Review by NekroDave
Usually that phrase is spoken with people in mind, but sometimes it happens with toys, too.
You see it and immediately you know. "This is a toy that I MUST have."
The Frankencycle was one such toy for me. From the moment I laid eyes on it in at Plaid Stallions, I knew it was just a matter of time. Well, a couple months ago that time finally came when I scored one that had never even been removed from the box.
I will try to write more about this toy further along in the review but for now, a simple recap of what this thing is should be enough to firmly establish why it is awesome. So here goes:
Frankenstein... in blue jeans and leather jacket.... riding a chopper... with a skull on the handle bars...with glow in the dark engine and exhaust...and a tombstone for a seat back.
I know that that is phenomenal but before you run to Ebay to try to find one, let me tell you more about it. This toy was produced by Ideal in 1978 and the general thinking is that it was made to cash in on the Evel Knievel craze of the '70s. Ideal had a similar toy of Evel Knievel and may have wanted to get as much bang for their buck as they could, in terms of utilizing the idea. Two additional toys were made, Dracula ("Dragucycle") and a generic Grim Reaper ("Bone Shaker").
In addition to esoteric stylings and a glow in the dark feature, the toys includes a wind-up feature to make the bikes actually ride! Each toy includes a haunted house type base that the bike is placed into. You wind up a handle on the back of it and when you stop, the bike is sent rolling across the floor. If you do it just right, it will also pop a wheelie!
Of course, that's reason enough to buy this but did I mention that it glows in the dark?
So, this is the greatest toy in the history of toys, right?
Well, not so fast.
I mentioned before that my specimen of the toy had never come out of the box until I bought it. And I'm guessing you probably noticed how the front wheel was messed up, right? Well, it seems that many specimens of these toys have melted wheels. It was always thought to have something to do with the rubber on the tire reacting with the plastic of the wheel, but as you can see, mine didn't even have the rubber included! And it melted anyway!
So, now one school of thought is that it may be a result of using cheap plastics during the oil crisis of the '70s. Who knows, for sure, but either way, you're rolling the dice when you buy these things.
Having been aware of this problem when I bought the toy, I was prepared to be disappointed when I opened the box (even though I was expecting to either get one with a rubber tire and melted wheel OR one with no rubber and un-melted wheel; NOT one with no rubber AND melted wheel!).
But the problems did not end there. The haunted house/base is supposed to have stickers on it, but the sticker sheet was not in the box! This probably annoyed me more than anything else. The house is cool, but it looks pretty bland when it's just all solid green.
The last problem that I encountered has to do with the hands. Now, the Frankenstein figure is simply made of rubber and the hands have a hole in them so that you can place them around the handlebars of the bike. On my specimen at least, those holes are not big enough to allow the bars to fit! So now, the figure just rests on the bike and doesn't actually hold on like he should.
It was recommended to me to try to just force them on since the rubber should be pliable but I am afraid that pushing too hard with actually break off the handle-bars and I don't want to risk ruining this any further. At least one collector told me that his specimen fit just fine though, so again, it seems like there's some inconsistency there.
So, as much as I love this toy, I was pretty disappointed the day I got it. But I gotta tell you, even with all the flaws that I outlined, I still don't regret buying it for a second. The idea is so silly and reeks so much of the 1970s that I just can't bring myself to not like it. Regardless of this specimens problems, I still have every intention of getting the two companion pieces at some point down the line. (Boneshaker in particular is one Grim Reaper I look forward to seeing show up at my door, but it's the rarest of the three, I think.)
One of the stranger things about these guys is that inside the box, they do not come packaged in a bag. They don't come packaged resting in styrofoam. There is a cardboard insert, but it doesn't really hold anything in place. Instead, there's just that and brown paper shoved in there. I don't think I've ever seen a less professionally packaged toy. Maybe that has something to do with the wheel problem. I don't know. The only other thing in the box is the instruction sheet.
(PS- Sorry for those crummy pics. My camera stinks to begin with and has been dying (and in fact, has died) on me. I should be getting a new on in the next couple of weeks..)
Comments6 comments posted
My condolences on the loss of your camera. That is our life-blood as much as our writing skill is on CDX.
Haha! Nice write up Dave. You forgot to mention that despite that bent front wheel, that crazy thing actually winds up and zooms across the floor pretty good since the weight is toward the back, and the gyroscope thingy. I remember that toy chasing our feet when you brought it out.
Great review and great toy!
Man, this brought back memories! I actually remember getting the Boneshaker cycle one Christmas from my aunt and being disappointed it wasn't Evel Knievel. Until I saw it glow in the dark...oohh that eeerie glow. Ah, the seventies.
and Frankenstein on a Chopper is bad ass, so this toy is just awesome no matter what shape it's in. Still, that's a tough break. You know, Dave, I feel your pain. Believe me, because I collect SUPER JOE. It leaves you wanting more, although I actually enjoy the sad handling and missing pieces, because it reminds me of how bad things were at the time.
I've seen the cycle with a good wheel loose before so I'm sure I'll upgrade at some point. And I can probably get repro stickers from someone at some point. But it is annoying. Normally buying a sealed box is the safest way to go...
Speaking of which, did you see that sweet unopened Super Joe Terron that just sold for $99? Man, was that tempting, but a) I don't have the extra money and b) I wouldn't feel right being the first to open it and I'd need to be able to display that thing!
"This must be settled the way nature intended....with a vicious, bloody fight!"
Principal, Flatpoint High