About This Website

R/C Toy Memories is a blog about a collection of vintage and retro Radio Controlled cars, and a few other toys as well. The website was launched in 2012.

Tamiya Wild Willy

I’ve been a fan of R/C cars since the 1980s, and an avid collector since the early 1990s. So I’ve accumulated a moderately-sized, but hopefully interesting and unique collection.

It consists of both so-called hobby-grade and toy-grade models, along with many other related artifacts – parts, magazines, souvenirs and so on. All the photos here will be of items I own (unless otherwise specified). They will mostly be vintage items, but there may occasionally be some newer things that I think still capture the appeal of the types of toys that were around when I was growing up.

There may also be some other toys that aren’t R/C related, but that may be of interest to fans of 1980s toys in general.

Sometime in the mid-2000s, I thought it would be fun to create this website to share what I had gathered and learned, but in a fun, not-too-technical way. Of course, it took a further 6 years of procrastination to actually figure out what to write about, let alone how the website should look.

The goal of R/C Toy Memories is to discuss vintage R/C toys in a way that reflects how I first experienced them as a kid. In other words, rather than performing in-depth technical analyses and posting “build threads”, I’ll more than likely just waffle-on about how much I like things and why I think they were significant. That said, I do have a keen interest in the collecting side. And that means I will get into the weeds on topics such as: how to identify what’s original or vintage, and what isn’t.

I’ve also tended to have an interest in “why” so many people enjoy the R/C car hobby – the nostalgia, the emotional bonds formed during childhood, and so on. Particularly in relation to the boom era of the 1980s when life seemed a little simpler, and the toys had a realistic and sometimes imperfect charm about them.

As any 80s kid knows – no other era of toys will ever match the 1980s 😀 (But the 1960s, 1970s and early 1990s weren’t too bad either). The best description I’ve ever heard of the 80s is that it was “like a perfect blend of old-time innocence combined with modern technology”. Many of the modern technologies we enjoy today were born in the 1980s. And yet it was still a pre-Internet, and mostly pre-mobile phone era in which kids played outside as much as they did with screen-based activities.

Life in general was a little more ‘traditional’ back in the 1980s. This of course, also had downsides. But the great toys and toy shops that were around still make me wish that I could travel back in time – if only for a day or two of rabid toy shoplifting, before making my escape back to the present in a DeLorean or a Telephone booth packed with 12-back Star Wars figures and mint in box Tamiya kits and Lego sets!

My approach to collecting

  • I collect both hobby-grade and toy-grade items. Some people dislike R/C “toy-grade” cars and only care about high performance, hobby-grade R/C. But I think all vintage R/C cars are worth being nostalgic about. And some of the so-called “toys” can actually be more valuable these days than some of the so-called “hobby-grade” models. So clearly I’m not alone.
  • I don’t collect “everything”. Some people do like to collect everything. More power to them 🙂 I only tend to collect the specific models I like. I think every person collects in their own way.
  • Some people like to modify R/C cars. I prefer to keep vintage R/C cars 100% original, both for hobby-grade and toy-grade models. I feel hobby-grade conversions of toy-grade cars ruin the intended purpose of those toys. In my humble opinion, they should be left to run “as they were” and as we remember them. When you modify, you fundamentally change what the toy was. And in many cases, value will also decline after modification.
  • When I build vintage R/C kits, I like to keep things kit-standard, right down to plastic bearings and mechanical speed control. Original means original, to me. It’s fun to experience these cars as most people would have – straight from the box. Again, this is just my preference. I view historic R/C cars much the same way people view historic full size vehicles.

What I don’t support

  • I don’t support “repro” or counterfeit items. I have no objection to privateers who produce 3D printed spare parts for themselves and friends. But I’ve never purchased commercially available repro, fake or counterfeit items and I never will. By definition, commercial fakes are made by companies that profit illegally from the intellectual property owned by other brands like Tamiya. Tamiya is an historic, family model company that essential helped create the model industry we enjoy. But such companies may disappear if consumers support illegal fakes that undercut their business.
  • I don’t purchase any hobby products made in China. As of 2019, I refuse to buy any R/C or hobby products which are made in China. This includes cars, paints, accessories, radio gear, batteries – anything. This is a personal choice on ethical grounds. In fact, I refuse to buy any product made in China – period.
  • This site has no affiliation with social media. I don’t use Facebook and will never use Facebook 😀 I host my own content. And I support organizations like Mozilla, who support the Open Web.

