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Happy 25th Birthday Micro Scalextric!

3089 Views 4 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  andymck1968
Scalextric Micro MR-1 was officially launched at the 1994 London Toy Fair, which opened at Olympia on the first day of February - exactly twenty-five years ago today. In 2014, Andrew Rose and Doug Passell helped me put together this article for the NSCC Journal...

Introducing a 1/64 scale side-line gave Scalextric a cheap entry-level system for younger slot racers. The company had done a deal with Marchon - an ailing manufacturer in the American HO slot car world - to utilise their MR1 system.

The appearance of Scalextric Micro came as a real surprise, with the British HO magazine HOSRA calling it "the best news in H:O we've heard for a long time".

Doug Passell, founder of the longest-running HO club in the UK, was there at Olympia in 1994.

"It was exciting to see the MR1 line-up find a home at Scalextric, particularly as it was no tentative launch" said Doug. "It was a broadside aimed at the UK distributors of Tomy and Tyco, with twelve individual cars and four sets being shown."

The original Scalextric Micro MR1 releases included some rebranded Marchon cars, alongside a new range of Formula One cars to be manufactured by Scalextric.

Tire Wheel Vehicle Car Automotive tire

Doug remembers that "the established players, Tomy and Tyco, were overshadowed. Tomy showed one new set with talk of another - but no new cars. Tyco refreshed three F1 sets and released one individual car, so you can guess where the attention was".

The March/April 1994 edition of the HOSRA magazine reported that "retailers grouped around the Micro MR1 display and then [walked] straight past the 1/32nd display".

For the small group of UK HO racers, branding the new range as 'Scalextric Micro MR1 1/64th' opened up exciting possibilities for the growth and recognition of their branch of the hobby.

Doug explains: "Scalextric was and still is the byword for slot car racing. Not many non-hobbyists know what 'slot car racing' is - but mention Scalextric and they've got it in one.

"1/64th scale sounds like half the size of regular Scalextric - that's an easy way to describe the smaller sized cars."

So what was Doug's principal memory of the 1994 Toy Fair? "One word sums it up - excitement. Could we be on the verge of a step-change in the status of HO slot car racing?"

Tire Wheel Motor vehicle Automotive tire Vehicle

The first Scalextric Micro sets started to appear in the shops during October 1994, just in time for Christmas. The basic figure-of-eight World Championship set (G012) retailed for £25 and included a pair of Formula One cars - a Benetton and a Ferrari.

The other Scalextric Micro MR1 sets to be released were the G010 Turbo Power set with Porsche 911 Demon Tweeks and TAG/Minolta cars; the Endurance 7000 set (G011) with two Sauber Mercedes cars in AEG and Shell liveries; and the USA Raceway (G013) featuring the Scalextric Formula One cars in Texaco and Duracell Indy Car liveries.

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A fifth set - Rescue 911 (G014) - appeared on the back page of the 1994 Micro MR1 catalogue, but was never released in the UK under the Scalextric Micro name. A Police Patrol car (G026) and Fire Chief car (G027) were released individually.

The individual cars were slower into the shops. The delay was due to Power Rangers and import quotas. Those brightly-coloured action heroes were the big thing of 1994 and Marchon manufactured Power Rangers toys in their Chinese factory.

Back in 1994, there were strict limits to importing goods from China and the new Scalextric Micro cars stayed in the factory while Power Rangers products flooded the Christmas market.

This business decision adds weight to the theory that Hornby had invested in a significant proportion of Marchon's operations, rather than just buying the rights to the MR1 range. It might also explain why Scalextric were able to rapidly change the Micro design in a cost-cutting measure. However, that's getting ahead of ourselves.

Vehicle Car Motor vehicle Automotive design Toy

The complete range of the original Scalextric Micro MR1 cars are a combination of re-badged Marchon cars and new Scalextric Micro models. Firstly the Marchons, which mostly had "Scalextric Micro" stickers covering the Marchon logos:

G020 - Jeep "Doom Buggy" (also Marchon MAR 22065)

G021 - Jeep "Canyon Raider" (MAR 22064)

G022 - Chevy Lumina "Kodak" #4 (MAR 22054)

G023 - Chevy Lumina "Goodwrench" #3 (MAR 22062)

G024 - Sauber Mercedes "Zerex" Silver/Blue #78 (MAR 22068)

G025 - Sauber Mercedes "Zerex" Red/Yellow/Black #12 (MAR 22069)

G026 - Police Patrol (MAR 22050)

G027 - Fire Chief (MAR 22051)

Four of the Micro MR1 Formula One cars were released individually:

G030 - Footwork "Toshiba" #9

G031 - Jordan "Sasol" #14

G032 - Minardi "Beta" #23

G033 - Ligier "Zenith" #25

While racers were waiting to add the individual cars to their new sets, Scalextric were planning a completely new range for 1995. There would be significant design changes to both the Micro chassis and the track system, which was re-branded "Micro Scalextric" and launched at the 1995 London Toy Fair.

