Knickerbocker Toy Company, Inc. started in 1850 in New York City making blocks and educational toys. They started manufacturing teddy bears and stuffed animals in the early decades of the twentieth cenutry and set the standard for the affordable teddy bear in this country. The company moved to Middlesex, NJ in the mid- '60 and around that time they began producing licensed toys with the introduction of Smokey the Bear and made many popular products in the '70s including stuffed animals and plush toys for Raggedy Anne, Disney and Sesame Street. They made plush Superheros for Marvel and DC and had action figures based on Annie, and the 80's Lord of the Rings figure line. They also made E.T. toys. In 1978 they were purchased by Warner Bros. so naturally they were the perfect fit to produce Dukes toys.
There are several large Dukes playsets produced by Knickerbocker. The biggest is the Speed Jumper. I've written about the Speed Jumper before and even recorded some video of it in action. It consists of a two-piece jump ramp and a landing ramp for the two-speed General Lee. Also included are walls, flags, and traffic cones.
Like many toys of the '80s there were lots of stickers that needed to be attached. I have sets that had the stickers attached by Dukes fans in the past, and a set that is in close to mint condition. I have a set with black plastic ramps as well as a few with yellow.
The Stunt Jumper also came in a mail-away package with a giant sticker on the box. It comes with everything the standard version does, just without the pretty box.
I really like the artwork used. It is the same image of Bo, Luke, and Daisy used on the wrist racer package and store display.
One of the most memorable and popular Dukes items ever created is the Barnbusters set. I wrote about this set early on on DukesCollector. Our good pal "Uncle Jesse" created a very nice website dedicated to just this set. His site has a wealth of information about the set. Check it out here. The set consists of a barn for the Gen'ral to bust through as well as a ramp and wall. Also included are barrels and hay bails for the General Lee to push around. There are several areas on the set that make the General Lee do different things such as jumps and wheelies.
The General Lee goes into the barn on four wheels and thanks to pegs on the wheels and rails inside comes busting out doing a wheelie. Very realistic to the show. I recorded video of the barnbustin' Gen'ral for an older post as well.
The final large boxed set is the Stuntbuster. The Stuntbuster Action Stunt Set is very similar to the Barnbuster but a little smaller. It doesn't include the ramp and wall for the General Lee to run into. It just has the barn and a detachable runway. It also comes with barrels, hay bails, and a fence. Both sets share the same artwork on the box. The artwork is more realistic than the Speed Jumper art. Even though the artwork features a shot of the General Lee that looks like a real Charger, Knickerbocker added a spoiler to the car so it matched the product. Nice touch Knockerbocker. I blogged about a pajama set that uses the same artwork but doesn't have the spoiler in this post. I wonder which product was designed first.
I went into more detail on this set in a previous post as well.
The General Lee is the star of the Knickerbocker boxed playsets. Each came with a version of the Gen'ral with a spoiler on the back. If you didn't want the set, or wanted extra cars, you could buy Knickerbocker's General Lee Stunt Buster. Knickerbocker had many different names for their Dukes set, Speed Jumper, Barnbuster, and Stuntbuster. I'm surprised the individually carded General Lee shares the same name with a playset. I noticed the playset seems to not have a space between "Stunt" and "Buster" so the distinction is the Stuntbuster is the full boxed playset and the Stunt Buster is the individual car. The Stunt Buster also comes with a crash wall.
The back of the package has some nice graphics and advertises the Finger Racers, but we'll get to those soon.
There seems to be two different versions of the Stunt Buster. The one I have in the best condition has a small sticker under the first of the three images of the car in action that says "new 2 speed car." The one on the left doesn't have that sticker. Also the one on the left has the decals already attached. Maybe it came out first and doesn't have the two speed feature. I have no plans on opening them to find out.
I just picked up the Stunt Buster car on a package error card. Someone in Middlesex, NJ let this bad boy get into the wild. The card is upside down. Or maybe the car is. It's all about perspective.
The package is the same and has the 2 speed sticker. It was even sold at Kay Bee Toys, at a discounted price. I love oddities like this.
Here are three versions of the single Knickerbocker Stunt Buster General Lee.
I have the same car in an Italian package that comes with the same ramp and different stickers. It doesn't mention Dukes but that didn't stop me from adding it to the collection. There are also foreign versions of the larger playsets, but I haven't tracked down any of those yet. Knickerbocker licensed the use of the set to Harbert Sports to be packaged as the Autorodeo set. You can read more about this set in this post about foreign Dukes items.
All of the sets above share a similar General Lee plastic car. That was not the only design from Knickerbocker. The Wrist Racers and Finger Racers are also beloved additions to many Dukes of Hazzard collections.
One of the most popular Dukes toys out there, and one that many casual fans remember from their childhood is the Dukes of Hazzard Wrist Racer Stunt Car. Many people remember the car without the wrist strap and ramp. I've had several people tell me they thought this car came in a Dukes of Hazzard Happy Meal, but it didn't. I showcased all the Dukes McDonald's products in a recent post.
The Wrist Racers included both the General Lee and the Police Cruiser. The Gen'ral does wheelies and the Police Cruiser does spin-outs. They seem to do the same things when I wind them up and let them go.
I have standard and multi-language versions of both of these cars. The ones pictured on the left are labeled to be released by Knickerbocker and Ganz Bros. and feature English and French. They were released in Canada.
On top of just being wind-up toys, the Wrist Racer includes a strap with a bubble and a ramp. You put the car in the bubble, wind it up, pull the ramp, and hit the button on the back. The bubble pops up and the car flies out.
The playsets only include a General Lee but the smaller toys have Rosco's car in the mix.
Many people remember having just the cars without the wrist strap. I have several cars and only a few straps. They are great, inexpensive additions to any collection. I've added a bunch to my collection over the years.
I was lucky enough to add this store display advertising the Wrist Racers to the collection last year. It features our Duke Cousins and Rosco playing with the toys. I really love the artwork of the characters.
Recently I purchased this General Lee Wrist Racer that might be a mail-away version. It might also just be a complete Wrist Racer in a box with a Barnbuster sticker on it.
The reason I believe it is a mail-away is that it comes with instructions that did not come on the carded version.
They are the same instructions that are printed on the back of the card, but on paper. I'm calling it a mail-away version and sticking with it. These are the powers afforded to me by having a Dukes of Hazzard toy blog. The mail-away Speed Jumper set is quite rare. I've never seen another mail-away Wrist Racer so it seems to be even more rare. I just proclaimed that an item exists and attached rarity to it. I love having this blog.
The final entry in the Knickerbocker Dukes of Hazzard line are the Finger Racer Crash Cars.
Like the Wrist Racers, the Finger Racers include the Gen'ral and Rosco's car. They are smaller and are spring loaded as opposed to wind-up.
The Finger Racers have a little launcher that fits on your finger and a button that launches them. When they hit a wall, the top of the cars fly off.
The three Knickerbocker General Lees each have distinct features and each resemble a real Charger only a little. I just realized the Stunt Buster car I used in this picture has the flag decal attached sideways.
I sure have a bunch of Knickerbocker Dukes of Hazzard toys. I love getting everything together like this and showing it off as a collection. Now to post all of these cars to my new DukesCollector.com database. Ain't this fun?