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Go Back   Slot Car Illustrated Forum > Scale Racing > HO Scale Slot Cars

View Poll Results: IN YOUR OPINION WILL THE SLOT CAR HOBBY GROW OR FALL IN 10 YEARS?
I SEE IT GROWING 6 17.65%
I SEE IT DECLINING 21 61.76%
I SEE IT STAGNATING 6 17.65%
I JUST WANNA WATCH 1 2.94%
Voters: 34. You may not vote on this poll

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  #16  
Old 01-11-2019, 03:27 PM
Maddman Maddman is offline
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I see it declining in the US. This is due to increasing cost, the aging of the manufacturers and racers and poor quality products.



Back in the day raceways and parts were plentiful. Today raceways are non-existent and it is a basement hobby. There are few if any stores and On-Line procurement is becoming more difficult. Sorry but Autoworld products are junk. AFX offers a good product but how long will they stay in business? DASH is considering retirement. BSRT and Viper produce a good product but the manufacturers age here is also an issue.


Lets not even discuss T-Jets. Sourcing parts for a competitive Fray car can be a real treasure hunt.
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  #17  
Old 01-11-2019, 03:29 PM
el gecko el gecko is offline
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I would be interested in something like this too. We already have a good amount of slot car shows or swap meets across the US, but there is a thin manufacturer presence, if any. Maybe some sort of "manufacturer's row" or something at a show to show off their new fancy products, similar to a tradeshow booth. Stuff that can spruce the shows up a bit and connect the makers with the racers.

Also maybe set aside a small space for presentations, which could be technology improvements, product demos, how-to or educational things like how and why to use aftermarket tires, the best paint to use for different materials, etc. This would also be great for dad and son, to maybe start working on their cars a bit more--get them more interested & more deeply involved.

I also think having a running track is an absolute necessity. Set a time limit if there's a crowd, and allow anyone to run their cars + controllers on the track but have loaners & track controllers for people to give it a shot. Include it and promote it with the show, not just some guy posting on Facebook that he's bringing a portable track, but essentially guaranteeing it to be there because it's been advertised on the flyer. If space permits, build 1/32 and 1/24 scale tracks too. The more the merrier. And the more people we can help to see the fun in what we do, the more likely they are to stay with it, which helps sustain the hobby for the future.
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  #18  
Old 01-11-2019, 03:39 PM
NicoRosberg. NicoRosberg. is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maddman View Post
BSRT and Viper produce a good product but the manufacturers age here is also an issue.
Gary B must be pretty old by now, but the Cronins will be around a good while yet.

Tony P may be gone now, but Roger seems to be building a good reputation, and I hope he will bring out a chassis eventually.
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  #19  
Old 01-11-2019, 05:10 PM
Wet Coast Racer Wet Coast Racer is offline
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Arrow I doubt you're mistaken. However ...

Quote:
Originally Posted by NicoRosberg. View Post
Gary B must be pretty old by now, but the Cronins will be around a good while yet.

Tony P may be gone now, but Roger seems to be building a good reputation, and I hope he will bring out a chassis eventually.
But, if the hobby is to grow (the goal of SCI being to help with this) then more complete information is needed to help folks along.

Who is this old Gary B guy, or the Cronins for that matter? What have they to do with anything (this poll in particular)?

Same thing applies to Tony P, not to mention this Roger fellow (presumably not related to the rabbit).

More to the point, what products have they brought to market, and what can we expect from them in the future? Why are they relevant?

Because I'll tell you what. If HO Slot Racing (or any scale, for that matter) isn't approachable and understandable to the newcomer then it sure as hell isn't going to grow and will surely stagnate at a similar rate to the participants involved. And if those participants are just a bunch of old men acting like it's some secret club only for the cognoscenti then that's just freaking sad.

Operator? Information! Get me someone on the line who's ready to help out!

This, by providing their knowledge and expertise on SCI (and other venues of course) as to what's going on in a way that's comprehensible to all, particularly those who are insufficiently aware of the products. Slot car racing is NOT a secret club unless you treat it that way, which can only be to the detriment of the hobby.

And being as I'm blowing off steam, please ask yourselves this - I'll use Autoworld as an example being as they're a popular target for folks to vent their vitriol. What's more useful, really? Trashing a product because it's junk (even if true) or letting people know what you've done to fix this junk and make it worthy?

