If you were a kid in the 1980s, there was no shortage of toylines to collect. Of course there were the big names – Star Wars, He-Man, G.I. Joe, and Transformers, among many others – but there were also a lot of smaller toylines that flew under the radar. So far under the radar, that many of us probably didn’t even know they existed. I have a feeling that’s probably the case with 6×6 High Risers from Ideal Toys.

Ideal Novelty and Toy Company was founded in 1903 when Morris and Rose Michtom invented the Teddy Bear. After the success of their stuffed bear toy, they began making dolls and other stuffed animals for kids and those were their bread and butter products until the 1970s. It was then that Ideal began experimenting with cars and trucks, and hit it big with their Evel Knievel motorcycle line…

Then, in 1979, a Hungarian inventor named Erno Rubik brought Ideal his concept for a three-dimensional puzzle that he called “The Magic Cube”. Ideal renamed it and began manufacturing the Rubik’s Cube in 1980. Despite the craze that was the Rubik’s Cube, the company was losing money and wound up selling to CBS Toys, an odd subsidiary of the television broadcasting company. CBS would later sell it’s Ideal interests to View-Master, who later sold to Tyco Toys, and then eventually got merged into Mattel like almost all toylines do on a long enough timeline.

In 1983, Ideal put out a toyline that was a sort of evolution of the Evel Knievel motorcyle – The 6×6 High Risers. The toys were motorized vehicles that had six, independently-moving axles that ran on a couple of AA batteries. These were surely a response to the wildly popular Stompers from Schaper Toys that debuted in 1980.

Stompers were tiny 4×4 vehicles, about the size of a Hot Wheels car, that ran on a single AA battery that was hidden under the detachable body. Schaper started with only five models in 1980, but by 1982, had 18 distinct body styles and 78 color and paint scheme variations. In 1982, the second generation of Stompers added variable speeds – High for cruising and Low for climbing – and soon after the line exploded, resulting in 13 sub-brands of Stompers by 1986. Much like Ideal, Schaper was sold to Tyco, who continued the toyline, but only made cosmetic changes to existing toys, leading to dwindling sales. Tyco canceled the Stompers toyline in 1989. The brand has changed hands multiple times since with each company trying to stage a comeback, but they’ve never quite taken off like they did the in 1980s.

For more information about Stompers, check out route21.com and stomper4x4.com.

I had quite a few Stompers back in the day and I loved those little guys. They were the perfect school recess toy. We used to go down onto the “lower playground” where there were a few trees along a gravel road that served as our bus lane, so we had plenty of rocks and sticks and dirt that we could use to setup obstacle courses and see who’s Stomper could make it through. It wasn’t so much a competition since Stompers were essentially all the same power, but it was a fun bit of bragging rights when your truck just happened to make it over while others were getting stuck.

I held onto my Stompers until about 10 years ago when I sold them on eBay while hard-up for cash. And I have regretted it ever since. Especially since the price on them has shot up over the years – typically in the range of $50 – $130 for a single working truck, depending upon scarcity of the model.

While the 6×6 High Riser line was clearly meant to compete with Stompers, it’s pretty obvious they never rose to the same level of popularity as Stompers, as there were only a handful of designs released…

Those eight models are just about all they had in the line. Much like the early days of Stompers, there were only a few different molds for the bodies, though some were sort of a hodge-podge of parts from others. Atlas, Mammoth, Hercules, and Colossus have a similar body style, but different components on the “bed” of the truck. Goliath and Samson are the same truck with different paint jobs, as are Honcho and The Beast.

The main things that made 6×6 High Risers stand out were the six wheels, but also the size.

