Granted, I spent a lot of time playing video games once the Atari landed in the late 70's. But I found time to do go to school, play street football, run amok with a few buddies, and play with the toys sold by saturday morning cartoon ads and the Sears Christmas Wishes catalog. I grew up in Normalville, USA.
When Ideal ran an ad for the Evel Knievel Stunt Cycle, I knew I had to have one. Like other kids in Normalville, I watched reruns of Evel Knievel jumping the fountain at Caesar's Palace in fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada. When Evel jumped the Snake River Canyon, I watched on our junky RCA color TV. But I normally did not buy into action figures and avoided them (even the Star Wars stuff). But Evel? And his motorcycle?
Did you see the commercial? The jumps that stunt cycle could make were incredible! Depending upon your upper arm strength, it looked like you could wind up Evel's motorcycle up to Ludicrous Speed and let 'er go. No batteries required.
So I worked my magic on my parents and managed to score one for my birthday. I unwrapped it with my peers (and birthday party guests) looking on and, amidst ohhs and ahhs, abandoned the birthday kid place of honor in favor of our cement driveway. The box, wrapping paper and instructions were lost somewhere between the kitchen and the driveway. Evel was dressed and ready to go right out of the box as was the bike and launch station. I put Evel on the bike, the bike on the launch station, aimed him at the 40 degree slope the curb made as it transitioned from street to driveway entrance, powered it up, then let Evel do the rest.
Evel hit the pavement going a million miles and hour, then rocketed up and off the 40 degree ramp, and did a single flip before landing squarely on the asphalt of the street. It went another 20 yards across the street and into Stu's driveway before stopping. If Spielberg were filming, he would have done it in slow motion to a crescendoing crash of drums and brass.
It was one of the best out of box experiences I have ever had with a toy (or any product).
Finding a toy that delivers on all of its promises is a rare thing. Evel was one of those toys. There was little doubt then (and less now) that Evel himself playtested the toy before letting it out the door. How else could little Evel on his Stunt Cycle go up a three foot ramp, doo a couple of flips, land in the dirt and keep going? How else could Evel outlast rocks, sticks, blocks, aluminum cans, water, and other obstacles without a single broken part?
This holiday season, give Evel a go. As a bonus, if you happen to have action figures *cough* dolls *cough* from that time period (I have Fonzie, Huggie Bear and the cast from Welcome Back Kotter), they fit quite nicely on Evel's motorcycle. Sure, Fonzie already jumped a shark and a dozen trash cans behind Al's, but have you seen him go through a ring of fire?