Not to slight the Big Wheel, because really – how can you, but skid-outs on the Wheel were nothing like the ones you could pull off on The Green Machine.
Slightly bigger and slightly meaner, the Green Machine was what you cruised around in when you graduated from Big Wheeling and were looking for your next three-wheel adventure. It was the next generation of ride-on kid vehicles.
Instead of front wheel, handlebar steering, this bad boy had two shifting handles on either side, connected by metal rods to a pivoting rear axle. Pull one all the way back and slam the other one forward, and you had yourself one gravel-spitting, cacophony-inducing, grade-A skid-out. Climb aboard – the asphalt is just ready and waiting to make friends with those moulded-plastic tyres.
Marx Toys released their lime-green tricycular vehicle in 1975. Because it was tacitly understood that the Green Machine had a bit more testosterone to it, and a bit more wipe-out potential, the clever marketing campaign encouraged parents to talk to their male children, to be good role models and to establish a firm value system.
Apparently, the idea was that the time your son spent Green Machining around the driveway, practising his skid doughnuts and 180’s, was the perfect window for a parent to stand around nearby and espouse the virtue of telling the truth and always being respectful of your elders.
They thought our silence was quiet absorption of their life lessons, but really, we were just seeing if we could do ten perfect doughnuts in a row. Everything outside of that glorious wheels-on-concrete din was white noise, but no one needs to know about that.
And please don’t think that the boy-specific ad campaign and the Machine’s masculine colour scheme meant little girls never took this low-rider for a spin. What do you think they were doing all that time you were holed up in your room with your new Micronauts?
In 1993, Empire Industries bought the Green Machine rights from Marx and named it the Big Wheel Sidewinder. There was also a Green Machine variant called the Blue Max.