Knight Rider: Radio Control Car
Like a lot of boys, I grew up fascinated by cars. But for me, I was mostly just obsessed with the ones from movies and TV shows. I was a huge fan of Herbie the 'Love Bug', the Batmobile, countless James Bond cars, the DeLorean from Back to the Future, and of course, KITT from Knight Rider.
They were such a huge part of my childhood that I even named two of my many fish 'Herbie' and 'KITT' in honour of their TV counterparts [I named the majority of the rest after the bridge crew from Star Trek: The Next Generation]. Herbie, a goldfish, was the first one I got. KITT was indeed a black fish, though I could not tell you what breed he was. Herbie, however, turned out to be anything but loveable. As a child I learned a tough lesson with regards to how territorial goldfish can be when Herbie ended up murdering all of my other fish - KITT included! I cried a lot.
Somewhere around that time I was given an old second-hand radio controlled car in the form of KITT. To this day, I still remember the mixed feelings of disappointment with the lack of accuracy to the real thing coupled with the excitement that I had a functioning model of KITT that I could drive EVERYWHERE!
The box it came in was brilliant, and I always kept it in there to keep it safe whilst not in use. The photos were really cool and there was even a brilliant picture of the Hoff with KITT in the background looking like some sort of funky 80s take on a virtual reality simulation.
I find it funny to think that back then I really did have problems with how this thing looked though. Firstly, you could see the circuitry through the semi-smoked plastic windows, but at the same time I was still in awe of how electronic components looked. The side of KITT had stickers along the doors saying "KNIGHT 2000" and there was a sticker above the front of the windscreen which said "Knight Rider". If I recall correctly, I think there was also another one just to the left of the front bumper too. The real KITT did not have stickers. He was far too cool for that.
The wheels also looked like regular wheels, instead of featuring the awesome black bowling ball hubcaps that KITT had. But oh well, never mind. Even to this day I still find those things awesome.
Functionally though, it was great. The faster the car went, the brighter the light at the front illuminated. It didn't swoosh back and forth, but this was sometime around the late 80s and early 90s and I was aware that it was a toy and not something capable of scanning people through buildings. So I let it off for that, just as I did with its inability to engage me in conversation. The antenna that came out the back would flop around in the most ridiculous of manners, and had a really bizarre red circle at the top the size of a small coin. And if you touched the antenna with the telescopic aerial from the remote, the car would jolt forward. So awesome.
I do recall the remote being really cool to look at too. It was jet black, just like the car itself. It had red sticks for accelerating and turning, and I think it was probably the first remote control I ever owned. I unashamedly lost count of the amount of times I recreated the scene from Back to the Future when Doc Brown drives the DeLorean towards him and Marty on the Twin Pines Mall car park. There was a fake red light that would turn on when you slid the power switch to 'on'. and by fake red light, I mean that it was just a red coloured piece of plastic that would slide into place. But still, good on them for not wasting battery power from my 9v square battery!
I drove that thing all over the place. Even for all its flaws, I absolutely loved that thing.
At the end of each school year, our primary school teachers would allow us all to bring in a toy on our last day. One year I recall bringing KITT to school to play with. A couple of other guys brought their new fancy remote controlled 4-wheeler monster-truck-esque vehicles like the kind I'd seen on the Toys 'R' Us TV adverts. One of them challenged me to a race. I pondered whether or not to accept their challenge.
Their big-ass trucks against my aging KITT? Are you kidding me? Of course I accepted. I mean, this was KITT after all. How could anyone beat KITT? KITT's the fastest car in the world, and that's even before he engages 'Super-Pursuit mode' (even though my car wasn't capable of that).
Oh boy did I lose hard. I don't think it was even a third of the speed of their cars. It really was pathetic. Everyone laughed. Kids are mean.
It wouldn't be the final disappointing blow I'd have with that car though. Just as my fish Herbie had taught me a lesson about homicidal psychopaths, KITT would later teach me an important lesson about why you shouldn't leave batteries inside something that's not in use for long periods of time. The batteries had begun to swell and they leaked everywhere. I tried scraping away all the dried battery acid and attempted to revive him using new batteries, but his wheels would not turn and his scanner bar would not light up. Yet another KITT had died.
Even for all its flaws, its shitty top-speed and complete inability to win a simple race, I really honestly did love that thing.