A box arrived today and inside was the M3 Racing set from Ninco. It's been almost 30 years since I got my first slot car set, so let's see if this offering from Ninco has me "thinking red". Inside the box is 294" of track. Straight away I start snapping track together.
The pieces go together quite easily and quickly. Before you know it all the pieces I need are together. The surface on this Ninco track is something that I haven't seen before on track. Its got a tooth to it, other types of track have more of a texture. More on the surface later. The plastic that it's made out of is soft and it feels very durable. Some track is made of hard plastic and when you're taking the pieces apart and snapping them together many times it feels as though the track is going to break, not this Ninco track. It feels like it's made to last the rigors of years of play.
Now we're ready to race... Oh wait, the cars!
A pair of nicely done BMW M3's with the venerable NC2 motor in an anglewinder configuration come in the set. The powerplant is held securely in place by the chassis design, no need to glue the motors in, they're rock solid. Both cars have great tampo printing on them, very crisp printing on both cars. My only quibble would be that many of the parts still have flash on them. But this is an easy fix with just a few passes with an Xacto knife. The cars both have identical half pan style interiors. I prefer this to a full interior which adds a lot of weight to a car that's not really needed. Additionally Ninco uses plastic that's fairly thin in both the body and glass on the cars. This too saves weight and the thin glass makes the car look more real than some other brands that use thick glass, again, kudo's to Ninco for this. Both cars come with slicks and nicely done wheels. A personal make-or-break item for me with a car is the stance of it. Many cars sit too high (thus making them too toy-looking) and others sit too low (making the tires hit the wheel wells), but both cars sit exactly where they should. And these cars come each with a very, very strong button magent in place just in front of the motor. The gear mesh is great on these cars. And they exhibit none of the hop that some other Ninco's have.
Before racing new cars I always check the whether they need to be lubed, both cars came with oil already where it should be. Now to the track. The magnets make these cars stick like crazy to the track. 10 laps, 30 laps, 100 laps...this is great. Faster and faster the cars rocket around the track, you can hear the NC2's howling under those BMW bodies. Several hundred laps later and I'm quite happy to say the cars are great fun to drive and I'm wondering why I've never added one of these Ninco BMW's to my collection before now. For the beginner these cars are very easy to drive, they brake very well and accelerate quickly. They round the track smoothly and the stock tires stick really well to the track.
Now to answer another question many might have; How do the classics run on this track? I put my trusty old Ninco Porsche 356 (repainted but otherwise totally stock by the way, just weight added) on the track and began to see what my car's been missing all these years. These tires with their ribbed tread sticks like glue to the spiky texture of the track. My 356 has been set up for wood track racing and to be more competitive on this Ninco track it would need to have the weight moved closer to the guide, the car tends to roll out rather than slide. With my car however, the 55 ohm controller acts like an on/off switch and might not be the best choice for the NC1 motor.
I got the Pole Position counter with my set. It plugs in with nice positive connections to the power base/connection track strip. The instructions for the lap counter are a bit lean on specifics but you get the hang of the menu and figure it out quickly. You can set the nationality of the driver on the lane from a choice of many country's. And when that driver wins this counter even plays the national anthem of the winner, how cool is that! Not only that but it tells you the fast lap of the each lane as well, and of course count laps in one of 4 different racing modes.
As I said it's been years since I've had a set to race on, this Ninco set delivers great play value. And with the huge range of extra track, different surfaces (ie snowy and off road) Ninco has enough to satisfy even the most experienced racers out there.
Thanks to Bob at MRC
for providing the set and thanks to Mike at SCI for posting the review.