The Tyco Kmart IndyCar is an officially licensed radio controlled / RC IndyCar manufactured by Taiyo, and released into the US, UK, and other markets worldwide by Tyco in 1993.
What is it called exactly?
It’s pretty clear that whoever was assigned to do the packaging graphics on this one was not having a very good day! Not only did they completely bork up the Kmart logo, but according to every other (400+) Tyco/Taiyo RC car I’ve reviewed, the correct way to read this one would be “Tyco Kmart 9.6V Turbo”. Nice!
While the prospect of a 9.6V Turbo Discount Department Store driven by a world famous race car driver does sound interesting, I’m not sure it’s what they originally intended! Did Tyco USA just ship the first draft of the product packaging without even looking (or looking and not caring), because they needed to get it out as quickly as possible while the hype around Nigel Mansell remained following his 1993 win? I think so!
What’s so important about Nigel Mansell, 1993 and Indy Car?
Nigel Mansell was a famous British racing driver who won the Formula One World Championship in 1992. Formula One being a mostly European dominated but globally followed sport had many similarities to IndyCar, however in 1993 Nigel would join the Newman/Haas Racing team and make IndyCar history by piloting the Kmart Havoline-sponsored Lola-Ford.
His debut season in IndyCar was sensational, as he not only won the Championship but also became the first rookie to achieve this feat. Mansell’s driving prowess and aggressive style were well-suited to the high-speed ovals and demanding road courses of IndyCar, and his 1993 Kmart Havoline car became an icon of the era, bridging the gap between Formula One and IndyCar, cementing his legacy as one of the worlds greatest race car drivers.
Features and Performance
So how does it perform? Is it another cheap licensed 4xAA model? Nope! Thankfully Tyco / Taiyo had already released a very similar model a year prior, the 1993 Tyco Valvoline, a scale replica of Al Unser Jr.’s 1991 World Champion IndyCar, and that was a right proper 9.6V Turbo!
Being super lightweight, entirely plastic, and low to the ground with small slick tires and a 9.6V battery, it’s a hoot! The tiny wheels mean acceleration is fast, and while I’m unsure of top speed, it’s definitely one of the most fun toy RC models that Taiyo / Tyco would release. It’s nothing like the 1990 Twin Turbo Valvoline to be sure, but it’s definitely good fun.
While I can’t be 100% sure as I don’t yet own both models, based on the photos and specifications this 1994 Kmart IndyCar is a clear reproduction of the 1993 Valvoline, simply updated with that years sponsors and livery. This would also add credence to the theory that the car was produced very quickly, leading to the obvious issues with the confusing packaging and poor reproduction of the Kmart logo.
Collectability and Availability
So is it worth picking up? In a word? Yes. Both the Kmart and Valvoline are great little cars, and while they’re nothing like the more hobby-grade larger scale earlier releases such as the Twin Turbo Marlboro, Twin Turbo Valvoline, Twin Turbo Ferrari 348 and Twin Turbo Lamborghini Countach to name a few, these are in their own right excellent RC car toys, very much toy grade, but still plenty of fun, and worth having in any 80s / 90s toy collectors collection, or simply for a fan of Nigel Mansell or IndyCar.
But can you get one? In a word? No.
Oh okay, well you might get lucky, but these come up very rarely, so if you see it, pounce on it – before I do.
Note on Top Speed: Typically we only provide confirmed speed figures, but as I don’t have this model and it’s not reported anywhere on the Taiyo version, I’ve had to use an estimate of 22-27kph which I’d say must be pretty close. Fast acceleration, average-high top speed.