Slot car racing started in the early 1900s, and it was not until the 1930s that it became a hobby to most enthusiasts. The slot cars during this time mainly used small engines. It became such a big sport that craftsmen started finding ways of making the slot cars better. Scalextric cars have become a widely known brand of racing toy slot cars that are enjoyed across the world with both children and adults alike. The brand first materialised in the 1950s and was owned by the Minimodels, a British firm that produced them. The Scalextric brand of toy cars was created by Mr. Freddie Francis back in 1952 and the car models were distributed under the Scalex name; until it was designed to use electricity in 1957 that the Scalex name got married with electricity to give the brand its most exciting name, Scalextric.
In the 1960s and 1970s, Scalextric experienced massive sales, and the brand topped most of the Christmas gift lists from parents to their children aged three years and above. This is not to say that sales massively declined for the company in the years to follow. Yes, they did but not bad enough to throw them out of business. They have survived and are arguably more popular than their competitor brands. Additionally, Scalextric has been bought by and owned by different companies since its inception. As mentioned, its rightful birthplace was at Minimodels Limited, before it was sold to Tri-ang when it became popular. In the 1960s, Rovex Limited gave it a home before it was acquired by Hornby Hobbies Limited; the current owners of Scalextric.
His idea to create something that would-be fun has gone ahead to create a rivalry between friends and family members at the same time creating unity and memories as they race. Initially, Francis’s company mainly made tools across the war years. It wasn’t after the war that his line of production changed to the toy cars. The first body model Mr. Freddie Francis designed of the Scalextric car was made of metal, and the tracks were made from rubber. The Ferrari 375 Grand Prix and Maserati 250F were among the initial slot cars that Scalextric manufactured. Scalextric’s Maserati 250F remains one of the most exciting ranges of slot cars to date. Even though this was such an achievement, he didn’t feel accomplished. In one of his visits to a toy fair in London, Freddie Francis watched how battery-powered toy cars were a much better improvement from the engine ones. He felt the Scalextric brand of set toy cars needed speed. Speed which he wouldn’t achieve with having the cars run on the engine or being powered by batteries. This led to his innovation which wasn’t released until 1957 in the Harrogate Toy Fair when he converted the Scalex 1:30 toy racers to electricity.
After the release, sales for the Scalextric hit rooftop, and Francis’ Minimodel company wasn’t able to keep up with production. Francis was forced to sell to Tri-ang who had the resources and manpower to keep up with production thus meeting the supply and demand of the market. the fact that the Scalextric range of toy cars were now using electricity meant they were much faster and had the speed most enthusiast desired. Additionally, it made racing more fun which was a good thing for the adrenaline filled junkies. At Tri-ang, the team realised that metal was a bit heavy in the production of the brand racing toys. As such in the 1960s, having realised the benefits of plastic moulded models, Tri-ang began the production of plastic tracks and toy cars. Plastic being a lighter material meant more speed which was in synch with Francis’ desires for his innovation. Therefore, till date, the Scalextric cars are made from plastic.
With this innovation, Scalextric produced flexible tracks that were quite convenient when it came to storage and home usage. The addition of the flexible tracks making it easy to store and use in the indoors meant that more people flooded the market to purchase them and thus the brand experienced more sales than any other brands at the time. With continuous modification to what had already been produced over the decades, other types of slot racing cars such as the Scalextric Bugatti supercars set and the Scalextric 1:32 scale James Bond set were released. Both which have enjoyed great revenue shares from buyers across the world.
The Scalextric 1:32 scale James Bond set allows fans to recreate the car chase as experienced in the movie James Bond played lead actor in 2015, Spectre. The set comes with a power supply, hand controllers, eight tracks that have their own accessories, both working headlights and rear lights among other things. The Scalextric Bugatti supercars set on the other hand held the record for one of the fastest slot cars to be produced. The details and the work that was put into its creation are in so many ways similar to the real Bugatti cars. Based on the popularity of James Bond as an actor whose main roles in major famous movies was that of adrenaline filled, action packed films that most people fell in love with across the world, you would understand why the Scalextric 1:32 scale James Bond set is quite famous. Same thing as to the Scalextric Bugatti supercars set. By identifying themselves with these two brands, they outdid themselves.
Why it’s popularity?
