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?
There’s definitely a very strong connection between Christmas time, and R/C cars. At least, there is for me.
I think I spent just about every Christmas of the 1980s hoping to find toy cars, particularly R/C cars, under the Christmas tree. And to this day, every year, there’s often still an R/C car (or three) under the tree thanks to my very understanding wife (who also does some retro collecting of her own).
After all, Christmas itself is all about memories. Hopefully happy ones centred around family and peaceful times. And not too many involving Christmas trees being set ablaze, drunk uncles, or handbag fights between mothers-in-law.
There are also some real reasons why R/C cars have a close association with Christmas. For one, they were so expensive in the 1980s that many of us only stood a chance of our families buying them for us, at Christmas. And secondly because many of these toys were only widely available at Christmas.
They were certainly a huge Christmas craze in the mid-1980s, and for a while it seems R/C vehicles were among the very best-selling items available – right up there with the familiar retro stuff that the history books always bang on about, like Cabbage Patch Kids and Transformers.
I’ve shared many of my stories about R/C cars I had in the 1980s. And there are more to come. But I’d love to hear more of your stories as well!
So what are some of your favourite memories of Christmas, and the R/C cars you had (or wanted), and the tales that went with getting (or not getting) them? Perhaps you’re even getting an R/C car for Christmas this year?
(If you don’t happen to celebrate Christmas, then please feel welcome to post a non-Christmas tale of an R/C car you had back in the day.)
Please post your tales below!
To kick things off, here’s another Christmas story of mine…
Back in the 1980s, I was desperate to own a Tandy/Radio Shack 4×4 Off-Roader. I was lucky enough to get one. But the process was arduous to say the least…
After begging my parents for this car for many weeks in the lead-up to Christmas, they remained entirely coy about my chances. “We’ll see” was about the best information I could get out of them. And while deep down I knew this probably meant “yes”, there was still an element of doubt in mind, and it was keeping me on my toes.
My father and I were close though, and he was just as keen on R/C cars as I was. I knew that if he had anything to do with it, there was a good chance there’d be an Off-Roader under the tree on Christmas morning that year. But on this occasion, even he was remaining tight-lipped – probably on specific orders from my mother.
But one day, sometime in mid-December and on a day when my mother was out of the house, I decided to confront Dad about it and see if I could get him to spill the beans.
“So, about Christmas presents…”, I began. “I know what you’re getting this year!”.
He’d been sitting reading a newspaper, ignoring (11 year old) me hanging about in the living room. But now I’d got his attention. So I pressed on with my plan.
“If you want, I could tell you what you’re getting. That is, if you’ll tell me what I’m getting?”
There was pause. Then we both laughed. And so commenced a sort of cat-and-mouse game that lasted at least an hour, or more. At first, he refused point-blank to tell me what my secret Christmas present was. But being something of a child himself, he was keen to hear what his was. And eventually I wore him down with the idea. “It’s a perfect trade!” I’d say, and at one point we were even pegging lounge cushions at each other. But we got there in the end – he was getting a fancy new german-made electric shaver. And as it turned out, I was getting the 4×4 Off Roader!
Come Christmas morning, there was no surprise as to what was under the tree for me. But I didn’t regret it one bit. The anticipation of actually knowing what was coming, in the lead up to Christmas Day, made it all worth it. And my mother (who would have immediately had us both drawn and quartered if she’d known about our secret Free Trade Agreement) was entirely unaware of what we’d done.
Then on Boxing Day, just day 2 of my ownership of this excellent little truck, I promptly mis-steered my new 4×4 while racing it along our concrete front verandah… smacking it into a pillar and breaking off one side of the rigid front bumper. I was devastated. Fortunately, Tandy Electronics actually had after-sales spare parts for their R/C cars back in those days. And despite it taking 4 whole weeks to arrive, I was able to get a replacement bumper set for my little truck (and I never broke it again). I don’t think you could even get such spares for a lot of ready-to-run R/C toys these days.
Anyway, over to you guys… what are your Christmas R/C tales?