The Race is On for Youngsters, Households, and Hobbyists • The Toy E book

Don’t name it a comeback, they’ve been right here for years.

Slot automobiles raced onto the scene in 1912 when the Lionel Practice Co. first launched the concept of a four-wheeled automobile using a center-aligned rail set between the toy practice tracks the corporate was identified for. Whereas the idea wasn’t a direct hit and Lionel shifted its focus again to trains a couple of years later, a long time of evolution dropped the inexperienced flag for a slot racing increase.

The speed-obsessed period of the Sixties and ‘70s noticed manufacturers like Scalextric, Aurora AFX, and Carrera jockeying for retail positions in toy departments and passion retailers. As with many traditional toys, the recognition of slot automotive racing hit a decline, however TYCO stepped in with new improvements to hold the idea into the ‘80s. The corporate issued elaborate units that featured tracks that ran up partitions, had glow-in-the-dark options, or tapped into mainstream developments and popular culture licenses. When Hollywood turned its consideration to the world of huge rigs via movies and TV sequence like Convoy and B.J. and the Bear, TYCO launched U.S.-1 Electric Trucking.

Whereas the mainstream hype quickly pale, slot automobiles saved on going, fueled by a rising variety of grownup lovers — kidults earlier than “kidults” had been a factor. And, just like the wheels of every electric- or battery-powered automotive, the trade saved on turning with cyclical developments. By the late ‘90s, a five-year cycle started, wherein headlines hyping a slot racing “comeback” or “resurgence” began popping up regularly and haven’t stopped since. However one thing surprising was about to hit the nitrous button for the whole slot automotive trade: a world pandemic.


“I believe the pandemic has helped the ‘stay-at-home’ sort of passion,” explains Dave Kennedy, Writer of Slot Car News. “I had spoken with a variety of slot automotive sellers who stated they’d ‘Christmas ranges’ of gross sales quantity in the course of the pandemic. I believe sufficient of that momentum has carried over — thus far — that the passion has seen extra progress since then.

Simon Owen, Head of Model for Scalextric at Hornby Hobbies, agrees that international chaos sparked a necessity for high-speed comforts. For some customers, it was a nostalgia play, however for others, they had been getting in on the motion for the very first time.

“Within the UK, Scalextric has super energy as a model identify, and we noticed many customers coming again to the model to reconnect with their very own kids in a time the place they all of the sudden discovered themselves spending extra time with them,” Owen says. “Since then, the sheer breadth of automotive choices and the accessibility of the passion has, in my thoughts, allowed the exercise to flourish.”

In relation to accessibility within the U.S., Carrera is main the cost in providing inexpensive, entry-level units for a younger era of racers. Frank Tiessen, President and CEO of Carrera Revell of Americas, says that the 60-year-old firm has discovered success balancing its assortment for teenagers and adults.

An assortment of latest merchandise from Carrera, Auto World, and Scalextric.

“The previous two years have been completely excellent for the Carrera model,” Tiessen says. “Our licensed Carrera First units actually launched preschoolers to fit automotive racing and it appears as if plenty of them are staying with it. After all, we’ve our core of hobby-grade followers, and even there we’ve seen a really good and regular enhance over the previous few years.”

Carrera First consists of units impressed by manufacturers akin to Peppa Pig, PAW Patrol, Disney and Pixar’s Vehicles, and Nintendo’s Mario Kart. Carrera Go!!! gives options for teenagers ages 6 and up, and the model has extensions that attraction to tweens, teenagers, and adults.

Equally, Scalextric’s newest licensed choices faucet into iconic franchises akin to Again to the Future, The Blues Brothers, Knight Rider, Batman, and extra. Round2’s Auto World model, based by late trade legend Oscar Koveleski, even struck a take care of Mattel to supply a variety of slot automobiles and observe units beneath the Scorching Wheels model for fast shopper recognition.

Families are racing again with new slot car sets for kids of all ages and retailers have a shot at cashing in.
The Scalextric Again to the Future vs. Knight Rider set | Supply: Hornby Hobbies


Kennedy, a former gross sales government for each Scalextric and Carrera, has intensive connections within the slot automotive trade together with producers, distributors, and an enormous community of mass, specialty, and passion retailers. He says that retailers seeking to broaden into the slot racing class can place the observe units like a gaming system. They’ll promote a conventional analog or a contemporary digital (with velocity controls and extra choices) set and take a look at extra automobiles or equipment as add-ons to maintain prospects coming again.

“Consider these as investments like an Xbox or PlayStation,” he says. “The price of a fundamental system is $500 and the person video games value $45-50. Shoppers perceive this pricing now, they usually usually settle for shopping for a brand new gaming system each few years and video games so as to add to it at about the identical value as including 1:32-scale slot automobiles to a observe set.”

One factor that everybody agrees on is that licensing would be the key driver in attracting and retaining slot automotive lovers within the years to return. Whether or not it’s a scorching new property or an evergreen model with nostalgic roots, the mix of leisure and prime automakers nonetheless takes the checkered flag in terms of racking up gross sales on the money register. As for the long run, Tiessen says it’s all about balancing the enterprise as he teases extra pleasure on the horizon.

“On the toy facet of the enterprise, we’ll proceed introducing new licenses like we did this 12 months with Peppa Pig,” he says. “On the passion facet, it means releasing new genuine replicas from all of the well-known automotive producers. There might be extra to return, and we expect that by Toy Honest in New York this fall, we will make an enormous announcement.”

Race on!

A model of this text was initially revealed within the 2023 Classics & Specialty Subject of The Toy E bookClick here to learn the total problem! Wish to obtain The Toy E book in print? Click here for subscription choices!

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