Green Machine Vs. Big Wheel - Road-Ready Plastic Tricycles
There comes a time in everyone's life when our loyalties are questioned, and we have to draw our own personal line in the sand. Loyalists in ongoing classic brand battles find themselves reasserting their position on Coke vs. Pepsi, Nintendo vs. Sega, Canon vs. Nikon, and the like. Sometimes love conquers all, though. I know a couple from what we could call an American "mixed marriage". He drives a Ford Truck, and she drives a Chevy.
These vehicular brand battles aren't just waged by adults. I recall similar confrontations in the playground; before cars, even before bikes. Back in the 70s, I remember the hot-button topic was whether your all-plastic tricycle loyalty belonged to Big Wheel or Green Machine.
If you don't recall, Marx rumbled out Big Wheel in 1969. Marx was one of the top plastic toy manufacturers, and this venture into ride-ons was yet another huge success for them.
Except for the metal crank for the pedals, the Big Wheel was all blow-molded plastic - including the "tires" (holes quickly appeared in the wheels, and if you were unlucky enough to receive Big Wheel as a hand-me-down there was real danger of the front wheel splitting in two). Marx was undiscouraged, making the trike's slippery tendencies an asset. The motorcycle-styled Big Wheel was not just simple transportation - you could catch the eye of the neighborhood ladies with your slick spin-outs.
Green Machine is unusual in that it steers from the back (sort of like a fork lift!) with levers instead of handle bars. Rear steering meant that a kid could navigate very tight turns, and spin out even more. Yes kids, this was "drifting" before there was drifting. We almost didn't need TV commercials to tell us that if you had a Green Machine, you were pretty much the neighborhood badass.
From the commercial, I suppose that Marx was setting up Green Machine to be a child's successor vehicle to Big Wheel (pretty smart to introduce the idea of a child growing up with two all-plastic stunt trikes). Funny that in the text of the ad, they're goading 8, 9, and 10 year old kids that they're "ready" for Green Machine. Shouldn't kids be riding bicycles by then? Don't show this 40 year old ad to any overprotective parents you know, otherwise they'll never let their fragile modern kids learn to balance on two wheels...
Then again, it looks like you can go from cradle to grave without ever being forced to learn how to ride a regular bike. Green Machine is back in an adult sized version. It has the trademark steering levers, a 45" front wheel, Harley V-twin engine, and it's up high enough so you're not dragging your knuckles and sucking up car fumes. It's a real 50mph Green Machine. You can actually get this hideously dangerous looking green beast from Hammacher Schlemmer (who else?). Of course, when I say "hideously dangerous", I'm of course saying "When do I get to ride it?". Prepare for adult-sized sticker shock, as the grown up version is a bit more than the original $20-ish retail price. Expect to plunk down $75,000. Don't worry if you can't swing $75K for a giant novelty tricycle. You can still be the playground badass. The video below shows that an adult can still get plenty scraped up drifting on the plastic kiddie original that's available again today.
Buy a NEW Green Machine on Amazon (the 20" version is big enough for an adult), and then send us your pictures!