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Tyco Dagger Prototype

Well, it’s been ages since my last post, but there’s been some recent activity in the oh-so-small Tyco collector world that I thought it was time to come back.  I’ve actually had to recently curb my collecting and have sold some models, but that’s only because I had acquired so many since my last post.  😉  I have a lot of catching up to do, so let’s get started:

Tyco Dagger and Prototype Box

The first model I’d like to show off is my Tyco Dagger prototype.  This was a pre-production model that I bought off eBay, and was supposedly used in a toy show before the car was sold in stores.  While the vehicle itself looks nearly identical to the production model, the box is a mockup, covered in stickers.  There’s even a cardboard insert that shows an earlier prototype.  I was a bit disappointed when I received this, as I thought I was getting the early prototype on the mockup box, but quickly got over it.  🙂

Tyco Dagger Box Side

This box is empty, the vehicle is just a photo insert.

The radio was also a prototype, I think.  Although it had a Dagger label on it, it did not control the vehicle, and was the newer ergonomic style Tyco used in the late 90s.  Production models that I’ve seen had the older boxier style radio (this style was also shown on the prototype box).  No worries, it uses the same radio as other Tyco twin-stick controllers of that era (Fast Traxx, Rebound, Triple Wheels, Maxx Traxx) so I can still drive it!

 

Tyco Dagger

The car is highly detailed and lots of fun.  The real working front shocks, oversized tires, roll cage, wing, and driver figure add to the cool factor, but it’s also pretty big for a Tyco, at almost 1.5 feet long!  But what makes this model really cool is this slider:

Tyco Dagger Slider

 

 

It allows you to adjust the battery position, which in turn adjusts the weight balance of the car.  You can slide it towards the rear to easily pop wheelies, or move it to the front for speed runs.  The center “Stunt Zone” positions allow you to easily control wheelies, which allows you to do some pretty impressive 360-degree spins.

 

 

 

Tyco Dagger Rear

 

The car uses a standard 6.0v pack, which doubles as the adjustable weight.  There are also wheelie bars in the rear, which are pretty much essential since the car loves to wheelie!  Well, actually, it HAS to wheelie.  It might not be so bad on a really smooth surface, but on most surfaces, the car is pretty difficult to steer unless you lift the front tire off the ground.  Of course this happens at high speeds and when when slider is adjusted back, but the front tire drags when trying to turn at low speeds or from a stop.

 

 

 

All in all, I’m really glad to have this model in my collection.  Aside from being a cool rarity, the Dagger itself is one of Tyco’s more original designs, without the futuristic body designs that came with most of the original/stunt vehicles.  Although the driving experience is somewhat limited to straight-line runs and 360 spins, I’m a big fan of it’s styling, size, and build quality.

 

 

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My “NEW” 6v Chevy Pickup

I’ve been too busy and broke for Tyco collecting as of late, but I did have a few things happen over the last 6 months.  One of which was scoring a like-new 6v Chevy Pickup!

Chevy1

I actually scored 2 of these.  Someone contacted me through this blog looking for one, and I just happened to find someone selling 2 in mint condition within a few days.  I kept one for myself, and it’s a pretty cool looking truck!  The styling is really nice, very old school, and I love the look of the tires.  Considering the packaging tape was still intact, and the fact that they came with the original manuals and unopened bag of pylons, I don’t think these trucks were ever ran before.

Chevy2

It’s a pretty typical Tyco, it’s RWD with the 2 speed gearbox.  The tires let it handle terrain that most trucks this size might not be able to, but it’s not very powerful or fast.  This makes it perfect for smaller areas, though, and it’s a lot of fun indoors.  I don’t plan on running this one very much since it’s in such good cosmetic shape, and also because of a problem with the tires.  I’m not sure if it’s their age or what, but the tires deform VERY easily.  I left it sitting on a shelf outside of the box for a few days, and the next time i ran it, the tires were warped, and it made driving it a lot less fun.  I’m sure this could be combated with a foam insert or something, but since this truck is gonna be a shelf queen I’ve just opted to leave it in it’s packaging where the weight of the truck will rest on the chassis.


