Every now and then, a simple child’s toy will transcend its core audience and establish itself as a symbol of a generation. From the ubiquitous “jack-in-the-box” to the beautifully innocent Slinky spring, these toys can often become part of an era’s zeitgeist. In the 1970s, one such toy was undoubtedly the Evel Knievel Stunt Cycle. Found in millions of children’s bedrooms around the world, the unmistakable Evel Knievel suit, helmet, and motorcycle became cultural icons almost overnight.
And as the popularity of the man himself grew, so did the popularity of the toy that bore his name. It was a simpler time, of course. Video games were still in their infancy, and the internet was something only the military used. Children of the 70s spent their time trading baseball cards, riding bikes, and playing with real toys for hours on end.
And real toys didn’t come more versatile, durable, or innovative than the Evel Knievel Stunt Cycle. The vast majority of kids could never hope to even ride a motorcycle, let alone perform death-defying stunts on one. So the opportunity to flip, somersault, perform back stands, and execute wheelies in backyards was an enticing one. Thankfully, nostalgia is alive and well these days. The Evel Knievel Stunt Cycle is back—and it’s just as exciting as it always was.
The Return of a Legend The spirit of Evel Knievel lives on—through his videos, his family, and his death-defying stunts. But thanks to toy manufacturer California Creations, Kelly Knievel, and classic toy man Jay Horowitz, a new generation of kids can enjoy this legendary toy.
The Evel Knievel Stunt Cycle has already found a huge new audience on Instagram and TikTok—pushing the #besttoyever hashtag to the top of trending lists. Children of the 70s and 80s are now introducing the toy to their children for the first time. And the response has been as inspiring as it has been joyful. Evel Knievel’s son—Kelly Knievel—worked tirelessly with Jay Horowitz to ensure the 21st century’s version of the Stunt Cycle is just as fun and durable as the 20th century’s. They even managed to acquire the original moulds, which has guaranteed the authenticity of the new product. But this comeback story of the century hasn’t been without its ups and downs.
A high-profile legal battle with a major movie studio took a little of the shine off the Stunt Cycle’s return. Toy Story Mania Kelly Knievel and the Knievel estate filed a lawsuit against Disney and Pixar after the studios included the character “Duke Caboom” in the 2019 movie Toy Story 4. The fictional Disney character is a toy that bears an uncanny resemblance to the Evel Knievel Stunt Cycle.
The toy depicted in the movie worked in an almost identical way to the Stunt Cycle. And Duke Caboom himself wore the same kind of white jumpsuit and helmet that made Evel a global superstar in the 1970s. Yet despite these obvious and almost identical traits, the Walt Disney Company refused to admit their fictional character was directly inspired by the Evel Knievel Stunt Cycle. And to this day, consumers are still confused by Disney’s introduction of the Duke Caboom toy. A simple search for “Evel Knievel toy” on Amazon, for example, delivers several results for a strikingly similar Duke Caboom cycle.
It’s easy to see why so many consumers are confusing the two products. In the movie, Duke Caboom was described as a Canadian daredevil who also happened to be the best selling toy of the 1970s. But how many motorcycle-riding Canadian daredevils were there in the 1970s? Math isn’t my strong point, but I count none! Nevertheless, the Knievel family is now moving forward after a tumultuous couple of years in the courts. While the confusion has taken the shine off what should have been a glorious comeback, the future is bright for the “real deal #besttoyever.” The authentic Evel Knievel Stunt Cycle is back, and it’s a huge hit among children and nostalgic adults alike.