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New Zealand slot car manufacturers


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#1 Peter Davison

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Posted 22 June 2013 - 11:45 PM

Firstly a disclaimer: This is not a definitive history as I do not have names of individuals involved or the names of the companies behind the brands unless noted.

 

This is being presented so that others with more information will hopefully add it to the topic and I am more than happy to be corrected so we can get it right

 

Background to manufacturing in New Zealand in the 1960s:

 

In 1938 the New Zealand government introduced a system of import licensing and tariffs. British Commonwealth countries had a preferential tariff rate.

 

A product imported from the UK would have a tariff of 25% and the same or similar item from the US 60%. We got UK Revell rather than US.

This sytem created lots of small engineering companies who could make almost anything and be able to sell at less than the imported item as they avoided the tariff. The holding of an import licence was seen as a privelege and almost a way to 'print money'.

 

Import licensing ended in 1984.

 

In the next post I'll start with 'Checkpoint Model Car Racing Accessories' and upload a copy of their March 1969 price list.


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#2 Peter Davison

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Posted 22 June 2013 - 11:53 PM

Checkpoint Price List dated March 1969 :)

 

My recollection is that they were the biggest manufacture/distributor - in Auckland anyway.

 

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#3 Zippity

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Posted 22 June 2013 - 11:56 PM

Hey,

 

I bought most of that stuff.  :)  :)


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#4 Peter Davison

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Posted 22 June 2013 - 11:58 PM

Me, too!! :D



#5 don.siegel

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Posted 23 June 2013 - 12:43 PM

Thanks for posting that, Peter; always good to get a picture of the time. 

 

Prices don't seem too high eithers, guess their strategy seems to be working! Was the NZ$ about equal to the US$ at the time? 

 

Don 



#6 TSR

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Posted 23 June 2013 - 12:52 PM

Peter,

 

Thanks! I can still see lots of Japanese sourced items in the list, that would have been relatively cheap to buy in spite of the high import duty, simply because the Yen was so weak then.

 

Of course the RSL kits prove the point.

 

Another interesting bit that is surfacing more and more and relevant here since many of these motors landed in NZ, from my sources in Japan: the "HIT" motors may have NOTHING to do with a company named Hitachi, and what we have called "Hitachi" motors for many years (first by misidentifying the Igarashi motors, then those "HIT" motors) may simply be "HIT", manufactured by a company not affiliated in any way with any called Hitachi.


Philippe de Lespinay


#7 Peter Davison

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Posted 23 June 2013 - 05:37 PM

Don,

 

The NZ$ bought about US$1.10 & JPY400 in 1968/69

 

Philippe,

 

The motors, controllers, brass strips, clear plastic sheets, braid, pinions, copper tape, rewind wire, and tools were almost certainly imported. The rest of the parts were probably made locally, most definitely the chassis, tires, axles, hubs, guides, gears, and all the screws and nuts, etc.

 

Bodies would have been copies of G.T. Models, Lancer, Du-Bro, etc.

 

There were three 1/32 chassis, two of which were based on a copy of the Monogram Lotus 33/Ferrari rear axle bracket.

The bracket was made in at least three versions, can0drive Mabuchi with circlip, endbell drive for FT16 and HIT motor, and endbell drive FT26D and later BB endbell FT16D.

 

Typical Checkpoint header card.

 

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Not a great image, but you get the idea.

 

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There would have been thousands of these made and before the anglewinder it was the bracket of choice for scratchbuilt cars.

 

More later...



#8 Peter Davison

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Posted 23 June 2013 - 05:40 PM

Philippe,

 

I'm with you on the HIT motor; seemed a strange fit with 'Hitachi' as we know them in Japan. They were already a huge company by then and the quality maybe not up to their standards.



#9 Peter Davison

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Posted 23 June 2013 - 08:10 PM

Checkpoint only made 1/32 chassis.

 

First numbers 551 & 552 - similar to Auto Hobbies but not the same - these are very common both in brass and steel.

