The legacy of E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial was built on the back of Kuwahara BMX Bikes. This Halloween, Anthony phones home for some Spielberg magic!
E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial is a classic Halloween movie. Not because it’s spooky (although there are some creepy parts), but because the story is set around the holiday. The film drips with spooktacular imagery. It beautifully captures the spirit of the season. Remember the trick-or-treat scene where Elliott and his brother Michael disguise E.T. as a ghost? Look closely, and you’ll notice a minor but equally important character in this sequence. And no, I don’t mean Yoda’s cameo!
As Gertie waits for the boys and E.T to arrive at the prearranged meeting spot, the camera lingers on Elliott’s BMX bike. This set of wheels is involved in some of the movie’s best scenes, including the iconic moon silhouette and the climactic chase near the end. The blockbuster film inspired adults and kids worldwide to ride BMX bikes.
Cool Looking Wheels
The cycle in question is a white and red Kuwahara. In the early 1980s, BMXs were all the rage – check out the number of BMX movies released at this time. Spielberg also noticed kids riding the bikes on local streets and parks, so he decided to put some BMX action into his film. He just needed some cool-looking wheels first.
The story goes that the Japanese BMX manufacturer Kuwahara was approached by the production for 40 bikes. Rumour is, the employee in Japan who answered the phone thought it was a prank call and hung up. The following day, Spielberg’s staff rang again to confirm the order. The company, slightly embarrassed, had to contact its leading distributor in the United States to arrange quick delivery.
Kuwahara’s contact in California was a BMX enthusiast called Howie Cohen from the firm Everything Bicycles. He met with movie executive Steve Adler to work on bike designs until they came up with the classic white and red colors, which Spielberg personally approved. Kuwahara president Takashi Kuwahara said Universal asked for a bespoke basket for E.T. to fit in (this was not used in the movie). He also says the bikes were the same frames Kuwahara used for its racing teams in Japan. Two weeks after Cohen’s first conversation with Adler, he loaded up his truck with the first batch of 25 Kuwahara E.T. bikes.
Off To The Races
Universal then entered into an exclusive licensing agreement with Kuwahara. Following the movie’s success, the brand produced three types of bikes. The most expensive model included high-end Japanese-made components (sold in serious bike shops). The lower-priced version had fewer exotic parts to keep costs down. These were sold in toy shops and department stores across the world. Because of the movie’s success, children and adults made it their mission to own a Kuwahara BMX. Unable to find one in the UK, I solved the problem by having my brother’s friend respray my Diamondback in white and red.
Prepare To Spend
Much later, as part of the movie’s twentieth anniversary in 2002, Kuwahara reissued the E.T. model, giving fans a second chance to buy the BMX. In 2007, the lead singer of Kasabian (Tom Meighan) bought a screen used bike for £10,000. If you fancy buying a Kuwahara, be prepared to pay good money for it – a good condition bike can cost up to £3,000. Be careful when shopping online or on eBay because you could pay over the odds for one of the cheaper models. The best advice is to do some homework or join a Kuwahara Facebook group for advice. You’ll find some beautiful examples for sale in these forums.
So, if you’re feeling in the mood for some 80s nostalgia this Halloween, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial should be top of your list. There are plenty of other spooky films out there, but this classic movie screams Halloween every time I see it. As Elliott and his homesick alien buddy fly across the Halloween sky, make sure you take a moment to appreciate his old-school Kuwahara BMX bike. Without this famous set of wheels, our favorite extra-terrestrial might not have found his way home.
Will you be watching E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial this Halloween? Or will you be riding off into the sunset on your Kuwahara BMX bike? Leave a comment in the section below.
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Anthony Murphy is a regular contributor to The Future of the Force. A child of the 80s, Anthony is a Lucasfilm fanboy. A weekend watching Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and Willow is considered bliss. When off duty being a dad and hubby, you’ll find him watching football, searching for the perfect Kuwahara BMX online, and writing his Star Wars website, Rebel Briefing. Find him on Twitter trying to make sense of the world, both real and imagined.