HISTORY OF SCALEXTRIC (UK) – MINIMODELS, LTD & TRIANG
Scalextric is a brand of slot cars and racing track sets. Although the name appeared first in 1957, the concept of “slot” is a bit older.
In 1947, the company Minimodels, Ltd. was founded by Fred (Freddie) B. Francis. At the time, the company manufactured tin toys. In 1952, he had the idea to incorporate a wind-up mechanism in tin cars, and that’s how the “Scalex” line was born. The name refers to the fact, that cars were on scale. The Scalex were very popular during their first few years, but around 1956, sales decreased dramatically. This led Mr. Francis to think on how to improve the toys Minimodels made, and which by the way were almost the same thing that the company was manufacturing at the time.
First he thought it would be a good idea to create some track in which kids could simulate races, and he came to some kind of plastic track with two slots on it, in which cars would fit. The next step was to substitute the wind-up motor for an electric one, and then, power it from the track itself. Scalextric (Scalex + Electric) was now designed and ready to be produced. The first tracks were fed by batteries. The toy was presented in 1957 in the Harrogate Toy Fair.
This improved version of Scalex was also very successful. So successful, that Minimodels could not manufacture as many units of cars and tracks as needed, and could not meet the demand on time. In 1958, Minimodels was sold to Tri-ang (part of the Lines Bros. imperium back then), which was a much bigger company, and had the means to produce those toys efficiently and place the orders without delay.
Triang re-released old Scalex models with some modifications to be driven in the slot tracks. Later, Triang would team-up with another company part of the Lines Bros. group called Rovex, and whose major focus was plastic. Cars were still being made of metal, and tracks, of rubber. Then they both changed to plastic. Plastic was much cheaper to produce and it allowed a better casting and modelling, making car models more attractive.
The car presented today is much more modern than that. It is the latest of the 3 British versions of the Rover 3500 Police.
- C284 with siren and flashing roof lights (1981-82) – “Police” on bonnet
- C315 with siren and flashing roof lights (1983-84) – “Police” plus crest on bonnet
- C362 without siren, with flashing roof lights (1985-93) – “Police Patrol” on bonnet
Mine is the most common version, since it was sold for 8 years in a row. Something strange, is that the car was not sold fully assembled, but included the srear mirrors in a plastic bag and still attached to a plastic tree. Nice detail that Scalextric also decided to include a spare pair of brushes.
The first two versions (C284 and C315) were also sold in Spain under the reference 4020 in 1985 and 1986 respectively. These cars were not manufactured in Spain, but imported.
FACTS AND FIGURES
- Name: ROVER 3500 "POLICE" (Ref. C362)
- Scale: 1:32
- Year: 1985 (to 1993)
- Company: Scalextric UK (Great Britain)
- Size: approx. 15 cm