 

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Number 558 1/32 GP Chassis and 559 Mini chassis - these are both mint never used with no wear on bearings. The GP chassis was very popular and often used as basis for GT, Can-Am cars, etc. Don't recall the Mini chassis at the time, but was probably made for a club racing class using the #832 Mini Cooper body and Mabuchi FT13UO motor. GP chassis could also take a 16D.

 

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#10 Peter Davison

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Posted 23 June 2013 - 11:14 PM

A few more Checkpoint items...

 

#264 axles and 365 'Black Tracker sponge tires.

 

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#750 brushes & 660 bearings.

 

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#822 Harvey Aluminum Special.

 

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#851 Chaparral 2E.

 

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#872 STP Paxton Turbine.

 

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#186 & #188 wire.

 

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#570 & 571 rear axle brackets.

 

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#626 guide & #371 Mini Black Tracker.

 

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#272 RIKO style axle.

 

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#11 Peter Davison

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Posted 23 June 2013 - 11:37 PM

Next up... 'Lightning'.

 

Price list - pre 10 July 1967 - that's the day NZ changed to decimal currency.

 

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Rear of typical header with distributor information and 'Manufactured by Bruce Printing Co. Ltd, Burnett St., Ashburton. In the South Island near Christchurch.

 

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I have only ever seen the Corvette based on the Revell body and a Daytona Cobra of unknown origin. I have never seen the 300SL Gullwing or Porsche 904 and until I find one doubt that they were released.

 

#60 aluminum adjustable chassis - similar to Revell but not the same.

 

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Kits generally used the HIT motor, although I've seen some built cars with early FT16s.



#12 Peter Davison

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Posted 24 June 2013 - 08:16 PM

Lightning Stingray body - chrome is poor. I have the clear parts.

 

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#13 TSR

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Posted 24 June 2013 - 08:39 PM

Those are Revell moldings. They were produced in Marina Del Rey in California.

 

And the Lightning chassis is also by Revell, one of the many variations on that basic design.

 

Here are pictures of a complete kit at the LASCM. Now we understand where it came from, all the way from Kiwiland!  :)

 

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Thanks for helping resolve a little mystery!  :)


Philippe de Lespinay


#14 Peter Davison

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Posted 24 June 2013 - 11:08 PM

Nice to see a boxed one at last! :)

 

The front end of the Revell chassis was different.

 

Peter



#15 TSR

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Posted 25 June 2013 - 01:12 PM

Peter,

 

The front end of the Revell "ladder" chassis evolved to form at least four different versions. The one marketed by Lightning is only one of the versions... :) but it is absolutely, positively a Revell chassis.

 

It is in fact the very first version, before Revell actually produced their first complete kit. It bolts straight to that '63 Corvette body, but the front post in later cars need shortening to fit this frame, if I recall correctly.


Philippe de Lespinay


#16 Peter Davison

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Posted 25 June 2013 - 07:50 PM

Philippe,

 

I was aware of the chassis variations. The body, motor, and chassis would have been imported as 'spares' under the licensing regime and the rest made here. The wheels were zinc-plated brass!!

 

The kit you have can be dated to 1967 just prior to currency change as it has dual pricing.

 

Peter



#17 TSR

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Posted 25 June 2013 - 07:57 PM

Peter,

 

I believe that this kit dates from 1965, but the price on the box may have been placed later. by 1967, those parts were so obsolete... :)

Then again, I was not there to check it out, and anything is indeed possible...

 

I am happy to know where it came from and am wondering how many have survived relatively intact like this one... because I have (personally) never seen another.


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#18 Peter Davison

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Posted 25 June 2013 - 08:30 PM

Philippe,

 

You could be right on when it was made. I have seen lots of built cars, mostly in poor condition, but never a boxed unbuilt one.

 

They produced kits well into the late '70s or mabe early '80s with vacformed bodies and aluminum outrigger body mounts on the same chassis. Green backing card and plastic bag.

 

Have seen a 1976 Shadow D.N. 8 F1 car and a Dome Celica Turbo, wheels are now aluminum.

