The Tyco Jacknife is a 1/12 scale radio control car manufactured by Taiyo (Japan) and released into the US, UK, and other markets worldwide in 1996.
Not to be confused with the similarly named 2001 Tyco Jacknife Stunt Rig (Truck), the Jacknife is a Lamborghini style race car with some pretty crazy features.
Features and Performance
Transforming vehicles were all the rage with Tyco in the mid 90s, with several vehicles released using some kind of shape or size transforming ability.
Normally locked-down and driving like a ‘regular’ R/C road car, at the press of a button the Jacknife had 3 ‘spring up’ features:
– Body would spring up, giving the appearance of a high ground clearance truck
– Roof would lift off, turning it into a convertible with a crazy rear wing
– Front bonnet would spin around, revealing a large chrome toy engine
As for performance, the Jacknife was a 6.0V Jet Turbo model, so not as wild as a 9.6V Turbo but this was primarily a toy with a fun gimmick, and not trying to imitate hobby-grade R/C in any way.
Overall specifications are:
- 6.0V Jet Turbo battery pack
- Full function radio control
- Slow and Fast transmission
- Hybrid road/off-road rubber wheels
- Transforms between road racer, and off-road car
- Pop-up chrome engine in the front
- Flip-up convertible top
- Whole body pops up almost an inch to increase perceived ground clearance.
While there’s nothing ‘wrong’ with the TV commercial, but like all Tyco TV spots after around 1994, it was clear that they did not engage an A-Tier advertising company. Why? Well take a look.
Compare that Jacknife Commercial with say… this 1993 Tyco Python commercial. It’s a night and day difference, right?
In the past, TV commercials were Tyco’s secret weapon. They were one of many Toy companies that lobbied the Reagan Administration in the mid-80s to loosen up FCC regulations around kids advertising so they could create 30 minute TV advertisements, otherwise known as kids cartoon shows. e.g. Dino Riders (Tyco), or He-Man, Transformers (Hasbro).
Tyco would advertise the latest awesome R/C car during morning cartoons, and their ads would be just as exciting and action-packed as the cartoons themselves! Incredible footage of RC cars making insane jumps in highly detailed, interesting sets, close-up zooms, slow motion, with graphics/animation, totally over the top with high production values.
Probably the worst of the era is the Tyco Rampage 6×6 commercial. I mean they’re not bad commercials, but its obvious they had no budget.
It’s well known they were facing serious budget constraints around this time due to purchasing too many companies and setting up expensive European operations, so it’s no surprise they made cut backs…. but cutbacks this severe should have been a warning flare to investors that something was really amiss at Tyco HQ.
Should you buy a Tyco Jacknife for your collection? It’s not a must-have by any means however no other car has this scale of gimmickry… it’s enough to make even the Mutator blush!
I see the Jacknife as one of a handful of cars that fit into the “fluro-chassis” era at Tyco around 1993-1996 which included cars like the 1996 Tyco Mutator, the 1993 Tyco Mini Traxx Pickup, and the 1993 Tyco Hi-Jacker which all used wild looking fluorescent chassis, and were mostly gimmick-cars.
If I was able to find one of these boxed in good condition, I’d find it hard to resist – not because it’s great like a Tyco Lamborghini, but because its quaint 90s toy style gives me that feeling of being back in the 90s again.