Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Maxed Out

When radio controlled cars first came out, I really wanted one, but with their price, it was unlikely I was going to see one for my birthday or  underneath the tree that Christmas.  Then while dreaming over the J. C. Penney's catalog in the months leading up to Christmas of 1977,  I saw it.  Max Machine.  With a price of $11.44, it was possible I might get it.  At least it was worth circling.  

I was, however, a little confused why it was so much cheaper than other remote controlled cars.  But the commercials and the catalog showed what was clearly a remote control sending signals to the Max Machine causing it to turn left and right, so who was I to question.

When Christmas Eve arrived, I did indeed find it under the tree.  This is the actual Max Machine I received 'lo those many years ago.

Dig that sweet back door mural.

I couldn't wait to try it out and when I did, I found out why it was so much cheaper.  It wasn't radio-controlled at all.  It was controlled by this Telesonic tm transmitter they kept talking about.  The Telesonic transmitter (okay, I'm dropping the tm) was a loud (extremely) mechanical clicker. 

 Listen here, but I advise you to not be wearing headphones. The design was obviously meant to replicate a CB radio; Command Base, that is.  

It was a little annoying (especially to my family and particularly when I discovered I could make it respond simply by screaming) and wasn't 100% accurate, but still cool and kept me entertained.  One time I decided it would be funny to click the controller in my brother's ear.  He didn't find it as funny.

A few years ago, I came across another Max Machine at a garage sale.  Mine had a broken wheel by then, so I scavenged some parts from it and kept the body and Telesonic controller.

Interestingly, they had downsized the controller and replaced the extremely loud annoying clicker with a slightly quieter clicker.  This one sounds more like one of those little cricket clickers the airborne troops used in WWII during the D-Day Invasion.  I wonder if they clicked them in any German's ears.

Listen here. Again, take off the headphones.  I don't want anyone chasing me like my brother did that night.

Note the warning.  Too late for my brother.

Which brings me to a few weeks ago when I found myself rummaging through the basement of an estate sale and came across this box.

Alas, there was no Max Machine or controller inside.  But on the up side, the estate sale company let me have it for free.

From the front:

Schaper A U-Drive It Toy®
Max Machine

An action toy.  A van you drive by Telesonic tm remote control.  You steer it.  Left. Right. Straight ahead.  You need only 2 'C' cell batteries.  Max is a mean machine.  But when you drive, it's a pussycat.

Check out the "helmet hair" on those kids.

From the back:

How to Operate Max Machine tm
The Aim of the Toy
Fun!  Tell Max where to go.  And when.  You have the power.  Because you're at the controls.  So before you even begin, you win!

Getting Ready
You don't need a lot of room, because Max Machine has a turning circle of less than 1 foot.  But you do need a smooth floor (Translation, don't try running it on the shag carpet.).  The on-off switch is at the back of the van, on the bottom.  Turn it to 'off'.  Put 2 'C' batteries in the compartments as the drawing shows.  Make sure the batteries point in the right direction.

The van does not use radio or C. B. signals (Should have been my tipoff), so it won't be affected by them, and it won't cause any TV interference.

The Way to Play
Steer the van by pushing the button on the Telesonic tm transmitter.  This makes a sound (that's putting it lightly.) that signals the van to turn or to straighten out.  The best way to steer is to hold the transmitter straight up and point it directly at the van (and not your brother's ear.).  This gives the longest range.

If the van slows down or doesn't turn, the batteries are weak.  Replace them.  If the van doesn't move at all, the batteries may be dead or misplaced.  Check them.  (If the van is on fire, run screaming.)

If the van hits something, don't worry, it won't be damaged.  However, move the van right away, so the batteries don't run down.  Also, the batteries may run down quicker if Max is driven on a carpet.  And Max may not move on a thick shag carpet (What did I tell you?).  Max is durable; however, treat it with care and don't knock it around or drop it (Translation, Max is NOT durable.).

Inside the box were the original instructions as well.  I'm not sure how the box and instructions survived, but not the Max Machine. 

At any rate, the box has found a home as has my Max Machine.


  1. huh. i have no memory of this toy, but it's so dang 70s, it's cool.

    1. Apparently, not many people do remember it. Very little information on the internet about it and I couldn't even find a commercial for it on Youtube!

  2. That's cool that you found an original box and directions!

    1. Yes, and odd. It was just sitting on a shelf with nothing in it (besides the instructions). I thought maybe someone had bought the Max Machine without the box, but the estate sale agent said it hadn't been with it.


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