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Top ten US brands from the '60s


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#1 don.siegel

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Posted 16 May 2016 - 01:11 PM

Here's an interesting intellectual exercise.
 
After I badgered them for a couple years, a French collectors' magazine finally agreed to do an article about my collection. I told the editor in chief about my collection and areas of expertise - slot racing history and literature, grew up in Chicago and raced there, scratch-built cars, world slots to some degree, etc. - so naturally he asked me to do an article on French brands! I explained I probably wasn't the best guy to do that and instead proposed an article on the Top Ten US slot car brands - a general overview to give readers an idea of the "golden age" of slot racing - the 60s in the States, and mythic brands. In France at least, enthusiasts still make a real distinction between "circuits routiers", or home/club "plastic" slot cars, and "le slot", or unrealistic, metal-chassied cars... I've been trying to fight this for 20 years, but I think I lost. Anyway, the idea was to show the French collectors readership that there is other stuff besides Circuit 24 and Scalextric... 
 
Here are my own photos of the groupings of the ten US brands I consider "top" - and by that I mean a combination of historic importance, collectibility, aesthetics and intangibles, with car models that would illustrate this. I came up with this pretty quickly, and was necessarily limited by my own collection, but not sure what I would have changed, if anything. I might have chosen BZ, Pactra or Testor instead of Atlas, but didn't necessarily have the cars, and I think Atlas was important because some of their line was very cheap and it was almost all Made in Japan - more openly than the others in any case... HO is a whole other ballpark, so limited this to mostly 1/24, which seems the major vintage collectors market in the States, and some 1/32
 
Cox
Russkit
Monogram
Revell
AMT
MPC
Atlas
Classic
K&B
Strombecker
 
Not all of the cars shown were photographed for the article - it will be 3 or 4 magazine pages, with about 20 photos, so we eliminated similar cars. For what it's worth, I chose an initial group of 9 Monogram cars, more than any other brand (hence, 2 photos here). And kind of subconciously I limited this to earlier models - otherwise Champion would have been in there, and I also don't have enough in good condition to show... I had prepared a few other models, including a sprinkling of international brands and some rare US models, but there wasn't room in the article. 
 
A single chassis photo: the Adam & Sons Quad Mk1! 
 
For what it's worth, the journalist-photographer was a total slot neophyte, and he really liked the Thingies. 
 
Opinions Welcome.
 
Don 
 
Top%20Ten%20Cox_zpsizn2fnyn.jpg
 
Top%20Ten%20Russkit_zpsbb4seob5.jpg
 
Top%20Ten%20Monogram%202_zpsxv5kg03p.jpg
 
Top%20Ten%20Monogram%201_zpslevyjyf6.jpg
 
Top%20Ten%20Revell_zpsharycuik.jpg
 
Top%20Ten%20AMT_zpswelna0le.jpg
 
Top%20Ten%20MPC_zpspbwfulx7.jpg
 
Top%20Ten%20Atlas_zpsp4bixbvz.jpg
 
Top%20Ten%20Classic_zps1nwpimig.jpg
 
Top%20Ten%20KB_zpsnzj0wvll.jpg
 
Top%20Ten%20Strombecker_zpsu7luzal1.jpg
 

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#2 Mattb

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Posted 16 May 2016 - 01:22 PM

Nice, Don, looking forward to what you write up and is printed. I do believe I would have put BZ in there at the expense of Atlas. If the list is in order of importance, I believe Monogram would have been #2 on my list and Classic could have been 2 or 3. Just my opinion based on the cars those companies made and their importance to 1/24 1960 slot car racing in America. Actually with this criteria, Strombecker may not have made my list. Good that you can share some of your knowledge.


Matt Bishop

Vintage Cox Slot Cars

#3 Dennis David

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Posted 16 May 2016 - 01:49 PM

I would agree with the list that you mentioned and understand why Aurora was left out.

Dennis David
    
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#4 don.siegel

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Posted 16 May 2016 - 03:26 PM

Thanks guys. 

 

Matt, to tell you the truth, the criteria weren't all that rock solid when I did this; it was sort of a last minute thing when the guy was going to come over for photos, and I wanted to suggest a theme that I could do and that might possibly interest the French readership of collectors, but not necessarily of toys and especially not slot cars.  

 

Strombecker was a late decision too; something like, "I can't leave out Strombecker!" Even if they were more known for their home racing sets and were really somewhere between toy and model manufacturers. 

 

The list is the order I thought of the companies, so in a way my personal preference, and the way my mind works (not that I prefer Cox, but in a collectors' market, they have to go first). Yes, in strict order of importance, Classic would have been higher, and I believe Champion was also a major factor, but more in the level of competition and motors than in the cars per se... (plus, I don't have many examples in good condition). 

