Slot racing in the Middle East is practically unknown, yet the Middle East toy market is worth approximately US$ 1.2 billion per year, representing an average annual expenditure of US$ 265 per child, twice the amount spent on children in Europe. With Dubai being the distribution hub of the region, the annual Dubai Toy Fair is fast becoming an important trade show for manufacturers and it was great to see Hornby represented for the first time by their International Director, Frits Passet, who I met in September last year when he stopped over for a brief exploratory visit while en route between Tokyo and London.
Frits kindly invited me to visit him at the fair, where he had the 2004 range of Scalextric sets on display. The first problem I encountered was trying to find parking, with this lot illegally parked in front of the entrance to the exhibition centre:
Here is a picture of Frits and the compact but functional Hornby stand:
Frits mentioned that he was delighted with the number of serious enquiries that he received about representation in the Middle East, and I'm sure that it won't be long before a world famous brand name toy store, who have a number of retail outlets in the region, carry the full range of Scalextric sets and cars.
Frits and myself discussed the Scalextric range at some length and he enthusiastically noted the request for a stable mate for the Ford GT40. I suggested that a "Classic Le Mans" set, with a Gulf Ford GT40 and a Porsche 908 might well be worth researching, even as a possible digital set. The 1969 Le Mans 24 Hour witnessed the closest ever finish, with Ickx's GT40 beating Larousse's Porsche 908 by mere yards.
Frits very kindly presented me with a Valentino Rossi Repsol Honda - am I the first person in the world to have a production version?
I personally believe that MotoGP will be huge, opening a whole new market and hopefully attracting a spillover to slot racing. Certainly, the bike is beautiful. The level of detail being quite superb. Enough has already been written about MotoGP, so I'll leave you with a few pictures of my highly treasured example:-
With kind regards
PS: Maurizio and Gerard, Frits sends his best regards.