Please people, take a look around this site sometime, objectively. Not just the HO stuff. Look at the various forums on different topics including different scales, and how so much of it is about sharing information and solutions, as well as news about new products and business developments.

Because there is so much collective knowledge in your heads that could be useful to new recruits to our hobby, and that is surely a key factor in helping it grow instead of fading into hobby history.
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  #20  
Old 01-11-2019, 07:19 PM
JimDouglasJr JimDouglasJr is offline
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I see it declining, right along the lines of what 'Hoppy said.

As the years go by, more distractions are introduced, keeping kids face down in one screen or another. So few people even have the skill to work on a small machine these days. I mean, it is what it is. These same young people will be replacing the video game they broke or discarded when they're 30 or 40.... maybe. I don't know, I don't see a lot of sentimentality for nostalgia among a lot of younger people. Me, I liked old stuff since the time I was a kid.

I see supposedly serious FRAY type racing groups panicking about parts availability, yet nobody has said one word, even as a group, about stepping up to take over Dash production. The tooling and manufacturing already exists. Just a matter of buying the owner out.
Overly specific rules and overly complicated tutorials certainly don't attract newbies.

As for a convention, be the "they" who puts one on. "They" is somebody, and anyone can be that somebody. It's not terribly difficult to line up some public convention space in a hotel, community center, or Knights of Columbus or VFW hall for a couple days and get the word out, and a couple phone calls to management to block out discount hotel rooms. I put together a 4 day road rally all by myself, including all the meal stops and lodging. It wasn't difficult.

One bit of advice, try to give people 9-12 months notice so they can plan to travel.

Last edited by JimDouglasJr; 01-11-2019 at 07:34 PM.
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  #21  
Old 01-12-2019, 01:30 AM
NicoRosberg. NicoRosberg. is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wet Coast Racer View Post
Trashing a product because it's junk (even if true) or letting people know what you've done to fix this junk and make it worthy?
As a community we do both. But I would think a newbie is better served by knowing it is junk, compared to being confronted with strip-downs and the like - if we only did one or the other as in your scenario. Which we don't.

I don't think the HO section is any more of a secret club than any other part of SCI, it just seems that way to you.
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  #22  
Old 01-12-2019, 01:34 AM
NicoRosberg. NicoRosberg. is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimDouglasJr View Post
As for a convention, be the "they" who puts one on. "They" is somebody, and anyone can be that somebody.
Absolutely. What HO needs are places where the public can see large tracks at the weekends they can't have at home, and race on them, with follow up advice and help. Between THORL and the HO Zone at Gaydon, the UK has that.

It is a lot of hard work, but so worth it.
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  #23  
Old 01-12-2019, 05:33 AM
Eagle Racing Eagle Racing is offline
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The best I can remember slot cars have been going out of business since the end of the 60's. They are still here. Pro Track has started a line of cnc aluminum wheels geared to the drag racers. I believe AFX introduced a new body in there race sets. Auto World keeps on reintroducing new paint schemes on there bodies. Jag introduced two new chassis's last year. Life Like is making a go of it. I gave money to there kick starter program. I have a modest investment in my humble little shop. I have been casting resin bodies and building custom chassis's for over 20 years. In the drag racing scene I here about new tracks being built every year. I am a glass half full kind of guy vs glass half empty. I think the industry is doing well enough to keep on keeping on.
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  #24  
Old 01-12-2019, 07:02 PM
Wet Coast Racer Wet Coast Racer is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NicoRosberg. View Post
I don't think the HO section is any more of a secret club than any other part of SCI, it just seems that way to you.
And yet, oddly (yet predictably) enough, you ignored all of my questions about the people you referred to. Thanks for that, very helpful eh?

I rest my case.
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  #25  
Old 01-12-2019, 09:49 PM
Tudo Tudo is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Speedhoppy View Post
I am asking this question because I don't know; has there ever been a state/regional/national "convention" for the slot car industry? I am not talking about "swap meets" or the various club get together, but something broader in scale.......

In my chosen (now retired from) field of work (Credit Union Industry), our Illinois Credit Union League (Trade Association) holds an annual convention (usually at a hotel in the Chicago area) of 2-3 days, which includes speakers on the industry, classroom sessions on related topics for management/staff of state credit unions to attend, and an exhibit area where all related vendors/business partners can have a booth to demonstrate their products. It is also a social network, allowing CU employees and management from across the state to interact and share ideas "face to face".......

