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I've been asked to answer a few questions for a magazine article.

As I am still quite new to Slot cars I wondered if anyone could help with this question:

How has the scalextric industry evolved since the early days?

It needs to be a short paragraph (not too technical) and the end point (what it has evolved into for these purposes) is SSD (Digital Scalextric)

Also if you're up for it, another question:

Why do you think its appeal has lasted?

Any budding writers fancy helping out?
 

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G'day ss67

Try googling "Scalextric history" and you'll get lots of info, including a wikipedia entry.
Last year I wrote a small piece for a promo brochure. You're welcome to use whatever bits of it you wish. (If you use chunks of it just let me know - I would just like to know about it if it happens) Here 'tis:

FAST, FUN AND BEAUTIFUL - SLOT CARS MAKE A DIGITAL COMEBACK

Slot cars are making a comeback! They were all the rage in the 1950's and 1960's, but took a "back seat" when radio control and computer games came along. Now they're back - cheap, fast, beautiful, fun and DIGITAL!

Some things haven't changed: you put the car on the track, you press your hand controller's trigger, the car goes fast, and you still have to remember to slow down for the corners. But some things have changed: now, there are up to six cars on the track instead of two, there's a mini-computer counting the laps and recording lap times, and there are places on the track where you can change lanes if you press the right button at the right time.

Slot cars make a great pastime for people who enjoy miniatures, like to tinker with technical stuff, enjoy being creative with track design and like having fun times with friends - including a bit of friendly competition.

At the XXXXXXXXXXX Fete you can expect to see, hear and feel a 15m long digital Scalextric slot car layout - an interactive hands-on activity for the young and the young at heart. Patrons will be invited to make a gold coin donation and all proceeds will go to ...........

Maybe the sentence about "great pastime" is some of the answer to your question about why its appeal has lasted.
 

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One petunia in a field of onions
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QUOTE (ss67 @ 15 Feb 2012, 02:05) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Why do you think its appeal has lasted?
I've been pondering this since reading your initial post this morning (Sad, I know. I really should buy myself a life).

The reason why the appeal has lasted is probably a combination of nostalgia and improvements.

Nostalgia is obvious. Those of us who are 'of a certain age' (ie. old enough to be parents and beyond) are grabbing a memory from childhood in the track that we were allowed/not allowed (in my case) to have as kids. Frequently it is the next generation that is being used as an excuse for partaking in this return to childhood joys. It could be seen as a simple case of wishing to recapture lost youth and childhood innocence.

The (perceived?) imrovements that have occurred in the interim are often what keeps us enraptured. Cars are, on the whole, more detailed than those we knew in our younger days. Digital adds to the challenge (for some).

We all have a competitive streak to some degree or other. That can see us spending time and money in the quest to be faster than our like minded mates or competing against the collector market to have every model of GT40 issued in slot car form. And in this diversity lies another of the joys of slot cars. They can be just what you want them to be.

It is the unvoiced part of the question that has had me thinking all day. Will the appeal last?

For the current generation that is already hooked on slots for the reasons stated above the answer is "yes" the love affair will continue.

For the generation of kids that are now being introduced to slots by exceptionally enthusiastic parents and grandparents the answer is "probably not." The current generation of children and teens do not connect with things in quite the way we did. I'm trying not to resort to stereotypes and generalisations here and it is difficult. The current generation of youth are inundated with stimulation from a plethora of directions. I have watched my step-sons (there's a term that is extremely difficult for me to use) aged 15 and 17. They are unable to even sit and concentrate on a film that they have been nagging to see without the added stimulation of texting friends, checking facebook or playing a game on their pocket device of choice. No matter what developments are made, slot cars will always be too tame to hold their attention for long enough to bond with them as we did.

I am a techno-junky and have been addicted to computers and technology since first being exposed to such in my very early teens. I probably fit half way between my step-sons (ugh! that word again) and my partner who did not grow up with computers and is a practical person first and foremost. He was not exposed to slot cars as a child that he can recall. However he has bonded with them since I talked him into the 'family' Christmas present purchase of 3 years ago.

