Monday, October 12, 2009

Ideal Evel Knievel Super Jet Cycle

The Evel Knievel Stunt Cycle was a tremendous success for the Ideal Toy Company in the early 1970s. Eager to continue the line and keep it a success, Ideal produced many different vehicle sets that used the same "rev and go" technology that made the Stunt Cycle such a success with kids and retailers alike.

One of those toys is the Evel Knievel Super Jet Cycle. This set was first produced in 1976, just a few years after the introduction and success of the original Stunt Cycle set.



Originally, when talking about jumping the Grand Canyon (ultimately to become the Snake River Canyon), Evel Knievel promoted the idea by showing off a jet-powered motorcycle that had wings mounted to the bike. Eventually, this design gave way to the, now famous, "Skycycle" rocket that Evel used to attempt his jump across the canyon back in September 1974.

I have a hunch that the design of this toy is loosely based on Evel's original idea for his jet-powered motorcycle.

Evel (left) on a talk show with his Jet Cycle prototype.

The red "jet pods" on the back of this toy actually have a function. When you rev the cycle on the Energizer, a wheel in each of the jet pods spins against a piece of flint and produces sparks (you had to replace the flint from time to time). The red pods fill with sparks and the sparks also shoot out of the holes on the sides of the pods. This was a very cool effect. However, it was dampened by the fact that the spinning wheels in the pods had a dragging effect on the cycle's flywheel motor that kept the Jet cycle from reaching the kinds of speeds that the original Stunt Cycle could attain. All things considered, though, the Jet Cycle was still a great toy.

I received my original Super Jet Cycle for Christmas in 1976. I'll never forget jumping this toy over ramps in the basement over and over again. In Montana, there was always quite a bit of snow outside during Christmas.

The Jet Cycle did have some improvements over the original stunt cycle. It was made out of a softer, studier plastic that was less prone to breaks and cracks. The original Stunt Cycle, although sturdy, was made of a harder more brittle plastic. This, most often, resulted in broken handlebars and foot stirrups. It was much more difficult to break any pieces on the Jet Cycle.


Like the original Stunt Cycle set, the Super Jet Cycle came with the Energizer base, instructions, decals to apply, and a white-suited Evel Knievel figure with helmet (at this point, Ideal had stopped including Evel's famous "Swagger Stick" cane with figures). A pair of extra flints were also scotch-taped to the front of the instruction sheet. It came in a windowless box with a terrific illustration on the front and line-drawing illustrations of other available Evel Knievel toys on the back. I love these kinds of illustrations from this era. No photoshop effects, computer coloring, or filters...just fantastic hand-produced artwork.

I'll bet Ideal Toys had a lot of fun figuring out what other vehicles besides a basic motorcycle Evel Knievel figures could ride across the driveway, basement floor, or roof. They came up with quite a few inventive toys before the line shut down around 1977. The Super Jet Cycle was no exception and is another classic Evel Knievel toy that should never be forgotten.

11 comments:

  1. I had the "regular" cycle and the van play set, but this bike looks super sweet, I would have loved to have had this as a kid... oh who am I kidding I would love to have it now as well : )

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  2. I don't remember this one at all.
    Cool bike though.
    You nailed it about the early bikes breaking.
    We didn't care though because from then on Evel made all his jumps with his hands in the air.
    Who need handle bars?

    Maybe that is why Robbie Knievel lets go of his handle bars sometimes when he jumps?

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  3. Finally, at 40 years old, I have come across someone else that was as fortunate as I was on Christmas morning... I truly thought I was the only kid in the World that had an Evel Kenievel Super Jet Cycle. Honestly, no one else in the neighborhood had one, and over the years none of my friends remembered this unique piece. I appreciate the story and the photos...

    Signed,

    Mr. Envious

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  4. I had one of these Which my aunt bought me. I remember I was racing it across the street and a car ran it over and smashed it to pieces. Lots of fun though until that point. Was a unique piecs for sure.
    Steve

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  5. Chris, Dublin, IrelandJanuary 29, 2010 at 5:03 PM

    I'm 43 now & I got the stunt cycle around Xmas 1973 & when it came out I got the super jet cycle too. They were brilliant toys, wish i still had them! I went through plenty of flints. My friend had the chopper & the van. Ah, memories!!!!

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  6. With sparks coming out from each side of the toy i believe it could have been a little dangerous, or at least that's what I believe, something misplaced very near the bike could set on fire, but on second though i don't think it would that big of a spark.

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  7. OMG....i had this when i was kid...it was brill...never forget it flying into the christmas tree breaking the tree in two...ace

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  8. I loved my rocket cycle. I loved the sparks (reminded me of smash'em up derby by ssp) made ramps out of dirt and evel jumped many a canyon for me.

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  9. 130 of these sold at a auction back in dec 2010 mib and and sill in cases.... Part of the IRA WIENSTIEN TOY COLLECTION.. there were also 990 EK Figs 4 diferent costumes all in caes.. plus some skull canyon playsets... Cases on ebay now...

    Rumor has it that 1500 mib are comming to auction in part 2 of this warehouse full of toys auction.. look it up Paul wiess Auctions or something like that

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  10. Ah... I was wondering where ALL THOSE figure sets were coming from on ebay!! That explains it. Amazing that all those toys would be from one collection. Thanks for the info.

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  11. I pulled my Super Jet Cycle to show it to my kids, along with my Scramble Van. Great to see others who actually had it as well...didn't see them around back in the day! Sadly, I may have to take it apart to clean the gears out, since they won't turn anymore.

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