Slot Car Buying Guide for Beginners
If you’re a speed demon and a model kit junkie, racing and collecting slot cars might just be the right hobby for you. There are very affordable beginner sets in the market which won’t break your wallet. However, the lineup of brands can leave you very confused. Don’t walk into a store without learning more about these top brands, their strong points, and the differences in the scale models of these cars.
Brands to choose from
There are five currently leading brands for slot cars. They are Scalextric, Ninco, Revell-Monogram, Carrera and Artin. Scalextric cars and tracks are a bit on the pricy side but the finish of their products is very smooth. Ninco and Artin are known to be fairly inexpensive but may have rough finishes slot. Artin is made mostly of plastic which is why it’s the most inexpensive among the five brands. Carrera cars and tracks have mid-class and mid-range quality and prices. However, they’re only toy-cars, or 1:24 models. Competition cars need to have 1:32 scale. Revell-Monogram makes models that are the most ideal if you’re planning to teach your kids how to assemble the cars themselves. The beginner kits of Revell-Monogram can be handled by 8 to 10 year-olds with minor supervision from an adult.
The tracks vary, depending on the scale. These can be made from plastic or from wood. If the tracks are made from plastic, it’s best that you choose a brand which is known for its smooth finishes, like the Scalextric. Rough finishes on plastic can make track installations troublesome. You can also decide on whether to have digital or analog tracks, magnetized or simple ones and so on. Ideally, the brand of your tracks should be the same brand as your slot cars. This way, you won’t experience any technical trouble while operating your cars. The principle may be the same, but each manufacturer makes its signature on the tracks and cars, making some cars incompatible to tracks made by another company. Read reviews about track-and-car compatibility before finalizing your purchases.
While beginners should first start with basic kits, there’s no harm in exploring accessories once you’re used to your slot car already. Read about the advantages of different types of slot car tires and wheel bearings online. What about the engine and the gears? Will gear changes allow you to perform better on track? You can schedule your “expansion” purchases so you won’t feel so guilty about experimenting on accessories. If you do have the money to buy new controllers, better power packs, new accessories for your tracks like model buildings and figures, why not?
At the end of the day, your slot cars and slot car accessories can be collectibles too, as you let them age. Just take good care of your gear. Purchase the right tools from the same company that’s manufacturing your slot cars so you won’t produce scratches or run the risk of cracking plastic during the assembly.