Others may disagree, and I do really hope that I am wrong, but I think slot cars are a species with a limited life span. Once the current generation of slot racers passes on there will possibly be only collectors.

Cheers
Embs
 

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QUOTE Once the current generation of slot racers passes on there will possibly be only collectors.

At the risk of derailing this thread about the past with a discussion about the future...

Embs, I don't think it's that bad.
I've been running an extra-curricular model builders club at a high school (12 to 17 year olds) for the last ten years. My observation is that about one percent of the population love building models. The others are there because it has a degree of interest or their friends are there. My reckoning is that it's the same with slot cars. There will always be a small percentage of people who love it and have to get into it. Don't despair!
 

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Phil Smith
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QUOTE there are up to six cars on the track instead of two, there's a mini-computer counting the laps and recording lap times, and there are places on the track where you can change lanes if you press the right button at the right time.

Wrenn 152 had all these features in 1961! (well apart from the mini-computer)
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks guys (& gal)

I have only just got back to this thread so will read through what you have said over the next day and feed back.

If anyone else has anything to add please feel free.

Here are a couple more questions if you want to add anything.

Why do you think scalextric would appeal to adults?

Why do you think it is a good way to promote team building?


Cheers!
 

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QUOTE step-sons (ugh! that word again)

@ Ember I tell the eldest he is mine never use the term step (Although if I need to get something up high he does come in useful as a Step) - as I have receipts to prove it


Or as my Grandad used to call him the secondhand one lol he was 90 though
 

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QUOTE (ss67 @ 15 Feb 2012, 22:14) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Why do you think scalextric would appeal to adults?

I would take a guess that not many adults would take up slot racing if they hadn't had a set as a kid. With less and less kids interested in it they'll be less and less adults in the future (the ones spending the cash!) into slots and agree with Ember that there will be a limited life span on slots as we now them today. I believe the last ten years have truly been the golden age of slots, never has there been the variety, availabilty, and, quality we see now. Will it be like this after the next ten years? I'm not so sure.
 

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One petunia in a field of onions
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Sorry SS67. I know this hasn't gone in quite the direction you were hoping, and that may well be my fault (it often is).

But, while I hope it is wrong, I do think the next few years will tell if slots have a long term future. Alas it will take some serious innovation to capture the hearts of the next generation of slotters. The thing is, we (the current crop of die hards) have either grown up with or lusted after these little motorised plastic gems since child hood. They are familiar. And this is one of those few instances where 'you can go home again.'

Why do you think it is a good way to promote team building?

Errrr... There's one of those buzz (bulldust) words. Team building. Not sure that that is not a load of fetid dingo's kidneys. I'm not convinced that the whole 'team building' concept isn't a case of spending money because we have to be seen to spend money on training. I could be wrong, but it seems copious quantities of marketing guff involved. Forgive me if I seem jaded and skeptic.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
QUOTE (MAF @ 16 Feb 2012, 10:50) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>I would take a guess that not many adults would take up slot racing if they hadn't had a set as a kid. With less and less kids interested in it they'll be less and less adults in the future (the ones spending the cash!) into slots and agree with Ember that there will be a limited life span on slots as we now them today. I believe the last ten years have truly been the golden age of slots, never has there been the variety, availabilty, and, quality we see now. Will it be like this after the next ten years? I'm not so sure.

Hi MAF,

I never had slot cars as a kid but I think I'm making up for it now!
 

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So you want something about -
(1) Scalextric brand in the UK - That was founded by Fred Francis circa 1957 when he saw an existing brand of slot car and was inspired to make his existing Scalex brand into an electric slot car system. ("Scalex" + "electric" became "Scalextric"). the brand has passed through several owners and is now owned by Hornby.
AND / OR
(2) Scalextric brand in the Spain - That has shares its origins with the UK Scalextric but now make their own quite separate range of slot racing sets. They own the rights to the Scalextric name in Spain, so the Hornby brand cannot be sold as Sclextric in that market.
 

