What Ever Happened to the MiniBob?

Below is a picture of perhaps the greatest winter sled ever created, the MiniBob. Anyone who was a kid in 1970s had no doubt used one of these:


The Classic MiniBob

As some old ad copy puts it:

THE MINI-BOB: the Seventies version of family fun. Easier than skiing, more mirth then sledding. Lightweight. Portable. Made of high density polyethylene. Fire-engine red with black vinyl seat.

Gimbles Ad

Segment of a Gimbles Department Store Ad.
New York Times. December 17, 1970

They were the sledding version of the Big Wheel—but at least that toy has the dignity of its own Wikipedia page; by contrast, the MiniBob seems to have sunk into total oblivion. It has always been a mystery to me why they are no longer available. At some point there just weren’t any around anymore and nobody seemed to know why. I recall rumors of them having been recalled for being too dangerous, but who really knows? Perhaps it was just the memory of my father going over a jump on one—and the handle snapping off in mid-flight, leaving him to land in a mangled heap.

This ad clip indicates that they were available from a company called Recreonics, Inc.:

Mini Bob

(See picture below)

There is still a company by that name that makes pool and other aquatic recreational equipment, but it’s unclear if this is the same company.

An American Patent for the MiniBob, i.e., TOBOGGAN OR SLED US Pat. 3522952 - Filed Mar 19, 1969, references a Norwegian patent from January, 1968. Presumably then, Recreonics Inc., was either licensing the manufacture of the MiniBob on their own or were perhaps simply distributing them for some European company.

Mini Bob

Patent No. 3522952

Looking through The New York Times archives reveals only a single reference to a company by that name in the early 1970s – in a marriage announcement from May 13, 1973. At the time the groom was “the predisent of Recreonics, Inc. of Boston, manufacturers of leisure equipment such as inflatable boasts, and […] vice president of the parent company, Great American Industries, Inc.”

Interesting… so Recreonics was, by 1973 at least, a subsidiary of GAI. There is exactly one article available on Google with those two companies together: it mentions that GAI closed Recreonics in 1973 in a bit of consolidation. Could this be the real reason behind the MiniBob’s disappearance?

A bit more old ad copy:

Mini Bob

Unrestrained Family Mirth—for only $14.95

Amazingly, the MiniBob seems to be making a bit of a comeback—in parts of Europe anyway, where it is also called a “Zipflbob.” Some ski resorts feature Zipflbob/MiniBob runs and there is even a competitive racing circuit. Here is a video of Bücherl Werner’s record 139km/h run.

And look: they can now be purchased directly from Amazon Germany—though the price has gone up a bit, € 25,77 (not including delivery):

New MiniBob

The MiniBob at Amazon Germany. Put one on your Wunschzettel today.

They look a bit more well-crafted than the classic model, but since nobody has had the good sense to make them available in the U.S. as far as I can tell, I may have to get one shipped over.

» Posted: Monday, April 7, 2008 | Comments (28) | Permanent Link


I suspect the rise of the moral majority, and the more than suggestive shape of the “handle” probably contributed to it’s demise in the US.
Presumably the more sexually liberal europeans had less problem with the salacious sled.

» Posted by Michael Crumpton on April 10, 2008 01:56 PM

I grew up in the 70s and never saw one of these, though I wish I had!

» Posted by Joe on April 10, 2008 04:37 PM

Waiting for the next winter watching the girls ride this.

» Posted by DJ N-4ceR on July 21, 2008 02:40 AM

I have 2 Minibobs circa 1972 and there’s one at the bottom of the pond behind my parents’ house. My mom bought the only three at a small department store in New Hampshire. We were the only ones I knew who had them. They weren’t a huge success as far as I know, but they were our favorite sleds. They were fast and easy to manuever They’ve been bleached pink by the sun and are cracking at the seams, but my nephew likes tearing down hills on them. I tried to get some shipped over here but no one, including Loeger, who makes and sells them, would ship them to me. The last time I tried to get one from Amazon Germany the order was cancelled on me. The manufacturer, not Loeger, remodeled it for big kids with a bigger price tag, probably after they realized the patent was expired. I dug up the old patents a couple of years ago, I think the furthest back was 1965 in Germany or Austria. The Loeger family claims they invented it, but that’s not the name on the patent. It says Recreonics on the U.S. version, but the inflatable boat, and now pool supply company claims that they weren’t selling them, someone used the name without their permission.

The best thing about the MiniBob or Zipflbob in Europe is that they RACE them on ski slopes…it looks like a blast and they have trophies and sponsors like Red Bull.

» Posted by zipflmeister on August 8, 2008 07:11 PM

Guess what!? The crazy sled from the 70’s is back!
A manufacturer in upper state New York is releasing a slightly modified version this winter in the US. It’s called the Zipfy Mini Luge… and it’s not just red - there’s pink, green, blue, yellow…

» Posted by Mark Edward on August 10, 2008 11:09 PM

I was just looking through a recent catalog from Duluth Trading and could’nt believe they where selling the mini bob as a new product, it’s called the zipfy luge and is exactly like the mini-bob we had as kids.39.50 is the price and it’s tagged as being made in usa. I no longer have my mini-bob but my wife says I still had it when my daughter was small, 19-20 years ago.Duluth trading web.

