December 2, 2010

Who Gets The Original Big Wheel?


Have you tried looking for an old-school Big Wheel for your kid? What a e-commerce shitshow.

There are, of course, Big Wheel-like products in whatever bigbox store you visit, but the pull of nostalgia is strong, and the dream lives on of seeing your kid grab that brake and throw the wheel and spin out in the street.

Since Marx, the original manufacturer, is long gone, and Empire, its successor was outsourced to death, it would seem that Cedar Rapids, Iowa-based Alpha International has taken over the The Original Big Wheel concept. They manufacture a variety of Big Wheels in the US, including the Hot Cycle.

So far, so good, right? But what does this mean, "Limited Edition, Only 500 available in USA"? And if it's "In Stock!" why should I "Please allow 2 to 8 weeks for delivery"?

And why is it $129 at, but when you go to, it kicks you to an outfit called, which sells then "new or used" for $69-109?

What's going on here?

Alpha was run by a guy named Jody Keener, but it was owned by his wife Connie Hung. Which got awkward and complicated during their nasty divorce. Which apparently sank the company, with Keener taking some kind of control of some of the brands and assets as part of his new company, J. Lloyd International. Which is either a Made in USA dream, or if the anonymous but detailed commenter on this Gazette story is to be believed, a crazy, no-payin', bills-fleeing, distribution-ruining mess.

Your results may vary, of course, but if I were buying a Big Wheel for Christmas, I'd call and give them my own Fedex account number. Anyway, there's no brake.


What about this one? Cheaper, free shipping with Amazon Mom, and a hand brake!

I got a fractured skull and concusion on that baby when I was 3.5 after my brother convinced me to evel kenivel it off the steps of our porch. It was a you-go-first situation. I remember seeing the Green Machine on the way home from the hospital and was too shook to even look at it. Besides that lots of good memories from that little vehicle.

I'm all for nostalgia but at some of the higher prices I'd be more tempted to go for a Trek Mod. Oh wait, can't get it anymore.

"Besides that..."


I've heard that the best way to do business with Mr. Keener is not to.

Best advice you've ever gotten, anon.

I bought this big wheel for my son and the pink an purple one for my duaghter last year for Christmas, I literally put them together in June and both fell apart in August. My son who is 2 1/2 could not even reach the pedals so he would use his legs to walk while riding and my daughter is 4 and would just ride up and down the driveway, on both the front wheels broke off along with the handles. extremely disappointed, they both loved them!

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