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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Big Wheel: 1977

Big Wheel: 1977

Medford, Mass., late fall 1977. A vintage Big Wheel toy by Mattel. (You can tell it's Mattel -- it's swell!) Kids were crazy for these things. Back when kids played outside! View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

Ben is right

Now I finally know where the big wheel came from, an upside down trycycle. Fascinating

No airbag

One Sunday morning I crashed one of these into the neighbors' wooden fence sometime before 1973. I cut my forehead open and my mother took me to the doctor for stitches. When I got home, my father said I looked like Frankenstein.

Thank goodness a low center of gravity

Our kids used them on a very long steep driveway that curved and shot across a small bridge over a stream that bisected our friends property. If they didn't get lined up right for the final approach they went sailing over the side into the creek - they had to keep their feet up as they rocketed down or they'd catch a foot and flip (big tears and road rash) - they loved every minute of it.

Good old advertising.

Upon watching the old commercial for the H.W., I can't help but wonder what they did to make that kid go spinning on his trike. They never show how he initiates the spin, and the cut begins just as the spin takes effect. Ah, the magic of advertising.

If We Make It... It Can Take It

All of the kids in my neighborhood had a Marx Big Wheel. They were AWESOME! I wore holes in the front tire of mine from locking the pedals up and sliding. Don't even ask about the right rear tire. Great times and great fun!

B&W Big Wheel

I always look at the picture before the title or date, so these B&W shots from the 70s always throw me for a second! I think I'm looking at something from the 50s or before, until I see something like a Big Wheel! My kids weren't born for a few more years, but I can still picture my sons, at age 2-4, flying up the hills of the small German town we lived in, at the time, on their Big Wheels. The kids who did that developed extra large thigh muscles!

Big Wheel's limitations

As a little kid in Houston in the early 70s, no doubt the Big Wheel was one of my favorites. However, we moved out to the country in 1973 and soon found that the Big Wheel didn't have an all-terrain capability. One needed lots of paved sidewalks for it to run at peak performance.

Thanks for the memories, Rizzman, and keep 'em coming.

My Dad Invented the Big Wheel

On my fourth Christmas in 1950 I was the recipient of a Murray Tricycle and a Fire Chief peddle car. As you can see from the picture the Murray was built like a tank and sported a dual spring cushioned seat and rear hubcaps. About 4 years later my interest was shifting to a two wheeler. In an apparent attempt to stave off such a purchase, my Dad modified the old Murray. He basically swapped the handle bars with the front wheel and flipped the frame over. A new hole was drilled in the frame for the seat. It was an instant hit with me and all the kids in the neighborhood, low slung and almost impossible to tip over. In those days there were no ads on the radio or TV urging you to patent your invention. There must have been Mattel spies in the neighborhood. The rest is history.

Royal Crown

Dear rizzman1953,

To my eye you are the Night-Time Ansel Adams of 1970s Eastern Massachusetts. Not merely nostalgic family snaps, but composed art brimming with tone and texture. Please keep them coming.

Wanted the Green Machine

Yup, had a Big Wheel, but my backyard neighbor and best friend had a Green Machine, which I thought was way cooler and loved whenever I had a chance to try it. And yes, eventually the front wheel got a flat spot, resulting in a distinctive clunk-clunk-clunk sound while racing around the neighborhood. We probably drove the neighbors crazy with the noise, but we were in our own world pretending to be the characters of CHiPs on our 'bikes.'

Safe City

I guess in 1977 Medford you could leave a toy like that outside at night and it would still be there in the morning


Yessiree. Thems was the days. Remember the seat had 3 positions? I think everyone had a "flat spot" on the front wheel! I bet around back is the GREEN MACHINE.

A Great Little Ride

Oh yeah, I had one of those. It was awesome! They originally came with little springs on the back wheels that caused them click and clack very loudly. Oddly enough, mine was "modified" by dad not too long after Christmas!
Wish I still had it.

Heck's Angels

My daughter, now 33, and her buddies used to tear up the sidewalk in front of the house, racing, spinning out, skidding to a halt in a cloud of dust.

She managed to wear through the plastic front wheel doing that and was heartbroken when we couldn't find one to replace it.

Great memories!

Fingernails on the blackboard

Gosh. How many times did I gently hiss dark oaths through clenched teeth as those hollow plastic wheels screeched and clattered about the neighborhood? The kiddos may have loved them, but Big Wheels caused one to want to live up on a mountainside faaar awaaaay from civilization and Big Wheels.

Super-size it, you say?

Here's the Marx page (it is Big Wheel's 40th anniversary) with a super-super-sized Big Wheel as well as one in Adult Extra Large, with an engine.

Super-size it!

My kids had these and I thought Big Wheels also should have been been available in adult size. That would have been real father-son bonding!

BigWheel Kids

Our 2 children, now in their 40s, were genuine Big Wheel kids. Our son, especially. He could make his spin and slide in imitation of those car chase scenes in movies.


Sure Mattel is swell, but the Big Wheel was actually the last dying gasp of the Marx Toy Company!

Here's a commercial:

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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