Imagine such a thing done for the slot car industry, sponsored by the various associations, the major manufacturers (this would include all scales, not just HO), even Slot Car Illustrated!

Educational Sessions could include: 1. Modifying various chassis; 2. Proper painting techniques for plastic/Lexan/cast-resin bodies; 3. Utilizing the "new" technologies to make parts (chassis/bodies/wheels/etc.); 4. The "State of The Union" of the Industry itself. That list could be whatever was determined relevant.

Who could/ would be the speakers? Any number from the slot car movement , including members of this Forum, and from the manufacturers, clubs, etc.

Demonstration races could be/should be held (in all scales), as well; would that not attract interest?

The question is whether or not everyone who could contribute would participate, and whether or not the funding would be there. I don't know if it is feasible to do a National meeting (would / has the U.K. done this?), or regional, but that is something I would want to attend.

Again, if this has been done (I might be operating in a vacuum here), share what the results were; maybe (if it failed) it could be improved ........


I haven't gotten thru all the posts so forgive me if this has been answered but yes that would be my outside the loop question about conventions and if so how are they set up. Here's one that just ended in my field which is coins, this being held every January in Orlando and is the Florida United Numismatists Convention, either the largest coin show of the year or one of the top 2 or 3 for sure with as many as 20,000 people walking thru those doors from wednsday-sunday:
http://funtopics.com/
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  #26  
Old 01-12-2019, 09:57 PM
Tudo Tudo is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fastlap View Post
Maybe some energetic soul can see if there is a large 1/32 or 1/24 event like this in the US and try to piggyback the HO scale into it? Just thinking out loud......

Again as someone not in the know, I would see that as a good thing to connect. In my business there's silver dollar specialists, and there's cent specialists and everything in between. So, 1/32, 1/24, 1/64 and would Diorama also be invited? What about diecast/matchbox type cars?


I wished I had paid Brad to decorate the track I purchased. It was a lot of money for me to spend on a track and for another few bucks to have had it ready to run but also ready to look at would have been worth it to me and finding guys who custom build spectator seats, and places for food, etc on a track has been challenging. To be able to attend an event where all of these things would be under one roof would be terrific in my opinion and give everybody a chance to see what else is happening.


How about a section for international?


No?
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  #27  
Old 01-13-2019, 10:55 AM
fastlap fastlap is offline
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I found it very helpful to go to youtube and type in titles like HO scenery, HO Landscaping, etc.

Yes, a lot of it will be experimentation and minor lost $$ on supplies where it doesn't turn out the way you want it. But I learn a few tricks on my own that weren't in the videos. I also "really like" to make and fabricate my own diorama accessories. Just like the Jersey Barriers. No one makes them in our scale, so I made my own. Making them from resin made them indestructible, but also expensive!! I took a hint from Downtowndeco (Randy) and bought a $25 50lb. bag of Hyrocal and make them for pennies!! That's the cool stuff that makes the R&D worth it.


Which brings me to your point. How do we learn this stuff or where can we go to pickup hints or tutorials? Try some modeling RR sites. Our own SCI has a very cool section of Track Layout and Scenery at the bottom of the main Forum page. Even though mostly in 1/32 scale, there are a lot of good ideas and hints there. This hobby is fun and All good in the Hood!!!


Link to the Scenery, Layouts, and Scenery page on SCI;
I found it very helpful to go to youtube and type in titles like HO scenery, HO Landscaping, etc.
Yes, a lot of it will be experimentation and minor lost $$ on supplies where it doesn't turn out the way you want it. But I learn a few tricks on my own that weren't in the videos. I also "really like" to make and fabricate my own diorama accessories. Just like the Jersey Barriers. No one makes them in our scale, so I made my own. Making them from resin made them indestructible, but also expensive!! I took a hint from Downtowndeco (Randy) and bought a $25 50lb. bag of Hyrocal and make them for pennies!! That's the cool stuff that makes the R&D worth it.

Which brings me to your point. How do we learn this stuff or where can we go to pickup hints or tutorials? Try some modeling RR sites. Our own SCI has a very cool section of Track Layout and Scenery at the bottom of the main Forum page. Even though mostly in 1/32 scale, there are a lot of good ideas and hints there. This hobby is fun and All good in the Hood!!!


Link to Track, Layouts, and Scenery at the bottom of the SCI Forum page;
http://www.slotcarillustrated.com/po...splay.php?f=27

self made Jersey Barriers like seen on street courses and most real race tracks;



.


self made Jersey Barriers like seen on street courses and most real race tracks;





.

