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I've always maintained that the diecast collectors were extremely p**d off in the 60s about the ascendency of slot car racing, and how little attention was paid to their own activity (really just getting under way in fact). And it seems that now that diecasts are probably much more popular, they take a very keen pleasure in downgrading slot racing, or just ignoring it, which is far worse.

I just happened to run across this report on the 1966 Paris Model Show (Salon d'Automobiles Miniature), hosted by the Simca showroom on the Champs Elysées in Paris. Not sure what month, perhaps in the autumn, since the report is in the January 1967 issue of Model Cars. And it's by Cecil Gibson, one of the first authorities on diecast cars, author of the first standard reference on Dinky cars I believe... Anyway, here's what he thought about the whole thing at a time when slot racing was probably at its height. He was a real pioneer in the .... Car Wars!

Don

 

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Handbags at ten paces Don!!

Where on earth do you get your material from?
Funnily enough manufacturers such as Corgi & Dinky took a real hit at about the same time as the slot car world.
By 1971 Corgi was in real trouble. Diecast manufacturers were putting more into their models for little return.
What turned a lot of UK collectors away from Corgi was when they increased the scale of their diecast cars away from 1/43 to 1/36 - 1/37 during 1973.
Cheers,
Kev.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Ah, of course you're right Kev, I had kind of forgotten the lost decade of the 70s, when all the toy manufacturers were in trouble. I was really thinking more of the 80s or so, when diecasts were becoming a big object of collection, with many magazines, stores, etc. and slots were like nowheresvillle, man.

Don
 

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I belong to the Maidenhead Static Model Club who organise the Winsor toy fair. I believe the club started in 1969. Thus the title of the club says it all (Static) no slotcars. However, this is not the case nowdays.
Regards Allan
 

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War between statics and slots? I must have a widely split personality then since I love slotracing but still have my collection of 1/43 diecasts. And the little ones are nicely standing on their shelves around the Scaley track.
 

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Finding it hard to see why someone would denigrate someone else's hobby.

Other than just expressing one's preference for the type of car to collect or whether to race or not race them, what's the point?
 

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Happens often enough here between the Racers and Collectors or Magnet and Non-Magnet Racers. (Strangely enough the railing seems to most often come from the (non-mag) racing set) And they supposedly share a hobby from a different focal point.

Embs
 

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Cecil Gibson was a bit of a curmudgeon, and it is true to say that many of the die-cast car collectors I have met in my life also are. I have his original Dinky book, with all the mistakes later rectified by writers such as J.M. Roulet or Mike Richardson. Gibson did not like slot cars, hey? Well, that's OK, we will forgive him, I don't particularly care for many "toy" like slot cars either... did anyone mentioned early 1970's Scalextric or late 1960's Eldon?


Thing is, 1/43 scale (O-gauge) die-cast cars were TOYS to begin with, and Gibson was taking them a bit too seriously... I fondly remember when my uncle (the only one in the family who appeared to have any disposable cash) brought me home a Dinky Talbot-Lago (the French one, there were not too many British Dinkies in France). I was 10 years old and thought that the Talbot was the coolest car I had ever seen with all those little louvers on its hood.



I had already scrounged a few used Dinkies bummed from buddies who had already thoroughly savaged them and had been discarded after they lost most of their former glory including their little tires, and was spending days removing the damaged paint, polishing and sometimes filing the bodies back to shape depending on the amount of damage, and repainting them with a fine brush, trying to not leave any dust on them. Then went the search at the local hardware store for suitable replacement tires in the form of O-rings, since the local toy shop did not carry spares... so I made my own customs following the trend shown in period British magazines.

When in November 1957, the first slot cars appeared in French department stores, I could not believe how great they were, at last we would be able to race realistic looking cars instead of make-believe pushing them on the carpet! So as soon as I could afford it, away went the Dinkies (and Corgies, and Marklin, and CIJ and all the other "toy" cars) and in came the slot cars.

And indeed soon, the die-cast market lost its bottom, the Meccano companies as well as all the others finding themselves in near bankruptcies as other toys had taken over the previous "boys" market. However it was not related to the rise of the slot cars, simply a coincidence.

Now and after many, many years of slot car interest, I contemplate what has taken place to the die-cast market, and am not sure that it is so great:
First, the Mattel Hot Wheels satisfied the needs of the kids with, as Bill Cosby in his famous "All Children Have Brain Damage" sketch, had little of good taste. Indeed, the smaller cars with their red-line tires, butt-ugly colors, mongrel bodies but improved rolling properties put an end to the conventional toy car. Matchbox, to compete, had to follow suit, and we were blessed with 30 years of terrible junk in the most horrid shades of lead-free paint seen by mankind.