Hot Wheels R/C Stealth Rides Power Tread Review

I just bought some new toys, first of which is the Stealth Rides Power Tread.  Unlike most of the RCs I’m blogging about, these cars are new, as in still being sold in stores, and have a fun little gimmick: They fold up to fit in a pocket sized controller.  Now, I know micro RCs are nothing new, I was a huge fan of the MicroChargers and Bit Char-G cars.  I still have a huge box full of ZipZaps (Initial-D FTW), and I love the Terrain Titans, which were basically micro versions of classic Tamiya buggies.  The problem with all of those cars, however, is that as much as they’d love to advertise that it fits in your pocket, the remotes were always pretty thick, and those tiny cars were a little too fragile to stuff in your jeans as you walked around.

The new Stealth Rides cars have a very slim remote, and the vehicles have a special folding design so you can flatten them and store them in the remote for safe-keeping.  When you want to play, just remove the vehicle, press a button, and it “pops” into shape.

 

This is not only VERY slick (it’s almost as much fun to pop into shape as it is to drive), but solves a lot of the real-world portability problems with micro-sized RCs.  One other cool thing, is that while these cars are super-compact, the vehicles are pretty big when popped up. In fact, the Power Treads are much bigger than a ZipZap. If only these were around when I was a kid, they would have been perfect for showing off at recess!

However, sacrifices had to be made.

First of all, the cars use tank-style skid-steer controls, which can be difficult to master.  I don’t mind that at all on this tank-style vehicle, but it feels unnatural for more traditional 4 wheeled vehicles (I’ll be posting a review on the Stealth Rides Ford Fiesta Rally later)

Second, the vehicles are not quite as versatile as other micros.  I’m not referring to the lack of custom options (like those on the ZipZaps or MicroSizers), I’m just referring to “drivability”.  This Power Treads vehicle’s slow speed and sticky treads are just begging to crawl over things, but it can barely climb over obstacles a mere 1/8″ tall, which is disappointing.  However, it can traverse carpet really well, which is something many micros struggle with.

The third sacrifice is a bit bigger.  If you’re not familiar with micro RCs, most of them have an internal rechargeable battery that you recharge via sucking juice out of the batteries in the remote.  Newer RCs (helicopters especially) may include a USB charge cable to cut down on wasting batteries, but the remote still has to be big enough to house 4-6 batteries, and only AA or AAAs have the required Mah (amp-hours) to charge a vehicle’s internal battery multiple times.  The Stealth Rides vehicles abandon this system in favor of LR44/AG13 “button” batteries, 2 in the remote and 3 in the vehicle.  Now, the upsides here are not waiting for the car to charge, never having to replace the internal battery, and most importantly, they can make the remote and car as tiny as they want.  The downsides are very limited range and the fact that these batteries cost an arm and a leg at retail stores.  A pack of 3 was over $10 at most stores, and I’d need 2 packs just to get a single run!  This would normally be a deal-breaker, but Amazon sells a 50-pack of these batteries for $5, and I’m sure if you Google search “LR44 battery hack” you’d be able to get them cheap that way as well.

The Stealth Rides line currently consists of the road cars, the “flat” Power Tread tanks, and the “wedge” Power Tread tanks.  When I started looking at these, I noticed that the “wedge” tanks were no longer being sold, so of course I had to find one of those (OMG, rare)!  If it was replaced with the flatter tanks, I could guess why:  There’s a little swing-out arm that holds the bottom rear tire, and it looks like it would easily break or rip the treads if you weren’t careful when taking it in or out of the housing in the remote.  From the videos I’ve seen, the newer design is also much more capable at crawling over small obstacles, as the front of the treads has an upward angle.  The wedge design, with it’s small front wheels, present the same issue I saw with it’s spiritual big brother, the Tyco Maxx Traxx – it just can’t climb over obstacles well.  However, it’s more forgivable on the Maxx Traxx, since the Maxx Traxx is pretty quick and made to be flipped over and driven upside-down.  As I said earlier, the Power Tread vehicle feels like it was made for crawling, and in that aspect is certainly leaves a lot to be desired.


