Thursday, July 2, 2009
SCALEXTRIC - FROM TIN TOYS TO SUPERB SCALE MODELS
The roots of Scalextric go back to 1952, when Scalex clockwork racing cars were introduced, but the brand really took off a few years later, when electric versions were displayed at the UK Harrogate Toy Fair, in 1957. The name changed too, morphing to combine ‘Scalex’ with ‘electric’, and a year later was sold to Tri-ang, which developed the system under the wing of its subsidiary company, Rovex. Today, Hornby owns the brand, and the main manufacturing base is in China.
Comparing vintage Scalextric racers with state-of-the-art ones is like comparing chalk and cheese. Early cars were fine as slot car racers, but were still toys - made with little regard to the finest outline accuracy or detail. Today, the average Scalextric production is a superb mini-model in its own right, with decals and printing that rival anything you could achieve by hand. Inside, driver figures manage to look fairly human, and details such as seat belts are there for inspection.
There’s a choice for collectors and race car fans - buy and slot-race as is; leave in virgin condition as a collector’s item; or get the airbrush out and add some subtle weathering. Or of course, buy three at a time!
Unsurprisingly, Ferrari has always been a popular selection, and the beautifully detailed Ferrari F430 (top two pictures) is presently available at discount from UK online supplier The Modeller. If you like the classic look, eBay has a Ferrari F375 tinplate edition presently on offer. And in September, Scalextrix will release what should be a winner, the Lotus Type 49T, as driven by British driver Graham Hill (bottom).
Visit The Modeller here, eBay here, and Scalextric here.