 

The images are on my Turbolister programme but I can't move them from there. :dash2:  I unfortunately deleted them.  :dash2:



#19 Peter Davison

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Posted 26 June 2013 - 04:49 AM

This image from a friend today - will try and get better ones.

 

Cobra.jpg

 

Note different motor on side panel - RIKO of some sort?



#20 TSR

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Posted 26 June 2013 - 10:05 AM

Indeed, very interesting, another unknown kit! The motor looks like one of those odd Japanese motors with 'blade' brush system, the chassis still looks like Revell. Now the body... the only Cobra coupes that had injected bodies were the K&B/Aurora and the Veco/Auto-Hobbies, so could it be a local NZ job?

 

The box illustration leans to the K&B 1/24 scale model as it is a copy of one of K&B illustrations of their kit.
 

If your friend can send you a picture of the inside of the kit, we can try to figure that one out!  :)

 

In any case, besides the Marusan-sourced RSL Porsche 904 and Ford GT and the Revell-sourced '63 Vette, plus this Cobra, how many more pre-1970 NZ-issue slot car kits were marketed, that you have identified?


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#21 Peter Davison

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Posted 26 June 2013 - 02:51 PM

Philippe,

 

I'm pretty sure there's only the four kits in any numbers. There may have been parts assembled in a package by a local raceway, but nothing significant.

 

I hope to have images of the inside of the Cobra box soon. I have an old body that I'll photograph later today.



#22 TSR

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Posted 26 June 2013 - 03:02 PM

Peter,

 

Thanks a million for your great contribution to slot car history.

 

Frankly, besides the RSL kits, I was unaware of lightning other than we had that Corvette kit but we assumed that it was an American promo item of some kind.

 

Thanks for shining the light on that little nugget. I am looking forward for the Cobra body pics that will tell us if it is an import of one of the two American bodies of the car.


Philippe de Lespinay


#23 Peter Davison

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Posted 26 June 2013 - 03:59 PM

Here's the Cobra body. Could be K&B by the notch left for Challenger motor? Both bodies were sold separately in hanger bags.

 

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But wait! There's more!!

 

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And lastly a typical header card.

 

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#24 TSR

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Posted 26 June 2013 - 04:10 PM

Possibly the K&B body, I don't have a picture on file of the 1/32 scale model, so I will have to verify that at my next visit of the LASCM.

 

The K&B/Aurora body was likely produced, like their HO-scale T-Jets bodies, in Malaysia or the Philippines, so imports from these countries may have carried a lower duty. Could also be a Hong Kong job by Lincoln or some other outfit, because I cannot recall one made in Japan.

 

The controller looks like a copy of the Russkit "HO" type that was eventually purchased by Aurora, but is not identical; it is not the same mold. Made in NZ, Hong Kong, or Japan??? We will likely never know...  :)


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#25 Peter Davison

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Posted 26 June 2013 - 04:21 PM

Next up the mystery company - RSL Action Time/Hurricane.

 

I have no price lists or paperwork. I have no information as to the company behind this line.

 

They produced the 1/32 Marusan-bodied, Hit Line-chassied Porsche 904 and Ford GT40, the Porsche in gray and Ford in blue.

Hit Line was a Marusan product using can motors as opposed to the open frame motored standard Marusan/Atlas range.

 

The kits were marked RSL - A Classic Line. Porsche kit was item H101.

 

Both cars were also sold in race sets sold under the 'Hurricane' brand. Track used was 1/24 Marusan and is quite nice. I have track pieces with three different rail materials, aluminum, brass, and steel??

 

If Marusan was bankrupt in the mid-'60s it is possible that the track molds came to New Zealand as this practice was fairly common. MPC, AMT, and Monogram molds were here in the '70s. Controllers were Marusan, power supplies locally made. I will try to find a set box image

 

RSL Action Time was the branding on the HO Marusan sets sold in New Zealand. Cars were Marusan, usually a Corvette and a Ferrari 250GTO.

Boxes would have been made here and possibly the track; cars would have been ex-Japan in bulk

 

Porsche box - under the logo in blue is 'Made in New Zealand".

 

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