In time for Christmas comes the excellent news that Minimodels Ltd. have introduced their “Scalextric” rail-racing kit. They will be remembered for their Scalex model racing cars, and it was to provide a sensible use of their electric-powered models that “Scalextric” came into being. It consists of pliable track sections with rails to take two cars. From the kits it is possible to build circuits with bends and corners of various kinds, on which to race cars which have a contact wheel at the front and which are driven by a 12-volt electric motor in the tail, driving a geared-down back axle. The front axle does not steer but the action of the cars on corners is in no way impaired.
Power is provided from three Ever-Ready No. 126 batteries in a neat battery box disguised as a track-side building, and control is through a two-button control unit.
At present two cars are provided, a sufficiently-realistic G.P. Ferrari and Maserati. These have sufficient power to spin their wheels out of the corners and will reach a scale speed of 130 m.p.h.
The “Scalextric” track is very easy to assemble and it is not necessary to have a circuit to make electrical contact; this enables speed-trial courses with a wide variety of bends to be laid down. Make no mistake, you really can race these Minimodels on the “Scalextric” track. Skill is required to get the cars round the corners without spinning off and, with experience, it is possible to drift your Ferrari or Maserati round and send it snaking into the straights in a power slide. The Editor and the Continental Correspondent spent a lot of time improving their technique and, as soon as they became reasonably proficient on one circuit or course, building a new one with different corners. The realism and nicety of control that could he exerted earned warm praise from both these hardened observers of the real thing. At present the two cars run rather close together and can easily collide on corners, and the cardboard guard-fence is not strong enough to restrain them from leaving the track on the outside when they are cornering really fast. Solo runs thus provide more scope for the Fangios of the game and, depending on the skill of the “driver,” the cars will lap fast in a continual power slide, slide off, or spin viciously round in their own length.
The whole thing is immense fun, and we shall be surprised if clubs and individuals do not install elaborate layouts. The price of “Scalextric” is decidedly modest. The 01 set, comprising a 3 ft. 7 in. by 2 ft. 5 in. circuit of the Plexytrack, costs £4 15s., while the most expensive kit, set 3, with 12 inner curves, 90-deg. crossover, full straight and connector straight, size 6 ft. 4 in. by 2 ft. 5 in., is priced at £6 15s. 6d. Every kit includes battery container and accessories, leads, fencing, lubricating oil, control unit and two racing cars. Separately, track sections cost from 4s. 11d. to 9s. 11d., the cross-over 19s. 11d., the control unit 6s. 11d., the battery box 6s. 11d. and the powerful racing cars 17s. 6d. each.
It is possible to build ordinary roads as well as race circuits with “Scalextric” kits and a spares and replacement service is in operation, also a guarantee. A “Scalextric” Owners’ Club is being formed to organise National competitions at exhibition centres, and members will receive a copy of the “Scalextric” quarterly bulletin. We believe a competition using this track will be a feature of the S.T.D. Sunbeam Register Social in London on January 11th.
The first impression of this new and inexpensive rail racing is that so powerful are the cars (they no doubt lend themselves to “tuning,” too!) and so slippery the course, that oil-warning flags and many marshals will be required at all the corners — marshals with strong nerves, because when a car upsets a legless driver is ejected front the cockpit! On greater acquaintance, one finds it possible to emulate Fangio or Archie Scott-Brown at home and to stage very exciting races or sprint contests. The thing is less complicated than a model railway and likely to become a vogue in motor-racing circles. You can obtain a set from any good sports or toy-shop. In case of difficulty, write direct to Minimodels Ltd., New Lane, Havant, Hampshire, mentioning Motor Sport. Excuse us while we try the effect of insulation-tape treads on the back tyres of the Ferrari and a new weight distribution on the Maserati . . .
Also in time for Christmas come more of the excellent Merit kits for the assembly of large-scale plastics racing and sports cars. We have previously described and illustrated the Merit D-type Jaguar. New kits, as detailed and realistic as this, are now available for making a DB3S sports/racing Aston Martin, the fabulous 1955 G.P. Mercedes-Benz and a 1956 Vanwall. The hulls of the cars are beautifully moulded and in correct colour, so that painting is unnecesary. The models are fully detailed and the kits complete even to cement and transfers. These kits make the perfect present for young (and not so young) motor-racing enthusiasts, and they have the merit of being light and compact to post. We have assembled several of them and find they go together very easily and that the instructions are detailed and easy to follow — we have had less happy experience with certain expensive metal construction kits.
Incidentally, Merit historic aeroplane kits make equally effective and detailed models. Merit kits are obtainable from good toy and model shops but in case of difficulty write to J. & L. Randall Ltd., Merit House, Cranborne Road, Potters Bar, Middlesex, quoting Motor Sport — W.B.