Excellent Toys. Most people had, or knew some that had a Tamiya Grasshopper.
I had a Tamiya Hotshot, my brother had the Vanessas Lunchbox, and I think the Optima Mid. Brilliant. I think they were all 1/10th scale.
Used to go to some control car club as a kids and race them. We must have been about 10 years old, and there was a strange dude always there that took it really seriously. Honestly this dude must have been about 40 years old. Very odd.
The annoying part was building them, as they took quite a while, but was worth it in the end, as you could then modify them, and fix them when they went wrong, which they continually did! You could upgrade everything, batteries, engines suspension etc.
In the race, I would always tune mine to be the absolute quickest, streaking ahead of everybody, to then stop dead as I ran out of batteries after 37 seconds. Never could get it quite right!
The crÃ¨me de la crÃ¨me of the control car world in the 80s was the Midnight Pumpkin. Some obscene Monster Truck with 2 engines. Everyone knew someones friends brothers mates dads uncles sons cousin who had one, but mysteriously no one ever saw one in real life. Probably didnt even exist.
My brother has not changed, and still builds and modifies cars to race, however they are now real. In fact, you can be the proud owner of a freshly built Porsche Race Car.
Check it out here