Last edited by fastlap; 01-13-2019 at 11:07 AM.
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  #28  
Old 01-14-2019, 08:38 AM
Maddman Maddman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wet Coast Racer View Post
And yet, oddly (yet predictably) enough, you ignored all of my questions about the people you referred to. Thanks for that, very helpful eh?

I rest my case.



No need to rest your case. If the goal of SCI is to grow the hobby it would help if the moderators (and some others) would learn about the hobby, its history and who the movers and shakers were and still are. Toward that end here is a brief history lesson.


Gary Beedle, Tony Porcelli and Bob Lincoln’s roots date back to Slot Car Racing's "Golden Era" - the 1960's.
In the mid to late 80s and early 90s Gary was developing parts for and racing the Tomy Super G+ chassis. Tony and Bob were doing the same with the Tyco 440 X2. This resulted in some epic battles in the late 80s and early 90s. These three eventually developed their own chassis to continue to up performance and to get an advantage over the other.



In 1978 Gary took over the HO side of Speed and Sport and re-named it Scale Auto. While Gary started building up Scale Auto’s HO mail order business on the side, he continued to help Ron expand Speed & Sport's customer base until they became the dominant distributor of both Slot & R/C cars in the mid-80's.



Through Scale Auto, BSRT introduced high-quality "pro" HO parts that made it possible for everyone to compete on a level playing field. Scale Auto offered Bucktrax routed commercial tracks and LaneMaster computer software, both allowing HO slot racing to become a viable commercial possibility. Scale Auto was responsible for saving the Aurora AFX brand in the late 1990's as Gary secured the North American selling rights so Tomy Aurora AFX could see the light of another day. This new venture, started by Gary along with Jim Russell (of Russkit fame), became today's Racemasters company. Jim Russel was also originator of the Russkit 1/24th, the MAXX HO slot car and the Rokar HO scale product lines. Rokar eventually became Lifelike.

Gary went on to develop the BSRT G3 series of chassis based on the Tomy SG+ platform. Tony went on to develop the Slottech Panther and Thundercat series of chassis. Bob developed the Wizzard Patrior and Storm series of chassis. The Slottech and Wizzard chassis were based on the Tyco 440 X2 platform. Gary, Tony and Bob were the big three of HO racing. I was fortunate to be on Bob and Gary’s teams, win two national titles for Bob in 1987 and participate in the development of the G3 chassis.



Tony’s company was Slottech. In 1990 Slottech introduced the Polymer Bonded Magnet, as well as the first truly performance oriented HO gears. In 1993 the Cheetah Unlimited Chassis was introduced. Tony’s other high-performance HO chassis include the Thundercat and the Panther. Tony is also known for custom rewound armatures and other performance parts. Tony is a multiple HOPRA national champion.


Bob started Wizzard High Performance (WHP) and is the third of the big three. Wizzard is known for the Patriot and Storm chassis along with custom rewound armatures and other performance parts. WHP has recently branched into producing T-Jet parts and produces numerous high performance parts for the car including what is probably the best front-end setup, period. It appears that WHP designed the Super III chassis based on its similarity with the Storm. Unfortunately, they didn’t manufacture it.



Where are they now? Tony has passed. Bob is rarely seen at races and Gary is getting up in age as well. R.C. has effectively taken over the helm of Wizzard. Roger has taken over the helm at Slottech. Gary is still running Scale Auto/BSRT. Who will eventually take over the helm at Scale Auto/BSRT is unknown. Comparatively speaking, Dan Cronin of Viper Scale Racing is a relative newcomer. The Viper chassis is based on the BSRT G3R chassis with some of the Slottech front bumper design tossed in for good measure. Sorry, but when you can interchange all of the parts and pieces between the two different manufacturers chassis you have to call it like it is. Viper Scale Racing also offers a quality routed HO track in either kit or RTR form. Harden Creek Slot Cars is trying to revive the Lifelike HO slot car line and has a prototype chassis developed. The 3D printed prototype chassis appears to be a Viper V1 chassis with an open frame can motor as opposed to the Viper’s Tomy SG+ bulkhead based motor. It looks good but, in my opinion, won’t pass the child safety and electro-magnetic-interference, radio frequency interference (EMI-RFI) laws. The chassis might be marketed as an adult only “hobby” product. Even then it would require modification to pass the current EMI-RFI laws. This is especially true if Harden Creek wants to market it in places other than the US as the European EMI-RFI laws are stricter.

