“The Grasshopper”, by Tamiya (1984)

Tamiya GrasshopperWith it’s rugged design and ease of construction, The Grasshopper was a hugely influential R/C buggy that paved the way for countless other R/C cars.

Today it remains a must-have classic for collectors – a gorgeous scale off-roader that still looks amazing, and is one of those pieces of Tamiya history that really defined the brand.

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Shinsei Dust Runner (1982)

Shinsei Dust RunnerA very popular off-road R/C trike with fat, sand-digging tyres and the ability to pop ‘wheelies’, the Dust Runner was an unusual toy and a hit for Japanese company Shinsei.

I can even remember the day one of my childhood friends convinced his mum to buy him one from a toy store, before we went home and raced it around my house. Many years later, I knew I had to have one of my own.

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Tyco/Taiyo Scorcher 6×6 (1993)

Tyco/Taiyo Scorcher 6x6High speeds, crazy spins, and virtually impossible to control on a racing track, the Taiyo Cyclone aka “Scorcher 6×6″ was a “point and blast” experience – just pick a direction and go! And it was another success story for Taiyo at a time when video games were increasingly taking over children’s lives.

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The R/C cars of Barrichello, Andretti & Simoni

Rubens Barrichello at the French Grand Prix, 1993, holding Tamiya Top ForceF1 legend Rubens Barrichello, Indycar champion Michael Andretti and Touring Car ace Giampiero Simoni all used to mess around with R/C cars too, and here’s the photographic proof!

Get ready for a new series of never-before-seen photographs of racing drivers with R/C cars. All with enormous thanks to “R/C modeler to the stars”, Colin Spinner and his enviable experiences building R/C models for the legends of F1, rally and touring car racing.

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A quick sampling of today’s R/C toys

New Bright Baja Buggy RavagerThe R/C toys of the 1980s are memorable because they were original, fun, and mostly very well made. But are the R/C toys of today so bad?

Well yes, many of them are.

But not all them. So join me as I analyze a tiny sample, then make lots of sweeping generalizations.

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No Season 4 of “Toy Hunter”?

Jordan Hembrough from Toy HunterThe popular vintage toy based TV show “Toy Hunter”, hosted by Jordan Hembrough, is apparently now on indefinite “hiatus”, and is unlikely to return.

Will we ever see another vintage toy show like it?

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Lego: Silly modern faces, cool retro sets

Lego GhostbustersIs it just me, or are Lego mini figure faces ridiculous these days? Gone from Lego sets are the normal, happy faces I knew in the 80s. Now it’s all “expressions” – excitement, fear and even anger.

On the positive side, the Lego brand is still very popular. And in fact, Lego still releases many retro-themed sets that suggest a large percentage of their buyers are fans of the 1980s. So let’s look at what Lego is up to…

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