The MR1 cars announced the year before remained an important part of the Micro range and could be found on the shelves of Beatties and other shops for years to come. The four F1 cars and the two jeeps still featured on an MR1 page in the 1996 Scalextric catalogue.

The twentieth anniversary of Scalextric Micro MR1 was celebrated in the HO Zone at the UK Slot Car Festival in May 2014 where Andrew Rose displayed his complete collection of 168 Micro cars and Scalextric's Adrian Norman cut the birthday cake.

Clothing Product Motor vehicle Beard T-shirt

Glasses T-shirt Customer Selling Publication

My thanks go to Andrew Rose for sharing his Micro collection with us, including pictures and MR-1 box art - and to Doug Passell at Chesterfield HO Racing Club for background information, loan of the HOSRA magazines from 1994 and his reminiscences of the 1994 London Toy Fair.


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Wow. A quarter century!

Curious please: When did the hard shoes fall out of fashion, and braids become standard? State-side the rub was shredded braids from running on traditional knife edge rail.

The newly prototyped extruded channel track looks like a no-brainer for the braided Micros, yeah?

Im licking my chops, and crossing my fingers for a complimentary radius!
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With the 1995 releases Bill, although 'old stock' solid pickup cars were still available for years too.
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1995: Scalextric Micro MR1 becomes Micro Scalextric

Even as Scalextric Micro MR1 was being launched at the 1994 London Toy Fair, a redesign of the chassis and track system was already under way.

Hornby had picked up the MR1 system off the shelf after doing a deal with the American company Marchon. The 1994 range had been a mix of re-badged Marchon products, together with a fleet of Scalextric-designed Formula One cars, all on the MR1 chassis.

What was on offer at the 1995 Toy Fair was a new chassis, new bodies, a new track system and re-jigged brand name - Micro Scalextric.

The Micro Scalextric chassis is a true HO chassis in the sense that different body shells are made to fit to a standard chassis design. The biggest innovation in 1995 was swapping the ubiquitous solid HO pick-up shoes for braid - a change that cuts production costs and makes the car more Scalextric-like.

Toy Machine Gas Auto part Engineering

Also gone are the chunky traction magnets of the MR1, replaced by two smaller neodymium dot magnets. Other parts, such as the Mabuchi can motor, pinion and rear axle assembly remain unchanged from the old design.

Finally, there are two slightly different configurations of chassis, as with the MR1 design. The standard 'wide' chassis has tabs sticking out that fit into a recess in most closed wheel bodies. The 'narrow' chassis - mostly for Formula One bodies - has no tabs, but small indentations into which the body sits. The only difference in width is the tabs.

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Strangely, the tabs on the wide chassis are different on the Micro and MR1 chassis, so that the bodies are not interchangeable. This meant there were some exciting new bodies in the range for 1995.

Car Vehicle Hood Automotive design Tire

Wheel Car Vehicle Tire Hood

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The five sets announced during 1995 were Super Endurance (G090) with a red Ferrari F40 and Unipart Jaguar XJ220; Hi Loop Mega Power (G091) with two brand new Porsche 911s - different from the 1994 cars; Euro Saloons (G092) that included a yellow Mercedes and red Alfa Romeo 155; Frontera Mountain Rally (G093) with two Vauxhall Frontera 4x4s; and World Championship (G094), with updated liveries for the F1 Ferrari and Benetton.

Car Wheel Vehicle Motor vehicle Hood

The G094 World Championship remained the entry-level figure-of-eight set for three years. It was given different box art each year, but had the same contents. Having said that, this set is the source of one of the rarest Micro Scalextric cars - the mysterious 'green/green' Benetton variation.

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All the 1995 sets contained the new Micro Scalextric track. The main difference in the MR1 and Micro systems is the connectors, with the new style connectors being tougher and more robust.

In order that the two systems could be used together, an all-important converter piece (G113 / L7658) was produced and has only recently been dropped from the Scalextric catalogue.

Initially, Scalextric kept many of the MR1 track piece styles - with the notable exception of lane-changers - and have added others, such as the hairpin curve and lap counter, over the years.

Another 'Scalextric-isation' of the Micro range was classic Scalextric shape controllers replacing the Marchon MR1 throttles.

The first eighteen months of the Scalextric 1/64 scale range was all change. However, the chassis and track system that was introduced in 1995 has remained almost exactly the same ever since.

Over the past twenty-five years, a wide variety of body shells and themes have made Micro Scalextric a fascinating range for those making their first steps into slot car racing as well as for hardened HO racers and collectors.

Once again, I'd like to thank Andrew and Doug for their help and assistance with writing this history. Andrew's superb catalogue of all the Micro Scalextric sets and non-set cars from 1994 to 2014 is here:


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Hi, in the above article - web Pic2 shows the chassis on the left with a capacitor and two blue things - anyone know what they are and why neither is on the chassis on the right?
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