Scalextric cars popularity is a matter that can’t be debated. Over the decades since its invention in the 1950s, they have gone ahead to enjoy the largest market share. Besides, Scalextric isn’t just a name but a household brand that would never miss in the top five lists of gifts for most occasions. Below are a couple of reason why Scalextric has remained popular over the decades:
At the heart of Scalextric’s uniqueness is speed. That’s why they have some of the best classic racing cars. Whether you desire an antique car or a vintage car and your desire for speed comes with either, Scalextric has got you covered. The more the speed, the better the competition. Most car racers are in it for speed. It is no different reason that the Scalextric 1:32 scale James Bond set is so popular. The fact that they get the much-needed satisfaction from this is an important detail that determines their choice in the products they buy or associate themselves with. It’s for this reason that the Scalextric brand continues to grow in popularity.
Scalextric set of slot cars give you, the racer all the control you need to be fully in charge of your game. Combine control with speed, and you have half if not all of your expectations met. Being king and controlling the car racing game is all the comfort you need when you are playing with family or friends. It’s a no-brainer why you will see people place bets on the racing games as they compete.
All toy cars produced by Scalextric have no much difference from the real life-sized car itself. Whether you want an old vintage car or a modern Bugatti Veyron, be sure to get it at Scalextric. The designers pay so much attention to detail and ensure that both the inside and outside of each car are a true reflection of the real-life ones. From using the same measurements to making mini-logos that are the exact replica nothing is left to chance. To top it all, many Guinness World Records have been made and broken with Scalextric products.
With advancement in technology over the years, different companies offering almost the same products have sprung up. All seem genuine all seem to cater to your need. What most people don’t know is that some companies make and sell their products cheaply, but they don’t last long. As such, you will be forced to spend more money in getting new products. One thing that makes the Scalextric brand stand out is that over the years, they have built so much trust with their customers making it one of the trusted toy slot car brand across the world. Additionally, their products also adapt to the needs and feedback from their customers. This eventually makes the brand better, therefore, creating a niche in the toy production market. Additionally, Scalextric has in many ways embraced technology when it comes to their need to thrive in the production of toy slot cars that are up-to-date and very much versatile.
After enjoying much success in the market, computers became more portable and homes could easily have them, and game consoles became a thing. This was around 1980. This dealt a major blow to the Scalextric products in terms of business development. More children and adults became absorbed in these new changes that the toy racing cars were not any more fun. Of course, not all people were able to afford the computers thus for them; life racing toy cars went on as usual.
Not wanting to be left behind, Scalextric embraced the new world of technology. Scalextric Digital was therefore launched in 2004. In the history of the company, embracing technology became a game changer. With the launch of the Scalextric Digital, the designers got working to try and modify what they already had to suit the market that was being taken over by technology. In 2011, the Scalextric Digital C1296 Pit Stop Challenge 1:32 Scale Race Set was launched.
With the digital era, the brand became more powerful. Competitive gaming was created by ensuring better switching of lanes when playing and overtaking. Additionally, a lane with two tracks became the standard in their productions which meant that there was no longer need for a bigger space to enable two or more people to race their cars. Additionally, moving production to China also meant that with the digital era they were able to meet supply and demand at almost the same cost of investment.
The fact that one catalogue being released could contain one type of slot car changed making it possible for them to have more slot cars in one catalogue. Continuous use of the modern day’s plastics has seen the company massively investing in cars that are built to perfection. Scalextric continues to thrive even in this era where computer gaming has quite the effect on most households. The well-detailed cars are made in such a way that they are immune to damage the furniture around the house when played indoors.
Their modern-day cars are made using computer-aided design technology (CAD) and well-advanced engineering software. All the designs are crafted and edit made at Hornby Hobbies headquarters. Technology has also enabled them to get more and more creative making it possible to manufacture different toy sets.
In some of the latter years, their focus has mainly been on producing sets that are film, and TV related a good example being the Scalextric 1:32 scale James Bond set we talked about earlier on. In addition to that, some of the sets they also created and continue to create are also focus on video games. This goes to show how far they would go to stay relevant in the market for their customers and toy car enthusiasts. Having both the 1:62 and 1:32 scales that are suitable for older children and adults respectively make it the brand to buy.
It is no wonder that some of their customers end up buying their product as carbon copies of the exact models. These purchases are mostly done as a hobby where some of them make collections out of them and not necessarily race them.
All this, Scalextric as a brand wouldn’t have been able to achieve since its inception if it wasn’t for always trying to find creative ways to stay relevant in the market and not close shop because of the computer gaming era and technological advancements.
Over the decades since its launch, Scalextric hasn’t only limited their products to cars but to motorbikes, skateboards, bicycles, racing tracks, SUVs among many others. With all this, you definitely can’t still be wondering why they rule the market and computer gaming has got nothing on them and will probably have nothing on them as they continue to evolve in this digital era.