The Baja Dune Crawler was released as a variation in the Tonka Clutch Popper series in 1983. A very cool looking little buggy, following the same design principle of pressed steel body, high density plastic wheelbase with the same robust and high powered little steel-framed flywheel motor as the other models but with a slightly different gearing. The buggy came in three different colors (yellow, white and green), exactly the same body on each unlike the Chevy models. The difference, or feature of this model is that it runs automatically at a low gear for slope climb ability, something the fast speed models cannot really do. Pushing the button causes it to shift it the high/fast speed gear. An unusual (for this series) feature of these is that they can also run in reverse, i.e. you can charge the flywheel up in a reverse direction.
A handy feature with these is the ability to easily drop the motor out the bottom with the release of the bottom panel and screw. This makes it very easy to clean/lube the motor if needed. Another good feature of this model is that they added brass sleeves to the exterior part of the axle between the wheel and base, which essentially absorb/stop any sudden horizontal movement of wheels being translated into the motor gears. These sleeves are not on the double clutch buggy or any of the subsequent models, meaning they must have been thought too much of an added cost, though in reality were exactly the right solution to address that movement.
One of the challenges with these things is pushing the button while it is moving (as it is always moving from the moment the the flywheel is charged up and it’s on the ground), this was sorted out with the 2-button model that came out the following year and essentially replaced this model. In any case, this buggy has some seriously cool design going on and is a fun toy buggy for kids of any age. Probably in the whole clutch popper series, as far as design goes, the Chevy’s get first place, these get a pretty easy second.
|Name||Baja Dune Crawler|
|Body Type||Dune Buggy|
|Colour||Yellow (#6), White (#43), Green (#2)|
|Motor||Rear wheel, flywheel single clutch|
|Special features||Initial auto-low gear, Easy motor removal, Slope climb ability, can run in reverse|