Scalextric

Scalextric

Scalextric is a major international brand of slot car racing that first appeared in the late 1950s and is currently owned by Hornby.

Products

The majority of Scalextric Products are , though between 1968 and 1970 Super124 cars and track were manufactured at 1:24 scale. In the late Nineties, Micro Scalextric at was introduced. Cars and track are not compatible between scales; however 1950s models should run on modern Scalextric track and vice versa.

At the beginning of the 21st century Scalextric did a major redesign to make the track easier to assemble. The new design is known as Scalextric Sport. Scalextric Sport track can be connected to the classic design of track using special adaptor pieces.

Other manufacturers (such as Fly, MRRC, SCX and Ninco) produce cars that can run on Scalextric track without modification.

Also introduced in 2004 is Scalextric Sport Digital, in which up to 6 digital cars can be raced in a single slot. The cars can change from one slot to another using special slot-lane change tracks, the lane change or otherwise being controlled by a button on the throttle. Sport Digital cars should run on non-digital track unmodified, but standard analogue cars require a new circuit (digital chip) to be added to them before they can run on the digital system.

As usage of Scalextric Digital has increased, a community has established itself at Slot Forum where users have developed enhanced powerbase functionality, fuel management and timing systems to increase the realism of the hobby.

History

Scalextric came from the Scalex brand of Minimodels Ltd, which was a clockwork powered race car system that first appeared in 1952. Their inventor, Mr B. Francis, showed Scalextric ("Scalex" plus "electric") cars at the annual Harrogate Toy Fair in 1957. In 1958, unable to meet demand for their popular range, the parent company was sold to Lines Bros Ltd, who operated as "Tri-ang". Their subsidiary Rovex, which specialised in plastic, then developed Scalextric, converting the metal cars to the easier and cheaper to mould plastic. The track, which was originally a rubber compound, became moulded plastic at a later date. Production continued at Mini-models in Havant until 1967, when it moved to Rovex's own site.

When Lines Bros collapsed, their subsidiary Rovex-Triang, which handled Scalextric and the Hornby railway brand, was sold off, eventually becoming Hornby Railways. Although Scalextric remained based in the UK, most of the products are made in China.

Results were hit in 2007 by the closure of the Scalextric Race World retail store in Tacoma, however Scalextric-USA created a store front in Auburn, Washington showcasing Scalextric slot cars, tracks and accessories.

Scalextric in Australia

During the 1960's demand for Scalextric Sets peaked and the UK market could not keep with demand in Australia. It was decided that an Australian Company manufacture the sets under a sub-licence. This resulted in the cars being marked "Made in Australia". The British Parent company was extremely particular with the quality and colour of the models this factory produced. The Australian Company did not endear itself to the Parent company when it was discovered that their were some notable colour variations in the vehicles produced. Most notable were a Black Mini Cooper and an Apple Green Lotus, the Lotus was said to be British Racing Green. Popular opinion at the time of production was that the model was produced by factory floor workers, in that colour to "spite" the British Parent Company. This has resulted in Australian produced Scalextric Vehicles being very popular with collectors. The small Australian market and the short production run of these models makes them extremely rare and hard to locate.

Sets

Scalextric is typically sold as a set containing enough track to make a circuit, the necessary power supply and throttles and two cars. The cars are usually based on real vehicles from F1, A1, Nascar, rallying, touring, Le Mans or ordinary road going cars. A number of novelty sets have been produced; for example, horse racing sets and 360 degree sets. The latter, produced sporadically since the 1960s, have a specially-made guide that enables the car to run back the way it has come by spinning through 180 degrees.

Licensing

Scalextric have offered a number of TV and film tie-ins, including Batman Begins, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Simpsons and the 2007 Live-action Transformers movie. They also produced sets for The Amazing Spider-Man (the 1970s series), Tim Burton's Batman, James Bond 007 1960's, Knight Rider, Starsky and Hutch, The Italian Job (2003) and Top Gear.

On Monday 22nd November 2004 thieves stole 2,500 Simpsons Scalextric sets from the back of a lorry which was parked near services on the M2 motorway in England.

