The Taiyo Mutator 4WD is a radio control toy manufactured by Taiyo (Japan) and released into the Japanese market in 1995.
The fact this existed as a Taiyo model surprised me, as I’d always thought the Mutator was an entirely Tyco USA product (Taiyo isn’t mentioned on the Tyco packaging anywhere), however here we have a Mutator, earlier than Tyco, with Taiyo Japan packaging. So who created and designed it? We’ll get onto that later.
Photos below of the beautiful mid-90s black with fluro packaging, easily my favorite, though it’s hard to beat Tyco’s packaging with those amazing illustrations.
Features and Performance
The Mutator was a 9.6V powered dual motor / tank steer design which had a unique gimmick of being able to move its body up and down, adjusting its stance from ground hugging race car , smoothly all the way up to high riding 4WD and everything in between.
Tyco USA influence
In the 90s following Tyco US purchasing a considerable ownership stake in Taiyo (Japan), the design language of the company moved away from ‘realistic’ near hobby grade toys to firmly grounded toy-grade designs that were still innovative, high quality, and often well performing. Tyco would come up with the product ideas, and Taiyo (Japan) would see to their execution.
The Mutator is a perfect example of this, with its bold, outrageous style and color palette, crazy mechanical gimmicks, plus some of the best toy packaging of the 90s. Taiyo’s opened windowed design looks beautiful in person, though it’s hard to beat the incredible illustrations on the Tyco version.
Among the many ‘gimmick’ cars of the 90s, the Mutator is one of the few which brought great success to Taiyo / Tyco, and along with the Tyco Rebound is amongst our favorites.
Home Alone 3
At the time, Tyco was investing heavily in marketing and several of the Tyco cars played starring roles in Hollywood movies, including the Tyco Mutator which was in several scenes in the 1997 Hollywood movie Home Alone 3.
While you can pick up a used/scraped Tyco Mutator very cheap, these Taiyo Mutators are extremely rare. In fact we’ve only seen one of them, and we’re trying our hardest to get our hands on it!
Thank you to martonmiklosqdev for pointing out that the Mutator is in fact 4WD (fixed), and was in the Home Alone 3 movie. Here’s some shots from that! via ProductPlacementBlog.com