We have recently been sorting through some old paperwork and came across a file of documents and articles that came to us from our good friend and long ago college, Phil Etgart, when we purchased his collection some 20+ years ago!
On looking through them, we thought it was wrong for all this information and knowledge about the Scalextric hobby to be lounging in a draw, gathering dust. So, it is our intention over the forthcoming months to share them with you, as many were no doubt written before may of the current collectors started collecting. Some were originally printed in the various collectors’ club’s magazines in the UK and Australia at the time of writing in the 1990’s, others I will transcribe from Phil’s original notes.
So, to start at the beginning – I have found:
Phil Etgart answers his most frequently asked question ….. longhand!
Standing behind a table of Scalextric, one of the questions most commonly asked by new members is “What should I collect?”. This particular question always worries me because it suggests that people are more worried about making a sound investment than actually enjoying their hobby!!
Anyone who regularly trades in Scalextric will tell you that there are virtually as many themes within collecting Scalextric as there are purchasers!!
It is not uncommon to find people who only collect up to 1970 (i.e. the output of the Havant factory, which encompasses all the injection moulded cars up to and including the dizzy heights of the Cougar Sport (C21) – the last model introduced by Havant). Their view seems to be that this was the ‘Golden Age’ of Scalextric, and things were never quite the same once production shifted to Margate. Similarly, there is the odd collector around who focuses on the tin cars produced.while Mini Models were based in London NW7 ‘ (before the Lines Brothers takeover in late 1958). However.embarking upon collecting every colour variation of the delightful tinplate models is not easy, and if seeking them mint boxed, you are setting yourself an incredibly difficult objective.
Very often collectors will veer towards G.P. cars or saloon bodied cars rather than collecting both(makes for a more manageable collection), but even so, if you accept that given the colour, mould and country of manufacture variations, there are in excess of 2000 models to collect. Cutting down by half still leaves one hell of a task.
Other possibilities are small themed groups (by manufacturer, by model, trucks, bikes, film or TV related, actual GP, rally or touring cars etc.) or being a little more extreme every colour + tooling variation of a given model ( e.g. C68 Aston Martin DB4 6 colours lighted, 6 colours unlighted (two shades of blue and red) English; same French; sunroof version 3 colours (two shades of red); black Marshals car UK; 3 colours of Marshals car-France; James Bond car. That gives you 32 cars to find before you consider any of the unique or semi-unique items (factory chrome models/ mould test colours clear mould flow models). Putting together a complete collection of all DB4 variants would set you back thousands!! (assuming all the combinations exist and could be located!!)) ..
Another distinct possibility is Limited Editions, 3 xN.S.C.C. Scalextric (and two more due this year!), 2 x N.S.C.C. M.R.R.C., 1 x N.S.C.C. Ninco, Beatties specials, Toys-R-Us specials, and even the 1960’s Gamleys special – the blue swivel guide Cooper.
My personal advice has always been, “Buy the cars you like.”. It is totally wrong to feel you have to buy everything, or a particular model because it goes with things you already have. Where is the logic in spending hard earned cash on things you don’t especially like? After all nostalgia is really fond Memories and if in the future your essential purchase is viewed the same way you see it now, rather than a collection that is spectacularly appreciating asset, you might find yourself with the equivalent of a roomful of Scaletti Arrows!!!
Quite aside from the cars themselves there are many other items to consider. A very colourful option is to collect Scalextric Catalogues, and in spite of the disposability of paper, it is surprising how many catalogues have survived and do come up for sale. Certain catalogues can be difficult (and a little bit more expensive) to obtain particularly I – 3,
13 – 15 and 26. It is worth remembering that with every catalogue there was a price list!! Amongst the hardest of the printed items to obtain are copies of the Scalextric Newsletter. There were six issues between winter 1957 and spring 1960, and these seldom come up for sale (I still need number 2 and 3 if anyone’s selling!!)
