The Metro Reactor was a radio controlled toy vehicle with a unique scissor-style suspension system that allowed it to traverse over large rocks and difficult terrain. Created by Quantum Toy Concepts Pty Ltd and distributed by GTI / PlayCorp trading as Metro RC, it was released in Australia and New Zealand markets in 1996.
That same year in 1996, PlayCorp (Metro RC) filed a lawsuit in the local Melbourne Magistrates Court against Japanese company Taiyo Kogyo Co Ltd, the parent company of Taiyo Toys (Japan) who was a key supplier of toys to Metro since the early 1980s. That relationship had grown exponentially since the joint release of the 1986 Jet Hopper radio controlled buggy which would see phenomenal success and change the toy R/C landscape in Australia and across the world.
It was this success that saw an agreement whereby Taiyo Toys would provide a selection of new RC toys each season, and Metro would distribute them in Australia and New Zealand successfully for almost a decade. However by the early 90s the Japanese economy was in dire straits and video game sales were eating into Taiyo’s profits. With Tyco Toys (USA) purchasing a majority stake in the ailing Japanese company came a conflict of interest where Tyco would seek to be the exclusive distributor of toys within Australia leading to an unravelling of the relationship and a massive hole in Metro’s lineup for the 1996 toy season.
So far in my research I’d not come up with any evidence of Metro RC toys post-Taiyo, though I’d suspected they must exist. It wasn’t until recently when Tyco Collectors member Glennl24 posted photos in our forum of this car that he’d been searching for (and which he’d contacted me about seeking help over 12 months ago!) now providing evidence of its existence. And to him we owe this first firm record of a post-Taiyo Metro RC car.
Features and Performance
From the outside it might just appear like a simple three wheeler R/C toy, however the Reactor hides within it a very unique suspension system that lifts the car up as it drives, creating both clearance and an ability to climb over large obstacles.
Using a 6.0V Jet Turbo style battery pack, it’s not a speed demon but with 2 x Mabuchi 260 motors it’s got similar performance to a Tyco Rebound / Metro Rebound, and is no doubt plenty of fun to drive (though I’d not yet had the pleasure).
A wheel on its roof provides some added fun during rollovers, and a ‘Nuclear Engine’ with flashing lights completes the look.
Availability and Collectability
As far as we can tell, this car is practically unknown to Google and any other search engine (until now). That doesn’t bode well for anyone intending to try and obtain one of these for their Metro RC collection. But you never know – now that it’s on our radar, perhaps we’ll begin seeing these pop up, especially now we’ve put a potential price on it.
In terms of the potential value of a car like this, well, rarity only increases value when an item is in demand (then rarity acts as a price multiplier), however since this is virtually known then demand is likely to be very low. That said, Glennl24 certainly knew it existed, and had fond childhood memories of the car from his childhood, enough to make him go out and find it. That suggests there may be others out there who remember it, and would be willing to chase after and buy it, creating demand. Assuming there is more than one of them out there still!
Certainly from my perspective, this is collectable in that it’s one of the few (or perhaps only) models that Metro RC released in their short post-Taiyo period, and tells a story all by itself. Fascinating.