As Knight Rider hit television screens in 1982, audiences fell in love with the shadowy flight of Michael Knight and his car, K.I.T.T. As Glen A. Larson hoped, America fell in love with his show that fused the dynamics of Lone Rider with cars. He understood that the journey of a lone vigilante would connect with viewers, but horses no longer appealed to most people. Rather than dreaming of owning a horse, the average person wanted to have the greatest car and technology. So, he dreamed up the world’s most advanced car that housed an advanced Artificial Intelligence.
To create the illusion of a talking car, they needed the right voice actor. Luckily, William Daniels agreed to step into the role. He even insisted that he remain uncredited for his voice work since he did not want to ruin the illusion. Happy to become the voice of K.I.T.T., Daniels also fought off ideas that the car should be an emotionless machine. Rather than voicing a synthesized robot, he brought charm and human expression into the character.
The show also required a leading man who would keep viewers in suspense. With a rising career, David Hasselhoff stepped into the shoes of Michael Knight. At the time, he had appeared on a few shows, but executives questioned whether he could lead a show. Luckily, the charms of the Hoff won over viewers.
As the show quickly proved successful, multiple toy companies jumped at the opportunity to cash in. Even after the cancelation of the original show, fans still love the look and feel of K.I.T.T. So, toys of him and Michael Knight often resurface. So, join us on a journey through the dark world of Knight Rider toys.
Presenting ten Knight Rider Toys that brought the shadowy flight home
Kenner’s Knight Rider Knight 2000 Voice Car (1983)
Kenner produced only a handful of toys, but fans still fondly remember each of them. Most of these toys featured K.I.T.T. and offered various stunts for him. For instance, they created a package that included a miniature K.I.T.T. along with a turbo booster. The booster launched the car, allowing it to speed through the house. They also created a crash set that featured a Comtron truck. Aside from these various versions of K.I.T.T., they also created a standard action figure of Michael Knight.
At the top of any Knight Rider fan’s list are the two electronic versions of K.I.T.T. Kenner created a radio-controlled car and a voice car. The voice car also included the Michael Knight action figure, making it the definitive package. Kenner included so much detail into the car that it housed a relatively accurate miniature of the car’s dashboard. However, the show never featured decals that read “Knight 2000” on the doors. To active the voice car’s five sayings, owners pressed down on the license plate. The car then spoke with K.I.T.T.’s authentic voice, William Daniels.
Ideal’s Knight Rider – Cutoff Challenge (1983)
Kenner did not have the sole rights to produce Knight Rider toys. Many other companies began generating their takes on K.I.T.T. and the other notable vehicles from the show. Where Kenner decided to focus on creating detailed replicas of the show’s hero car, companies like Ideal decided to produce racetracks for their toy cars. So, they produced a guided race set that allowed players to stage the duel between K.I.T.T. and a big rig truck.
To set up the tension for this set, the tracks for the two vehicles moved in opposing directions. As they sped through the course, the vehicles often came close to each other, barely escaping from a head-on collision. However, if the racers timed the intersections correctly, the two vehicles would meet in a spectacular head-on collision.
The course offered a variety of other playstyles as well. For instance, instead of a head-on collision, players could race both vehicles on the same track. Thus, one of the vehicles would be chasing down the other through the entire course. Even while traveling in the same direction, the two vehicles could swerve onto the merge ramps and other sections of the track.
LJN’s Rough Riders Knight Riders Impossibles Stunt Set (1985)
Even as Knight Rider’s televised run was winding down, the toys continued to pop onto store shelves. For years, LJN had successfully produced the Rough Riders, 4×4 battery-powered vehicles that challenged Schaper’s Stomper toy line. So, they expanded the line to include several licensed vehicles. Chief amongst these licensed vehicles was K.I.T.T. from Knight Rider.
Since the Rough Riders were 4×4 all-terrain vehicles, the Rough Riders version of K.I.T.T. changed drastically from his on-screen appearance. Rather than maintaining the sleek lines of the Pontiac Firebird Trans Am, they gave their version prominent wheels. With his chassis lifted high above the ground, this version of K.I.T.T. resembled a monster truck.
Adding even more fun to their Rough Riders line-up, LJN introduced the Impossibles stunt sets in 1983. These sets allowed their cars to transverse loops and other seemingly impossible stunts. So, they easily modified one of their stunt sets for Knight Rider.
As K.I.T.T. traversed the stunt set, he pulled off stunts that seemingly defied gravity. The car followed the track through loops that made him move sideways, upside down, and even up walls. He then could stop at the K.I.T.T. computer headquarters to recharge.