There are other HO parts suppliers such as Rick DeRosa (Quicker Engineering). They won’t be getting into the chassis game. The only large production quality home track chassis supplier still in business is AFX. Dan Casmer’s DASH Motorsports provides a high quality pancake motor based car. DASH is really targeting the T-Jet racer market and is not available as a kit with track, controllers and power supply. The other quality high volume suppliers such as Lifelike, Tomy (Aurora) and Tyco (Matell) are defunct. Today’s other chassis manufactures are either low volume or provide a sufficiently poor-quality product as to not be worth mentioning.

That was the past and in some instances the present. The truth is that the hobby has been in decline since the 70s when commercial slot racing went out of fashion and was replaced by video games and other hobbies.

Reversing this trend would be difficult at best. Marketing a commercially available HO car or set is difficult as customer service and returns make up a significant loss as the ability of a typical parent to fix a HO car is almost impossible. The recourse is to contact the store and return the “defective” product for a full refund. The store either absorbs the loss or passes the loss along to the manufacturer/supplier. This is the primary reason that many of the big box stores quit stocking slot cars in general and HO scale slot cars in particular. Gary related many a story about this. I also experienced this when I was selling MaDD Lexan bodies. A customer was upset as the clear Lexan body ordered from a supplier arrived unpainted, untrimmed and when placed on the chassis fell off when the car moved. I carefully explained that this was a high-performance aftermarket product, body mounts had to be added to the chassis and what had to be done to mount, trim and paint the body. This explanation was not well received.

Commercially speaking HO slot cars are toys. Today’s toys have to be more bulletproof than ever. The typical commercially available HO home set is quite fragile and intolerant to dirt, pet hair and carpet threads. The cars require constant maintenance. Track sections are subject to damage if not assembled and disassembled with extreme care. If the owner can’t (or won’t) clean the hair out of a rear axle, are they going to tear down a HO car and replace tires, pickups, brushes etc. when these parts wear out? Coupled with ever increasingly difficult Electro-Magnetic-Interference, Radio Frequency Interference (EMI-RFI) and Child Safety laws the cost of a HO scale home set will continue to increase. The larger scales are more tolerant to these issues.

Then there is the up-front cost to for a new racer to enter the game. Cars that sold for under $10 are now marketed for $40 or more. This is especially true if obtained at a hobby shop as opposed to direct from AFX. Most will buy a video game or some other diversion for their children rather than cough up $100 or more for two cars and a track. This is especially true if they want a decent size track as opposed to the typical 10 or 15 feet of two-lane plastic track supplied in most sets.

I have been involved with slot cars and HO scale racing since the late 1960s and have over 50 years of experience with the hobby. I don’t see a bright shiny future for the HO slot car industry. The customer base is aging and in the US HO scale racing will continue primarily as a basement hobby until it eventually dies out. You may be fortunate to find the occasional brick and mortar store with cars and a track. The situation in Great Britain is unique as clubs can, and do, build large temporary tracks for their races. That trend hasn’t caught on in the US. However, a return to the good old days when hobby shops with decent size commercial tracks such as the Aurora Tub Track were located within a few miles of my house doesn’t appear to be in the cards.

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  #29  
Old 01-14-2019, 09:48 AM
gmcullan gmcullan is online now
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Steve, a great post. As a point of clarity, I believe that Roger has distanced himself from Slottech and that Morris Clark is responsible for the day to day Slottech operations. Slottech is still viable, as I have recently ordered and received Spec Stock and weighted car chassis kits.
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  #30  
Old 01-14-2019, 10:32 AM
el gecko el gecko is offline
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No matter how good the cars are, if you force your customers to jump through stupid hoops like calling them on the phone to check inventory, or mailing in a physical order form, your business will die. None of these high performance chassis builders has a proper online store on their website, which is hampering every aspect of their business unnecessarily. If you don't have a working web store, you're automatically left in the dust compared to other businesses who do. I get the "keep it small" aspect since a lot of these are "cottage" type shops, but at some point you need to grow the customer base or risk losing out altogether. Slottech in particular is using the .biz domain rather than .com, which automatically turns people off because .biz is generally used for spam or identity theft sites.

Every slot car website I've ever been on looks shady and potentially spammy. People need to stop making their stuff look like my geocities page from 20 years ago, and make something that people can actually trust.
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