SCX Compact Cars
Formula One set
Since July 2007, SCX has been offering their “Compact” line of sets, cars, and track, an entire line of new 1/43 products. All the details of the SCX offering can be found at http://www.scxcompact.es/. These sets and cars are selling extremely well at Target stores in the US as well as online. Rumor has it that soon, SCX Compact will also be available at traditional hobby shops with an extended offering for 2008 …
SCX addresses the same market segment as Artin and Carrera Go!!! and is positioning itself right along (and arguably above) Carrera go!!! in terms of quality and pricing. See the SCX press release in PDF format. For more up to date information please check Slot Car News, Dave Kennedy has great insight as to what SCX is up to …
Despite some reported hiccups in late 2007, all Target stores and the online web site seem to now have in stock the entire line of SCX compact:
o Formula One set for $89.99 with a road course layout
o Tuner set for $49.99 with a figure 8 (yes, with a crossover) layout (Not pictured)
o 2-pack of NASCAR cars for $19.99
o 2-pack of tuner cars for $19.99
o Curves and Straights track expansion packs at $14.99 each
An earlier review of the NASCAR cars can be found here
In this review, we take a look at the SCX Formula One set that sells at Target for $89.99
The first impression from the SCX sets and cars is that they are “greatly inspired” from Carrera Go!!! The track pieces have the same red striping on the curves as Carrera Go!!! while the controllers sport the “turbo” button which provides full throttle (voltage) to the cars. Track dimensions are very similar to Carrera Go!!! with 60 mm slot spacing (full length track pieces are 342 mm long and 114 mm wide) but nonetheless are incompatible …. And that is also where the similarities pretty much stop …
The box actually has a handy-dandy handle for convenient carrying. To help out in this review I enlisted the help of my seven year old, since after all, the SCX Compact line is targeted at kids and young drivers.
The box itself has an opening on the top showing the two cars contained in the set: McLaren and Ferrari F1 cars, while the bottom of the box has some very good suggestions for layouts, including layouts that require one or even two of the expansion packs.
After easily opening the box, all the track pieces, cars and accessories show-up, neatly arranged in a Styrofoam container. Everything is packed neatly and tightly and should withstand very well being put away for long periods or time or during shipping.
As has become customary with toys made in China, the cars are held in place with small tie downs. Everything in the box is labeled clearly so it can be easily put back where it belongs when play time is over.
The controllers are index finger trigger type (as opposed to the Carrera thumb push controllers) and sport a turbo button in the back of the controller. The turbo button enables full voltage to be applied to the car; otherwise full throttle (max trigger) is only about 70% of the full voltage. The wall wart offers 12V DC output at a maximum current of 600 mA, which is plenty for these cars.
The track is made of a very sturdy and grippy plastic. The surface and texture is very reminiscent of the 1/32 SCX or Scalextric classic (almost like Ninco) while the structure is actually hard plastic (like Carrera or Artin). The track pieces are 114 mm wide while the slot spacing is 60 mm, same dimensions as Carrera Go!!! Currently the available track pieces include:
o Long straight: 342 mm
o Medium Straight: 228 mm
o Short Straight: 144 mm
o Crossover: same length as long straight
o Lap counter: same length as short straight (This a very basic rotary mechanical lap counter)
o Power base: same length as short straight (The wall wart and the controllers plug in this track piece)
o R1 curve 90 degrees
o R1 curve 45 degrees
o R2 curve 45 degrees: that’s right !!! SCX already has two different radii curve track pieces that enable building 4 lane turns at 45 degrees and 90 degrees. Although it may not sound important, this is actually great news for hobbyists as 4 lanes permanent set-ups are pretty common among hard core hobbyists.
Putting the track together is a snap. My 7 year old assistant had no problem whatsoever following the map on the back of the box and putting together the track pieces. Only in a few instances did I have to step in and help push two track pieces together that were a bit tight. Taking the track down was also very easy although two of the plastic tabs that help put the pieces together broke when we did that. However, this should not be an issue as the track still mount together easily even with a broken plastic tab on one of the pieces.
In about 20 minutes, we had the option 1 layout assembled (basic F1 set + 1 straight expansion pack + 1 curve expansion pack).
Another 15 minutes, and we had the guardrails protecting all the outside turns of the track.
And off to the races we went, first with the Tuner cars, which are a favorite of the young drivers in my household due to the lighting of these cars.
Another favorite in my house are open wheel races. In this case, The Formula One cars that came with the set are, in my opinion, the best looking 1/43 formula one slot cars I have seen to date. The cars are sharp, tampo printed and the scale appearance is really good.
