While less well-known to most backyard R/C drivers than Tamiya, Kyosho was another Japanese icon of 1980s R/C modelling who created a range of stunning, high-end, kit-based vehicles in their heyday – often with a race-winning edge.
Like Tamiya, original examples of their early R/C models are now highly sought after by collectors.
Some of those kits are now being reissued as well, but the new versions are different. So if you’re nostalgic for the original Kyosho models, here are some quick buying tips to help identify them.
When I first began buying things online in the late 1990s, I was amazed at how much ‘old stock’ there was in the world. Prior to eBay, I hadn’t imagined that any unbuilt vintage R/C car kits from the 1980s (or earlier) still existed, let alone that anyone would be able to find them.
Nearly 20 years later, the Internet is still a great source of vintage toy treasures. But inevitably the supply of unused ‘old stock’ out there, is in decline. And it’s only going to get harder to find things in the years ahead.
Many of the popular Tamiya R/C models we knew in the 1980s have been reissued in recent years. But the reissued kits are quite different to the original ones.
If you are looking for an introduction to this subject, please see my earlier article A quick guide to Vintage vs Reissue Tamiya R/C kits.
However, if you need some more detailed information about actual parts differences between vintage vs reissued Tamiya R/C cars, this is the article for you.
When it comes to vintage kit-based R/C models from companies with a past history in plastic models, many people think only of the red and blue stars of Tamiya.
But rival Japanese plastic kit maker Marui made the same transition from plastic model kits to R/C buggies in the 1980s. Their models, while less well known, were just as detailed and beautiful as those from Tamiya. And around their peak in 1986 they even had their own promotional videos for playing in hobby stores…
The Turbo Panther was Nikko’s perfect little R/C buggy for 1986 – probably the peak year of the R/C buggy craze, when they were among the hottest toys in the world.
Looking like a smaller version of the more expensive 1/10 scale buggies, yet still quick for it’s 1/16 scale, it was a big seller both in Japan and abroad. It even had it’s own TV commercials and was a direct rival for Taiyo’s Jet Hopper, released the same year.
This month, Australia loses another “hobby” store when Dick Smith Electronics shuts it’s doors for good, after 48 years.
I really enjoyed visiting DSE stores while growing up in the 1980s, just as I did with Tandy stores – mainly due to the toys.
So if anyone else can remember the days when they sold Tamiya R/C cars, electronics kits, and some of the 1980s coolest robot toys, then let’s take a look at some archive material that proves they really were a fun store to visit back in their heyday.
It’s no secret that there’s a booming market out there for retro items, particularly toys. A lot of companies are reissuing products or brands as a result, and more seem to appear every month.
All of the big decades of toys feature as a source for these revivals, but the 1980s seem to get special attention. I have a theory as to why – and it isn’t just because kids of the 80s now have incomes. I think 1980s toys were particularly primed to become collectibles in the future.
A 1/12 scale R/C model from Tomy that you’ve probably never heard of before, the “Radica A Lancia Stratos” was a 70s kid’s chance to drive the legendary Stratos rally car.
It had advanced features for the time such as a working differential, working indicator lights, Digital Proportional transmitter and more.
Let’s take a look at this lost gem from Tomy.
In the spirit of the festive season, perhaps it’s time I dedicated a page to everyone else’s R/C car memories (not just mine)…
What memories do you have of receiving R/C cars (or other cool retro toys), at Christmas?
What cars did you receive (or miss out on) back in the 1970s, 80s or 90s?
And what are some of your best (and worst) memories of R/C cars around Christmas time?
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…