1994 Tyco Catalog from the U.K.!!

I recently bought a Tyco R/C catalog, like the title says,it was circulate in the U.K. in 1994.  Admittedly, I bought this catalog to fill in some of the gaps on the Tyco R/C Vehicle List.  Unlike the massive Tyco Toy Catalogs, this one just featured the R/C line, and has only 12 pages excluding the covers.  At first glance, it appears to be a simple marketing brochure, each page showcasing 2 vehicles.  But, there’s a fold-out section in the back that is a holy grail of collector info!  It’s essentially a spreadsheet that compares all of the vehicles produced in 1994, and it’s so comprehensive I had to adjust the list I’ve been working on (update coming soon).

Of course, pictures are worth a thousand words, so I’ve scanned each page for all to see:

I know the spreadsheet can be hard to read, but I’ve added alll the info into the Tyco RC Vehicle List and will be updating it soon!!!


Tyco Triple Wheels Restoration – Phase 1

When I got the Triple Wheels and Maxx Traxx in the mail, coming out of the same box, it was clear that they were identical twins, if perhaps separated at birth.  While the stealth fighter chassis are identical aside from a color swap, the Maxx Traxx replaces boring old wheels with Power Treads!  This is one of the “paperweights” I mentioned in my previous post- until I find a remote for it I can’t really test it out.  However, one side of the Triple Wheels’ gearbox was sticking an grinding, so I wanted to open it up and get that side turning smooth.

gearbox & board

Easier said than done!  Despite the open look of the car, taking apart the gearbox requires a complete teardown.  First, I removed the 4 screws on the bottom of the chassis.  2 of them were behind stickers, so I used a Qtip with rubbing alcohol to gently peel back the decals enough to get at the screws.  I was able to remove the body, and then I removed the screws from the 2 braces connecting the gearbox to the chassis.

 

Rubbing alcohol loosened this sticker, but left it tacky

I wanted to clean everything, so I also removed all of the electronics, but you might be able to do quick repairs with things half dangling.  I removed the screws holding the gearbox halves together, then used the same Q-tip and rubbing alcohol trick to lift up half of each Tyco sticker before gently separating the whole thing.

 

One thing I noticed right away was that the gears for the top and bottom tires were different, which I assume is to account for the difference in tire size.  The Maxx Traxx’s rear tires are both the same size, so I’m guessing that the gearboxes are not interchangeable (although you could probably use Maxx Traxx gears on a Triple Wheels, the Triple Wheels gears would make a Maxx Traxx’s treads bunch up).

Note the far left gear is slightly smaller than the one on the far right - or vice-versa, lol!

 

OK, so with the gearbox open, I was looking fo the source of the grinding- a grain of sand, a missing tooth..  and then I noticed one of the wheel shafts was bent.  I straightened it as best I could by folding it in a rag and playing with it in my vise.

 

Reapplying the sticker

 

I cleaned and oiled everything up (a MUST for the front axle!), put it back together, using my Maxx Traxx as a reference, and it’s spinning much freer now.   It’s not perfect, but it’ll do.  The stickers were tacky enough to be reapplied, although I may beef them up with adhesive and protect it with clear shipping tape some day.

 

 

Here’s the finished result.  This is only Phase 1, as I still have to find a radio and repair the splitting tires.  I may also waterproof this one, as it would be fairly easy to do.

Triple Wheels all cleaned up!


My *NEW* Tyco Phantom FX-4!!

One of the things I scooped up from eBay last week was a Tyco Phantom FX-4!  A little background: the  FX-4 was a buggy styled like a fighter jet, much like the Tyco Blaster, only the FX-4 had “lazer lights”- flashing red LED’s in the “intake” and “exhaust”.  The Phantom FX-4 is the mini version of the FX-4, ditching the LEDs, suspension, etc., and only runs on 4AA batteries.

The one I received came with the original box, and I was really pleased with the overall condition of everything, the vehicle looked untouched.  The seller said it had been tested and working, so I didn’t waste any time popping fresh batteries and giving it a go.

