The Tyco Bandit is a ratio control car manufactured by Taiyo of Japan, and released onto the US, UK, and other markets globally in 1992.
This is the 2nd Generation Tyco Bandit, with first generation being the 1990 Tyco Baja Bandit, easily identified by its ‘stripes’ paint scheme.
The Bandit is King
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 so successful, there are many out there, and used examples of the Gen2 are available on eBay in varying conditions. The problem is, 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 NIB / New in Box is very rare, and will cost you more than you’d expect!
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.
Image below: the Tyco Baja Bandit from a 1990 Toy Catalog. Apologies for the poor quality, it’s not been easy finding images from catalogues and other disposable media from 30 years ago for obvious reasons. If you have old toy catalogues, contact us!
All vehicles using the Bandit chassis utilise a single Mabuchi RK370 motor, the largest ever in use by Tyco, giving the car plenty of go, almost as much as the Twin Turbo Lamborghini on-road models.
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 is no need to write a ‘recommendation’ for the Baja Bandit, this car sells itself. The only question is whether you can find one, and whether you’re prepared to pay the eye-watering price!