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Gilbert Auto-Rama slot car set display packaging


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#1 Cheater

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Posted 09 November 2018 - 08:46 AM

Here's a snag from an eBay sale that must be quite rare, as it sold very quickly. I felt the images deserved to be saved, which wouldn't happen in the eBay forum.

This is very innovative packaging for a slot car set and I'm betting it helped to move a bunch of these back in the day. Gilbert didn't stay in the homeset market very long, as far as I know. 

 

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I wonder what this set retailed for when new? Anyone have a Gilbert price list?

 

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Anyone know the year this set was offered. I figure it has to be in the 1963-65 range or so, as people figured out pretty quickly that using steering wheels to drive slot cars was not a good idea.

 

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"New Pit Stop Excitement: Adds thrilling new dimension – the "mechanic" – to miniature racing. Cars have "breakdowns" just like real racers. Speedy pit stop "repairs" put you back in the race. Another Gilbert exclusive."

Lots of companies were trying to stand out with innovative features in the early days, but most of them fell by the wayside as buyers figured out simpler was usually better. Certainly, this feature didn't seem to gain Gilbert any traction. Anyone know exactly how it worked?

 

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#2 Mattb

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Posted 09 November 2018 - 08:51 AM

Special item. Actually, it was a crazy low price and might have auctioned for $1,000 or more. I believe the seller left a lot of money on the table. He probably gave $35 for it and thought he came out great.   


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#3 mark1

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Posted 09 November 2018 - 09:01 AM

That's cool. I wonder where the power steering pump is?

 

I remember a toy car I had as a kid. You ran it into the wall and it blew apart. Spring-loaded. Put it back together and do it again!


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#4 don.siegel

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Posted 09 November 2018 - 09:23 AM

Yep, no idea how this one works. Maybe Mark Mattei will pitch in, since he has the same set – which really struck me when I visited a couple years ago. 

 

In fact, Gilbert was in the home set market for a fairly long time: they were one of the pioneers, starting in 1960, and I assume went until about 1966 - but I think the whole company went bankrupt at about that time, don't remember the exact dates any more. 

 

I doubt a lot of these were sold, since we just don't see that many traces, it was probably relatively expensive, and by 1965 gadgets like this were already pretty out of fashion – that's my educated opinion/guess in any case. 

 

FWIW, the seller also put up an incomplete set without the box for $99 or best offer – actually not sure it's same seller, but eBay referred me to that one when I clicked on the original... 

 

Don


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#5 Bill from NH

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Posted 09 November 2018 - 09:32 AM

If it's worth a grand, I can see why someone paid $130 shipping for a $225 item. I had an A.C. Gilbert HO train set as a kid. Are Gilbert slot cars from the same company, or another company?


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#6 don.siegel

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Posted 09 November 2018 - 09:40 AM

Yep, one and the same Bill. The early Gilbert road race sets were still called American Flyer in fact. 

 

There was a TV movie about Gilbert 10 years ago or so, starring Jason Alexander from Seinfeld! 

 

Don 



#7 Cheater

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Posted 09 November 2018 - 09:57 AM

Don,

 

I didn't know that.

 

From Wikipedia:

 

The Man Who Saved Christmas is a film based on the true story about the efforts of toymaker Alfred Carlton Gilbert (portrayed by Jason Alexander) of the A. C. Gilbert Company to continue making toys during World War I. First broadcast on CBS television in 2002, it was released on DVD and Blu-ray in 2008.


Gregory Wells

Never forget that first place goes to the racer with the MOST laps, not the racer with the FASTEST lap


#8 TSR

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Posted 09 November 2018 - 10:53 AM

The set was offered by Gilbert in 1966 and was really their swan song. The company was already in financial trouble when this last gasp product was released. Sales were dismal, and the company tanked. If you have the patience, read some of the causes and effects HERE.

"The Gilbert company struggled after the death of its founder in 1961. Gilbert's family sold its shares, and the company was never profitable under its new ownership. By 1967, Gilbert was out of business. Erector was sold to Gabriel Industries and moved production from Erector Square in New Haven, Connecticut, to Lancaster, Pennsylvania. American Flyer was sold to Lionel."

The racing set had a traditional set up with two crossover sections allowing the cars to travel an equal distance on what is effectively an oval track. The steering wheels are simply... the throttles, controlling the amount of current the cars were allowed. The cars themselves were of a far higher build quality than their Eldon competition, with much better moldings and finer decor, but their styling was as poor as Eldon's models. Never let an engineer be a stylist! The two appear to always conflict; my own experience at the Cox toy company, and other toy companies I worked for, clearly proved that to me...

A mint, sealed Gilbert set like the one offered is relatively rare today, but this is not the first I have seen.
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