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Slot racing as a fad - a contemporary take


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#1 don.siegel

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Posted 21 August 2016 - 03:54 PM

Starting already back in the 1980s, baby boomers were looking back at the favorite toys of their youth, including of course slot racing. Among my slot lit collection, I've got a number of books that talk about slot racing - bascially, as soon as there's a page on my favorite subject, I'll buy it! 
 
Here's a look at how these baby boomers talk about our favorite subject from a later perspective, starting in 1985 and through 2008. These are either books on fads in general, or stuff like boys' toys. . 
 
A couple general observations: first, they're more or less accurate, more less than more... a lot of "urban myths" just get repeated (e.g., GIs brought back slot racing from England after WWII), and you can tell that none of these guys were slot racers. And they're either fuzzily nostalgic or mocking ("Bad Fads"). Here's a look at the dozen books in my collection. 
 
First, one I found by chance in a local comics/collectives store, The Toy Book, by Gil Asakawa and Leland Rucker, from 1992 - with noise effects by pressing the pictures on the cover. More pages than usual on slots, and the usual errors, nothing terrible. 
 
Don 
 
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Here's the earliest book of this type, from 1985: American Fads, by Richard A. Johnson - firmly linking slot cars with silly putty, hot pants and hula hoops. As usual, the history part is a little ... confused, to say the least! 
 
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Another one from 1992, in both US and UK Editions, "Toys of our Generation", by Robin Langley Sommer. Basically just a paragraph about slots, and the usual confusion with Motorific, etc. 
 
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The caption for the last photo is on the following page. "Everyone got into the groove with slot-car racing, seen here on a 1966 Lionel layout."
If I had a nickel for each cliché in these pages... 
 
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1991, "Panatti's Parade of Fads, Follies and Manias", by Charles Panatti. 
 
The usual historical confusion... 
 
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1994: Fashion & Merchandising Fads, by Frank Hoffmann and William Bailey. 
 
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2002: Bad Fads, by Mark A. Long; succinct, and not too accurate...
 
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#2 don.siegel

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Posted 21 August 2016 - 03:56 PM

And four more from England, a little more recent. 
 
2005, The Bumper Book of Fads and Crazes, by Richard Lewis. 
 
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Also 2005, Boys' Toys, by Jed Novick. Now, anybody who's ever done any writing or journalism knows that some compromises have to be made, and it's not always easy to summarize complex subjects, but still, he manages to get several very erroneous facts in just the first paragraph. Where on earth did anybody decide that the GIs brought back slot racing from England? This false fact has been repeated many times, with nobody bothering to check anything, or realize the timing is all wrong... 
 
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2008, The carp Old Days, by Wayne Williams and Darren Allan. Cynical, but not totally wrong.... some of us got hooked anyway! 
 
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And the last one in the series, about toys rather than fads, by a guy who's written a number of books on toys and models, Arthus Ward: Classic Toys of the 1960s and 1970s, published 2008. And once again, we get the story of US Servicemen returning from England after WWII, speaking about the pre-Scalextric craze of rail-racing (not invented till 1955 of course). And he gets the dates in the US all wrong too... oh well, research takes time! I've left out a few of the pages with only photos here. 
 
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#3 Samiam

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Posted 21 August 2016 - 04:05 PM

Saliva as braid juice? WOW! :on_the_quiet:


Sam Levitch
 
When the only tool you have is a hammer, everything is a nail.
Support your local raceway, or you won't have one.
Slot cars are quad-pods.
Support your "Local Racer."
:laugh2:

#4 Mattb

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Posted 21 August 2016 - 04:40 PM


Don, thanks for taking the time to scan and post this. It is still interesting to see how far from reality
some of these guys are. I suppose all they need is a colorful cover and they can sell any book that is loaded with pictures and some kind of info about something that is nostalgic to people.
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#5 don.siegel

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Posted 21 August 2016 - 05:30 PM

Thanks Matt. 

 

I also thought, we know how far off they are just on slot cars - wonder how inaccurate the rest of the subjects are? 

 

Don 



#6 Zippity

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Posted 21 August 2016 - 06:10 PM

Thanks for posting.

 

Man, I must be old to remember and enjoy playing with all that stuff.

 

Wonderful memories :)



#7 Ecurie Martini

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Posted 21 August 2016 - 11:38 PM

I also thought, we know how far off they are just on slot cars - wonder how inaccurate the rest of the subjects are?


You make an excellent point. 

I subscribed to Consumer Reports for some time but it finally occurred to me that the better acquainted I was with an area of testing and rating, the more I was likely to disagree with their recommendations, particularly when they contained a subjective element - audio and photographic equipment and automobile handling were among the examples.
Alan Schwartz

#8 Samiam

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Posted 22 August 2016 - 06:50 AM

What should be noted is that, unlike many of these nostalgic fad items, slot cars are still here and popular. Well, popular here on Slotblog.
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Sam Levitch
 
When the only tool you have is a hammer, everything is a nail.
Support your local raceway, or you won't have one.
Slot cars are quad-pods.
Support your "Local Racer."
:laugh2:

#9 Dennis David

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Posted 22 August 2016 - 02:59 PM

I stopped reading CR auto reviews because of their heavy weighting towards reliability. Having a reliable piece of junk just meant it would be around a lot longer to torment you.
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#10 Overdrive

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Posted 22 August 2016 - 06:30 PM

I was around 28 or so and naively trusted consumer reports guidance to select the 1st generation early 80's Ford Escort for our used compact car rental fleet. That decision nearly bankrupted us within 2 years. I know Escorts are somewhat better now but they were PoS's back then and Ford was very tight lipped on releasing TSB info back then so you had to take the cars to the dealer to get fixed at their labor rates and at their "appointment schedule" speed. Our utilization rate sucked on these because they were always in the shop for days racking up huge repair bills. We got rid of them as fast as finances would allow us.

 

OK Back on topic, Wow, 300 raceways in California?


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#11 MSwiss

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Posted 23 August 2016 - 12:00 AM

Word was there was 200 in Illinois in it's heyday.

I can think of of about 12-15, a half hour or so, driving distance from my house.

When old timers come into my raceway now, that use to race, I ask them where that was.

If it's local, I usually can remember/ identify the raceway, about half the time.

The other half of the time, the person quotes racing in a fairly nearby suburb, that I wasn't famliar with.

Heck, in the early to mid 90's, we had about a dozen in a 60-75 minute radius of each other.

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#12 Mattb

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Posted 23 August 2016 - 07:36 AM

In the Louisville, Ky. So. In., area I believe there were probably 25 or more tracks within a 50 mile radius.
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