I mentioned Evel Knievel toys in last week’s Throwback Thursday post — this was the “Chopper” that was sold by Ideal between 1975 and 1977. This was a toy that I inherited from my older brother; by the end of the decade, it found its way to the bottom of my big burgundy-brown toybox in the family den. (Do people still even have “dens?”)
The Evel Knievel rider and the windup mechanism were misplaced by the time I got my hands on this, but the bike worked just fine. [As a (primarily) 80’s kid who was raised on “Star Wars” figures, it still strikes me how much the toys from the prior decade looked like dolls.] The bike was a sturdy toy that never broke, and it was a hell of a lot of fun for a kid. You just revved it up (backwards) by running that rear tire against the floor, and then it shot across the kitchen. The internet informs me that Ideal later used the molds for this toy for a motorcycle for a Fonzie toy.
I … can vaguely remember the Evel Knievel phenomenon of the 1970’s. He was doing successful televised jumps through 1977. I … might remember an older sister calling me to a clunky little black-and-white television to see him. It is only now, as a write this, that I finally get the reference that “The Simpsons” made to the famed superstar. (Homer’s injurious skateboard jump over Springfield Gorge lampoons Kneivel’s 1973 failed attempt to arc across Idaho’s Snake River Canyon.)
I can definitely remember other kids on the street humbly trying to “jump” their small bikes “like Evel Knievel.” We would have been … six years old? Seven? But then “The Dukes of Hazzard” hit our TV screens in 1979, and little kids tried to endlessly emulate them; The Duke Boys promptly replaced the real-life stuntman in the child-zeitgeist.