It’s a glorious spring day in the late 1970s. You’re rocking your iron-on R2-D2 T-shirt, the one with the Five Alive stain on it.
And here comes that familiar rumble. That unmistakable holy rolling thunder of bald plastic tires barreling down the sidewalk – tassels majestically rippling with the breeze.
Your turn is next. But not before the current driver ends their ride by pulling a wicked burnout.
We usually like to use the “Did You Own It” space to ask if you owned a classic collectible or toy. But in the case of the Big Wheel, if you’re a child of the 70s or early 80s, the true question is…which one did you own?
Big Wheels first hit the pavement at the 1969 New York Toy Fair, courtesy of Louis Marx & Company.
Founded in 1919, Louis Marx & Company rose to become the world’s largest toy manufacturer, including a strong presence in the UK.
The Big Wheel was an instant hit and one of the decade’s top selling toys. Today it’s an exclusive member of the Toy Hall of Fame.
Unfortunately, the wheels came off in 1978 and they filed for bankruptcy, eventually liquidating the Big Wheels brand to rival Empire Industries.
The “muscle trike” earned its nickname for its sturdy, low-rider build, which actually made it less susceptible to flipping. And more prone to awesomeness.
Plus, you could get them in themes such as the army and fire department, as well as from franchises such as Marvel and The Muppets.
If you wanted to go really fast, you got the one with the flame decals.
Empire kept the Big Wheels rolling, until its own bankruptcy in 2001. Two years later the brand received a reboot and has been going strong since.
In fact, this very Sunday (April 17) is the annual Bring Your Own Big Wheel Race, a raucous affair annually held on Easter in San Francisco.
Best of luck to all of the riders!
There’s only one question left to ask. Which one did you own?
*Author Note: My brothers, sister and I had a Spider-Man and Care Bear Big Wheel
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