Now, I don’t know if it was paranoia or my on stupidity, but I kept thinking it was broken.  First, I turned on the remote and the LED didn’t light up.  Well, after taking apart the remote (read ahead), I could see that the “LED” was just part of the casing.  Another interesting bit is that the car was twitching, so I took apart the radio and cleaned the contacts.  Now I had fwd/rev, but no steering.  Well, get this: the vehicle only lets you steer while you are already moving fwd/rev.  By experimenting with my Aero Hopper and it’s remote, I could tell that this is built into the both the transmitter and the car.  It’s funny to see the interesting ways the Tyco engineers were able to cut corners in order to make a full function car at a lower price point and scale.  Just in the transmitter alone, the antenna, indicator LED, on/off switch, and even circuitry had been custom-designed to be as efficient to produce as possible.

So, how does it drive?  Well, in a word: slow.  I wasn’t expecting a speed demon from a 20 year old budget kids toy RC, but in high or low gear it seemed to be lethargic, even with fresh batteries.  Admittedly, I bought this car mostly to have as a shelf queen, so it’s not a big deal since it looks brand new.  One of the cooler parts of this score was the box, as it had little ads for vehicles from what I like to call “the Golden Age” of Tyco RCs, lol.  Pictures coming soon.


Coolest paperweights ever!!

So, it’s official.  I have the bug.  The more I research Tyco RCs, the more I want to collect.

After putting an ad on Craigslist and getting an immediate response, I was hopeful that I could avoid eBay until it was time to look for the rare stuff.  However, I must’ve been lucky, because that was the only response I’ve gotten so far.

My new Phantom FX-4!!

So, it was time to hit up eBay.  After comparing prices I bought a few more toys for the “garage”.  First up was a Phantom FX-4 buggy.  This car was pretty much new in the box, I’ll have a separate writeup on it soon.  Then came a Rebound, Maxx Traxx, Triple Wheels, and Tantrum!

From left: Tyco Triple Wheels (49MHz), Tantrum (27MHz), and Maxx Traxx (49MHz)

Now, you may notice that there are no remotes laying next to these cars.  I bought them being fully aware of the fact:  In my limited experience, I’ve been able to use toy-grade transmitters interchangeably (to a degree), so I figured I could use one of the generic radios I already had laying around.  Plus, these were cheap enough that even if I did have to scour for a specific radio, I still got a fair deal.  Remotes aren’t exactly growing on trees, but hobby-grade conversions are always an option, too.

So, on to the “unboxing”.  I got the cars in the mail and immediately began charging the 6V pack that came with the Rebound.  Upon removing it, I noticed a web address on a sticker in the Rebound battery bay.  I did some research, and it’s a re-release, but as far as I can tell it’s identical to the original save for the aforementioned sticker.  It was in great shape, the tires looked new, and only a couple minor scratches.  The Tantrum had seen better days, it’s paper-backed decals were sun-faded, but the Maxx Traxx and Triple Wheels were in good shape for their age.  I thought the latter 2 looked similar in the auction listing, but in person it’s obvious that the only difference between the Max Traxx and Triple Wheels are the tires and colors used.

Before I continue, it should be noted that my hobby-grade RCs twitch like crazy if you turn them on before the transmitter.  You could end up in the hospital if you’re not careful.  My Aero Hopper and Fast Traxx do the same thing, although are less likely to tear off my fingers.  So, to “test” these cars, I popped in a battery, turned it on, and waited for them to go nuts.  None did.  OK, must be a bad battery, right?  No prob, I buy an old but unopened 6.0V pack and charger from Craigslist.  The next day, I repeat the test with the new battery and get the same results.  I also tried using my Fast Traxx remote on the Rebound, as they’re both 27MHz, use tank/”skid steer” controls, and were released around the same time (if you don’t account for the re-release aspect), but nothing was happening.

I posted a thread in the Ultimate RC forums about it, and was relieved to hear that many Tyco models don’t twitch out, it was likely a safety feature that was introduced over time (My 2008 Terrain Twister doesn’t twitch at all).  However, it’s also a bit disheartening because while it’s good to know that these cars are probably fine, finding remotes will be difficult.  The Maxx Traxx and Triple Wheels are so similar that I’m still hoping one’s remote will work with the other, but I haven’t seen any on eBay’s completed listings…

In any event, I learned a little lesson about transmitter compatibility, and hopefully I’ll find a solution soon.