 

Like I said, I was a bit torn between BZ, Pactra and Testor (and Riggen to a lesser degree). Perhaps GarVic could be considered as important as BZ, maybe even more: both it and Classic were the two pure Thingie companies. 

 

Don 

 

PS: the reactions of Patrick, the journalist were interesting too, since he had almost no knowledge of slots (but he did find a photo of the one time he had played with them as a kid, at a friend's house, Scalextric of course...). He was very charmed by the Thingies, and for instance when I suggested we could forego the Russkit Hustler, since it was a bit like the Lotus 40, he said no, it's great and we should keep it in. 

For Monogram, since I had 9 candidates, way too many, I suggested eliminating the pickup, but he said, no, not a lot of people know this kind of thing was made into a slot car, so we should keep it. 

And the K&B dragster got posed with its box, the only one of those we did. 


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#5 Guy Spaulding

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Posted 16 May 2016 - 10:05 PM

I would agree with the list that you mentioned and understand why Aurora was left out.

 

I thought K&B WAS Aurora - My local track used them for rental cars. I hated them because they were so slow, top-heavy and totally lacked brakes.

 

Otherwise, I'm happy to see my first car was pictured in this collection. Even now, I look for the "best bang for the buck." In '66, my research was realized when my parents bought me a Strombecker Mercedes-Benz, plus a "Supercharger" motor, with some good sponge rubber tires on the back made for a difficult to beat modified production car at the time. :)


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#6 don.siegel

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Posted 17 May 2016 - 03:41 AM

K&B was an Aurora subsidiary for a few years Guy, but the product lines were mostly kept separate, except for some of the 1/32 cars that shared a lot of parts. It was an easy way for Aurora to break into the bigger scale markets. 

 

Don 



#7 don.siegel

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Posted 07 October 2016 - 05:44 PM

And the article finally came out today... here's just the first half page (Atlas was eliminated because of limited space - it's 4 pages)

 

CC%201016%20collection%20don_zps6ns3p9nb


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#8 Mbloes

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Posted 20 October 2016 - 03:22 PM

Excellent, Don. BTW, do you have a wood track close by that you race (or not) on?


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#9 don.siegel

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Posted 20 October 2016 - 05:17 PM

Well, yes and no, nothing in Paris proper, but a couple in the burbs - trouble is, we're all too lazy to organize anything! We used to have a club about 10 years ago, but all modern 1/24 slot racing kind of disappeared in France at the time... and we held a couple vintage races on it. Even the guy who's most into vintage and built an extension on his garage so he could put up a track doesn't really host races anymore - we have to organize it for him, and it doesn't seem to get done... 

 

So I go to Bordo a couple times a year for the big international race and a smaller national one. I used to go to Italy, England, and elsewhere in France, but for various reasons don't anymore... 

 

For the races in Bordo I try to take at least a dozen cars and try them out! 

 

Don 



#10 zipper

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Posted 21 October 2016 - 04:24 AM

The sole active French I've  lately seen on international wing car races is Jean-Pierre Antinoux from Arles - that's quite a bit from Paris, but they seem to have some activity over there.


Pekka Sippola

#11 don.siegel

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Posted 21 October 2016 - 04:31 AM

Hmm, haven't heard about him, or Arles, and the last French wingcar activity I know about is from the 80s - when I started in 92 we were using Parma International 32s plus Eurosport 1/32 F1 and GT/sport, then that transitioned to 1/24 Flexis and X12 before petering out. There was a pretty active scene in the 1990s, with probably a dozen clubs at one point - and then, poof! Within a year or two, clubs lost their premises, presidents quit, clubs fell apart, and the Zeitgeist switched to 1/32 plastic cars, and even to vintage... A lot of the 1960s generation that was the driving force for this are now in their mid-60s, and perhaps a bit less energetic. 

 

Some of the French guys may travel to Belgium, Germany or Italy to race, since there are more active modern scenes there - some wing cars I think, mixed in with the 1/24 plastic body/bolt together chassis racing popular these days. 

 

But Arles...? Justement, as we say, my wife and I were planning a trip there in the near future, now I have extra motivation - Slots & Toulouse-Lautrec! 

 

Don 

 

PS: the magazine has now been out 2 weeks, and I haven't had any reactions, but hope springs eternal! The commercial racing boom was even shorter in Europe than in the States, but the guys who were bitten by it got bitten hard! 



#12 zipper

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Posted 21 October 2016 - 05:05 AM

So check this:

https://slotracingar...dans-la-region/

I probably see Jean-Pierre in German Open, Brühl Dec2016 http://www.eco-idc.de/hansi/haupt.html

He's lately retired and got interest back - I think he began slots in 60's.


Pekka Sippola

#13 don.siegel

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Posted 21 October 2016 - 05:12 AM

Thanks! Many names and places that I know - especially the first one, Philippe, also a big vintage fan! 

 

Don 







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