The Tyco Zero Gravity Cliff Hangers was an electric slot car set manufactured by Tyco, and released into the US, UK, and other markets worldwide in 1987 and 1988.
I’m constantly amazed how great these toys look given they’re “vintage”. I’m not sure we have stuff this cool in toy stores today! In any case, let’s look at the Tyco Zero Gravity Cliff Hangers with Nite Glow set!
Originally released without Nite Glow in 1987, it was re-released in 1988 with the added features, and we’ll look at both here.
Track and Features
The Cliff Hangers series of slot car tracks by Tyco were known for their unique feature of racing on a vertical track, straight up the walls, “defying gravity” by taking the usual “loop-the-loop” to the extreme.
Both versions had four core track features:
- Loop-the-Loop with extended verticals
- Vertical wall climb
- ‘Death defying spiral’
- Upside down… wait, this is just the loop again! Those tricksy marketing folk!
The track was 24 foot long (7.5 meters), not especially long, yet not as short as other sets such as 1994 Tyco Super Cliff Hanger‘s meagre 14’ (4.5 meters!)
Specifically, the set contained:
- 2 Super Cliff Hanger Corvettes
- 35 Sections of Track
3×6″ Straight, 2×9″ Straight, 5×15″ Straight, 7×9″ Radius, 1×12″ Radius, 4×9″ Radius—double rail, 12xTransition and 1xTerminal Track
- 4 Cradles
- Nite-Glow Guardrails
- Nite-Glow Decoration Strips and Zero Gravity Decoration Sheet
- 2 Plug-in Controllers
- 1 Power Pack
The 1988 release featured track sections with photoluminescent phosphors embedded in the paint, in the plastic guard rails, and in the car chassis.
Unfortunately I don’t own this kit myself so I can’t confirm whether all cars were fully luminiscent, as I’ve seen some with only decals glowing – if you can confirm/deny via the comments section that would be appreciated!
In any case, the TV advertisement (below) shows an extraordinary effect, not entirely impossible in real life, though I do suspect they used a few camera tricks (or black lights) to really amp up the effect.
The Ultimate in Nite-Glow racing excitement is here!– Tyco 1990 Catalog
Race ’em upside down! Race ’em up the walls! Race ’em through the Death Defying Spiral! Race ’em through the Giant Loop! Race the new ’88 Corvettes so fast they enter Zero Gravity. Nite-Glow adds a thrilling dimension!
To keep the cars in place during their gravity defying feats, there were additional magnets placed both within the cars, and within track pieces. This would have slowed them down a little, but for driving upside down, it’s not a bad trade off!
Both sets featured Corvettes – 1x Red, 1x Yellow in the 1987 original, and 2xYellow in the 1988 Nite-Glow version for obvious reasons.
Though it’s not mentioned on the pack, the cars are Magnum 440-X2, as seen when purchasing additional Cliff Hanger cars (see below).
As is typical for Tyco products throughout the 70s, 80s, 90s, an engaging TV commercial was created that would draw in kids and parents alike… I mean, how much do you want to play with it after seeing this! Yes please!
Collectability and Availability
The Tyco Zero Gravity Cliff Hangers set is widely available on eBay, mostly in the Nite-Glow version which is probably the one you want anyway.