The Tyco Heads Up! Wild Thing Turbo Hopper (also know as Heads Up Hopper, or just Tyco Wild Thing) is a radio controlled car manufactured by Taiyo (Japan), and released into the US, UK, and worldwide markets in 1992.
Originally released as a variant of the Tyco Heads Up Turbo Hopper (Turbo Hopper 2), its popularity has eclipsed that, and it’s become one of the most sought after Tyco RC models ever made.
Doing it the Tyco way
With the bulk of Tyco’s RC division reliant on Taiyo Toys in Japan to design and manufacture their product, Tyco USA quickly realized the importance of securing their future, and so purchased a major ownership stake in the Japanese company.
For better or worse, this of course gave Tyco far more control over the design of the toys, and from 1990 onward there would be drastic changes.
Gone were the ultra-realistic, real-world vehicle designs of Taiyo Japan’s 80s catalog. Nope, the Heads Up! Wild Thing Turbo Hopper was all about fluorescent colors and 90s gimmicks! Oh so many gimmicks.
Of course, the calling card of this Heads Up! was just that – the drivers head, which would turn in the direction of your steering.
Gone was the top-loaded 8xAA battery compartment, replaced with an underbelly loaded 9.6v Turbo battery pack, and in its place the driver with his big head looking left/right as you turned.
And sure, it’s silly… but c’mon, you can’t tell me that 90s fluro with added gimmickery isn’t totally awesome, plus it’s heaps of fun to drive!
Personally, I’m quite happy with my Fluro Yellow 27Mhz version, until I read the box which stated “Neon Green”. By golly I must be colorblind!
Gimmicks aside, all the Heads Up! cars are fast 1/14 scale 9.6V Turbo models with great all-round shock absorber suspension, and nice upgraded super wide rubber tires. FAR better than the original Turbo Hoppers whose tire materials have almost all disintegrated by now, while these new ones are bulletproof.
The same tires we’d see on the Tyco Baja Bandit released in the same year.
Difference between this and the Heads Up! Turbo Hopper?
Unlike the Jet Hopper II / Heads Up! Turbo Hopper, the Wild Thing variant has a solid rear axle (no differential) which is reportedly better for off-road use, but it really depends on your preference. Honestly they probably took it away to pay for all that fluorescent paint in the Wild Thing variant! Actually, regular versions (Head Up! Hopper) were black matte plastic, no paint at all!
The Wild Thing was available in Black (27Mhz) and Neon Green (49Mhz).
Tyco Wild Thing (USA) and Metro Wild Thing (Australia) are the most common models, although the original Taiyo Wild Thing does also exist, but it’s really, really, really rare. Like I think I’ve seen it once, but I can’t be sure. That rare.
In fact, finding a Wild Thing at all in the 2020s is a difficult task, and if you do find one, chances are the price will be even higher than our estimate here.
One clue as to the popularity and rarity of this model? Check out this listing on eBay for a person just wanting to buy a Wild Thing!!!
The Wild Thing is an absolute classic, and undisputed Top 10, perhaps even Top 5, of all Tyco R/C models.
Yet the Wild Thing sits at the end of its generation of toy RC designs. In the late 80s, Taiyo / Tyco models were dominated by Turbo Hopper based cars (see our complete guide to the Turbo Hopper), with each successive model such as the MK2, MK3*, then then Turbo / Jet Hopper II getting better and better, finally ending in the Heads Up / Wild Thing models cars of 1990.
For this reason, the Wild Thing and those like it are the final evolution of the Turbo Hopper and deserve pride of place in any 80s – 90s Toy Collection.
*I don’t yet have the MK3 Tyco version documented, so I’ve linked the Taiyo Japanese version. Did Tyco US ever make a Turbo Hopper MK3? Let me know in the comments!