Vehicles

In addition to all types of car, Scalextric vehicles have included motorbikes, sidecars, go-karts, pickup trucks, racing trucks, articulated trucks, horses and skateboards.

Track

Standard track consists of straights of various lengths and corners of different radii and degree of turn. Special track includes several different styles of chicane, cross-over tracks, crossroad track and humpback bridge. Novelty pieces of track have included pitlane tracks, Le Mans start, blow-out track and loop-the-loop tracks.

There are four generations of Scalextric track:

  1. Original Scalextric Track (Mk. 1): This was made from rubber.
  2. Original Scalextric Track (Mk. 2): The material became plastic. It is now known as Classic track. Classic track is distinguished from the other track by its ring shaped connector pieces. The Classic track is compatible with other leading brand, SCX's classic track.
  3. Scalextric Sport: Released in 2001, another plastic track, but with a smoother surface. The track connectors are square and slot into place unlike the spoon shaped Classic track ones.
  4. Scalextric Digital: Released in 2004, scalextric Digital is compatible with SPORT, but a converter is needed. It allows up to 6 cars on a 2 lane track at one time, with each car fully controllable. This was a feature previously unavailable from Scalextric.

Books

There is a comprehensive guide to Scalextric models by Roger Gilham. The current (sixth) edition was published in 2006.

Early Scalextric cars as they appeared

  • 1st edition catalogue 1960 - C54 Lotus, C55 Vanwall, C56 Lister Jaguar, C57 Aston Martin
  • 2nd edition catalogue 1961 - C58 Cooper, C59 BRM, C60 Jaguar D-type, C61 Porsche Spyder
  • 3rd edition catalogue 1962 - C62 Ferrari, C63 Lotus, C64 Bentley, C65 Alfa Romeo, E1 Lister Jaguar with lights, E2 Aston Martin DBR with lights
  • 4th edition catalogue 1963 - C66 Cooper, C67 Lotus, C68 Aston Martin, C69 Ferrari GT, C70 Bugatti, C71 Auto Union, E3 Aston Martin with lights, E4 Ferrari GT with lights
  • 5th edition catalogue 1964 - C72 BRM, C73 Porsche, C74 Austin-Healey 3000, C75 Mercedes 190SL, E5 Marshal's car with lights
  • 6th edition catalogue 1965 - C76 Mini Cooper,
  • 7th edition catalogue 1966 - C77 Ford GT40, C78 AC Cobra, C79 Offenhauser front engine, C80 Offenhauser rear engine, C81 Cooper, C82 Lotus, C83 Sunbeam Tiger C84 Triumph TR4A, C85 BRM, C86 Porsche, C87 Vanwall, C88 Cooper, C89 BRM, 90 Ferrari, C91 D-Type Jaguar, C92 Porsche
  • 8th edition catalogue 1967 - C75 Mercedes 190SL Sports (James Bond), C97 Aston Martin (James Bond)
  • 9th edition catalogue 1968 - C1 Alpine Renault, C2 Matra Jet, C3 Javelin Special, C4 Electra Special, C5 Europa Vee, C6 Panther, C7 Rally Mini Cooper, C32 Mercedes 250SL, C99 Fiat 600
  • 10th edition catalogue 1969 - C8 Lotus Indianapolis, C9 Ferrari, C14 Mantra GP, C15 Ford Mirage, C16 Ferrari P4, C17 Lamborghini Miura, C18 Ford 3l GT, C19 Scalextric Team Car, C36 Honda GP
  • 11th edition catalogue 1970 - C20 Dart GP, C21 Cougar Sports
  • 12th edition catalogue 1971 - C22 Porsche 917GT, C23 Scaletti-Arrow, C24 Team Car MkII, C34 Jaguar E-type, C37 BRM
  • 13th edition catalogue 1972 - C26 March Ford 721, C41 Ferrari GT330, C43 McLaren M9A, C44 Mercedes Wankel C111
  • 14th edition catalogue 1973 - C25 Ferrari 312B2, C28 Renault Alpine, C37 BRM, C46 Porsche 917K, C47 Tyrrell Ford, C50 JPS Lotus 72

In popular culture

References

External links

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