This is the Ideal Evel Knievel Silver Hi-Jumper cycle from 1977. This is one of the most rare Evel Knievel toys ever produced. In 1977, Knievel had a controversial parking lot altercation with a writer that slandered him in a "tell-all" book. The writer left the incident with two broken arms and Evel was left facing jail time. Rather than continue to produce toys that used the Knievel name, Ideal Toys chose to end their relationship with Evel rather than risk losing money on a toy line associated with the then-maligned Knievel name.
Consequently, some Knievel toys did not make it to production or were canceled not far into production. The Silver Hi-Jumper set was one that ended up having very low production numbers. Information online is sketchy but it seems that somewhere between 1000 and 1500 of these sets made it to toy shelves before the final curtain closed on Ideal's mighty and lucrative Evel Knievel toy line.
The full-set included the Silver Hi-Jumper cycle, Energizer (winder), a white-suited Evel Knievel figure with helmet, and a red ramp. If I'm not mistaken, this was the only vintage Knievel cycle set to come with a jumping ramp in the box. Other sets like the Scramble Van and the Stunt Stadium (both forthcoming in reviews) included ramps but not a cycle.
This particular Silver Hi-Jumper pictured was acquired by me about a year ago. It's missing some silver paint here and there but is in nice condition, otherwise. It runs and nothing is broken. A blue-suited Evel figure is standing in for the white one that would have originally come with this set.
The cycle itself is actually a repaint of a much more common Knievel toy cycle called the Trail Bike. The Trail Bike body was black plastic with chromed engine and tail pipes but the Silver Hi-Jumper is painted in reverse with an all-chrome finish and black engine and tail pipes. Although, the distinction between the two bikes is somewhat minimal, the rarity of the silver bike makes it one of the line's "holy grails."
I didn't have this cycle as a kid. In fact, I had never heard of it until more recently when researching the line of Evel Knievel toys. However, I came across this example for a screaming deal and had to pick it up. I was very glad to add it to the collection of Knievel toys I've gathered over the years.
This is the box that the Silver Hi-Jumper cycle set was sold in. I love these old illustrated, no-window toy boxes.
Every year, we make a few trips to Evel's hometown of Butte, Montana for some of my boys' soccer games. Last year, we stopped at Evel's grave to see his final resting place and pay our respects. Evel was one of my biggest heroes as a kid and it felt pretty neat to be able to walk right up and visit the grave of such a famous and iconic American.
The backside of Knievel's grave was inscribed many years ago. Evel intended that this stone be erected as a commemoration of his attempt to jump the Snake River Canyon in 1974. When that didn't pan out, the stone was put into storage. Later in life, as Evel struggled with illness, he pulled the stone out of storage and had it transported to Butte to be used as his headstone.