In the 1960s, Ray Lohr developed a new tricycle for Louis Marx & Co. called "The Big Wheel." The design allowed for better handling and braking which translated into fast-paced travel for kids. During the '70s, Big Wheels quickly grew in popularity thanks in part to TV commercialsshowing off their sliding, braking, and racing capabilities. Big Wheels continued to grow in the '80s, even outliving their original company in 1985. The popularity even lasts today with its 2009 induction into the Toy Hall of Fame and Alpha International continuing to produce the original ride-on design to this day.
With the popularity of Big Wheels and the explosion of licensed toys in the early 80s, other toy companies started designing their own ride-on trikes. One of Big Wheels big competitors was Coleco and their "Power Wheels" line. Coleco took the Big Wheels design a step further equipping their trikes with new design elements and features to adapt to the licensed toy market.
Big Wheels did produce several licensed trikes including CHiPs, Q*Bert, The Muppet Show, Mister T, DC Comics superheroes, and more. For the most part, the original Big Wheels design stayed the same except for a few unlicensed cycles like the "Aqua Blaster" which squirted water. Coleco's Power Wheels that featured popular franchises like Transformers and G.I. Joe always seemed to have the "wow factor" when I found them in catalogs like the Sears Wish Book. Not only did each provide an appropriate paint and label scheme, but most came with special features particular to the licensed franchise.
Here are 10 of the best themed Coleco Power Cycles that were produced in the '80s...
As a huge fan of M.A.S.K., I would have loved to have my own Thunder Hawk that featured gull-wing door compartments for simulated flying and a Matt Trakker Spectrum mask hood ornament!
Dukes of Hazzard
Is their a better way to outrun a road block setup by the local police or just impress some local bystanders? Do it with an "01" on the side and mag wheels! If you find one at a yard sale nowadays, you might want to slap an American flag on the handbrake.
Even though the Sectaurs animated series didn't last long, the action figure line was very popular and this Power Cycle fit right in with the insect-themed franchise.
The perfect ride for taking on S.A.V.A.G.E. featured "gun-turret handlebars with aiming scope, a high-flying battle flag, and a Rambo headband."
You had me at "lion head handlebars and lion claw grips". The paint scheme and the Thundertank hubcaps also added a nice touch.
If you grew up in the '80s, K.I.T.T. was at the top of your cool car list. Even though the cylon eye didn't light up and there was no voice sounds, the design alone was enough to make even the casual Knight Rider fan jealous.
Options, options, options! The "Laser Defense Patrol" featured about the same handlebars as Rambo with engine revving sounds when you pedaled. The "Mobile Strike Force" power cycle was an "authentic-looking molded motorcycle with a simulated headlight and motor racing sounds." If you really begged your parents then you might have landed the motorized Armored Recon Patrol Vehicles with electronic lights and sounds.
If you needed wheels that were more than meets the eye, then this power cycle did just that with transforming laser-wielding handlebars and a robot-faced grill.
The Real Ghostbusters
Featuring ghost sounds and spooky characters in the spokes of the front wheel, this power cycle was so much more than just the big Slimer mounted on the handlebars (which would be enough to sell me!)
Dungeons & Dragons
The monstrous look of this power cycle would make me want to pedal the other way!