The Tyco Heads Up Turbo Hopper is a radio control car manufactured by Taiyo (Japan), and released into the United States, United Kingdom, and other markets worldwide in 1990.
The final successor in a long line of Tyco Turbo Hoppers that began the Tyco RC business in the mid 80s, this car is the western version of the original 1989 Taiyo Heads Up Hopper sold in its home country of Japan.
Widely regarded as one of the best ‘Hoppers ever made, it is highly sought after by collectors over 30 years later, due to it being the first RC car many 90s kids experienced (or wished they had), and because it’s simply a great RC car no matter when it was released.
Based upon the Taiyo Jet Hopper 2 chassis, it has most of the improvements of the modernized platform, including:
- 9.6V ‘Turbo’ Battery Pack instead of inserting 8xAA batteries
- Built-in Charge Port & LED (Battery Pack, Charger sold separately)
- Aggressive stance
- Rear Tires Extra Wide and Air-Filled
- Front Tires Wide and Air-Filled
- Chrome Rims
- Solid Rear Axle (no differential)
- ‘Heads Up’ Feature of Drivers Head Turns with Steering
- Updated Controller with ‘Turbo’ Light and Chrome Handle
TV Advertisement from 1990
Action packed TV commercials were core to the Tyco RC (and Taiyo) business model since it all began in the mid-80s, and no expense was spared for the launch of the Heads Up Turbo Hopper. Compare this to some of the later advertisements in the mid 90s and you can see when the energy and focus had left the company, later leading to its buy-out.
As a Tyco Collector, there are three distinct generations of cars that stand out to me.
Setting aside the pre-1986 models for simplicity, we start with the original era from 1986-1988 where the Turbo Hopper, Super Turbo Hopper, Twin Turbo Lamborghini and many others were the greatest, just so many good ones at that time. Next there was the 1989-1992 era, with the Wild Thing, and Heads Up / Turbo Hopper 2 (this one) and similar chassis cars being amongst the best. And finally, the 1993-1996 era where the Tyco Rebound, Tyco Mutator and a few others.
And so this Heads Up Turbo Hopper is simply one of those “must-haves” from that 2nd generation of Tyco and Taiyo models that really stands out. It’s looks great, runs brilliant, has no inherent defects or material issues like earlier models (though the bumpers love breaking), and it’s just an all-round excellent design.