But as Hobby Shops suffer under the downturn of retail caused by online shopping, many of the oldest (and most interesting) stores have closed for good. So perhaps the time has come to reminisce not just about the R/C cars of the 1980s, but the joy of finding vintage R/C treasures in the years that followed…
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.
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…
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.
Remember the days of the local Hobby Shop?
Not only are there far fewer hobby shops around now, but it’s actually quite difficult to find photos of hobby shops from their heyday in the 1980s – or earlier. Nevertheless, here’s a selection that is sure to make you wish you could travel back in time.
While a few smaller Uncle Pete’s Toys stores still exist today, back in the 80s they were dubbed Australia’s first “toy supermarkets” and were packed floor-to-ceiling with toy and hobby gold for all ages.