As you can see, these trucks were pretty big! That’s a standard Hot Wheels car, as well as a 3.75″ Cobra Commander figure, along with the Honcho 6×6. Stomper bodies were about the same size as Hot Wheels, just with bigger tires, so a Stomper would have probably come up to the top of the wheels of a 6×6 High Riser. The High Risers were a good size to feel like they could take a lickin’ and keep on tickin’, but I also think that might have been one of the drawbacks compared to the Stompers – portability. You could throw a bunch of Stompers in a bookbag, or a Stompers carrying case…

and you had a day’s worth of adventure with nine cars and extra wheels! With a 6×6 High Riser, you’d be lucky to fit one in your backpack on the way over to Grandma’s.

That being said, it’s almost too bad they didn’t make them just a little bit bigger so that your G.I. Joe and Star Wars guys could fit inside. These would have been a great unofficial addition to other toylines. Imagine an automated truck with six wheels, driven by Destro, that could run over an army of Joes! The possibilities would have been endless. Alas, as you can see by the seats on the Honcho, no figures could really be seated comfortably. You could have had them stand in the bed or something, but it just wasn’t quite the right design for kids to use as crossover vehicles.

There actually was an attempt to make 6×6 High Risers that would work for this scenario. Ideal would release two “Super High Risers” that were better designed to handle figures from other toylines.

First, there was a Super High Riser called the Power Cruiser, which was a really wild design…

The front cab was attached to a crane that could lift off the front and extend upwards. By doing so, that opened the spring-loaded doors on the back, revealing an interior payload large enough for a regular High Riser truck. Yes, this thing was huge, measuring around 15″ long, 10″ high, and 9″ wide.

You can see in the picture above that there appears to be a chair on the back of the Power Cruiser that could easily accommodate your typical Star Wars or Joe action figure, but might even be able to handle the 5.5″ scale of a He-Man figure. And this thing is wild enough that it would have fit right in with the Masters of the Universe line.

Later, Ideal introduced The Seeker, a 16″ long sci-fi truck with a hinged design that allowed two large sections to move independently.

Again, the cockpit is able to accommodate other action figure lines, possibly up to the 5.5″ height of a He-Man figure.

Due to their larger size, the Super High Risers required three D batteries to run! But I’ll bet they could take on anything!

Aside from the trucks, there was also a playset for the 6×6 High Risers, called Crunch Canyon…

The set came with plastic log piles, boulders, and a hill for your High Risers to climb over. And the set even included a High Riser, the Goliath model! What a bargain!

Here’s an old TV ad for the set…

However, the Crunch Canyon playset was not an original design. Ideal went back into their archives and created Crunch Canyon from the molds for a playset that was originally for the Evel Knievel line called, “Escape from Skull Canyon”, released in 1976. Kids would rev up their Evel motorcycle and launch it towards the wood pile ramps, blasting through the avalanche of rocks created by that mean ol’ Bigfoot…

The design is exactly the same, minus the slightly offensive “Mysterious Voodoo” motif and Bigfoot figure.

There’s a really great video on YouTube from ArcadeUSA that features an unboxing, a brief history, and some hands-on fun with the Crunch Canyon. Check it out!

While the toyline was pretty cool, I only ever had Honcho. I have no idea how I wound up with a High Riser, but I know I had a lot of fun with it when I was a kid. The rollbars on top are a little bent up – not uncommon from what I’ve seen of other High Risers online – but it still runs like a champ!

Of course mine also comes with that extra Robert sticker to make sure everyone knew it was mine…

So, I don’t mean to sound too full of myself, but with this single blog post, I might have just created the most comprehensive 6×6 High Risers post on the internet. That’s how obscure this toyline was. There don’t really seem to be too many devoted fans of the toys, that’s assuming people even remember they existed in the first place. Fortunately, because they were obscure, the toys aren’t too expensive to collect. Prices are all over the place, but you’ll typically spend about $30 – $40 with shipping for standard trucks, with the Super High Risers going for $40 – $60 plus shipping. Not cheap by any means, but considering one could run over a Stomper that sells for about double the price, it’s not that bad at all.

If you are, in fact, a die-hard High Risers fan and can fill in any blanks in my research, I’d love to hear from you so I can update this post! Shoot me an email or hit me up on social media and tell me all about it!

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