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We had one of those ...! BARRIE MILLS looks back at some of the most popular toys, games & gadgets of days gone by ... Evel Knievel Stunt Cycle.

LEAPING over the Grand Canyon was never going to be something your mum would let you do on your Raleigh Chopper.

So, thank heavens for Evel Knievel, the all-American stunt man and pain enthusiast, who was prepared to do it for you.

He was quite literally the US version of Eddie Kidd, only instead of jumping a Yamaha over caravans at a tractor fair near Sleaford, Evel (now how cool was that name?) would use a Harley-Davidson to jump over snarling lions and vats of acid with his hair on fire and while whistling Yankee Doodle Dandy. Or such is my recollection, which may be a bit hazy after all this time.

The time in question was, of course, the 1970s and if, back then, you were too young or cowardly to pursue your own motorcycle stunt-jumping career, then the toymakers at Ideal had just the thing for you.

The Evel Knievel Stunt Cycle first went on sale in 1972 in a flurry of exciting, if optimistic, TV ads.

The Stunt Cycle came with a bendy figure of Evel - dressed in one of his trademark jumpsuits - that measured about six inches high. You fixed him to the bike, which was then attached to the Energizer, a noisy, wind-up device that used some sort of flywheel device to power up the bike.

Once sufficient revs were built up, you hit the button and your miniature daredevil zoomed off to collide with the cat - if he didn't just overbalance after about 10 feet.

Naturally, the idea was to build ramps out of books (Beano annuals always worked well) and leap over toy cars, or your sister's dolls.

With careful planning of the ramps, and a bit of luck, it was possible to manage some quite spectacular leaps, the Holy Grail of which was the full somersault.

The range later expanded to give Evel new outfits and bikes. The wealthy could aspire to the Escape from Skull Canyon play-set, complete with plastic mountains to leap over.

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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Oct 31, 2017
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