Have you seen Toy Story 4 yet? In case you missed the 2019 Disney animated feature, there was much ballyhoo at its release over the franchise’s new character, Duke Caboom. And now, there’s going to be even more noise, because Evel Knievel’s son is suing Disney over the character.
Duke Caboom (voiced by Kean Reeves) comes into Toy Story 4 as a toy billed as Canada’s greatest stuntman, complete with his own “stunt cycle” and a maple leaf-emblazoned suit. Cool mash-up! It’s almost like Super Dave Osborne (who might not have been Canadian, but certainly had his most fame there) and Evel Knievel rolled into one! And that’s what Evel Knievel’s son, Kelly Knievel, seems to think, and he’s taken exception.
See, Kelly Knievel is the man behind K&K Promotions, a Las Vegas-based company that supposedly owns the rights to Evel Knievel’s name. That’s still a valuable property; Evel Knievel died in 2007, but his stunts remain legendary. Whether it was jumping the fountains at Caesar’s Palace, or rows of busses, or Snake River Canyon, Evel Knievel was a master of flair and self-promotion who always followed his stunts through to the end, even if he expected to die (spoiler alert: it was pulmonary disease that got him, not a failed stunt). Evel Knievel’s antics were so famous that entire toy lines were based around him in the 1970s, and even now, there are people who’d pay for that name on the right toy.
Now, Kelly Knievel has filed in court, looking for a payout of at least $300,000. He says Toy Story 4 and its creators are guilty of false endorsement and trademark infringements, because he thinks the film ripped off his father’s likeness without paying to do so. Disney, on its part, seems like it’s not going to back down on this one and settle out of court, so it should be interesting. In his day, Evel Knievel was quite the scrapper himself, willing to settle his problems outside the court system—read more about that charming episode here.
For what it’s worth, there’s no word yet on the family of Super Dave Osborne (Bob Einstein, in real life) showing any interest in suing Disney over Duke Caboom …