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Home  >>  Reviews  >>  Track Sets
Published: October 7, 2002
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From the start, if I seem a little excited in this review it's because I am! I apologize to those that this may offend, but I just can't help myself. In the last few months I have tested some excellent track systems, all with their strong points, and this new Artin 4 lane set is certainly no exception. Our hobby has really grown, offering us so much lately that how could I not be excited?
I guess a lot of people including myself sometimes; always recommend starting out small when beginning this hobby. After all, most of us are on a budget, and investing a great deal of money into something when you're not really sure you will like it seems ridiculous. This advice might explain why the latest Artin 4 lane offering is such a great deal, with over 30 feet of track, maybe change my recommendation to start out BIG!

Artin has been around for quite awhile, yet some do not give the system any serious attention. One of the main reasons for this is that availability of track and parts has been difficult at best. Sure, you could order a set from JC Penny or Sears, but then what?
So what's the big deal about Artin? Well they have been, and still continue to be the least expensive track system you can buy. Price has always been the main plus of going with Artin, and that is still the case. Does this mean you can't build a detailed scale layout with it? On the contrary really, as I have seen some excellent layouts completed in Artin, so don't let that stop you.
It arrived here in very simple packaging, with no fancy box art or catalogs. Fine by me really, except for a few older AFX box tops I have saved, box art really isn't why I am in this hobby. So if they can pass savings on to me by shipping it in a plain brown box... by all means do so.

This is not to say they have not packaged it well. All parts were wrapped in plastic and arrived intact. A simple instruction sheet is provided and is very easy to follow. It shows 2 layouts you can start with and again no frills here, but it works.
My first reaction was "Wow! That's a lot of track!" Then it started to sink in that in just a few minutes, my family and I were going to be racing it, all of us at once!
However, we had to build it first right? So as we started to open it up and take a look, one thing that stuck in my mind were the borders. You may not think this is a big deal, but for a lot of us, having borders to allow our cars to slide around the outside is a major issue. Not only does this set include all the outer borders, it also includes inner borders as well.

Now the color they chose to paint them is not the most eye appealing, but the fact that they are present scores points in my book.
Besides, these markings aren't anything that can't be fixed with a little spray paint. I did this on my Carrera borders, and will do so in this case as well. The bottom line is they are included and that saves you money... that's a good thing right?

Next, I noticed the controllers. Here is where some may not be so pleased, as they are of the thumb type plunger design.
 
However some of you actually like using this type of controller, and Artin has added a twist with theirs. On the sides are small plastic buttons that allow you to hold the controller button down, set the speed of your car, push in this locking button and walk away. This worked very well, and it allows you to race against 3 other cars, even if you're by yourself. We really got a kick out of doing this and are glad Artin included this feature.
Now on to the track itself, and here is another area where Artin is unique. Artin track is a hard plastic track similar to Carrera, yet is roughly the size of Scalextric. I prefer a hard plastic track for a permanent layout that you plan on having elevation, and this track allows you to do this, all in a smaller space. The track snaps snugly together and the racing surface is nice and smooth. The track also has a small groove along the outside edge for installing guardrails, the borders and for the 4 lane mounting clips.
Artin track assembly These clips simply slip into the grooves, holding both lanes tightly together. Not over complicated, and it works very well. When using the track in its 4 lane configuration, you may think the gaps in the track would hinder performance while you drift around the track, but we found this is not the case. The cars slide right over these gaps surprisingly smooth.

Track connection is very easy, and taking it apart is a breeze. 2 clips on the inside snap into place.
 
To disconnect it, simply press down on the tabs and with a slight twisting motion, they come right apart. Slot depth is always an issue with track, especially when it's too shallow and you have to trim your guides just to race. The slots in Artin track are deep enough for all home set guides that I tested, including Carrera and Ninco without trimming.

In addition to the borders, Artin has also included a nice grandstand, complete with figures. This may or may not be important to you, but again, the simple fact that it is included is a plus.
Artin slot depth
The figures are unpainted, so you can stretch your modeling dollar even further by getting a taste of painting and detailing your layout.

Although it's minus the braking, the power base provided is very easy to hook up and I found it to be a sturdy design. The plugs and wires fit perfectly and even after a few accidental tugs on the control wires, the system held up well. The power system here certainly is large enough in size, utilizing an almost Carrera style of hookup.
 
This VERY large transformer supplies power for all 4 lanes via 2 plug-in connectors. Rated at 12v DC the main problem here is the lack of amperage. Each lane is supplied 150ma a piece, according to the transformer data plate. Most slot cars are going to need more than this for optimal performance, so if you decide that you like this set, an additional pack would really help. The cars we tested ran fairly well, but you will not see an abundance of power here.
I tested everything from Scalextric NASCAR's and Trans-Ams, Fly Classics, to Ninco Rally cars, and they all operated smoothly. A touch slower than on other systems due to the lack of amperage, but smooth nonetheless. Another aspect of the Artin track is it seems to have less magnetic properties in the rails than even Carrera, at least in my rough hand tests.
This should be a blessing for those who like a mild or no magnet set-up. We certainly had a blast drifting and sliding the Fly Classics around it!
There is enough track here to build quite a few different designs, in fact I must admit that the big attraction of this set was the fact I could build a 4 lane oval for my NASCARS to trade paint on. The set includes enough track to either build a Figure 8 or Oval. I have missed oval racing, and wanted badly to build one, yet my bank account disagreed with me. Until now however, and this 4 lane oval will remain intact in our dungeon.
With the amount of track you get, one could easily design a good sized 2 lane raceway if 4 lanes are just not right for you.

At the time this is being written, this set does NOT include any cars. However, I have been informed from Slot Car World that this may change very quickly. Until then however, Slot Car World is offering a great discount on cars if you order them with the set. In fact, it might be better off this way, allowing you to pick your own field of models you prefer.

It has been said that 4 lane racing isn't twice the fun of 2 lanes; it's 10 times the fun. If you have your family or friends involved in this hobby, you owe it to yourself to think about going 4 lanes if you have not done so already. Budget constraints had stopped me in the past of constructing a 4 lane speedway, but now with this release, I simply had no excuse. For a retail price of $90.00, you really can't go wrong.

Nothing is perfect in any set you may choose to purchase, so one has to balance the strong points as well as the weak. Most enthusiasts, once hooked on this hobby immediately upgrade the hand controllers, and then later on, the power system. I did this with my Scalextric and Carrera sets, and this is why I really can't knock Artin too much for the included controllers or power supply. They both have worked flawlessly so far, and as I write this review, I can hear the laughter and noise of my 2 teenagers, along with their 2 friends battling it out in a 4 lane slot fight, fancy or not, this system is fun.
I have to give this track a "thumbs up", this set is definitely worth a second look if you're thinking about starting in the hobby or maybe that dream of a 4 lane speedway still lingers in you.
 
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