Ideal Toys, the major manufacturer of Evel Knievel toys, got their start in the Knievel business in 1972 when they released the first Evel Knievel action figures.
These six-inch figures were made of plastic except for the head, which was made of vinyl, and came dressed in Knievel’s trademark American flag-adorned white jumpsuit and white shoes. Additional accessories included a helmet and, strangely enough, a cane.
The Evel Knievel figures were a big hit and were quickly followed by the next logical step: stunt vehicles.
This long-lived line of vehicles began with the Stunt Cycle (pictured), a working miniaturised cycle piloted by a bendable Evel Knievel figure.
The cycle was powered by a hand-cranked power launcher that got its engine going and could then be launched towards any stunt-obstacle its user’s fevered imagination could dream up.
The massive success of the Stunt Cycle inspired Ideal to create a veritable fleet of Evel Knievel vehicles.
There were Super Jet and Canyon Sky Cycles that were designed for stunt use, as well as a Crash and Stunt Car that would break into pieces upon impact with an obstacle. Other stunt cycles included the Silver High Jumper Stunt Cycle and the Strato Cycle, a toy inspired by Knievel’s motion picture debut, Viva Knievel.
Another cool Knievel-inspired vehicle was a dragster that came complete with a working parachute to bring it to a halt. Non-stunt Knievel vehicles included the Scramble Van (pictured above) and the Road and Trail Adventure Set.
Ideal Toys also unveiled a series of playsets to provide unique backdrops for the antics of the Evel Knievel stunt vehicles. There was the Stunt Stadium and Stunt World, which included a three-dimensional obstacle course for Knievel to ride his cycle through.
One of the strangest Evel Knievel playsets was the Escape From Skull Canyon set (pictured below), which included a werewolf-style “Fierce Monster”, “realistic boulders”, skull-adorned trees as obstacles, and “mysterious voodoo symbols” for Knievel.
In addition to the Evel Knievel stunt vehicles and playsets, Ideal also found much success with several die-cast Knievel vehicles, a series of miniatures, and even a board game.
The tremendous success of the Knievel toys led to spin-off figures like Robbie Knievel, Teenage Daredevil (based on Knievel’s real-life son) and Derry Daring, a stuntwoman companion for Knievel.
Other companies produced countless other Evel Knievel toys and novelties, including lunchboxes, bicycles, comic books, pillowcases, sheets, radios and model rockets. There was even an Evel Knievel electric toothbrush that was designed to look like the famous X-2 Skyrocket.
Evel Knievel toys continued to be popular throughout the 1970s. Although they were discontinued in 1977 – by which time the range had made a whopping $125 million – these toys occupied a special place in the hearts of toy fanatics and continue to be highly sought-after collectables.
Reissued Knievel toys appeared in the late 1990s and 2000s including a new Super Stunt Cycle Set by POOF-Slinky that included a dragster and a car.