The nice old Dinkies and Corgies, now fast disappearing as new items were now collected by adults seeking the most perfect examples and rarest colors in which those rather charming and naive toys had been manufactured. For the form purists, dozens of cottage manufacturers began making white-metal kits cast in rubber molds so as to assemble most precise models of cars they wanted, John Day being a pioneer in that. Kids no longer bought "toy" cars, it became an adult market. Then, the cottage companies began assembling the kits and selling them ready to display, but the prices became quite high.

Then, as what happened with the later slot cars, the Chinese arrived and suddenly, what was only accessible to the relatively wealthy collector was now available to all, with greater and greater precision and detail, that Gibson, Sinclair and Jose Rodriguez would have loved, but that leave me cold.

So as many, I went BACK and began collecting the ones no one cared for anymore, the prewar Dinkies, Marklin, and especially the American Tootsietoys, because I wanted to recover that lost charm that is so missing in the precise Chinese models.
Recently, I wrote THIS ARTICLE for an online magazine, so as to expose the best of the prewar era to new collectors. A far cry from the high-precision die-cast models of today, but more dear to me.



Recently, "old" Dinky Toys have been reproduced by "Atlas", a Chinese company working for Mattel, so that nostalgics from the old days may retrieve their youth. Sorry Mattel, but it is just not the same, as the "Adventures of Tintin" by Spielberg will hardly cut it with the true Tintin aficionados... reproductions are ersatz, and ersatz is cr*p in my book (while others, who do not qualify as I now do, as curmudgeons, may differ!).

Same goes for the re-editions of supposedly "collectible" slot cars actually... but good for spare parts!

So I guess I have now reached Gibson's level of "toy intolerance".
 

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Speaking as someone who would have played - not collected - both die-cast and slots in the late '60's, early '70's, I'm fairly sure that both types of model had equal worth from a play-value point of view. One did not push away the other, they both had their uses.

I was aware that, model for model, a slot car was more expensive but once a 4 lane Scalextric track had been added to my play stock I was content with the two Lotus and two Cooper cars that came with the set.

Die cast had a more extended play life inasmuch as you could pocket them and carry them around.

I did not know that there was an active collecting scene in the 50's/60's, I thought everything got played with. I picked up (paid heavily) for a perfect Corgi Batman car a few years ago. On the end flap was written "To Roger, Xmas 1967". The model was untouched and complete with missiles on sprue and unused cloth lapel badge. You have to wonder what kind of boy Roger was or even if he received it originally. Quite sad, in a way.

It's quite interesting to note in that article that the 'men' of the '60's had a different agenda and reason for ownership than that of the average boy of the same time period.

The move away from traditional, somewhat clunky, die cast models in the early 70's had much more to do with a new thing called market research. Mattel did their homework and realised that young boys did not really want a static model of Dad's family saloon. Hotwheels was born and conformity to a known shape or colour of vehicle could be pushed aside. Wacky looking models from another world were very desirable. Boys Toy of the 70's/80's? They got my vote.

Jules
 

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You`re certainly right about Mattel Jules!
Corgi (Mettoy Playcraft) combined both slots & diecasts very well in the mid 1960s when they marketed Corgi Silverstone kits & Corgi cars alongside their Champion Motor Racing (by Jouef) slot system.
However, Dinky & Corgi got their market research horribly wrong in the 1970s & went right down the pan!
Cheers,
Kev

Champion Motor Racing. Corgi die-casts, buildings & figures.

 

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QUOTE (Pioneer @ 19 Dec 2011, 14:33) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>I did not know that there was an active collecting scene in the 50's/60's, I thought everything got played with. I picked up (paid heavily) for a perfect Corgi Batman car a few years ago. On the end flap was written "To Roger, Xmas 1967". The model was untouched and complete with missiles on sprue and unused cloth lapel badge. You have to wonder what kind of boy Roger was or even if he received it originally. Quite sad, in a way.

Jules

Ahh the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Does young Master Jules now wear the cloth patch on his jacket with the batmobile in his pocket? Or are the missles still on their sprue?

Do the right thing Jules. Find Roger and give him back the batmobile that he was never allowed to play with.
Wonder whatever became of mine??

cheers
rick1776
 
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