More about this website

  • This is an Australian-based website. So my thoughts and experiences will sometimes tend to be written from an Australian perspective.
  • This website is non-profit, 100% independent, free to use, and paid for by the owner (me). It’s not a business. The most I ever do is occasionally list a few things for sale from my collection.
  • This website has no affiliation with any brand or company. I have declined many offers of sponsorship. Thank you for your interest, but I will not be serving advertisements – ever.

My goal with this website was simply to create a genuine space on the open web, to share some memories and to archive what I’ve learned about R/C models over the years. At the time I started it, I was tired of not being able to find much in the way of quality, long-form reading material related to vintage R/C. Many will insist that hasn’t changed (!) even since this website began 🙂

Nevertheless, I hope this site offers you something interesting to read. And perhaps you’ll continue to stop by from time to time and find something new.

Rob.

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31 Comments
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Brent Fox
Brent Fox
7 years ago

Yennora Hobbies

I ran and owned Yennora Hobbies (the company was Toyman Imports Pty Ltd )from 1969 to August 1997. I am pleased you had good memories. The picture of the metal place still shows the scars from the final ram raid. The new owners raised the original roof but the basic building is still there.
The total cost value of the stock in 1997 when it was sold was well over $300,000 and turnover approached $1 million. I still have photos of inside and outside if you are interested. Regards to all Brett.

rcmemories
7 years ago
Reply to  Brent Fox

Hi Brent,
So awesome to hear from you. I would love some pictures, and will contact you via email shortly!

spencer
spencer
6 years ago
Reply to  Brent Fox

was my super sabre faster than my mates hot shot!!! oh yes it was lol cheers love the site better than bbc news lol

Jason
Jason
6 years ago

Love the site. Funny how a kid from the hills of Tennessee and a kid from Australia grew up doing the same things. I owned a Grasshopper and a Falcon as a kid, and my buddies and brother had a Lunvhbox, Hornet, and Hotshot between them. The old Tamiya stuff was a blast back then. I read your piece on the Tyco Turbo Hopper and smiled because my friend getting one of those was what spawned the Tamiya invasion of my neighborhood.

rctoymemories
6 years ago
Reply to  Jason

Thanks Jason, much appreciated. Yes I think the experiences of growing up in the 80s during the RC boom were very similar in a lot of places, particularly thanks to Tamiya having such wide distribution and support back then!

RKP
RKP
6 years ago

One year back in the late 80’s my brother had me convinced that I was getting a Blackfoot for Christmas. I was so excited. I got a bodyboard. The bodyboard ruled, and I never did get a Blackfoot. I had an R/C Boat called the ‘Virgo’ from Dick Smith. It was basically rubbish and didn’t last. Another friend had a yellow R/C submarine also from Dick Smith, I believe, which was actually kind of cool. He had an awesome inground pool. If you took it too deep, the pressure forced it down and you had to dive for it!

As soon as I was employed, I bought a Stadium Blitzer from Vagg’s Radio Models in Miranda. I couldn’t help myself though, and put an ESC and a good old Australian made ‘Ozcharge’ 16 triple brushed motor in it with TR-15 road rubber. I also made up some driving lights from Hornet parts and tiny bulbs. I was working at Sydney Airport and after dinner we used to get this thing out on the tarmac outside Hangar 58. What a blast. I still have it today; virtually never had to replace a part. I took it out a few weeks before Christmas 2013 in front of my 4 year old son and his jaw hit the ground. Thanks for this website. I love it!

rctoymemories
6 years ago
Reply to  RKP

Thanks for the compliments and stories RKP. Much appreciated. Do you remember the Australian tv commercial (I think it was for Shell or Caltex) back in the mid 90s that featured a Stadium Blitzer? I have it on tape somewhere, so I’ll have to upload it.

