Evel Knievel rides again, thanks to toy distribution deal

Comments Email Print

COLUMBUS, OHIO (Dec. 30, 12:55 p.m. ET) — Evel Knievel will ride again in 2012, thanks to toy distributor Global Products.

Columbus-based Global on Jan. 1 will begin handling marketing and distribution for several vintage plastic-based toy lines that are owned by American Classic Toys Inc. of Sebring, Ohio. One of those lines includes motorcycles and action figures based on Knievel, the legendary daredevil stuntman who passed away in 2007.

Global is making an exclusive Knievel motorcycle-and-figure set for mega-retailer Costco Wholesale Corp. this year, owner Jerrey Lebowitz said in a Dec. 29 phone interview. The Knievel line will be marketed by Global, but those products will continue to be sold under the American Classic Toys name because of a licensing arrangement with the Knievel family. ACT re-launched the Knievel toys three or four years ago, based on original molds used by the now-defunct Ideal Toy Co.

The exclusive Costco set is expected to be available in late 2012. Other products that Global will re-launch in 2012 include Mr. Machine and Retro Robots, classic building-and-learning toys that debuted in the 1960s. Lebowitz expects sales of these and other products – such as the Sudoku Cube, a Rubik’s Cube imprinted with a Sudoku numbers puzzle – to total $3-5 million in 2012.

“These are toys that adults remember from their own childhoods and that they’ll want to buy for their kids,” said Lebowitz, a retail industry veteran who’s operated Global and Columbus Closeouts – a distributor of marked-down toys and housewares – since 1993.

Global already has moved many of the original toy molds that ACT had stored in its Sebring warehouse to locations in China and Mexico, where all production of the ACT toys will be done. ACT is owned by Jay Horowitz, a veteran of both the plastic and toy industries, who also owns American Plastic Equipment Inc. of Sebring.

For several years in the 1990s, Horowitz also owned legendary toymaker Marx Toys, but Lebowitz said none of the toys that Global now is marketing were made by Marx.

In Sebring, Horowitz had assembled molds for toys originally made by Marx, Ideal, Mego and other defunct toymakers. The site last made its own injection-molded toys in the early 2000s.

Global will be displaying the ACT toy line and other products at a trade show in Hong Kong this month and at the American International Toy Fair in New York in February.