However, why take our word for it when the Hoff can explain it all for you:
Joyride’s Knight Rider K.I.T.T. (2006)
As Knight Rider fans grew up, they began dreaming of the perfect K.I.T.T. to display on their shelves. Heightening the thirst for new toys, rumors of a new show were beginning to swirl. As the market was ripe for collectible models of K.I.T.T., Joyride struck with one of the first high-end models of the car.
Appearing on store shelves in 2006, Joy Ride’s Knight Industries Two Thousand model offered high-end materials and detail. Before even opening the package, fans noticed that the die-cast construction gave the collectible heft. Right out of the packaging, the vehicle comes mounted onto a black display stand.
Joy Ride included several details to bring K.I.T.T. to life. The car featured tinted windows, giving the car the dark, sleek look from the show. It also featured removable sunroof panels, though Joyride did not attack these panels onto the car with hinges. This collectible included several detailed features, including K.I.T.T.’s engine block. By opening up the doors, owners could peer at the accurate recreation of the car’s dashboard.
Beyond the various details from the show, this car also featured several action gimmicks. For instance, it had steerable front wheels. This version of K.I.T.T. even included a working LED light at the front that gave him his iconic scanner. Moreover, the interior featured an ejection seat.
Mattel’s Hot Wheels Retro Entertainment Series Knight Rider K.A.R.R. (2013)
When it comes to toy cars, one company has stood high above the others in its wealth of licensed products. Hot Wheels began producing miniature cars in 1968. As the brand has become the premier example of toy cars, most car manufacturers eagerly license their vehicles to Mattel. Likewise, many pop culture vehicles have made their way into the Hot Wheels line-up. Beyond touting one of the largest selections of vehicles, these toys often feature diecast molds. So, a Hot Wheels vehicle often stands the test of time.
Despite the popularity of both Knight Rider and Hot Wheels, fans waited decades to see K.I.T.T. join the line-up. Other companies like Kenner produced the miniature vehicles for the series back in the eighties. However, this all changed in 2012, when Knight Rider finally appeared in Hot Wheels form. His introduction into the brand even warranted special Comic-Con exclusive versions.
The following year, K.I.T.T.’s direct nemesis, K.A.R.R., earned his chance to shine. As part of the Retro Entertainment Series, K.A.R.R. made one of his first appearances in toy form. Knight Industries had produced this advanced vehicle before K.I.T.T. However, the car’s AI proved too dangerous thanks to his programming, which prioritized his own safety and survival. So, they stored K.A.R.R. away in hopes that they could eventually correct his programming.
While K.A.R.R. later gained a dual-tone paint job that distinguished him from the later model, he originally closely resembled Michael Knight’s car. Thankfully, Hot Wheels decided to feature his dual-toned black and grey paint job from season 3.
Diamond Select’s Knight Rider – K.I.T.T. (2013)
As the years passed, new companies earned the chance to create high-end replicas of everyone’s favorite car of the future. In the early 2010s, Diamond Selects produced their version of K.I.T.T. at a 1/15th scale. While the car was not an exclusive release, the set that included Michael Knight exclusively appeared on the Entertainment Earth online shop. While the exclusive set was the definitive version, the action figure left a lot to be desired. For, it only passably resembled Michael Knight.
For one of the first times since the eighties, a model of K.I.T.T. featured genuine voice clips from William Daniels. For instance, he would say phrases like “Michael, I detect vehicles headed our way.” As the car spoke, his sensor bar and voice box both lit up. In addition to the voice clips, the car also featured sound effects like the sensor scanner and turbo boost from the show.
In addition to the voice effects, the car also featured several lighting effects. On the exterior, both the fog lights and taillights both lit up. Even the instruments and monitors featured working lighting elements. As for the license plate, they added the additional detail of allowing users to flip the plate, as the car could do in the show. Thus, the KNIGHT Plate could change to KNI 667.
Mattel’s Hot Wheels Elite Knight Rider K.I.T.T. (2013)
Even though Hot Wheels is best known for their miniature cars, they happily create large-scale vehicles as well. In 2013, they introduced a 1:18 scale version of K.I.T.T. to their illustrious Hot Wheels Elite line-up. Since its inception, the Elite brand had featured detailed recreations of vehicles at 1:18, 1:24, or 1:43 scales. While the line mostly featured high-end sports cars, like Ferraris, they also produced several movie and television cars. So, K.I.T.T. was a welcome addition.
This model of the Knight Industries Two Thousand gave owners full access to all the car’s doors. Both the hood and rear hatch opened up as well as the doors. Moreover, the tinted sunroofs also tilted up, as they did in the show. This model included steerable wheels that made it feel like a fully functional scaled-down car.
