Can you remember the moment you got your first RC car? I can remember, as a ten year old boy, walking into my first real hobby store. The first room my Mom and I entered was packed full of plastic models. Every bit of wall and shelf space was occupied by a unique model ranging from sports cars to fighter jets. I stood in amazement, taking in the entire scene. I was mesmerized.
My eyes paused on a large box above the doorway. This box was different from the others and was home to a realistic blue and white truck. It was the Tamiya Bruiser, an RC truck. As the excitement grew within me, I spotted a large metal RC buggy on display in the next room. I couldn’t contain myself. While running to the display case, the excitement bubbled out of me. Smiling ear to ear, I begged my mom to buy me one of those awesome RC masterpieces. Even though I expected to get the all too familiar “no,” I asked anyway. To my surprise, she just looked around the room, as if she didn’t notice the gibberish pouring out of my blabbering mouth. Asking multiple times, I made every possible promise known to a ten year old boy.
During mid sentence, I saw it, a brand new model. The beautiful red, yellow, and black color scheme of this pickup truck sucked me into a trance. It was as if everything in the store suddenly went dark, with a single spot light shining on that one vehicle. Tunnel vision had set in and I was hooked. Written across the box was its name, Blackfoot. The Ford F150 Ranger 1/10th scale RC off road pickup truck by Tamiya.
I had to have this truck! Encouraged by my Mom’s reluctance to say no, I upped my game to the highest possible level and flat out begged. As she began asking the clerk questions, my hopes grew, and finally she said those words I thought I’d never hear, “We’ll take it!” Yes, it’s really happening! I’ll never misbehave again! I’m the happiest kid on the planet!
That night, and following day, were spent in my basement carefully reading the assembly instructions. I performed each step exactly as stated, one step at a time. I don’t remember if I stopped to eat, I just know I was content building my new truck. I remember those hours of assembly as one of the, if not THE, happiest moment of my childhood. Not only did I have an amazing truck, I was assembling it all by myself. No one to tell me I was doing it wrong, and no one to take over. It was my project and I enjoyed every moment of it.
That summer the Tamiya Blackfoot was all I could think about. I thought I was so cool while running circles around my friend’s Tyco buggy. No one in the neighborhood had ever seen an RC truck as big as my Blackfoot, nor had they seen one that fast. It was great! Many evenings were spent in my basement lining up toy cars and other obstacles like fire wood. While laying on my stomach, I’d drive over the obstacles. I imagined it was a real monster truck, and being on the same level as the truck gave me the perfect perspective needed for added realism.
The years that followed offered much bonding time for my Dad and me. He and I spent many evenings at the local RC track racing my hopped up Blackfoot. I can remember after the first few races deciding we needed to make some upgrades. The dual-stick controller and 6-cell NiCD battery were the first things that needed to be upgraded. We bought a Futaba pistol grip AM transmitter and a seven cell NiCD racing pack. Right about now, the younger readers are probably laughing. “AM radio?” “NiCD racing pack?” That’s right. That was the cool stuff back then. That’s also about the time electronic speed controllers became popular. I remember the first time I saw a Novak ESC. That orange plastic box mesmerized me. Running an ESC meant I would no longer have to replace those broken resisters that plagued mechanical speed controllers alike. Maybe if I could just win some more races, I’d have enough money to buy one. Those were the days, pure excitement and healthy competition.
In recent years I’d wished I could have that childlike excitement for RCs back again. They’ve gotten pretty boring as I deal with them every day for work nowadays and I had probably owned 100+ RCs over the years between RCUniverse reviews, work, and my “addiction”. So like any good Dad, I tried reliving my childhood dreams through my boys. This, not so thought out decision, resulted in me buying them each a Tamiya vehicle. I figured I could watch them assemble it, being ready to help if needed. They both enjoyed it, for the most part, but it wasn’t quite the amazing experience I’d hoped we’d all have. For them, RC vehicles are common place since they’d each already owned several at that time.
I guess the only thing for me left to do was to buy an original Tamiya Blackfoot of my own, although I knew finding one in decent shape would be difficult. To my surprise, there were a few “new in the box” vintage blackfoot trucks. I thought how great it would be to assemble my own Blackfoot, just like when I was a kid. Unfortunately, I couldn’t justify paying several hundred dollars just to relive a childhood memory. After a couple weeks of searching, I saw it. A vintage Blackfoot, with controller and NiCD battery pack. The pictures and description left a little to be desired, but I had a good feeling about this truck and made sure I was the high bidder.
Upon arrival, I carefully inspected the truck. Though the truck was dirty, I was extremely pleased with its condition. It looked as though a kid got it many years ago, played with it a bit, and stuck it in his closet. This truck looks to be 100% original. According to my research, it looks like it even has the original decals on it. They’re a bit scratched, but they’re original. I’m sure you’ve guessed by now, I had to pull the entire truck apart. While doing a complete inspection, I noticed the gears were pristine and everything else looked to be in place. Although I wasn’t as excited as when I was ten years old, it was still an enjoyable time.
I drove my vintage blackfoot around the house a bit, only to find I quickly got bored. It wasn’t quite the excitement I had remembered, so on the shelf it went. I figured it could brighten my day each time I walked by, but it still couldn’t live up to my expectations. Every once in a while I’d walk by the truck and think, “Hmm, pretty cool”. However, after a week or so, it was just another RC on the shelf.
I can sit back now and chuckle as I think about all the time and energy I spent trying to relive a childhood memory, only to find I am much happier today with my wife and two boys. Although the accomplishment of building my very first RC truck was rewarding back then, the satisfaction of having a wife that loves me and two outstanding young men is much more rewarding than any RC can possibly be. I guess instead of trying to relive my childhood memories, I’ll enjoy watching my boys make some of their own. Whether they involve RC, airsoft, football, or just helping others, those stories will be there for them to tell their children one day.
So I’m curious, do any of you have a favorite childhood memory? Does it involve RC vehicles? Have you also incorporated RC into your mid life crisis? Do you still have, or searched for, your very first RC vehicle? If so, How do you feel when you drive it? While the outcome of this journey wasn’t as I expected, at least my mid life crisis didn’t involve a corvette. Score!