is recommended for kids 3 and up; it does come with the two AA batteries required.
Best Techie Toys
If you’re on the hunt for a truck with all the bells and whistles — or in this case, buttons and functions — the JOYIN Friction-Powered Recycling Garbage Truck won’t disappoint. In addition to being equipped with light-up sirens and realistic sounds, this toy is full of movable parts that your child can press, crank, and lift to replicate real recycle truck capabilities. Three colored trash bins complete the set, plus the truck’s friction-powered “engine” allows it to zoom around the house on its own (which may or may not be a selling point for you). “Very authentic,” says one customer of the truck. “The buttons on the top of the cab play the sounds of the real thing. Fun to play with, doesn’t take up a lot of space, love the friction power too!”
Your little environmentalist can also dabble in mechanics with this two-in-one remote control take-apart garbage truck by DEERC. The green and blue garbage truck toy can be broken down and re-assembled with a (totally safe!) “power drill,” wrench, and removable screws. Once everything is up and running, it can be operated via remote control. It also has flashing lights and sound effects, and completing the set are two city employees that can be positioned in the driver’s seat or atop the truck.
“Multiple ways to play with this toy make it far outlast the typical attention time and play session,” says one reviewer of the DEERC garbage truck. (For even more value, snag the similar Remote Control Take Apart Construction & Garbage Truck duo by JOYIN, which comes with a second city vehicle for less than $10 more.) One final thing to note: it requires seven AA batteries, which are not included.
Best Classic Trucks
While this is technically a dump truck, it made this list because the dump bed is made with the brand’s signature steel. While most garbage truck toys on the market are entirely plastic (and a few made of wood), you’ll be hard-pressed to find a rendition that rivals Tonka’s classic construction. Like the old school models, this retro-inspired toy doesn’t require batteries; the bed can be manually shifted in order to dump loads.
That said, there are a couple of Tonka garbage trucks that are comparable to the others on this list (like this front loader and this durable pick), but if you want to go Tonka, you probably want top-quality and nostalgia value. This dump truck fits the bill, and with over 3,800 reviews — which are overwhelmingly positive — you’ll likely get your money’s worth. (Note that the age recommendation is for kids 3 and up.)
Ah, good ol’ Matchbox cars; they’re moveable, portable, and wonderfully tiny. While you can certainly get a bigger toy for a similar price, this Matchbox garbage truck is a must-have for collectors, big and small (and at least 3 years of age, according to the manufacturer). But what this toy lacks in size it makes up for quality, with reviewers commenting on the durability of this mini metal vehicle. Says one purchaser who gave a similar model to his 3-year-old grandson, “This fits in his tiny hands perfectly. He never puts it down!”
If this particular design (or the high price) doesn’t suit your fancy, there are several other Matchbox trash trucks released in different years on Amazon. Their prices and quantities vary, which is one potential downside of purchasing these cars as playthings rather than collector’s items.
If they are going to love these new garbage trucks, then they’ll love our other mom-approved toys!