Turning the car over, we can start looking at some of what make them tick and go.
o A guide is used in these cars, just like all SCX compact 1/43 cars. This is different than Artin and Carrera Go!!! and most other brands (with a few exceptions like the Jiada F1 cars). This is usually more common in the 1/40 cars like the Carrera Profi, Jouef or other Cox superscale cars. The guide is really good, but is relatively deep and touches at the bottom of Artin 1/43 slots, so these users might want to trim it for their track. Carrera Go!!! or 1/32 track users should have no problem whatsoever.
o The guide used in these F1 cars is actually just a bit different than the guide in the tuner or NASCAR cars. In this case, a pin is located just being the guide shaft to restrict the guide rotation to about 120 degrees while in these other cars that pin is situated in front of the shaft and restricts the rotation to about 160 degrees.
o A bar magnet (powerful, but not as powerful as the Carrera Go!!! magnets) is situated just between the motor and the rear axle
o Front wheels on these F1 are stubs, as opposed to a solid front axle
Three screws need to be removed to separate the body from the chassis. Inside we find:
o Copper contacts from the guide to about midway through the car where wires connect to the motor. Surprisingly in the F1, no capacitor or inductor are found for filtering the motor Electro-Magnetic-Interference that is usually required for CE marking in Europe. These however, are found on the NASCAR and Tuner cars that I got before.
o No bushings in this car, rear axle goes straight through the plastic side tabs. However, the mechanical tolerances seem very good and there is very little play of the axle. Axles and axle assemblies can only be removed by removing the wheels from the axles first, which can be quite challenging as the wheels are press fit very well on the knurled axles (much better actually than in many 1/32 cars J).
o All axles and pinion-gear come with a small amount of grease/lube already applied.
o A small mini FF Mabuchi style motor (similar to the one in the Carrera Go!!! cars, but not quite the same).
o The motor is mounted through 2 side tabs and a bracket in front of the rear axle. It is pretty tight already and should not require gluing.
o Gearing includes an 8 tooth pinion and a 32 tooth crown gear for a 4.0 gear ratio. This may not be great for torque but with the very light weight of these cars (~ 40 grams) and the relatively strong magnet the braking and acceleration performance is still very good. The underside of the motor has two ventilation holes, which is different than the Carrera Go!!! motors. The meshing on all cars feels very good and that gets proven by how smoothly and quietly the cars actually run on the track.
The wheels and tires on these F1, just like on the NASCAR and Tuner cars are very good:
o Tire markings look very good and seem pretty durable (a solid minute of rubbing with my fingers did not take anything away from the side wall markings).
o The rubber feels very sticky to the touch, almost too much for the front tires, which may be clear coated for maximum performance.
o The wheels and tires are very round with very little flashing or other problems usually found on other models/brands.
o The tires fit the wheels very snuggly and probably do not need to be glued on.
What about track performance ?
o These little cars are FAST. I like the good balance between magnet and drifting that is possible with the guide flag.
o The front of the cars is a little light and when running no magnet or above 12V, you might want to consider up to 7 g of lead weight upfront to keep that guide firmly planted in the slot. Finding room for that weight will be very difficult in these F1 cars.
o The stance and look of the cars is the best in that scale as SCX did not have to compromise the looks and appearance of the cars (specially the front) to enable driving through the usual 1/43 loop-de-loops and such …
o The cars perform very well on the SCX compact track. The combination of high grip surface and good magnet traction make it such that the speed is perfect for young drivers as long as they do not use the turbo button. If they push the turbo button then the cars tend to go too fast and de-slot easily. The turbo button itself may very well be the only real drawback of the SCX compact line as they are very sensitive and very easy to trigger and my son had a few unexpected times where just brishing the back of the controller with his other hand was enough to trigger the turbo.
o Driving other cars on the SCX track is also fun. Artin cars fit right in although the 12V (or 8.5V without the turbo button engaged) make them quite fast. Most Carrera Go!!! cars will also drive very well on that track although the wide pin guide of the Carrera go!!! cars will bind and rub in the tight inside R1 turns and slow the cars down drastically or even stop them cold. This can be easily remedied by shaving off the Carrera go!!! guides.
o When I tested the cars on my permanent Artin 1/43 track, the cars run very well from about 9V to 15V almost becoming too fast and slippery to handle above that.
§ At 9V or 10V they run out of gas quickly and top out easily on my 12 foot long straights
§ At 14V or 15V they have plenty of power for anything but they become tough to handle
§ At 12V they are just fine and they sure can drift in the turns
I think SCX has hit it out of the park with these little cars!!! The quality and performance for the price is unbeatable!!!
The cars are overall the best looking cars by far in the 1/43 scale and at $10 each are a better bang for the buck than the competition. The track is high quality and very durable, and the sets come loaded with a lot of track, along with good controllers for the scale.
|Lo-Fi Version||Time is now: 18th June 2013 - 21:56|