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David H
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QUOTE (Ember @ 16 Feb 2012, 11:11) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Errrr... There's one of those buzz (bulldust) words. Team building. Not sure that that is not a load of fetid dingo's kidneys. I'm not convinced that the whole 'team building' concept isn't a case of spending money because we have to be seen to spend money on training. I could be wrong, but it seems copious quantities of marketing guff involved. Forgive me if I seem jaded and skeptic.
Too right, Ember. It's mostly a load of ****. The results of research by Vodafone and YouGov were published recently, showing that employees think team building days are a waste of time.

Back on topic
Why do you think Scalextric would appeal to adults?. Because it's an acceptable way to indulge your inner child. Nobody will think you're a bit odd for racing slot cars. They probably will if they find you playing with a doll's house. The worst insult that a slot enthusiast has to face is being called an anorak.
 

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QUOTE (Dopamine @ 17 Feb 2012, 05:38) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Nobody will think you're a bit odd for racing slot cars.
The probably do, but are too polite/busy laughing/scared (delete those which don't suit your personality) to say anything.

Or else they do say so... very loudly and very often.

Why do you think Scalextric would appeal to adults?
Firstly it must be pointed out that the so called adults are usually male. One could argue that the average male never grows up completely. I know it sounds like sexist stereotyping (and it probably is a little) but it comes down to difference between the way girls and boys play.

Girls tend to play imagination based games that they go on to live: families, hairdressers, nurses, that sort of thing. When it comes to being older, there is no desire to resurrect the childish game.

Boys tend toward imagination based games full of excitement: superheroes, firemen, soldiers. While it is true, some boys will grow up to live out those games, most will not. Hence as adults there is more likelihood of returning to the excitement of the children's game. Slot cars fit a bit into that category. Not everyone can grow up to be a racing car driver, but on a small scale they can.

It's only speculation. But I would like to see a study done on it rather than some of the other ridiculous things that research money is put into.
 

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QUOTE (Ember @ 16 Feb 2012, 21:26) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Why do you think Scalextric would appeal to adults?
Firstly it must be pointed out that the so called adults are usually male. One could argue that the average male never grows up completely. I know it sounds like sexist stereotyping (and it probably is a little) but it comes down to difference between the way girls and boys play.

Girls tend to play imagination based games that they go on to live: families, hairdressers, nurses, that sort of thing. When it comes to being older, there is no desire to resurrect the childish game.

Boys tend toward imagination based games full of excitement: superheroes, firemen, soldiers. While it is true, some boys will grow up to live out those games, most will not. Hence as adults there is more likelihood of returning to the excitement of the children's game. Slot cars fit a bit into that category. Not everyone can grow up to be a racing car driver, but on a small scale they can.

I quite agree with you, I'm 62 coming on 63, feeling like a 10 y.o., when racing slotcars,
Why grow up, it would be no fun anymore
 

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Why do you think scalextric would appeal to adults?

I think the concept of growing up is over-rated - one needs to remember that childhood is a fairly modern phenonmen, legally we become adults around the 18-21 bracket - myself after a few years as an adult I looked at what the first 18 years was like and decided that I was getting a raw deal if I had to put up with being an adult for another 60+ years.

So I think on one hand you have the boys and girls who are labelled as not having grown up.

Family life comes into - the set bought for the kids - mum and dad drive it and usually dad stumbles upon a model of the 1976 corvette he used to have a poster of and buys one - pretty soon if he is lucky socks and hankies get replaced with another car at Father's Day birthday etc and then he is buying himself cars, collecting cars etc -

I think this online stuff has a lot to do with it. I really wouldn't have got back into slot cars without the Internet - as a child scalextric cars were slow blobby bits of plastic that fell off the track (whereas my AFX cars were missiles that went up the wall) it was only when I discovered I could get a car that not only looked as good as a die cast but also drove that I got back into slot cars.

I think a percentage of the population likes to collect things - stamps, coins, trains, cars, thimble, teaspoons, etc etc once again the appeal of slot cars is that not only can you collect them - e.g. you may have been to a local race track in the 60s now you can buy the cars that raced there and re-create those memories but you can also drive them - and try to reverse history by having your favourite car win the race.

DM
 
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