As a youngster, you yearned to travel the open road like the older kids. And yet, you weren’t quite up to tackling the challenge of a bicycle. Luckily, as any 70s kid can attest, there was an iconic little plastic vehicle called the Big Wheel. Suddenly, you were king of the road and kicking up gravel with the best of them.
The big wheel was developed by Louis Marx and company (later, Marx Toys) in 1969. It was basically a tricycle made of nearly indestructible plastic, with two small wheels in the back and (you guessed it) one big wheel up front. The stock version sported a red frame, blue seat that was adjustable, and yellow handlebars complete with plastic streamers.
The Big Wheel traveled low to the ground, making it safe and easy to handle. Given enough pedal power and a nice stretch of gravel, some pretty monumental skids could be achieved, making the toys extremely popular with the younger set, and even a few older kids who could barely fit in the thing, even when the seat was removed.
Sales of Big Wheels soared through the 70s, making them one of the most iconic toys of the era. Big Wheels are still manufactured today, although not by Marx, which filed for bankruptcy in 1980.
For anyone who ever had the pleasure of riding a Big Wheel, the memories are indelible. From the distinctive sound of those plastic tires grinding against the pavement, to the feeling of sheer freedom you felt while taking one for a spin, the Big Wheel is a toy not easily forgotten.
If you have any special Big Wheel memories you would like to share, I’d love to hear them in our comments section below.
I always wanted one of these!
Rode my Big Wheel on our driveway and the sidewalk of Christian Ave in Stony Brook as a kid all the time. Some kids got a Green Machine which I think had gears, but Big Wheel was it for me.
My mother worked in the Marx toy factory from late 60’s until it shut down. We had all kinds of Marx toys including big wheels! Loved them!!