The Tyco Mutator is a radio controlled car manufactured by Taiyo Toys Japan, and released in the US, UK and other markets globally in 1996.
The Tyco RC Mutator 9.6V Turbo, also known as the Home Alone 3 RC car represents everything about the early and mid-90s that defined Taiyo and Tyco toys.
Outrageous designs and colors, interesting mechanical gimmicks, and some of the best toy packaging of the 90s. Not all of those models were successful, but one of the most successful was the Mutator.
As a 9.6V Turbo model, the Mutator has plenty of go, though all the bulk from the transformation mechanism combined with the 4WD does slow it down a little to a maximum speed of 17km/h (11mph). Yet speed isn’t the point of this car!
And with a tank-style (or skid-steer) control method, it moves around in a similar fashion to the Fast Traxx, so drifting or cornering isn’t really its forte, though wild spins it’s more than capable of.
The core feature of the Mutator is its ability to transform, or mutate into several different stances, as noted on the box:
- Off-Road Truck
- Street Rod
- Stunt Machine
Each of these is demonstrated on the back of the box.
The Mutator was part of Tyco’s Maximum Heat! campaign, which included a TV campaign for the Python, Fire Power, and Mutator. It’s reminiscent of their late 80s and early 90s campaigns for the Turbo Hopper, Bandit and others during the Golden Age of Tyco but with that mid-late 90s toy commercial flare we all love.
Theres many videos on YouTube, all taken from VHS sitting in someone’s basement for 20 years, and so we took the best available and restored it using the latest AI video restoration tech. Watch it below!
I often comment on how wonderful Tyco’s box art and overall packaging design is, and their marketing department didn’t stop there. With the Tyco Mutator planned for release in the 1996 Christmas season, Tyco had some serious product placement potential with a remote control car scene in that year’s Home Alone 3. As you can see from the screen captures below, it included closeups of the car, the controller and ‘Mutator’ logo, with the hero driving it as a plot device – it was every marketers dream!
But fate would not be on their side, and despite the car playing a key role in the movie and Tyco representatives being on set to ensure everything went to plan during filming, the movie went into production hell and would be delayed by 2 years. By the time Home Alone 3 was out in theatres in 1998, the 1996 Tyco Mutator was yesterday’s news, Tyco had been bought out by Mattel, and the marketing team who should have been around to celebrate the win were long gone. What a shame!
Thank you to martonmiklosqdev for corrections to data (Mutator is 4WD) and letting us know about the Mutator’s starring role in the Home Alone 3 movie. Here’s some screenshots from that movie, via ProductPlacementBlog.com
While you can pick up a used one very cheap, a good quality nearly new example in box (MIB / NIB) can be expensive. So should you buy a Tyco Mutator?
Like all vintage toy collecting, the value is in the nostalgia and that warm fuzzy feeling when you enter a room filled with all the toys you could never have as a child, or maybe those you had but wish to relive and share with your own children today.
If this is you, then of course you should buy one now – you won’t regret it. I personally own a Mint in Box Mutator from Japan, and boy, it’s a beauty! Alongside the 1996 Tyco Rebound released in the same year, it’s one of my favorite from the late 90s era.
Will it increase in value over time? Will it become a late 90s equivalent of the Tyco Twin Turbo Lamborghini Countach? Tough to say. In my opinion it has all the ingredients… it’s unique, it sold well, it has incredible packaging, and it’s very hard to find one in good condition. So maybe. But ultimately, nobody knows.
There will almost certainly be some listed in our eBay Deal Finder on this page, but the majority are typically well used and without a box. Try to buy the best one that you can, and if none seem to be available, ask around on the Taiyo R/C Club Facebook page, or our forum.