You’ve studied the buying guides, chosen your first set – and now it has arrived. To help you get the very best experience from your set, here are a few tips and tricks.
If the set is a present for Christmas – or another celebration – it is always best to give yourself an hour of quiet time beforehand to explore the box and its contents. The first thing to do is see if there’s anything else you need to buy. The ARC Air and ARC Pro controllers do need two AA batteries in each, but otherwise all other sets will be ready to run.
The instructions are the next thing to find. The ARC sets also come with a Quick Start Guide booklet. The instructions should be read and kept safe. You could even photograph or scan them as a backup. The instructions have advice on setting up the track, cars and controllers – plus some basic problem-solving tips. There are important safety notes in there too.
Before you unpack the set, take a picture to remind you how everything fits in the box – this will be useful when you pack away. If you haven’t already, vacuum the carpet or sweep the floor where you will set up the track. A track runs best and stays cleanest on a board or table, but most Scalextric tracks since 1957 have run perfectly well on the floor. However, do keep the cars and track clean, occasionally removing carpet fibres from the cars’ axles and gears. This is explained in the set instructions.
Unpacking the box doesn’t take long. Once you have identified all the components, lay out the track pieces as shown in the instructions. There will be a number of layout options suggested and you will quickly see which ones will fit into the space you have available. It is much easier to move the track pieces before they are connected together. Of course, you can design and build your own circuits, but it’s best to follow the plans in the set instructions for this first test.
When you do start connecting up the track, the plastic end clips need a really firm push to click into place and to hold the track together tightly. Some pieces won’t go together however hard you push – the clips will need pulling out a little, as shown in the picture. The connections will loosen up with use, but it is always important to get the track pieces clicked together.
The controllers in the latest standard sets are a new version that has four power-limiting settings – 25%, 50%, 75% and 100% – selected by a sliding switch just below the trigger. The switch limits how far the trigger can be pressed. Full power on the 25% setting will be slow, 50% is perfect for full-throttle racing and the two highest settings require some skill and throttle control to keep the cars on track. These controllers are ideal for learner-drivers and guarantee lots of fun without too many crashes and potential damage to the cars.
The ARC Air and ARC Pro sets have power settings that are only adjustable when a race is being run with the ARC app. It’s a great feature, but does mean that younger racers will need to be supervised until they become expert Scalextric drivers. The ARC Air and ARC Pro controllers are wireless and need two AA batteries to function. The most reliable option is good-quality alkaline batteries. The controllers have a ‘sleep’ mode, but it is always best to switch off when not in use. The ARC Pro controller has a lane-change button – this should be tested with the set cars to check the lane changer track(s) work.
Most cars supplied with Scalextric sets are the more robust ‘Super-Resistant’ versions. The exception to this is the top-of-the-range ARC Pro Platinum set, which has fully equipped ‘High-Detail’ cars. The cars in the ARC Pro sets will also be fitted with a digital decoder module. All sets include a bag of spare braids for the cars. When a set contains two cars of the same model, you can expect performance and handling to be almost identical. There will always be some variation, but it should be small. In sets with two different cars, expect differences in how they run. You should tactfully give any learner-drivers the easiest car to control.
Maintenance & Problems
Hopefully by now, you have explored the set, built the layout and tested the track, cars and controllers. With careful preparation, you shouldn’t experience any problems. A common issue to look out for are the cars stuttering or stopping. This can be caused by loose track connections or the car’s braids need to be straightened or changed – both are covered in the set instructions. Sometimes, stuttering or slow running happens because the plastic braid plate is slightly dislodged. In that case, new braids aren’t necessary, just clicking the original braid plate back into place will do the trick.
The basic maintenance tips in the instructions are basic, but useful. The cars are lubricated at the factory, so you won’t have to worry about oiling them for a while. Do watch out for anything getting hot – you’ll notice a burning smell. It could be something stuck in the gears or the tyres are rubbing on the car body. That said, the controllers and motors do naturally get warm after lots of racing. Stopping for a 5 minute break to let everything cool down is a good idea every now and then.
If you have a big space available, you may be able to leave everything up for a few days. The track will need a quick dust once in a while – and you should definitely unplug the powerbase when not in use. If space is more limited, it is best to pack the track away, rather than risk anything getting stepped on and damaged. It is a good idea to store the set in the original box, using the picture you took earlier to make sure everything fits. The basic sets are very easy to pack away, but with the bigger and more complex sets, that picture can be very handy.
A Scalextric set is a perfect first step and is brilliant fun. However, most people will want to add to it pretty soon – the Scalextric ‘Extend Your Racing World’ booklet included in most new sets gives a great overview of what is available. Pretty much the whole Scalextric range can be bought from the Jadlam Toys & Models website, together with plenty of wonderful figures, scenic items and accessories produced by other manufacturers. The Jadlam Scalextric shop is here.
Help & Advice
If you have a problem with the set that can’t be solved using the instructions, do check the FAQs and the various How To blog posts on this site. If those don’t help, then contact Jadlam for support. Although the Jadlam staff don’t work weekends or the Christmas holidays, you might get answers from helpful enthusiasts on the various Scalextric fan groups on Facebook and the Scalextric Forum at www.scalextric.com.