CUSTOMAX 4×4 kits were released between 2004-2005 and are some of the last products ever produced by Taiyo. Only 8 vehicle models were ever made.
Some would come pre-assembled, others unassembled, with a chassis, wheels/tires, motor, body, and shocks to install.
Unique for a 1/28 model was the 4xAAA power inc. ‘Turbo‘ feature on the controller.
Various accessory/upgrade packs were also produced.
Both the cars and the accessory packs are rare, typically only available from Japan.
Typically they’d include:
- New Wheels and Tires
- Upgraded Motors
- Rigid Suspension
- Body shell kits
WARNING! Gold Plastic Syndrome
For those of you who regularly collect vintage toys from the 80s and 90s, this term may already be familar, but for others I say… brace yourselves, because what we’re about to witness you may find quite alarming! haha…
So Gold Plastic Syndrome (or GPS) is so named after a specific Transformer toy that is notorious for always shattering and breaking very easily, even when brand new out of the pack. This is not just weak plastic, the plastic has chemically broken down and feels more like unbaked clay. You can quite literally crush one of these toys in your hand, and it will turn into small pebbles and fragments. Quite sad for vintage collectors.
Thankfully it only appears to be affecting toys with ‘golden’ or sparkling plastic, like the blue Subaru. I’d recommend against handling these – leave them in the box!
Click to zoom in
The first release was in 2004, red/yellow and white versions of the 2005 Hummer H2.
Later releases included the Subaru WRX, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo, Toyota LandCruiser 100.
All Customax Models
Taiyo released the following models from 2005, and they continued selling in stores until 2007.
- 2005 Hummer H2 Yellow / Red / White Limited (rel. 2004)
- 2005 Land Cruiser 100 Paris Dakar / Gunmetal (rel. 2004)
- 2005 Subaru Impreza WRC (rel. 2004)
- 2005 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution WRC (rel 2004)
- 2005 Jeep Liberty (rel. 2005)
- 2006 Subaru Impreza WRC (rel. 2005)
- 2006 Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution Paris Dakar Rally (2005)
- 2006 Nissan Pickup Truck Paris Dakar Rally (rel. 2005)
Check each model’s product page for more detail and photos.
Doomed to fail, no matter how good?
At the time of the Customax release in 2004, Taiyo was in the unfortunate position of having just rebranded to ‘New Concept Taiyo’ following the collapse of their traditional market of R/C cars which had its golden years between 1980-1990.
Children and teens were leaving behind hands-on outdoor toys in droves, lured in by the new videogame craze; people were more interested in playing their Nintendo Entertainment System and Sega Genesis.
Towards the late 90s and early 2000s, the videogame market was supercharged with the entry of the Sony PlayStation (1996) and Microsoft XBOX (2001), coupled with the lure of the internet and online gaming meant Taiyo was competing for a smaller and smaller market segment, fewer and fewer customers looking to play with their friends outside, and instead glued to their seats in loungerooms and bedrooms worldwide.
It was into this market that Taiyo released the CUSTOMAX.
The last major trade show
Here is the Taiyo booth at the 2006 Tokyo Toy Show, where ‘New Concept’ Taiyo R/C was showing off their new products, including the CUSTOMAX series.
From a blogger who was there at the time, compared to other manufacturer’s booths, Taiyo’s was very lively, with much applause and excitement. This was a brand that was loved globally, and really only disappeared due to its old age and success.
In the late 90s Taiyo’s founder passed away, and the company that remained was purchased by SEGA of Japan who saw great things ahead.
This is the end
Unfortunately Sega had purchased too many companies during its boom period, and was now struggling financially, especially after the failure of its 3rd generation console, the Sega Saturn.
It was now time for them to cut costs and shed numbers to stave off bankruptcy.
Sadly, Taiyo Toys was one of these, gone, never to be seen again.
If this is a topic you find interesting, be sure to bookmark our site, as in the future we’ll be covering a great deal of Taiyo RC history.
If you’re interested in Taiyo / Tyco history, I’d recommend checking out The Inventors of your Childhood Toys.