Big Wheel (tricycle)

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A Big Wheel

A Big Wheel is a type of tricycle, usually made of plastic, with an oversized front wheel, that rides very low to the ground. Introduced by Louis Marx and Company in 1969 and manufactured in Erie, Pennsylvania, the Big Wheel was a very popular toy in the 1970s in the United States, partly because of its low cost and partly because consumer groups said it was a safer alternative to the traditional tricycle or bicycle.

The design was quickly imitated, under a variety of brand names. Although Big Wheel was a registered trademark, it was frequently used as a generic name for any toy whose design resembled that of Marx. Following the bankruptcy and liquidation of Marx Toys in the early 1980s, the Big Wheel brand name and molds were sold to Empire Plastics, makers of the Power Cycle brand, which was Marx's biggest competitor.

By the late 1990s, few manufacturers were making these toys, and Empire also filed for bankruptcy in 2001. The Big Wheel brand was reintroduced under new ownership in 2003.

The Big Wheel was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame at The Strong in Rochester, New York, in 2009.

Popular culture[edit]

Children racing Big Wheels from various manufacturers
  • A yearly Big Wheel race takes place on Easter Sunday in San Francisco. Formerly raced down Lombard Street, the event moved to Vermont St in 2008 under threat of lawsuit.[1]
  • An annual Tulsa Big Wheel race is hosted by Tulsa Big Wheel Racers, LLC as a charity event in which the proceeds go to benefit the Tulsa, OK based cancer research non-profit charity "Cancer Sucks".[2]
  • In James Cameron's 1986 film Aliens, children are seen driving Big Wheels in a terraformed colony building. It was also featured in another Cameron film, Terminator.[3]
  • In Stanley Kubrick's 1980 film The Shining, a 6-year old boy named Danny is shown pedaling a Big Wheel through the hallways of a hotel, followed closely by a Steadicam.

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