Hotrodmike
Hotrodmike
5 years ago

Hi There,I just found your AWSOME site,and i just have to say,what an Awsome site,i have a lot of really good memories growing up in the 80s,and early 90s,having loads of fun with my radio shack,and Tamia RC cars.I am also a collector of vintage radio shack rc cars,and i have a good collection going,and i agree with you about how these classic rc cars should be left the way they are.The oldest rc car i own,i got from my Sister as a Christmas gift in 1988,and it is the radio shack Golden Arrow,the only thing is i have had to replace the origanal radio a long time ago,and have had many radio systems in it since then,and now im looking to put a new one in it.I just recently bought a radio shack desert viper on Ebay,and the origanal radio still works in it.There is one rc car that i would like to fing that i had back in the 80s,and that is the radio shack Audi Quatro,i have seen them on Ebay,only everyone wants to much for them.I look forward to chatting with you.

rctoymemories
5 years ago
Reply to  Hotrodmike

Hey there – thanks for the compliments! Nice to hear from another Radio Shack collector. The Golden Arrow would be one of my top 5 favourites that they ever sold. Anyway, feel free to get in touch via the contact form sometime to chat 🙂

Jose
Jose
5 years ago

Hello, Found your site when I typed ‘Tyco’ in my browser. I own two Tyco radio controlled cars from the mid 80’s. I know they are Turbo Hoppers MK1 because of your article. I bought them for Christmas that year. One for my daughter and one for me. We had a lot of fun playing with them for some time, then they got put away. I just got around to looking for them because my 8 year old grandson voiced his desire to have one for Christmas. I didn’t know Tyco was out of business, but I would like to buy something comparable.
By the way, I put in new batteries, the indicator lights turn on, but the car does nothing at all. They were working fine when I put them away about 35 years ago.
Any suggestions on how I might be able to get them to work again?

rctoymemories
5 years ago
Reply to  Jose

Hi Jose. In terms of comparable ready to run R/C cars these days – I think your best bet will be to find a buggy you like the look of, that is made by either Nikko or Carrera. I would steer clear of New Bright and Eztec because I feel like the quality is inferior. But you are going to find it hard to find anything that looks as nice and realistic as the Turbo Hopper. One that I think is worthwhile is the Carrera Dune Jumper, because it looks old-school and is an awesome performer too (quite fast, high quality, and a little bigger than a Turbo Hopper).

As for why your car isn’t working. In my experience, one of the biggest problems with the Turbo Hopper/Jet Hopper cars is the contact points inside the transmitter. It may have to pull the transmitter apart carefully and clean where the control sticks slide against the circuit board inside. Just wipe them with a paper towel. You should also ensure the batteries in the car and transmitter have good connections by making sure the battery contact points are clean. Sometimes rotating the batteries in place can inspire the current to flow.

Maxi Ringo
Maxi Ringo
4 years ago

hello Sir / madam,

Your blog is very much

I am Maxi from Jakarta – Indonesia, I read your blog about the vintage RC toys, would you mind to tip me off where can I have my old fashioned NIKKO refurbished ?

I still have several old fashioned 90’s NIKKO RC cars, preserved by my mother after my childhood elapsed ..

One is Porsche Carrera Model (Made In Japan) and five others are Peugeot 205 Yellow and mixed of Buggy models, those five are Made In Singapore.

The only one which can still functionally work is the Made In Japan Porsche, others are out of order completely, however, no crucial damage can be visibly spotted in the physical shape of each out of order ones.

Thank you very much in advanced for your forthcoming response anyway.


Cordially,

Maxi Ringo

maxiringo1131@gmail.com

rctoymemories
4 years ago
Reply to  Maxi Ringo

Hi Maxi – thanks for writing. There is probably nowhere you can take your vintage models to be completely refurbished as they are very old and the companies that made them do not accept them for repair.

But if the electronics are having problems, you can try to find someone who specializes in repairing home appliances and other electronic goods.

Someone in this field will be able to test and repair any electrical problem – but any other problem will be up to you to fix. You should start by cleaning the models with a toothbrush, and then look to see if anything else is broken. Take your time, because they are worth caring for and fixing, and it can be quite a satisfying task.

maxiringo1131maxiringo1131
Reply to  rctoymemories

much appreciate this advice sir, I’ll have someone to inspect those stuffs later ..thank you very much, Maxi

Maxi
4 years ago

hi sir,

I still have some vintage 80’s NIKKO RC cars aslegacy of my childhood era, Peugeot 205 Yellow (Made In Singapore), Porsche Carrera (Made In Japan), BMW Z1 (Made in Singapore), others are Buggy models (Made In Singapore) would you mind to appraise how much it’s worth now if I sell it one by one ?

Thank you,

Maxi

Brian Bishop
Brian Bishop
4 years ago
Reply to  Maxi

Hi,
Do you still have the Z1 for sale if so would be interested.

Thank you.

