Christmas shopping in Australia back in the 1980s meant summertime, heatwaves, flies, Westfield shopping centres, the hope that Santa had received my letter, and last but not least… a visit to Tandy Electronics to see their R/C cars.
Those were my experiences anyway. And even though Tandy Electronics is now long gone, summertime always reminds me of the fun of seeing all those brand new R/C vehicles, stacked on the Tandy showroom floor…
Most vintage Tamiya R/C kits are in boxes where you can take the lid off, see what’s inside, and enjoy looking at all the cool parts and pieces, not to mention all that great vintage blister packaging.
But some vintage kits are sealed in shrink-wrap. So if you like collecting old R/C kits, are the ones in shrink-wrap the most ‘mint’ ones? And should you pay extra for them?
Well, no. I don’t think you should. And it’s because vintage R/C kits are not the same as other sealed-in-box vintage toys.
In 1986, a low-budget Australian comedy called Malcolm featured a Tamiya Sand Scorcher R/C VW buggy in what you might even say was a “Supporting Actor” role.
Little-known outside Australia, the film was a local success. And on a tiny budget, it’s portrayal of a social recluse whose love of toys and gadgets leads him to become mixed-up with a couple of aspiring bank robbers had a quintessential Aussie blend of humour, characters and pathos.
All up, you should spot two R/C cars in the film, plus lots of other cool 1980s gadgets.
Tiny but quite sophisticated, the Matsushiro Toyota Land Cruiser even featured a little driver who would “steer” the car as you drove around.
Sold by Gama in Europe, this was a realistic and featured-packed little R/C toy that would have made for a really fun first R/C car.
Another year, another load of altered Tamiya R/C model reissues, as the company continues it’s policy of playing out it’s entire back catalogue. Tamiya have now reissued nearly every popular off-road R/C model they created in the 1980s (back when they were at their creative peak).
This month, the Monster Beetle was announced for reissue.
The news excites people, with the argument often being that “unless Tamiya reissues a kit, I will never be able to find or afford that car”.
But is that true? What if you could find an excellent example of the original model for a similar (or reasonable) price?
This model was based on Nikko’s 1983 Mercedes Unimog 4WD, but this edition was released later and only sold in Europe under Technotoy/Nikko branding. And instead of being a Paris-Dakar Rally racing vehicle, it’s a 1984 snow expedition transport – complete with gorgeous livery, a cargo trailer, and (would you believe) optional snow chains?
Proof once again that no other era can touch the 1980s, for toys.