The 1990 Tyco Baja Bandit is a radio control car manufactured by Taiyo of Japan, and released onto the US, UK, and other markets globally in 1990.
This is the original 1st Generation ‘Baja’ version of the Bandit, released in Black/Yellow Stripes (49Mhz) and Black/Red Stripes (27Mhz). The 2nd generation came a few years later with the 1992 Tyco Bandit which dropped the stripes and instead has a more ’90s cool’ graphic design.
All Tyco Bandits, and similar chassis use a single Mabuchi RK370 motor, the largest in use, and the same as used in Typhoon and water craft.
The Story of the Bandits
If the Jet Hopper was king of the 80s RC toys, then the Tyco Bandit was king of the 90s. No other car has captured the imagination of 90s kids like the Bandit, and no other still has such a consistent cultural memory as the Bandit still does, with Bandits consistently selling on eBay 30+ years later for more than they cost back in 1992. Read our article: eBay Price Report: 1992 Tyco Bandit
These things have maximum nostalgia factor! Even better, they’re still fun!
Being the 1st Generation and arguably the more aggressive ‘cooler’ looking version, the ‘Baja’ increasingly hard to find. Occasionally it might pop up on eBay, but more often than not you’ll find the 2nd Generation there instead.
The bigger problem is that everybody wants one, so prices are high, and since kids loved them to death in the 90s, most examples you’ll find are beaten up bad. Genuine New In Box is a distant memory at this point.
History and Development
To tell the story of the Bandit, we have to start with it’s predecessor. As the story goes, Taiyo Japan offered their 1987 Taiyo Racing Pickup to Tyco as a potential flagship, like the Jet Hopper had been.
Tyco agreed, and after repackaging for the English market, Taiyo would release the 1988 Taiyo Racing Pickup (Global) onto the European market, and Tyco would release the 1988 Tyco 4WD Turbo Racing Pickup onto the US market. This was a high-spec car, with dual motors, front differential, pistol grip controller, and of course the 9.6V Turbo battery pack, all stylized after the 1987 Nissan 4×4 King Cab that won the Baja 1000.
Unfortunately for Tyco, Americans just did’nt gravitate to the Japanese brand (Nissan), or perhaps it was the higher cost of the truck due to its complex high speed 4WD system with front differential. Within just 1 year the 4WD Racing Pickup was off the shelves.
But Tyco wouldn’t let a good idea die. Taking the Racing Pickup’s hard-body, they combined it with a simplified 2WD drive-train and solid rear axle (no differential) to reduce the cost, and jazzed it up with an eye catching paint scheme and shiny chrome. What eventuated was a buggy that was better than its individual parts.
The Baja Bandit was born, and was an immediate hit.
Gen1 vs Gen2
The obvious difference is the paint scheme, with the 1990 Tyco Baja Bandit having a striking Red or Yellow stripes on black, whereas the 1992 Tyco Bandit had a typical 90s ‘cool’ graphic art design on black.
The most important difference is that some Gen2 (1992) models have an improved rear suspension pin / mount design which is less likely to snap off.
We have seen the older/weaker design on both 1990 and 1992 Bandit models, and the improved/strengthened design only on some 1992 Bandits. So if this concerns you, look very closely in photos before bidding.
There are few, if any, better Tyco R/C to have than the Bandit. Many would say it’s the most desirable. If you can get one within your budget, then do it!