Rough Riders Vehicles Identification Tool with Pictures

In an era where battery-operated cars had hit the scene, LJN decided to follow the trend and introduce their toy line, Rough Riders. While they never became the forerunner within the genre, their cars made a lasting impact. To compete against the competition, like Schaper Toys’ Stompers, LJN introduced multiple sublines and licensed properties into the Rough Riders toy line. Thus, it is still beloved to this date.

LJN introduced the Rough Riders in 1982

Shortly after another company paved the way, the Rough Riders began hitting the scene in 1982. To distinguish themselves from the competition, LJN advertised the various features of their motorized vehicles. Each of their battery-operated 4x4s came with working headlights. Moreover, their super grip tires allowed them to scale most terrains. Moreover, LJN built their toy vehicles to perform stunts, such as side wheelies. As the line continued, they introduced vehicles that could shift into three modes.

The main line-up of Rough Riders 4×4 toys came with a wide assortment of vehicles. For instance, a Pick-Up Assortment featured a California Pick-Up, a Country Pick-Up, a Toyota Pick-Up, a Jeep Honcho, and a Custom Pick-Up. Then, there was a Jeep/Blazer Assortment where customers could find a Jeep C J Golden Eagle, a Jeep C J Renegade, a Military Jeep C J, a Ford Bronco, and a Blazer. The Rough Riders naturally included a Car Assortment, which included an AMC Eagle, The Law, a Datsun 280 ZX, a Chevy Corvette, and a Firebird. Otherwise, the Rough Riders Rig Assortment featured a Conventional, a Peacemaker Cabover, a California Hauler, an Aerodynamic Conventional, an Aerodynamic Cabover, and a Diesel Wheeler.

In addition to the blister packs with the individual Rough Riders vehicles, LJN released a few boxed sets that featured the rigs. There were at least two versions of the Rig and Trailer Set with different rigs and trailers. Each flatbed or enclosed trailer allowed the rigs to carry the smaller, standard Rough Riders vehicles. For instance, the flatbed could carry up to three other vehicles.

Rough Riders toy line sublines

The Rough Riders toy line had multiple sublines that expanded the selection. One of the most significant sublines was the Tri-Ex line-up. The Tri-Ex vehicles introduced the feature that later defined Rough Riders: the ability to switch between three gears: Speed, Power, and Free Wheel. The Speed gear gave the vehicles “Racing Speed”. Then, the Power mode was for “Off Road Power”. Finally, the Free Wheel mode placed the motor into neutral so the vehicles could be moved around via “Kid Power”.

Aside from the Tri-Ex subline, LJN introduced many other variations on their Rough Riders vehicles. There were the Water Drivers, which presented amphibious vehicles. This line-up included the Hammer Head, Mako, Piranna, Cuda, and Man O’ War. Then, there were the Road Busters, which firmly focused on off-road vehicles. LJN also presented a line-up for military vehicle fans: The OMNI Force. Aside from the smaller vehicles, the OMNI Force also featured a massive Attack Helicopter that carries one of the smaller vehicles within its hold.

Beyond these sublines were the Rough Riders Impossibles, which took the off-roading action to new heights. The leading hook to this subline was the ability of the vehicles to grip onto their tracks, no matter the position. Thus, they could climb walls or even perform loop-de-loops. Beyond the standard set, it also featured licensed properties like Knight Rider.

Licensed vehicles in the LJN Rough Riders toy line

Speaking of licensed properties, LJN used its vast catalog to include pop culture cars in the Rough Riders toy line. With vehicles from The A-Team, Knight Rider, The Dukes of Hazzard, and more, LJN’s motorized vehicles stood out in the toy aisle. Even fans of Airwolf, Magnum P.I., and Smoky and the Bandit II could find Rough Riders vehicles.

Beyond the vehicles, LJN also created a few play sets that let the Rough Riders show off their power. The Mountain Gully Set with a Teetering Bridge was the most prominent of these playsets. This set included two mountains, a teetering bridge, and a battery-driven, motorized Rough Riders car. Players were given the freedom to set up the elements as they pleased. They could even implement various obstacles for the cars to drive over, like downed trees, rocks, and gullies.

Even though the Rough Riders made a mark on the market, they were not unchallenged by the genre’s leader. Schaper and Eddy Garbarb, the creator of the Stompers, filed legal complaints against LJN. Fortunately for Rough Riders fans, their complaints did not stop the toy line.

Matchbox also produced Rough Riders toys

In addition to LJN, Matchbox also released the Rough Riders toys. Matchbox’s line-up of motorized vehicles lasted from the early 1980s until the early 1990s.

Identify Rough Riders vehicles with our toy line identification tool

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