Brian

maxiringo1131maxiringo1131Maxi
Reply to  Brian Bishop

hi Brian, yep, I still keep it, I have my uncle advertises it on E-Bay :

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Nikko-BMW-Z-1-RC-1-16-Made-In-Singapore-Vintage-/262164175970?ssPageName=ADME:L:LCA:US:1123

Thank’s for asking, Maxi

maxiringo1131maxiringo1131
Reply to  Brian Bishop

Hi Brian, yep, I still keep it and have my uncle advertises it on E-Bay : http://www.ebay.com/itm/Nikko-BMW-Z-1-RC-1-16-Made-In-Singapore-Vintage-/262164175970?ssPageName=ADME:L:LCA:US:1123

Thank’s for asking, Maxi

R/C Toy Memories
4 years ago

Hi guys – I’ve allowed these comments, so your potential sale (from a while ago), can complete. But just fyi – I don’t normally approve buy/sell requests, as I don’t want my blog to become a marketplace (with all the complexities that go with it!) 🙂 So I hope you guys can close the deal from here. Good luck!

maxiringo1131maxiringo1131

much appreciate this advice sir, I’ll have someone to inspect thos stuffs accordingly …thank you very much, Maxi

Steve
4 years ago

Hey mate, great website, really enjoy having a read through it.

Just wanted to say hello, I myself am from Sydney. I have a YouTube channel – RC Tanks and Trucks 24/7 if you are interested go check it out. I am currently trying to build up a classic tamiya 3 speed collection and am trying to find a Toyota 4X4 Pick-Up.

rctoymemories
4 years ago
Reply to  Steve

Nice to hear from you Steve. I’ll definitely check out your channel, as any effort to restore and collect the Tamiya 3-speed vehicles has my admiration (those jewels cost a fortune).

Hazza Mcfazza
4 years ago

Love the site. Grew up on red as well in Australia among other hobbies. Have been collecting hobby grade vintage machines for a little while now but love this site.

rctoymemories
4 years ago
Reply to  Hazza Mcfazza

Thanks Hazza, really appreciate the kind words!

Sean
Sean
4 years ago

Hey Mate,

Awesome job on the website! Swear to god, Ive never wished for a time machine more than I did now! Great memories for sure… Fair Dinkum mate!

While I’m at it…Is there any way to get a hold of toys from the past?

Sean
Weybridge, UK.

rctoymemories
4 years ago
Reply to  Sean

Thanks for the comment Sean! And yes, there are ways to get hold of the toys from the past…as the photos here prove 😉

Uwak Etek
4 years ago

G’d day Sir,

In case you don’t mind to enlighten me as fellow vintage NIKKO user, I do need your revelation here.

Can I use vintage NIKKO Digital Proportional 27.095MHZ transmitter which is for Submarine Boat to replace my damaged transmitter vintage NIKKO 1985 Porsche AM 2-Channel Band-3 : 27.095MHZ ?

Would these two NIKKO transmitters be compatible each other to my vintage NIKKO Porsche ?

The Porsche original transmitter counterpart is AM 2-Channel Band-3 : 27.095MHZ one but I just have it destroyed by my 5yo ornery nephew a week ago ..

Hence I’m thinking to get the NIKKO Digi Prop one as replacement because it has exact frequency Band-3 : 27.095MHZ but it’s for NIKKO submarine boat …

Much appreciate for any hints and I look forward for your advice to my desperation here.

Then thank’s so much in advance Sir.

Cordially,

Hasyim (Uwak Etek)

R/C Toy Memories
4 years ago
Reply to  Uwak Etek

(Hasyim’s queries have been answered offline)

Kelly stewart
Kelly stewart
3 years ago

Hello
I have recently purchased a nikko heatseeker, although it’s spelt heatsheeker on the box.
I don’t suppose anyone has any information on this car?
we can’t find any info online anywhere, It’s yellow in colour.

Many thanks in advance.
Kelly

Jesper Hammarstrand
Jesper Hammarstrand
3 years ago

Great site. I have a small colletion of R/C toys in my Collection of things I used to have as a kid (later expanded to things my brother had, things I played with and all th e things I wanted in hobby and toy-catalogues from the 70´s and 80’s). In R/C it´s cars from NIKKO; Kyosho, Shinsei, Taiyo, Tamiya and Motora Wave. Always nice to read about some info about my cars on a site like this.!

R/C Toy Memories
3 years ago

Thanks for the compliments Jesper, much appreciated.