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Tyco Taiyo Collectors is a resource for enthusiasts of 80s, 90s, and 00s toys produced by Tyco®, Taiyo (Japan), Metro RC, Dickie Toys, and others, and is not affiliated with any toy company.

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1986 Metro Jet Hopper MK1

BRANDYEARMODELPOWERSPEEDDRIVEAVAILABLEMINT VALUE*RATINGCOMMENT
metro logo very small19862401-279.6VTurbo8xAA Vsml 24km/h
15mph
2WD
Used:
Occasional

NIB:
Ultra Rare
value200 300
4.3 out of 5
The original 1980s Toy of the Year, cherished by so many of us 80s kids, and looked back upon with fond nostalgia almost 40 years later.
Rating
4.3
out of 5
Review CommentThe original 1980s Toy of the Year, cherished by so many of us 80s kids, and looked back upon with fond nostalgia almost 40 years later.

Running this archive costs alot of money. To help pay these bills, I use the eBay Partner Network to earn a small commission on any sale, at no cost to you. 

SPECIFICATIONS

ScaleDiff.Made inMotor
1/16RearSingaporeMabuchi RE-280
SteeringSuspensionGearBoxFreq.
UnknownFront Wishbone, Rear Shocks2-SpeedRed(27Mhz),Black(40Mhz)

MODEL REVIEW

The Metro Jet Hopper is a radio controlled car manufactured by Taiyo of Japan, and released onto the Australian market by GTI / Metro in 1986. This is the original Mark 1 (MK1) model.

Before the Jet Hopper, R/C toys were really just… toys!

In the mid-80s, toy R/C cars were dull, slow, indoor only models without suspension, with small motors, and had ‘no dynamic performance’ as it would later be called.


The Model 8502 Taiyo Porsche 956 (here sold as a Tomy) was a beautiful model, with comparatively good performance for the era.
The Model 8502 Taiyo Porsche 956 was a beautiful model, but was slow and barely controllable.

Model 8222 Model 8222 1982 Taiyo Pontiac Firebird
This 1982 Pontiac Firebird was the same. A model, with some movement, but not ‘dynamic’ in any way.

This would all change when a key manufacturer of these models, Taiyo RC in Japan, would be paid a visit by two Australian entrepreneurs by the names of George Tauber and Steven Glatt.

Tauber owned GTI (George Tauber Industries, later named PlayCorp) and had distributed non-RC toys for many years. Glatt was a new employee of his company who had an idea that would disrupt the market, not just in Australia, but across the world… truly dynamic R/C toys.

In May 1985 they traveled to Japan in search of a manufacturer to pitch the idea to. Among the known contacts of Tauber were the three biggest Toy RC manufacturers in Japan: Taiyo, Nikko, and Yarezawa, but it was Taiyo who would eventually seal the deal.


Marketing blueprint of a Jet Hopper
Marketing blueprint of a Jet Hopper

The concept was a larger model, faster, with an ability to travel off-road and over small obstacles; no doubt inspired heavily by the popular and much more expensive Tamiya Grasshopper.

But it was more than just copying Tamiya. Glatt knew that in order to make it a success, they needed to hit the exact right mix of price and features, with sufficient quality and spare parts to make it somewhat comparable to hobby grade, both in performance and durability. It needed to be better than the disposable one-crash models that were in the bin within a week. And it needed a strong marketing campaign on television that would drive initial sales.

In 1986 they would debut the GTI/Metro Jet Hopper for approx. $90 AUD to phenomenal success, with 130,000 units sold in 1986 alone.

That’s $11 Million Australian dollars of sales in 1986, or $31 Million AUD in today’s money (AUD roughly 75% USD)


Australian Toy Industry Hall of Fame Award for George Tauber of GTI / PlayCorp, awarded posthumously, two years after he passed at the age of 75. He was an industry pioneer, and 'a man whose word was his bond'.
Australian Toy Industry Hall of Fame Award for George Tauber of GTI / PlayCorp, awarded posthumously, two years after he passed at the age of 75. He was an industry pioneer, and ‘a man whose word was his bond’.

It would be so successful, that an American toy company by the name of Tyco Industries would take notice, copying GTI’s Australian success onto the American market, releasing the Tyco Turbo Hopper six months later.

Features and Performance

The initial release of the Metro Jet Hopper in Australia was essentially the Taiyo Jet Hopper MK1, with the exception of some minor decal changes, and re-designed packaging that would attract western customers.

For detail on the Jet Hopper’s specifications, see 1986 Taiyo Jet Hopper MK1.


1986 Metro RC Jet Hopper sold by GTI Industries in Australia
1986 Metro RC Jet Hopper sold by GTI Industries in Australia

Did Tyco copy Metro?

Some have suggested that ‘Metro boxes looked like Tyco‘ however the truth may be the opposite.

It’s well known that Tyco launched the Turbo Hopper in the United States after first witnessing the success of the GTI/Metro Jet Hopper in Australia.

With the first Metro Jet Hoppers being released in early 1986 and American retailers advertising the Turbo Hopper in their catalogues in late 1986 (however official documents show it didn’t actually launch until 1987), it would seem obvious that the Aussies were first with this box design, with box art heavily influenced by the dynamic TV campaign Glatt knew would make it a thunderous success.

Even more interesting were the Metro Jet Hopper’s model numbers:

  • 2401-27 (27Mhz)
  • 2401-40 (40Mhz)

The same model numbers that Tyco would use for their 1987 Turbo Hopper, and continue using in this format for the next decade.

In reality, the box and model numbers were likely designed by Taiyo with suggestions from Glatt and Tauber, and used by Taiyo for any non-Japanese release.

Recommendation

Today, Metro Jet Hoppers in good condition are rare. Despite selling several hundred thousand units, the models were so successful that kids played with them until they fell apart. I know I did. And so if you have the budget to get a half decent one, I’d recommend you do it as soon as you can.

Why? There’s no more memorable toy than the Jet Hopper in the minds of 80s Aussie boys – and we ain’t getting any younger. Sooner or later, we’re going to start getting nostalgic…

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    VALUE / PRICE HISTORY

    Average Price

    $168.90

    Highest Price

    $219.99

    This average price is based on 5 sales we have recorded (max 10 shown).

    DatePriceConditionTypeTitle
    30 Aug 2023$102.03UsedAuctionJet hopper first gen, metro taiyo tyco mint
    10 Mar 2023$104.86UsedAuctionTaiyo rc metro jet hopper turbo vintage rc car buggy. 80s excellent condition
    05 Dec 2022$219.99UsedBuy It NowMib
    12 Nov 2022$219.99UsedBuy It NowMib
    10 Nov 2022$197.99UsedBuy It NowMib
    Prices in USD. NIB = New In box, MIB = Mint in Box, EC = Excellent Condition, VGC = Very Good Condition, GC+ = Good condition plus, GC = Good condition, PC = Poor Condition. With Controller = Car with controller. With Box = Box, Car, and Controller. We make all efforts to ensure data is accurate, but cannot guarantee it is.

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