Tag Archives: The Dukes of Hazzard

Throwback Thursday: the Evel Knievel toy “Chopper” (1975 – 1977)

I mentioned Evel Knievel toys in last week’s Throwback Thursday post — this was the “Chopper” that was sold by Ideal between 1975 and 1977.  This was a toy that I inherited from my older brother; by the end of the decade, it found its way to the bottom of my big burgundy-brown toybox in the family den.  (Do people still even have “dens?”)

The Evel Knievel rider and the windup mechanism were misplaced by the time I got my hands on this, but the bike worked just fine.   [As a (primarily) 80’s kid who was raised on “Star Wars” figures, it still strikes me how much the toys from the prior decade looked like dolls.]  The bike was a sturdy toy that never broke, and it was a hell of a lot of fun for a kid.  You just revved it up (backwards) by running that rear tire against the floor, and then it shot across the kitchen.  The internet informs me that Ideal later used the molds for this toy for a motorcycle for a Fonzie toy.

I … can vaguely remember the Evel Knievel phenomenon of the 1970’s.  He was doing successful televised jumps through 1977.  I … might remember an older sister calling me to a clunky little black-and-white television to see him.  It is only now, as a write this, that I finally get the reference that “The Simpsons” made to the famed superstar.  (Homer’s injurious skateboard jump over Springfield Gorge lampoons Kneivel’s 1973 failed attempt to arc across Idaho’s Snake River Canyon.)

I can definitely remember other kids on the street humbly trying to “jump” their small bikes “like Evel Knievel.”  We would have been … six years old?  Seven?  But then “The Dukes of Hazzard” hit our TV screens in 1979, and little kids tried to endlessly emulate them; The Duke Boys promptly replaced the real-life stuntman in the child-zeitgeist.

 

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Throwback Thursday: Wrist Racers!!!

What you see below was the holy grail for little boys in 1980 — Wrist Racers.  Although Knickerbocker produced versions of these for TV shows like “The Dukes of Hazzard,” “Knight Rider” and “The A-Team,” I had the plain shiny red version.

I got it for my birthday one year, I think.  And man did I love it like Gollum loved the goddam Ring.  The concept for the toy is a little weird … it was just a windup toy car that you wore on your wrist like a cheap, bizarre, oversized bauble of a wristwatch.  Because God forbid you went through the trouble of slipping a tiny toy car into your pocket.

You wound it up manually as it was in its clear plastic housing.  And when you wanted to launch it across the floor, you held your forearm down to the floor with that little retractable red car ramp deployed.  Then you pressed a button and the thing would shoot across any smooth surface — delightfully fast.  (If you think about it, this toy’s design was a slightly reminiscent of the Evel Knievel wind-up motorcycle toys of the 1970’s.)  I remember shooting it under my family’s dining room table (the same place I loved to hurl those tiny period “bouncey balls”), so that it ricocheted off of all the table and chair legs.

And very soon after I got it, I lost the damned thing.  I was playing hide and seek in a vast cornfield (yes, rural New York indeed has cornfields, people), and I f@#&ing lost it.  The clear plastic housing had sprung open, and I lost that damn shiny red car.  Words cannot describe the remorse I felt.  I still remember looking down to see the empty housing on my wrist, like a missing limb, and gaping dumbfounded at my discovery.  And that car was absolutely impossible to find in acres of high corn (even though I tearfully attempted that Sisyphean task anyway).

I might one day find and order one of these off of eBay, just to achieve closure for that event in my childhood.

 

Image result for wrist racers

Image result for wrist racers

 

Throwback Thursday: “The Dukes of Hazzard” action figures

Tonight’s Throwback Thursday is another little 80’s Ghost of Christmas past.  The General Lee arrived under my Christmas tree in 1980 or 1981.  Yeeeeeee-HAH.

What was especially cool about the Mego toy company is that they so generously included Bo and Luke Duke, as you see below — the weird, lower-budget packaging makes them look like they’ve already been tied up by one of the TV show’s easily defeated bad guys.  The Dukes Included” feature was a happy surprise — if you were a kid collecting Star Wars toys in the 80’s, you were already well acquainted with the common disappointing disclaimer, “action figures sold separately.”

I remember that Christmas a little more vividly then others … the tree was in a different corner of our family living room, for some reason.  And it was the very same year my older brother received AC/DC’s “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” on LP.

Man, did I love The Duke boys.  So, too, did my fellow enthusiast, Mikey Wagner, on the next block.  We loved the two good ol’ boys; we loved Roscoe’s laugh, and his dog, Flash; we loved puzzling over why Enos was a good guy, kind of; we loved Waylon Jennings as the viewer-surrogate narrator; and we loved “THE JUMPS,” trying our best to emulate them with our bikes, along with that “Yeeeeeeee-HAH.”  Hell … we even watched through the strange, troubling “Coy and Vance” pseudo-Dukes days.  (Fans who remember the show will know what I mean.)

Hey — if you are a true 80’s scholar, you might recall that Enos even got his own spin-off TV show in 1980.  It was called, unremarkably, “Enos.”  And it was weird.  It was a … drama in which Enos moved to California and joined the LAPD.  You can’t make this stuff up.

My zeal for all things Dukes led to one faux pas with my family.  We had a gigantic late-70’s-era green Oldsmobile, and it had vinyl seats that got HOT when you parked it in the sun.  You could mitigate that problem by leaving the windows rolled down.  (Yes, I really am old enough to remember these things; the first “electric window opener” I ever saw was on a babysitter’s car, and, at the time, it seemed high-tech and weirdly opulent to me.)

Anyway, my older sister and I were returning from somewhere (it might have been church, or maybe the supermarket).  I dove feet-first into the passenger seat, instead of opening the door, hopping in just as the Dukes jumped into the General Lee.  That … really pissed my sister off, for some reason.  My mom too.  She told me, slowly, gravely and in a low voice in the kitchen that afternoon, “This is real life.  That is a TV show.”

Mikey liked Daisy Duke considerably more than I did; his occasional admiring mention of her puzzled me.  I hadn’t quite discovered girls yet in 1981, and I couldn’t appreciate the nature of her unique aesthetic value on that TV show.  (I’m pretty sure the show’s creators did.)  I thought Daisy was superfluous, even though I didn’t know what the word “superfluous” meant.  Her presence seemed to be a weird, obligatory public service reminder that, yes, girls could also drive, and were also known to live in the country sometimes.

Is the term “Daisy Duke shorts” still even employed today?  Do kids even know that it is derived from a TV show?

 

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