Also well worthy of consideration is the wonderful box art. Whilst a handful of the original paintings are in the possession of N.S.C.C. members, they are nearly impossible to obtain, but the box lids the paintings appear on are readily available (how many times have you paused before throwing that empty set box away?!?). Other options include special track sections, track side buildings and accessories, and shop display and Point of Sale material (from cabinets+ signs to spares packs and service sheets).
Stepping outside of Scalextric itself for a moment everything I have mentioned so far exists on a greater or smaller scale for other U .K. manufacturers (Airfix, V.LP., S.R.M. etc.) and likewise there are dozens of European and American manufacturers whose output is collected just as
keenly as Scalextric. It is not only 1/32nd scale to consider. Slot cars were produced predominantly in four scales (1/24, l/32, 1/43 and 1/76 (HO)), and in spite of the European perspective in which 1/32 predominates, this is very much a secondary scale in the States where HO rules all, and I/24th and I/25th scale static models also impacted on the slot race market to a greater degree than 1/32 (hence the repealed failure to establish a significant US market in the I 960’s).
Second only to the question of what to buy, is the question of condition. Is it better to buy only mint boxed, or acceptable to buy ‘played with items’? Again there is an judgement of “You pays your money, you takes your choice.”, but you should buy what feels right for you. If (like me} you are a box fetishist, then it is a fairly fruitless exercise buying unboxed items and hoping to find an empty box someday (it seldom happens – invariably you end up buying another the same to get the boxed item). However, it is worth considering that if you like to run your cars is it really worth buying mint boxed items. Once you run them round the track a few times they are no longer mint, and in doing that you only need to handle a box a few times (taking cars in and out) to start to give it that slightly dog-eared look. In broad terms if you buy them to look at mint boxed is a reasonable objective. If you buy them to run very good unboxed is realistic. Taking that into consideration there are still occasions where a good or very good unboxed item may well have to suffice (super rare variations / set only cars I difficult to obtain items), when did you last hear of a mint boxed Race-Tuned Bugatti for sale!!!
Also worth considering at this pint is reproduction/ replacement parts. It is generally accepted that a car with replacement parts is still a collectable item (if you run your cars I would have said it was a benefit (financially)). However. if you are an absolute purist could you really put your hand on your heart and say that a Healey with a cracked screen, flaking chrome or no bumpers at all, really looks better that an attractive original looking car with replacement parts?
The final question (for this article anyway) is, are the sets worth anything? Most Scalextric traders would give the same answer that, with a few exceptions (James Bond Set; Go-Kart set; Motorcycle Combination set (1960’s); Vintage set; Gamleys set (with that blue swivel guide Cooper); and the I/24th sets), sets are really only worth the value of the sum total of the cars value (unless the set includes a Pit Stop or Le Mans Start and the track is in exceptional condition), but before you take out the cars and sling the box So to briefly re-cap, buy things you like, don’t worry about only buying mint boxed items (unless you really aren’t going to open them again!), don’t worry about cars having repro parts (unless they must be mint boxed for you) so long as the price reflects this, and don’t fill your spare room up with set boxes, just cut out the lids and save them up to paste to the walls. If nothing else that might frighten the wife off from asking you to redecorate!!
I hope you found it fascinating reading- Certainly to collect every Scalextric Car now would be several thousands of cars, and finding the tin plate cars, only possible when large long standing collections come to market, The advice ‘BUY WHAT YOU LIKE’ holds true for sure.
Can you imagine only 3 NSCC limited edition cars, and this article was written before we had dreamed of the UK Slot Car Festival.
Catalogue Collecting I totally understand – the same nostalgia as the cars, but taking up far less space and in relative terms so affordable, an early catalogue in nuce condition costing little more that a modern magazine. Alternatively, just pick one catalogue and collecting its contents works for many.
One of the first cars Mark purchased was a C62 Shark Nose Ferrari in yellow- from an advert in Loot in 1987 for £35 – We have similar cars listed at similar prices today, meaning the Havant produced collection is more affordable now than when Phil wrote this!
His comments re the set boxes sill certainly hold true today.
So what format does your collection take?
Check out our web site
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for our latest stock of cars/catalogues and of course reproduction spares.