Tuesday, March 25, 2014

GOT EVEL? The Marvelous Merchandising of EVEL KNIEVEL

In the more innocent days of the Seventies, American daredevil Evel Knievel captured the attention and imagination of children everywhere.  Between 1965 and 1980, Knievel attempted over 75 ramp-to-ramp motorcycle jumps and one iconic attempt to jump across Snake River Canyon in a steam-powered rocket, the Skycycle X-2.  With his jumps being televised regularly on ABC's Wide World of Sports, Evel (who also held the Guinness Book World Record for the most broken bones, 430) became an icon for any kid with a toy car or a bicycle.


Ideal Toy Company released Evel Knievel merchandise from 1972 through 1977, ultimately selling more than $125 million worth of Knievel toys including action figures and accessories, the Stunt Cycle  the Scamble Van, a Dragster, a Stunt Car, a Chopper Motorcycle, a Trail Bike, the Strato-Cycle and the Evel Knievel The Stunt World.  Ideal also released additional figures including a female counterpart, Derry Daring and his son, Robbie Knievel.

After attacking Shelly Saltman, the author of the book Evel Knievel on Tour with a baseball bat over the unflattering picture within (Saltman alleged that Knievel abused his wife and kids and he used drugs), Evel Knievel's moment on top was over.  He was sentenced to six months in county jail (and three years probation) and lost the majority of his endorsements which included Harley-Davidson and Ideal Toys.

As a man, Robert Craig Knievel was no role model.  As an icon, he was pure Evel.

After the jump read the Marvel/Ideal Evel Knievel comic that's pure magic.