Under the hood, Hot Wheels included a replica of K.I.T.T.’s engine block and hoses. Meanwhile, the panels inside the cab featured stickers that closely replicated the look from the show. Those details paled in comparison to the working ejector seats. Even the undercarriage included details that most companies ignored, like rocket boosters near the rear axle. Keeping with the spirit of the show, Mattel included the flip-over license plates. However, one of the most crucial details was the lit-up scanner that closely resembled the on-screen appearance.
In addition to the K.I.T.T. model, Mattel also created an accurate recreation of K.A.R.R. So, Knight Rider fans could collect both to recreate the show-down between the two.
Jada’s Hollywood Rides Knight Rider K.I.T.T. (2019)
Recently, Jada toys gained the chance to create a detailed version of K.I.T.T. for collectors. Unlike the offerings from Hot Wheels and Diamond Selects, Jada created a smaller car at a 1:24 scale. Even at this smaller scale, the details from the show still pop. For collectors that enjoy displaying their products in the box, the Hollywood Rides version of the box included a decorative backdrop with exploding barrels.
As with most collector tier models of K.I.T.T., Jada included die-cast metal in this model. It also sports a sleek shiny finish, though it is prone to gathering fingerprints. Each of the windows features a slight bit of tinting.
When owners opened the driver’s side door, the lights on the scanner turned on. While this vehicle included no sound with the scanner, the lighting still closely resembled the on-screen appearance. Unfortunately, this attention to detail slips when it comes to the license plate. Instead of the classic blue California plates, the car only had a white plate that reads “Knight Rider”. Luckily, they took care to place show-accurate detail within the cab.
Matchbox’s Movie Trucks Knight Rider – Goliath (2021)
While other companies focused their efforts on recreating K.I.T.T., Matchbox released a 1:80 scale version of the vehicle that nearly destroyed him.
In the second season, the show introduced Garthe Knight, the son of Wilton Knight, the man who saved Michael Long’s life. In a twist to the evil twin trope, Garthe existed long before Michael Knight’s reconstructive surgery. When Wilton gave Michael a new lease on life, he used his son’s face as the blueprint for Michael’s new look. So, Garthe took it as a personal insult that his father attempted to replace him with Michael.
As he sought revenge on Michael and Knight Industries, he set forth to build the ultimate force of destruction. So, he stole the formula for K.I.T.T.’s molecular bonded shell to create an “unstoppable” beast. This tractor-trailer also carried four missile pods and sleeping gas projectors in its front bumper. As the vehicle outweighed K.I.T.T., it nearly obliterated the car when the two engaged in a head-on confrontation.
While this toy lacks the polish of the larger sale toys from the series, it offers a rare chance to pit K.I.T.T. against his deadliest foe. This line also featured another rare vehicle from the series, the Mobile Foundation Unit.
Mattel’s Hot Wheels Knight Rider – K.I.T.T. Super Pursuit Mode (2021)
As Knight Rider was winding down in its fourth season, the production team added a transformation sequence to K.I.T.T.’s arsenal. Thus, he gained the Super Pursuit Mode, which extended his spoilers and opened new cooling vents. With this new model, the car of the future could reach speeds up to three hundred miles per hour.
As this new mode gave K.I.T.T. a distinctive new look, Hot Wheels has created several vehicles that simulated its look. One of the earliest examples of the 1:64 scale vehicle appeared in 2014, amongst the Entertainment sub-line. Unlike the standard model, Hot Wheels was happy to let the mode disappear for several years.
Recently, Hot Wheels has revisited the design in their Replica Entertainment toy line. In both 2020 and 2021, the Super Pursuit Mode made a comeback in the line. These new casts featured a sleek black card back that harkens back to the original show. Only the future knows whether we will see even more new releases of the super pursuit mode.
What are your favorite Knight Rider toys and collectibles?
As we finish our dive into the shadowy flight of Knight Rider toys, we would love to hear from you. Did you ever own any of these spectacular toys? Which of these toys are your favorites? Let us know in the comments below.
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Bio: I am the founder and owner of Wheeljack’s Lab pop Culture and Toy Shop. My vision has always been to reunite customers with their favorite childhood toys and pop culture, triggering fond memories, and reigniting their imaginations. Every day, I work in the “lab” where it’s Christmas 365 days a year. I scour the internet, like when we had the Sears Catalog of yesteryear, for the next great treasure. Then, I await the arrival of the postman as if he were Santa Claus himself and helping collectors worldwide with their own versions of Christmas. Every day as a vintage toy buyer is an absolute joy!