The Tyco AirBlade (or Air Blade) is a uniquely designed hovercraft style radio controlled vehicle, manufactured by Taiyo (Japan) and released into the US, UK, and other countries worldwide in 2006. It follows a long line of hovercraft models, released by Taiyo and Tyco, dating back to the late 1980s.
Taiyo / Tyco’s long fascination with Hovercraft began in 1989 with the release of the popular Taiyo Typhoon 9.6V and would continue through over 16 different models over the years. See our Buyers Guide to Tyco Hovercraft here: Buyers Guide: Tyco Typhoon | Taiyo Typhoon – Tyco Collectors
The Highest Tech Tyco?
One of the last radio control models Tyco ever released, it featured technology not seen in any other of their models to my knowedge. This included a full 12 Volt battery (!!), as well as ditching the analogue radio controller for a proper 2.4Ghz version. Nice!
Design and Performance
I must admit I have never tried an AirBlade (still trying to get one shipped here at a reasonable price!) and so my opinions are only based on what I’ve seen, read, and heard.
Do you own an AirBlade? Please comment below and give us your thoughts!
So the most obvious difference with the AirBlade and previous Tyco / Taiyo Hovercraft is that it seems to be missing all the usual hovercraft components. There is no air cushion / skirt, instead it has been replaced by 3 Mini Air Cushions which I’ll call…. Wheel Fans! These are round, pillow-like rubber cushions which spin, with small holes in the bottom, typical of other Tyco Hovercraft. They’re almost like sets of propellors on the bottom of the craft, holding it up and providing momentum.
There’s also no propulsion fans sitting on the top like in previous models, instead all the forward and rotational momentum is provided by those ‘wheel fans’, potentially similar to how a tank works – if both spin in a certain direction it will move forward, and if one reduces speed it will begin to twist in that direction.The front one seems to be primarily keeping the nose up.
Based on the videos I’ve seen (some below) it appears to generate lift by the spinning of these ‘wheel fans’, while also using their spinning (or lack thereof) to control which direction the craft moves. The two rear wheel fans also curve inward when moving, as if to direct the edge of their ‘wheel’ onto the ground, initially making me suspicious that these were being used for traction, like driving on the edge of tires.
So is it really a hovercraft, and is it skating on a thin cushion of air? I suspect it is, and Tyco have simply found a way to focus a point of air onto a very specific point using this ‘wheel fan’ design… however I wouldn’t mind seeing more evidence. Take a look and see for yourself!
Compared to a Taiyo Typhoon hovercraft which is clearly ‘floating’ around and as unstable as a bar of soap scooting across an ice skating rink, the AirBlade instead looks like it has some fairly firm contact with the ground. Or is it just me?
Like all good Tyco products, the AirBlade came with a marketing campaign with plenty of gloriously slow-motion action and effects. Why don’t we get ads like this anymore?
Availability and Collectability
One of the most recent models I’ve reviewed here at TycoCollectors, the AirBlade is still widely available across eBay Global, both in new-in-box, and as much cheaper unboxed models.
As for whether it’s collectable or not – it all depends on how well the AirBlade was received, and how popular it is/was. Personally I find it to be a highly unique and interesting model, and I’ll be grabbing one as soon as I’m able to find someone willing to ship an as-new downunder without charging me twice the cost of the model just for the postage!