» Posted by John R on October 24, 2008 09:29 PM

Mini Bob Lives! I was recently looking through a Northern Tools catalog and saw what looked like my old Mini Bob I got in the early 70’s-unbelievable! More recently, I saw it in the Duluth Trading Co. catalog like John R. above. It was my favorite sled ever. I still have it, even though bottom ribs are worn through and broken handle was replaced by PVC pipe and screws! Friends, family, both of my boys and I all used it through the years and it still works fine! My new Zipfy is on order…

» Posted by Bruce L. on November 14, 2008 10:28 PM

I had a Mini Bob when I was a kid in the 70’s and have looked for them for years. It was, and I am sure still is, the best sledding fun ever. Several years ago I told my sisters boyfriend, who is a snow boarder and avid skier about the Mini Bob and he had never heard of them. I drew him some pics and he said he knew someone with a plastic injection business. Hmmm I wonder… Could this be the new Zipfy??? If so, welcome back! We used to take our Mini Bobs to the Aspetuck Golf Course on snow days and use the sand traps as jumps. Radical, even for the seventies!

» Posted by Matt L on November 16, 2008 07:54 AM

I still have one original mini-bob purchased in New Hampshire in the 70’s. I was pleased to find a version called The Bavarian Zipfel Bobsled in the Hammacher Schlemmer catalogue for 39.95. Looks pretty good,still red.

» Posted by Jeanne, Ct on November 18, 2008 03:08 PM

i too have an original mini bob, i grew up in northern ohio, winters were great. i am now 42, and wanted to remanufacture this little gem for years now, and lo and behold, someone else beat me to it. im 195 lbs now, live in nj, and enjoy it with my family, thebottom is just about worn out, ill be buying the new version tonight!!! great memories! happy sledding to all, and to all a MINI-BOB,

» Posted by clifford on November 19, 2008 08:22 PM

I just bought three at the local hardware…
they said they were hidden away…so i scooped them.

» Posted by abbie on December 15, 2008 04:22 PM

When I was a kid in the ’70s, a neighbor had a few. We really enjoyed them, but as you know, could not find them anywhere. Fast forward: I bought four from a distributor in Austria in 2003 ( The price then was about $22/ bob US$ and it cost me $60 to ship the four to our home in Massachusetts. When I take the family sledding, we get comments all the time. I have been guiding avid fans to the contact noted above in this post, and will also guide them to

Buy them for the family, you won’t regret it…

Tom from Massachusetts

» Posted by Tom on December 25, 2008 12:11 PM

where do i get one

» Posted by Anonymous on January 6, 2009 10:39 PM

The MiniBob was my favorite sled in the 70’s growing up in Northern NJ. very fast easy to steer. good times!

» Posted by Eric on January 9, 2009 04:30 PM

I bought 5 of these off of Hammacher Schlemmer for $39.95 with free shipping. They were back-ordered and didn’t arrive until December 30th in five separate boxes. They’re not as good as the originals; the handle seems shorter and at a different angle and lacks the contoured grip; the seat is convex, not concave; also there is no hole for a rope, so you’ll have to carry it up hill. But, hey at least they’re being made in the USA. I haven’t been on one yet and no review from my nephew yet, although he was excited to pick them up after an evening of snowboarding.

» Posted by zipflmeister on January 11, 2009 03:32 AM

Everyone needs one, I still remember family members, especially the girls saying, ” oh, oh oh, al the way down the hill, very fun!

Jeff in NJ

» Posted by Jeff Carrier on February 7, 2009 04:50 PM

Me and my son went on a borrowed original 1970’s minibob during this (2009) winters snow fall in Wiltshire. It was by far the best sledge on the slopes. It went like stink, especially if you lent back and kept your legs striaght in front. We want to buy one!!!

» Posted by ANDREW @ GEORGE on February 17, 2009 04:41 AM

I just got to use one of these and it was awesome! Super fast and super fun going down a ski slope on this thing.

» Posted by Anonymous on March 15, 2009 12:21 AM

I have an original minibob. It has faded to a pale pink and the black seat is peeling slightly but still hold you tight to the bottom with it’s slightly abrasive texture! I must say, I’ve never had anything that has lived through so much abuse for generations and can still be used! I’m curious what the german version is like and how it would age in comparison to the original!


» Posted by Nancy Schutts on April 16, 2009 09:21 PM

For the record, at the moment (Sept 2009), the Zipfy Luge is on sale at Amazon for $25.50. Not bad!

» Posted by Chris on September 4, 2009 02:02 PM

WOW! What a blast from the past! My family actually manufactured these in the 70’s along with the “Banana Peel” !! I still have an original Mini Bob that came out of one of my Dad’s machines at the factory! Does anyone remember the one with the square head? Prolly designed so the thing didn’t totally look like a penis!

» Posted by Caffeinated Julie on January 9, 2010 11:40 AM

Oh yeah! We had a LOT of fun with this lmao!
Don’t even go there :)

» Posted by Donna on December 18, 2010 12:40 PM

We had MiniBob’s when I was a kid and we loved them! Better than any sled or saucer and easy to pull back up the hill. I might have to order one from Germany!

» Posted by Anonymous on January 7, 2011 08:35 PM

Does anyone know who manufactured the banana Peel from the 70’s?

» Posted by ScottC on March 10, 2011 09:16 AM

The Minibob is alive and well in the Alps, especially Germany and Austria where it has a cult following with races and gatherings. Over here, sledding is a serious sport, and the minibob is one of the most popular. It was even re-designed by these guys and their version is bigger, better, faster.

This site has a lot of info regarding the “Zipflbob” races, gatherings and events as it is nicknamed.

» Posted by Drew on February 25, 2012 04:11 AM

Minibob best sled ever made. neighbors had them growing up in the 70’s

I always wanted to get one for my boys

» Posted by Mini BOB on November 13, 2012 02:53 PM

there you´ll find the original mini bob (made in Germany since 1973) and where to get it.

In meanwhile there are a lot of copys from china… like zipflacer zipfi and so on…

» Posted by Steff on August 9, 2013 09:32 AM

Just found original in trash. Looks like the one i had as a kid until the handle came off. Its in great shape. Im psyched.

» Posted by james on September 19, 2015 03:57 PM

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